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50 ministry behaviours that make for great teams

Team cyclists

50 ministry behaviours that make for great teams.

Attitudes and behaviours in ministry trump key result areas.

The world needs great teams. Team members can be smashing targets but developing bad attitudes that will eventually crash the team.

It’s far easier giving feedback on results than it is giving feedback on attitudes or behaviours — but feedback about attitudes and behaviours is essential if you want to build great teams. One way to help create a culture where attitudes and behaviours can be discussed and reviewed is to set them out in writing. Really? Yes. We have biblical examples of this.

For example, when Samuel first appointed Saul as Israel’s first human king, he set out ‘the manner of the kingdom’ (AV).

We read this in 1 Samuel 10:24-25 (NIV-UK):

24 Samuel said to all the people, ‘Do you see the man the LORD has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.’

Then the people shouted, ‘Long live the king!’

25 Samuel explained to the people the rights and duties of kingship. He wrote them down on a scroll and deposited it before the LORD. Then Samuel dismissed the people to go to their own homes.

In the Authorised Version, verse 25 reads:

25 Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the Lord. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house.

  • Have you in your church told the people the manner of your leadership team?
  • Have you set out the behaviours and attitudes you expect of the staff and leaders? And have you published those expectations?

You have biblical warrant to do so and, I suggest, much to be gained by doing so.

To build great teams write down and talk about the behaviours you expect.

The manners of a given leadership team will be governed by Scripture, of course, but also by the values of that particular church family.

What I provide below is given to be suggestive. It is structured around two axes. Primarily it is structured around eight words that express values. Secondarily, it references five sentences that express the invitation I believe God extends to all peoples through us, his followers.

The eight VALUES are:

  • Authentic
  • Brave
  • Enjoyable
  • Expectant
  • Honouring
  • Hospitable
  • Serving
  • Sustainable

Different churches and organisations will have different values and will frame them differently. This blog post is offered by way of suggestion. It’s an example of how you may like to make statements about attitudes and behaviours aligned with values. In another situation, the structure would be dictated by the values of that organisation.

The five sentences of INVITATION are:

  • Be seen
  • Belong
  • Believe
  • Become
  • Be sent

I believe that this sequence can be found repeatedly in Scripture and is a good summary of the invitation God extends to us, and then through us to others. However, there’s no requirement to use this structure in your setting.

If an organisation does evaluation of people’s performance, then assessment must be made against some measure.

Key result areas are one measure to use in assessment. Assessing behaviours and attitudes against ‘the manner of the kingdom’ in a given church should also be possible. I’d say it’s essential to assess and challenge behaviours to build great teams.

To build great teams love must be central – love for Jesus primarily.

This is not the theme of this post but it underlies what follows. Great teams can only happen where people love Jesus and love his church and love one another and love his world.

Method is secondary. Faith, hope and love are essential, crucial, critical to build great teams. Righteousness, peace and joy, are the marks of great teams. In other words…

All church communities should be values-based organisations.

First and foremost, we Christians want to be guided by Scripture, and then by the leading of the Holy Spirit. But beyond that each church has its own charism (in Catholic terms), its own calling, its distinctives. When defined we can call this the ethos, the culture, the values, the manners of a church.

Those values should determine what solutions we come up with to address challenges, and thereby what decisions we make. Further, our values should determine what attitudes and behaviours are consistent with the ethos of the community. It is possible to define behavioural habits and competencies and attitudes that reflect and reinforce our values.

Each community can expect that anyone in any role in the community/charity will aspire to attitudes and behaviours that accord with our stated values.

Being trumps doing.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” is a famous quote by the business guru Peter Drucker. I am totally convinced this is true. Love is central to behaviour, as I wrote about here. But I also know that success will also depend on implementation.

Defining behaviours creates a link between your culture and your mission.

Great teams have a wonderful culture and deliver the mission.

Of course, we recognise that the situations and roles that a person fills will affect the extent that person can demonstrate the cultural values in their behaviours, attitudes and competencies.

However, if an employee or volunteer leader consistently displays attitudes or behaviours that undermine or contradict our shared values, remedial action for improvement should be discussed and can form part of an agreed personal development plan. Great teams are not possible unless we are willing to be recalibrated sometimes. Cultural recalibration is primary. Performance recalibration is secondary.

It’s fairly easy to develop skills or performance in people; it’s far harder to recalibrate attitudes and ingrained behaviours.

Maybe you’ll find some inspiration below for your own effort to tell the people ‘the manner of the kingdom’ that Father has led you into in your church family. Doing that will help you build great teams.

Your values will be different to these below. The purpose of sharing these is to be suggestive.

There is a saying that I live by: “Milk many cows; make your own butter.”

Here some milk from one cow. There are about 50 behaviours/attitudes in this list. You can make it any number you like as you seek to make great teams!

Great teams
Great teams

Great teams happen where good behaviours have been made explicit repeatedly, and maybe are even written down.

Authentic — come as you are.

When you’re part of a family, there is no room for pretence, we know you too well! You can be yourself, be humorous or be serious as needed, as long as you are real. There is no need to hide because you feel people might not accept you, or would reject you. We all have our issues, hang-ups and our wobbly bits, that’s just part of being a human. But being part of a family gives you the permission to turn up and be seen.

What does this look like in our behaviour?

BE SEEN — we offer each other the same gift God offers us… the gift of being seen.

Acknowledgement — we give each other eye contact. We listen to one another. We esteem one another worthy of attention. We observe each other to cheer each other on.

Transparency — we communicate openly and honestly with all parties, internal and external, which includes being transparent about failures — we don’t do cover-ups — we aim to be both clear and accurate when we communicate and to go to the appropriate depth in any communication so that there is no deception — and we commit to hear each other well.

Reputation — we represent the church/charity in a professional manner in all external dealings and communication.

Communicating — we respond promptly to communications from colleagues — we support each other’s efforts by giving specific and accurate feedback to each other about ideas and performance.

Accountable – we explain our actions to others willingly and, where we had to take a decision without prior discussion we let people know what we did after the event so we are accountable — we know that good accountability motivates the whole team because accountability demonstrates that we are all committed to delivering the agreed outcomes.

Accountability — we make our diaries available to other staff members and the trustees — where requested we complete and then provide to our line manager and the trustees detailed time sheets showing work done.

Brave — we go for it.

We don’t stand back and let the moment pass us by. We have dreams as a family and even if we are scared, we don’t want it said of us that we didn’t get in the arena but just stood on the outside judging those that are having a go. We live our dreams. We fail sometimes and that’s OK. We support each other as a family encouraging each other forward.

What does this look like in our behaviour?

BECOME — We are flexible – we are willing and able to respond and adapt to different situations and people — we manage a changing environment positively.

Courage — we don’t resign ourselves to the status quo and not rocking the boat — we are brave and positive in speaking out and taking risky decisions.

Curiosity — we seek opportunities to learn and grow — we keep asking good questions.

Energy — we bring enthusiasm to our work and to our communication — people know we care about what we do.

Decisive — we use appropriate judgement to take action or decisions to resolve issues.

Imaginative — we think laterally and innovatively to solve problems and develop results.

Judgement — we display sound judgement — we make effective and timely decisions that align with the ethos and values of Community Life Trust which act as a recognised decision-filter throughout our community of faith.

Change — we see change as an opportunity for growth in the church and in ourselves — we adapt readily to changes in the church — we willingly adopt new practices — we wholeheartedly engage with the need to change personally — we propose changes to our own work, priorities or approach as necessary.

Enjoyable — let’s have some joy.

Family life can be tough, but the best moments are the memories we share when we genuinely enjoyed each other. We actually like each other and make a point of enjoying life together. Humility emerges when we don’t take ourselves too seriously! When we get close and pursue a mission together, there is a richness of relationship that comes as we learn to trust one another in the battles and challenges. It is genuinely a lot of fun.

What does this look like in our behaviour?

Humour — we don’t take ourselves too seriously — humour is a sign of humility.

Joyful — we are willing to take on knowledge or work outside of our main area of expertise or role — we resist silo-thinking and action.

Expectant — the Father is with us.

We believe that God is at the heart of this Family. He is here and wants to meet with us as a dad wants to spend time with his kids. Anything good can happen when the best dad in the world is with his beloved family. Be prepared to encounter him, to be changed, and to experience him and his gifts. He is not a distant dad, we are not orphans! He has, does and will always come through. He has a plan and the power to deliver.

What does this look like in our behaviour?

BELIEVE — we make a difference – we have faith that what we do matters for eternity.

Clout — we believe we are sent by the Holy Spirit and we expect to have an impact.

Helicopter — we see both the big picture and the important details.

Focused — we proactively identify and get help to remove barriers to progress as necessary, and we manage our own time effectively.

Motivated — we motivate ourselves, people and teams to perform beyond the norms.

Standards — we know that good enough is good enough.

Quality — we do attend to detail and we minimise mistakes and aim to ensure that nothing is overlooked — but we are not slaves to perfectionism unless safety is at stake.

Work ethic — we go the extra mile — we put in additional time or effort to make sure deadlines or commitments are met — we set demanding goals and deadlines and we work to meet them — we have a can-do approach.

Honouring — we big each other up.

We are never actually told in Scripture to be gracious to one another. God is the one who gives grace. We are called to honour one another. Honouring one another is one of the ways we respond to God’s grace. Honouring means to respect someone’s intrinsic value.

Honouring others involves an orientation that we always have something to learn from others. That means from those around us today.

As we prize honouring among us it has a powerful effect on our community. Honouring releases us to work in teams with mutual respect and to follow leadership well. Honouring celebrates what God is doing here now and it frees us from envying what God is doing elsewhere or has done in the past.

Honouring releases people from negative views of themselves; protects from gossip; cultivates respect; improves teachability and receptivity; promotes inclusion of diverse people; promotes respect for the elderly and the children; helps free us from self-pity and pride; helps us to share credit, involves humility; improves positive relationships with leaders; etc.

What does this look like in our behaviour?

Diversity — we value and show esteem for diverse and new people, and for different cultures and backgrounds and personalities.

Respectful — we display respect for the skills, knowledge and contribution of others.

Releasing — we spot talent and release it (where character and chemistry and capacity allows).

Blessing — we are courteous and humble in how we speak and communicate so we build others up.

Ownership — we don’t provide reasons or excuses after not delivering, we aim to spot failures before they happen so that remedial steps can be taken — we take responsibility for failures and we share credit for successes.

Committed — we do not assume that silence is consent, instead we actively dig for disagreement so that we know exactly where everyone on the team stands. When we make a decision we all agree to commit to it — we commit to decisions made on the team even if we disagree with them, which means we personally ‘own’ all decisions so we are motivated to enact all team decisions with a good heart.

Compliant — we make decisions in line with policies previously agreed — if a decision comes up that would conflict with agreed policies we bring the matter back to the team first before making the decision — we will report back to the team as soon as possible if we ever bend policy because of the immediate demands of a given situation that we felt demanded that flexibility — ‘keeping the rules’ is often the wise choice, but we always want to keep our eyes on the main prize in a given situation — we don’t live by policies, we move things along with leadership.

Team love
Team love

Hospitable — we get close.

In a family everyone is made to feel welcome and a part of things. We get to know each other and we really share our lives and hearts. It’s not about being superficially nice. It’s being inclusive, caring and genuine. It’s drawing others into our hearts and lives, to become a family. It’s being willing to open up our lives and hearts to make sure no one is left out and no one misses the warmth of genuinely belonging.

What does this look like in our behaviour?

BELONG — we put others first – it’s the Jesus way!

Loving — we are sensitive and observant of our colleagues and everyone we meet — people come before tasks.

Listening — we listen to people’s heart as well as to their words.

Connection — we offer meaningful connection with others, that is authentic human contact.

Generosity — we are hospitable and generous with each other.

Teams — we work through teams – we work co-operatively with other team members — we perform with and through others.

Serving — we give it away.

We are a family and believe that serving each other is core to family life. We want others to become their best; to grow into everything that God has made them to become. So we put ourselves in the place of serving each other with our energies, attitudes and resources. We also want those outside of our community to experience what we have received.

What does this look like in our behaviour?

BE SENT — we are motivated and motivating – we motivate ourselves and others to achieve challenging objectives.

Servant-hearted — we are ready to go the extra mile.

Positive — we respond positively to requests for help.

Hands dirty — we are prepared to do any task necessary to move a goal forward or to help resolve an issue.

Generous — we share our knowledge and experience with others willingly and gladly.

Sustainable — in it for the long haul.

Family is for life! That’s why we are in it for the long haul. We want to build sustainable models that allow people to benefit from the kingdom work we are on for years to come. We also want to be wise and discerning about our capacity, there are no superheroes, and no need for powerful loners, because they don’t survive long. We believe in boundaries and knowing how to finish the race well, bodies and minds intact. It’s to live with wisdom.

What does this look like in our behaviour?

It’s not about me — we put the long-term success of the charity and church ahead of our own short- or long-term goals.

Trust — we are trustworthy and we take the risk to trust colleagues and make deposits into the trust bank.

Reliable — we make and keep promises to each other.

The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing — we don’t just do things right, we aim to be doing the right things.

Progress — we are not simply busy, we make progress.

Ethics — we display integrity and professionalism – we maintain high ethical and professional standards.

Discretion — we handle confidential information with discretion and we disclose information to others only when appropriate.

Cost-conscious — we are spending donated money so we use it well to secure appropriate quality of service and goods.

Risk aware — we notice and manage risks — safety from violence, abuse, unrighteousness and illegality is a top priority.

To build great teams, behaviours and attitudes matter — and they can and should be managed.

We create the expectation that behaviours and attitudes will be discussed, even challenged, by doing what Samuel did… telling each other what the manner of the kingdom is among us, and writing it down.

How do you tell and write up your own manners?


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