We hear a lot about being a team player these days. But what about being a team leader? When the team succeeds, everyone should get the credit. But when a team fails it is probably due to the ways its leader has been an obstacle to success.
Here are some sure-fire ways to undermine your team and point it toward failure at some level:
Act Unilaterally: You can preach collaboration all you want, engage in "team-building" events every year, and go around telling people how valuable they are to the mission, but if you make critical decisions unilaterally, none of that will matter. You will demonstrate you're the only one on the team that really matters.
Communicate "done deals" instead of inviting input in critical situations: Few things will drain morale faster than letting your team know their perspective really isn't needed. As soon as people figure out they only exist to facilitate your decisions they will start brushing up on their resumes, and finding the door.
Come down hard on those who propose alternate ideas or oppose yours: The best teams operate on the "the best idea wins" strategy. When everyone believes they have something to contribute, the whole team wins. When everyone knows that only one person's ideas will win, the team is deprived of the creative energy so critical to solving difficult problems and being flexible enough to avoid disaster.
Believe your perception is always best: Good leaders love robust dialogue, and foster it by asking for opinions, blue-sky ideas, and out-of-the box thinking. Bad leaders believe they are the most gifted people in the room, and experts at sifting through facts quickly to seize on the best course of action. It greatly undermines the team when, after a season of group input, the leader announces his decision without regard for the input that has been given.
Lead behind the backs of your leaders: I know of a situation where a company president laid off some high level people, and created some new full time positions and filled them before his EVPs ever heard about it. One of them actually told me this was "business as usual", and the effect was to further erode trust in the president and stifle creative activity on the part of those afraid it might put them on the his bad side.
Be unpredictable: By this I mean act in such a way that you pose a risk to those on your team. They don't know what to expect one month to another, and feel obligated to manage themselves according to your moods, or the "hot button issue" of the day. If your leadership style creates a minefield for your team members, don't be surprised if your team keeps getting blowing up.
Lastly, there is a solution to these and other leadership errors. For Christ-followers, it is to model our leadership after Jesus who lived with and loved his team of 12 disciples. He was certainly the leader, but he led with both truth and love. And don't forget, after his ascension, that team went on to change the world through a gospel message as powerful today as ever.