In his recent book, Entre Leadership, Dave Ramsey shares 20 years of practical leadership wisdom. Since a major part of a healthy organization is a unified team, leaders must be diligent to keep the five enemies of unity away from the door.
Winning organizations have a culture of communication, but if the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, you have disunity and frustration. Effective leaders let people know what’s going on, good or bad. They don’t leave people to guess what is happening in the congregation. They give people accurate, open and honest information. When negative information is held too closely, people usually figure it out anyway (or they assume things that aren’t true.). These become false narratives within the congregation, and leaders usually take the greatest hit. The answer is to communicate well, good or bad.
Lack of Shared Purpose.
Lack of shared purpose causes a disunity, but shared goals create unity. Effective leaders gather people to dream and create together. They ask for input, honor the ideas of others, and communicate a sense of team. The 2004 USA basketball team was loaded with NBA all-stars, but failed to win an Olympic gold medal that year. How did that happen? John Wooden offered this explanation: “The U.S. sent great players; the opposition sent great teams.” A friend of mine suggests that you should never leave a meeting without answering two questions: “What’s most important right now?” and “Who’s doing what?” Without a common goal there is no unity.
It is impossible to have unity where gossip abounds. “The very nature of gossip is the opposite of unity. Instead of pulling people together, gossip pushes them apart,” Dave says. In their organization, they hate gossip so much that its’ a fireable offense. Gossip “has the power to divide and destroy everything you have built.” The wise Solomon gives some good counsel: “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from trouble.” Remember: “Gossip is anything negative said to anyone who can’t fix it.”
Disagreements are inevitable where people work together, yet it’s often the case that we bury the hatchet and leave the handle sticking out so we can pick it up later. Unresolved, disagreements paralyze organizations and churches, and the festering begins. It is the job of leaders to act quickly and decisively when conflict arises. Leadership is a series of difficult conversations. Leaders have conversations, non-leaders don’t. They confront what everyone else knows. Jesus counsels, “Settle matters quickly with your adversary” (Matthew 5:25).
We must be careful not to sacrifice the good of the body because of an unwillingness to have the hard conversation with a staff or ministry leader who is ineffective in his or her responsibility. When we overlook incompetence, the entire organization becomes disengaged and people are demotivated. Dave says, “If you want a fabulously unified team and all the good stuff that brings, you will have to work unbelievably hard to avoid sanctioned incompetence.”