Leading Your Team to Work Together Part One: Motivation

How do you help your staff work together as a true team, not just a collection of individuals?

Mention the word “team” and most people think in context of a sports activity. That may be the primary association with a team – a group of people we observe or cheer for, but in some way, everyone works together with others to achieve a goal: families, schools, businesses, non-profits – these are all teams.

Your church staff is a team as well. Are your leaders functioning in unison as a team or operating individually as a collection of individuals?

When you are part of a team, you’re not giving up your individual goals or sacrificing your personal success. Instead, team members set their sights on an even higher goal in order to magnify greater success.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Payoff, by Dan Ariely

Bestselling author Dan Ariely reveals fascinating new insights into motivation—showing that the subject is far more complex than we ever imagined.

Every day we work hard to motivate ourselves, the people we live with, the people who work for and do business with us. In this way, much of what we do can be defined as being “motivators.” From the boardroom to the living room, our role as motivators is complex, and the more we try to motivate partners and children, friends and coworkers, the clearer it becomes that the story of motivation is far more intricate and fascinating than we’ve assumed.

Payoff investigates the true nature of motivation, our partial blindness to the way it works, and how we can bridge this gap. With studies that range from Intel to a kindergarten classroom, Ariely digs deep to find the root of motivation—how it works and how we can use this knowledge to approach important choices in our own lives.


As leaders, you should understand how your team members are motivated. That process begins with understanding what you can do as a leader to keep them motivated.  Motivation is often defined as “getting someone moving.”

One of the more difficult challenges for a leader is to learn how to effectively motivate those working for them.  Mastering motivation is difficult because the triggers for motivation are so individual and personal.

For example, inexperienced leaders often believe that the same factors that motivate one team member, or the leader themselves, will have the same effect on others too.  The reality is that nothing could be further from the truth.

Human motivation is not simple, but if we seek to understand it more, we will be able to better handle ourselves, our work, our relationships, and our teams. Knowing what drives us and others is an essential step toward enhancing the joy and minimizing the confusion in our lives.

Whatever our official job descriptions, we are all part-time motivators.

To motivate ourselves and others successfully, we need to provide a sense of connection and meaning – remembering that meaning is not always synonymous with personal happiness. Arguably, the most powerful motivator in the world is our connection to others.

Ultimately, this book asks you – whether you’re an executive, a parent, a salesperson, a teacher, a government official, or anyone else who seeks to motivate yourself or others – to think deeply and broadly about the effects of your approach. By understanding some of the hidden forces of motivation, we will find it easier to deploy the positive, intangible drives that affect us. After all, if a kind word can do wonders to impel people to do better, what other hidden treasures of energy, dedication, and commitment might we find if we only looked for them?

When it comes to human motivation, we can have perpetual energy as long as we invest in a sense of connection, meaning, ownership, and long-term thinking. And, if we correctly use these forces, the return on investment in human motivation will be immense.

Dan Ariely, Payoff


If you are like most leaders, occasionally you will find yourself bored and unmotivated at work. Like Sisyphus in Greek mythology, condemned to lifetime of rolling a boulder uphill only to watch it roll back down, we end up doing the same humdrum, unrewarding task over and over.

What can we do to change the situation when it is impossible to change the circumstances? The answer: change your mental framing.

Designing a new frame around the same circumstances allows new perspectives and ideas to emerge.

If you find yourself bored and unmotivated at work, think about your situation like an onion. There are layers, and it’s best to peel one layer at time. It’s not that one problem is more important than the other, or even that you have to go in a particular order. Just decide on a particular layer that you are trying to solve today.

Create a problem brief containing four parts: the problem space, the goal space, the consequence, and the gaps and barriers.

The Problem Space: Spend time thinking about the way things are currently being done – the status quo. What is the reality or condition preventing the goal from being achieved?

The Goal Space: What is your vision of how things would work in a perfect world?

The Consequence: What’s going to change if I solve this problem?

The Gaps and Barriers: What are the reasons why the problem hasn’t been solved already? What’s missing?

These four components – what could be, what is, why it matters, and what is missing – lead to a simple, powerful beginning to reframing your current state. Once you have worked through this exercise, model and lead your staff to apply it as well. Set a future date to discuss how this reframing revealed depth of personal motivation.

Find areas of similarity to build-on or maximize, and note areas of divergence to be aware-of or minimize.

– adapted from Reframe by Mona Patel

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 60-1, published February 2017.


This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders.

SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

>> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
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

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