I realized something early on in my days as a leader…

I am a creative – I like thinking up ways to do things. However, my role is not to come up with 100% of the ideas, plans, etc… that are needed to run my ministry area. It’s to gather a team and to make sure – together – that good ideas appear and high-quality work gets done.

Three things need to happen for a creative team to function:

1. I have to put my ego to one side. I need to strive for the best idea for any given situation, no matter who came up with it;

2. Everyone else has to be on board. The members of the team must also be willing to restrain their egos and strive for that best idea. Similarly, those above must value high-quality teams over individual superstars;

3. Once an idea leaves anyone’s mouth, it’s not theirs anymore. The team owns it, and can rearrange it [at will] to make it the best it can be.

It’s not that hard to tell when a leader walks in with a decision already made and pretends to lead a brainstorming session. It’s also not hard to tell where team members are trying to steer things when they bring in one solid idea and two very lackluster ones. Be honest with yourself – those are integrity issues [not personal preference issues]…

I’ve come up with some good ideas in my day. So have my team members. Ultimately, the team process – minus having to walk on eggshells to protect anyone’s fragility – is what helps excellence, originality and creativity to flourish.

“The culture has to become one of putting the organization’s and the team’s interests higher than anyone’s self-interest, no matter how senior that person is in the organization. Ideas and proposals have to be evaluated on their merits, not on the role, power or position their proponent holds in the organization.” – John Zenger et al.

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