Why Teams Rarely Rise Beyond the Level of Their Leader

Written by Phil Cooke
team-conflict-progressDoes conflict get in the way of your team’s progress?

Leaders, if you’re frustrated at the level of your team or vendor’s performance, look no further than the mirror.

Only in very rare cases will a team perform better than the level of their leader. Why?

Because the leader sets the boundaries, deadlines and guidelines. The leader creates the culture and sets expectations. As a result, no matter how gifted or creative a team is, if the leader is incompetent, insecure or inexperienced, the team can only work within that framework.

A number of years ago, I had a client who “led by threat.” She had no idea how to inspire her team or vendors. Every instruction came as a threat: “If you can’t do this, we’ll find someone who can.”

We had no incentive to rise to the occasion, since all we ever heard was how unhappy she was. She constantly felt the need to remind everyone she was in charge. Plus, her expectations, deadlines and parameters for projects were ridiculous. Whatever we recommended, she was convinced she knew better. To say the least, it made for a difficult situation.

If an employee, team member, church staff member or vendor isn’t performing well, then a good leader fixes the problem—either by working with them or cutting them loose. Either way, he or she does it quickly so it doesn’t fester or create bigger problems.

So, if you’re constantly frustrated, yelling or angry with your team, the odds are it’s not their fault. Chances are, it’s the limitations you’re putting on their work. Set them free from your unrealistic expectations and insecurities, and watch them fly.

Have you ever been on a team with a limited leader?

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Phil Cooke is a media consultant focused mainly on the Christian market, as well as a vocal critic of contemporary American and American-influenced Christian culture. For the original article, visit philcooke.com.

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