Great Leaders Build Great Teams (Part 2)
The overarching vision has been cast; you have the right members for your team sitting in the right seats. Now how do you make sure they clearly know their role and what is not their role?
Spheres and Sandboxes
“We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you.” - 2 Corinthians 10:13
The apostle Paul understood that he was not an apostle to all people. He had a sphere of influence, which included the Corinthian believers. My Pastor is not the Pastor of New York State; he is the pastor of the local community, which calls my church their home. Especially in team environments, having clear boundaries is extremely helpful.
The picture that we use on staff at Welton Academy is of a playground sandbox. (This comes from Clay Mathile’s book, Run Your Business, Don't Let It Run You) A sandbox has four walls, and when it comes to being the member of a team, the four walls are: the organization’s goals, core values, job descriptions, and policies/procedures. Once a team member has these four walls around their “sandbox” then they are able to do their part with a lot of freedom.
Sometimes they may have to call for the playground monitor to come help them with their sandbox, sometimes another kid will wander out of their own sandbox and into yours and you will have to escort them back to their own box. Sometimes a sandbox power grab will happen and someone will try to take over all the sandboxes and they will need to be removed from the playground. You can see how this picture becomes very practical and helpful as a leader. Essentially, the majority of structural problems in an organization are sandbox violations.
We see this constant wrangling for playground power among the original twelve apostles, and regarding teams, apparently not much has changed in 2000 years.
It is important that each team member enjoys his or her sandbox.
In business, the theory is that there are three things, which lead to job satisfaction (or in our case, sandbox satisfaction).
- Autonomous work
- Work that has significance
- Well-compensated work
It is that third point I will tackle next.
The second best way to keep morale high in the 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene (the first being the casting of an overarching vision) is to keep your soldier’s bellies full. Much of a team’s work is invisible to the outside world, although the fruit of their labor is visible. As the team leader, you will be the one to notice and directly reward their work.
I see this very clearly in the example of Jesus.
“He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.” - Luke 5:3-7
Peter helped out by loaning Jesus a boat, and then Jesus repaid his kindness with many full boats of fish after a rotten night of fishing.
Then there was the time that Jesus fed the 5,000.
“As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.” - Matthew 14:15-21
The disciples started with five loaves and two fish, but after they were obedient and served Jesus, they ended up with enough for them each to have their own basket full of food.
This leads to another important point:
A healthy team is a transparent team.
I have known people that have worked closely with Pastor Bill Johnson for a decade, and I have consistently heard that he truly is the same person in the back room that you see in front of a crowd. This is important for all leaders.
What if Jesus had fed the 5,000 but didn’t bother to make sure His team was well fed? What if he used Peter’s boat after a rotten night of fishing and then just walked off leaving Peter fish-less? Thank goodness that Jesus isn’t like that! But unfortunately, some leaders are.
When a new staff member joins my team, there are several things that my executive team is very intentional about. To minimize conflict, they must carry the same core values. Also, they need to have our sense of humor, because we must be able to laugh together often; running Welton Academy behind the scenes can be very stressful sometimes, and some of the mean emails and challenges that my team run into are very difficult. But one of my favorite little speeches I give to new employees is that it is my goal for them to love Welton Academy even more by being on staff. Not that they would get behind the scenes and feel like, “Eww!” I have seen behind the scenes of many teams, which on the outside are accomplishing great things, yet on the inside, the culture of the team is toxic. Any team member, at any time, could be asked what it is like working for Welton Academy, and I wouldn’t be nervous how they would answer. My hope is that you could also have this confidence with your team.
- Develop the four walls of your organization's sandboxes.
- Clearly define each team member’s sandbox.
- Make sure that the sandbox fits each person.
- Compensate each team member well (like Jesus).
- Have a healthy culture behind the scenes.