The #1 Prerequisite for Choosing a Team Leader
Do you remember those horrific moments of childhood playgrounds and elementary school gym class? I’m thinking of one moment in particular; picking teams. It didn’t matter what game was to be played, kickball, basketball, football, it didn’t matter, the experience was the same. Two people would be chosen as ‘captains’ and then they would alternate picking people to be on their teams. Usually the picking began with the captains choosing their friends and the good athletes and leaving the awkward or physically uncoordinated kids until the very end. Are you remembering it right now? Can you see it? Can you smell the dirt of the kickball field? Some remember this experience as something of a rite of passage while others remember it as social trauma. I can remember wondering just how the captains were chosen? I mean, why them? Did they have some special gifting? Were they particularly adept at this game? I don’t remember ever being given and explanation on how the captains were picked. The question that comes to me now, as I remember this experience, is ‘how do you pick the best team leader?’
Whether you are leading a church staff, a volunteer organization, or even a business endeavor, at some point you will likely have to choose a team leader for a ministry team, staff team, volunteer team, etc… How do you do it? What characteristics are you looking for? I’d like to think that by the time we’ve reached a place of leadership in the adult world we’ve progressed beyond the playground style of picking teams and team leaders? Certainly, we look for a variety of characteristics: vision, trust, ability to lead, integrity, follow-through, etc… But, maybe there is one overarching and indispensable characteristic that we must look for before any of the others, a prerequisite. The longer I’m at this leadership task the clearer it becomes that the absolute number one prerequisite for being a team leader is having been a great team member.
Here’s a few reasons why a great team member might be a great team leader:
- They know how to work collaboratively.
- They don’t care about who gets the credit.
- They’re more aware of what the team members need in order to accomplish the task.
- They are empathetic to the team dynamic.
- They are energized by the team experience.
- They understand the amazing potential of a team that works well.
- They are not intimidated by the opinions and input of others, but rather welcome it, even crave it.
Granted, simply being a great team member isn’t enough of a qualification to be a team leader, but it’s an essential prerequisite. All the other characteristics we look for are important, but only after satisfying this first essential prerequisite.
How do you pick your team leaders?
What do you look for?
What did I leave out?
Grace and Peace, Rich