Removing the Invisible Walls in Your Leadership Team

Last week I was completing the Vision Frame with a church in California. They could feel the removal of what one pastor  called their “invisible walls.”  It’s an interesting comment given the fact that its a very effective church.

What is an invisible wall? It’s something your eyes can’t see that keeps your team from working better together.

  • Mistrust
  • Missed time
  • Misalignment
  • Misunderstanding

Every week brings a fresh truckload of glass bricks for your team to stack.  Busy week after busy week leads to busy semester after busy semester. No one has ill motives. No one intends to build a wall. But the walls go up without conscious notice.

The good news is that it’s NOT rocket science to take down a wall. Haven’t you noticed it’s easy (and usually fun) to tear stuff down anyway? What we need are some sledge hammers to take down this hard-to-see  barriers.

Weekly, I watch leadership teams tear down their invisible walls.  Keep in mind, I am talking about effective teams, not broken ones.In Auxano’s clarity process, teams feel like a team at a whole new level. Even though the meeting room looks the same, the real albeit unseen barriers have been removed.

How do you demolish those walls? Try these five things.

  • Give permission to identify walls.
  • Beyond permission, shape  a culture of authentic dialogue by how you give and receive feedback. Telling people that you are open to honesty and “push-back” isn’t enough. Permission has not truly been given until it you have done. Keep in mind if you don’t receive it well, you’ll shut down the sharing next time around.
  • Schedule time dedicated to strategic conversations. Most teams don’t create enough space for important, non-urgent dialogue and decision-making. At Faithbridge over the years, the team has regularly “parked” (sometimes monthly) conversation topics for scheduled “strategic-stuff-only” meetings.
  • Schedule margin in the calendar for “drop in” conversations. With the speed of ministry, it goes a long way to touch base for no “necessary” reason. It says you care. It says you are available to listen. It provides an opportunity to remove a glass brick, instead of adding one. Yesterday, I challenged a staff member pretty hard in a consulting meeting. Today I stuck my head in her office to check in and mentioned, “Hey, I pushed you pretty hard yesterday and I just wanted to acknowledge that it might have been a little too hard.”
  • Make one bold feedback question a standard part of your team culture- “Have I done anything lately that has diminished the trust in our relationship?”

What other actions would you add to demolish invisible walls?

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Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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What say you? Leave a comment!

bill — 10/22/12 11:29 am

Great article with suggestions to break down the walls and start to eliminate silos!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
— Ken

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