Some books are for reading on an airplane, the uninterrupted time provides time to digest the whole book. Some books are for taking a chapter a day — to read, mark, reflect, apply and learn the principles. Axiom by Bill Hybels is a chapter a day book. Bill’s 76 powerful leadership proverbs are not for quick digestion, but slowly marinating. Let them simmer, let them cook, let them make a difference in your leadership. They sure do for me.
In part 1 of this review I looked at Category 1 of Axiom: Vision and Strategy. In part 2, let’s look at Teamwork and Communication. Bill offers 22 axioms, here’s my top 5.
1. Speed of the team, speed of the leader. I heard him share this in a Teaching conference. Initially this proverb fueled my passion for learning, it is what my staff affirms I do well. This axiom also kept me working hard. We were in the midst of a building program for our new school. I put in long hours, so did many others. Speed of the team, speed of the leader. Like my driving philosophy I adapted this axiom to put the pedal to the medal. Then I learned another side of this axiom. The need for rest. Speed of the team, speed of the leader also means I model a day off. Monthly that’s includes a day of solitude. It keeps me refreshed and creative. I get more done when I slow my speed down for Sabbath. So does my team.
2. The 3 C’s. Bill’s staffing axiom involves 3 C’s: Character, Competence and Chemistry. All 3 are needed. Bill got push back for including Chemistry. Shouldn’t we all get along? That would be nice, and it should be part of your work philosophy as a Christ follower. However, in my experience in staffing, it’s not a given. This axiom has led me to follow 5 C’s: Christ, Chemistry, Calling, Character and Competence. All 5 are needed. With “Christ”, I want to know how their walk is with Him. How are they growing? How are they following Him? What are their spiritual practices? With Calling, I want to know how they see God’s purpose for their life? What passions do they pursue? What makes them light up when we interview? We moved up the Chemistry factor because we do work together and for the greatest growth we need to get along so that we can have honest discussion which leads to:
3. The Tunnel of Chaos. Picture 2 circles in close proximity. One is “Pseudo Community”, the other “True Community”. The path from pseudo community to true community is the Tunnel of Chaos. It’s like parenting, to be a great parent you have to be willing to let your kids be mad at you. You have to be honest in communication. It’s not easy. If you want easy, settle for pseudo-community. But that’s not what leaders do. They navigate the Tunnel of Chaos because on the other side is True Community. Great leadership teams with true community face issues. At the 2003 Summit Patrick Lencioni spoke about “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”. The one I remember is “Step into the conflict.” Step into the tunnel of chaos, not because you love conflict, you love depth in relationships.
4. Never say someone’s no for them. You look for the best leaders. You feel prompted to ask them to serve, then you come up with excuses while they will not serve. Heavy workload. Family commitments. Already have a call to a congregation. So you don’t ask, then a month later you find them serving in a new area. This axiom taught me to ask the question. They might say no. They might say yes. But I know that I went for the best God has in mind. I lead in a church and the church more then anywhere else needs the best leaders. The church more then anywhere else can leave a legacy that goes into eternity.
5. Deliver the bad news first. I read this chapter the night before a staff retreat that involved sharing some bad news. Leadership saw we were headed towards a recession (now known as the Great Recession). Fortunately, there was good news to share as well. But which do you lead off with? Deliver the bad news first. Get it out there, then build back with the good news. I tweak this when I need to share news in worship services. If all you have is good news, share it at the beginning and maximize the celebration. If all you have is bad news, share it at the end. If you share it at the beginning, it’s all the people will remember.
These 5 axioms continue to build my ability to be a better team player. How about you? What axioms guide your teamwork and communication in your leadership?