Teamwork Makes the Dream Work


No organization, church, government, or company can have a healthy culture and be run by a dictator, monarch, or single personality.

John Maxwell said, “Teamwork is at the heart of great achievement. The question isn’t whether teams have value. The question is whether we acknowledge that fact and become better team players. That’s why I assert that one is too small a number to achieve greatness. You cannot do anything of real value alone.

Most executive leaders would say they have a team. But having a team and operating as a team are two different things. Some would say they have a team because they have multiple people on their staffs. But it’s quite possible, even normal, to have a multi-staff organization with one person in charge and everyone else helping out.

Managers or department heads: Before you start pointing fingers at your CEOs or lead pastors and calling them dictators, take a look at your own area. Do you operate as a team? Or are you a Mini-Me dictator barking orders and giving directions rather than leaning on your team to help define direction and strategy?

I think I could count on one hand the organizations I know that have a high-capacity, visionary, big-dog leader and that also operate as a team. It usually isn’t the case.

If many of the following things are true in your organization, you can be certain teams will not thrive:

  • Strong personalities dominate every discussion.
  • People agree on something as a team only to see it reversed later by senior leadership.
  • No one dares to “speak truth to power” and disagree with the senior leader.
  • Debate is not encouraged.
  • The group meets, but the top-dog leader rarely comes.
  • The senior leader can’t be in a meeting that he or she isn’t leading.
  • There is a revolving door for high-capacity leaders who report to the chief executive. They never stay on the team for long.
  • People feel as though the leaders don’t want input, or don’t listen when they get it. Their minds are already made up.
  • Leaders take individual credit for the accomplishments of the team.
  • Change is not welcome unless the top-dog leader initiates it.
  • After decisions are made, you’ll hear comments such as, “I don’t agree with it, but here is what was decided.”
  • When a decision or new direction is communicated, people walk away hearing the “what” but rarely understand the “why.” There isn’t broad ownership in the decision.
  • When someone messes up, he or she is often left to hang on his or her own.
  • There are lots of good discussions, but no one can remember what was decided at the last meeting, and people aren’t held accountable for tasks.

Again, John Maxwell said, “Think of any highly effective leader, and you will find someone who surrounded himself with a strong inner circle. You can see it in business, ministry, sports, and even family relationships. Those closest to you determine your level of success.”

You can’t have a healthy culture without a solid team at the helm. It is impossible.