Building High Performing Teams
How long does it take you to get four new tires? For Jenson Button it takes 2.31 seconds. Button pilots the McLaren Mercedes in the Formula One racing circuit. Last month at the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, his pit crew set the world record for the fastest-ever pit stop. Button's pit crew is a high performance team for a high performance sport. This week we'll explore four characteristics of high performing teams and consider some essential steps for turning any team into a high performing team.
Thinking About Great Teams
It is one thing to talk about teams. It is quite another to see one in action. Take 15 seconds to watch the Brazilian Formula One pit crew doing what they do best (click here to watch). You'll get a new appreciation for fast service and an excellent picture of a great team.
Think about what you just saw. What would you consider to be four characteristics of high performing teams?
As I consider high performing teams, one of the questions I grapple with is this: "Are the characteristics that mark a great team -- say the Brazilian Formula One Team -- true of every high performing team?" Are the characteristics the same for a team in sports, in government, in education, in business, or in the church?
Team experts Hackman and MacMillan have helped me to identify four essential characteristics of high performing teams. These characteristics seem to apply to any team. This week we will test these characteristics against Scripture and see how they stack up by comparing them to Jesus and his team of disciples. But before we get started let's consider a working definition of the word, "team."
What is a Team?
I cannot lead a high-performance team unless I know what one is. Talking about teams without defining the concept is like trying to build a house from several different designs. When everyone has a different picture in mind it is going to be tough to work together.
In his book The Performance Factor: Unlocking The Secrets of Teamwork, Pat MacMillan defines a team as "a group of people committed to a common purpose who choose to cooperate to achieve exceptional results."
What are three facets of that definition that stand out to you?
As we think about high peforming teams, what team will you focus on this week?
High Performing Teams Need More
I was in Brazil recently for a church planting conference. 320 leaders from 25 different denominations within that country gathered to learn more about advancing the work of Christ by planting churches across Brazil. I was discussing this concept of high performing teams. Working with these leaders reminded me that as good as MacMillan's definition is, the Christian leader is going to recognize three essentials not covered by it:
- Christian leaders submit to Jesus' leadership as they lead their teams. They remember that Jesus said, "apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5), but with Him "we can do all things" (Philippians 4:13).
- Christian leaders know that their ultimate team task is to love God, love people, and make disciples (Matthew 22:34-40; Matthew 28:18-20). Every Christian leader and every Christian team must keep "the bigger picture" in the forefront of their efforts. The Christian team ultimately serves the cause of Christ.
- Christian leaders know that they have the Holy Spirit, a power exceeding their wildest imagination. Jesus promised, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you" (Acts 1:8).
The best teams serve Christ, his mission, and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish it. As a team leader are you keeping this in view?
It's going to be a great week learning about high performing teams. Just below I have listed what we are gong to cover.
- Tuesday: A high performing team is a real team (7 key indicators).
- Wednesday: A high performing team has a crystal clear mission.
- Thursday: A high performing team has great structure.
- Friday: A high performing team has a strong leader.
 "F1 Germany: McLaren performs fastest tire change ever in Formula 1" by Auto123.com, Monday, July 23, 2012. www.auto123.com. Accessed August 12, 2012.
 Much of these posts come from lessons learned from J. Richard Hackman. Leading Teams: Setting The Stage For Great Performances and Pat MacMillan, The Performance Factor: Unlocking The Secrets of Teamwork.
 Pat MacMillan, The Performance Factor, 30.