Leadership Letters
Leadership Letters

Writings on Christian leadership and leader development by Malcolm Webber

October 2019
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Leadership Letters

Don’t Just Be Accountable to Your Leader – Be Accountable to Each Other!

Malcolm WebberMalcolm Webber

For a team to be effective, its members must share both long-term vision and short-term goals that genuinely represent the will of God for the organization. When this is in place, the team can move ahead with a common working approach.

We’ve discussed common vision and common goals. This week, we discuss developing a common approach.

Teams must decide how they will work together to accomplish their purpose. In fact, they should invest as much time and effort crafting their working approach as shaping their purpose.

Team members must agree on:

  1. How particular responsibilities will be assumed.
  2. How schedules will be set and adhered to.
  3. The skills that need to be developed.
  4. How resources will be obtained and used.
  5. How the team will make and modify decisions (including when and how to modify the working approach itself).
  6. How team members will support each other.
  7. How team members will be accountable to each other.

These are generally self-explanatory, but don’t underestimate the absolute necessity of the last one: accountability.

Mutual accountability is a requirement.

…Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (1 Pet. 5:5, NKJV)

Being part of a leadership team means being mutually accountable. Traditionally people know they should be accountable to the leader. But in a team, people must be accountable to each other. This includes every member of the team, including the leader himself.

At its core, accountability is about two vital aspects of a team: commitment and trust. As each member promises to hold himself accountable to the team’s vision, goals and working approach, they each earn the right to express their own views about all aspects of what the team is and does, and to have their views receive a fair and constructive hearing. Then, by acting in a truly accountable way and thus following through on his promise each team member preserves and strengthens the trust upon which the team must be built.

Many people are naturally cautious about committing themselves to others. Mutual promises and accountability cannot be coerced any more than people can be forced to trust one another. However, the process of developing the team’s vision, goals and approach will often have the effect of increasing the mutual commitment of team members to each other. Accountability tends to naturally grow in a team that has invested significant time and energy in determining what it is to do and how it is to do it.

Thus, people who are truly committed and accountable to team results, are the ones who developed both a strong team purpose and a mutual approach. Alternatively, groups that lack mutual accountability have not shaped a common vision and approach that can sustain them as a team.

Naturally, the complete working approach of a team will evolve over time. It is a mistake for people to think they must assemble a team at the beginning with “everything in perfect place.” Nevertheless, the more a team wrestles with the above issues of approach, the more effectively it will proceed and the better equipped it will be to handle the inevitable conflicts that arise.

From all the above, it is evident that genuine teams are not easy to build or maintain. There is a high cost involved in teams, but taking the time to develop common vision, common goals, and a common working approach will be highly rewarding.

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