It Takes a Team
Recently I heard this behind-the-scenes story about a company that had enjoyed notable success and is now struggling to survive. A former employee told me that he and other high-performers had worked their tails off, adding millions to the company’s bottom line. Yet the company’s president couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge their contribution. Instead, in press interviews, he personally took all the credit for the company’s growth.
Needless to say, this didn’t go over well with the sales team, nor did the president’s regular habit of raising their sales goals without raising their compensation. One day they decided enough was enough and left en masse to work for a competitor.
Any leader on a pedestal, no matter how he got there, is in a dangerous position. Yet it’s interesting how, by the end of the twentieth century, pedestals had become the norm. Leadership was elevated to dizzying heights as we expected powerful individuals to solve our problems—in government, business, and even churches. The problem is, it takes a team to effect change. When a leader receives recognition for accomplishments that required a team or community of people to achieve, those who contributed to the success are deprived of the rewards and encouragement they deserve. Shareholders of that once-successful company discovered this when its entire sales force quit.
Every person is essential. Moving a family, community, church, or business toward legitimate achievement of any sort always involves a team of people who take on responsibility. Leaders of every variety must recognize the important part they play, while at the same time giving other responsible people the authority, resources, and affirmation they need and deserve. In other words, a good leader encourages leadership at all levels.
As we move toward the close of the first decade of the twenty-first century, the definition of effective leadership is already morphing from an overemphasis on decisive individual leaders to an approach that is more realistic. People around the world are recognizing that one leader, no matter how gifted, can’t possibly have all the skills needed to effectively lead an organization today. In fact, one leader has never had all the skills needed. Check out Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and you’ll see why.
What will you do today to acknowledge and thank someone for a contribution he or she has made?
This article has been adapted from Bill Peel’s book What God Does When Men Lead. You can also read more of Bill Peel by visiting the Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University.