Once you’ve built a team with the potential to be high-performing, the next step to ensuring their success is to empower them. Teams can still achieve great things with hands-off managers, but when we look back over time, trends suggest that the teams with leaders who empower and support them perform better than those without.
Over the last two months, I introduced a biblical approach to building and developing high-performing teams by studying how Jesus built his team of 12 disciples. We identified three recruiting takeaways:
- Focus on quality over quantity of people.
- Bring in different and complementary skill sets.
- Rely on trusted relationships.
We also identified four team development takeaways:
- Educate your people about your organizational culture and values.
- Use hands-on instruction.
- Provide a clear playbook before putting people in roles of responsibility.
- Give your people grace when they need more time to learn or when they make early mistakes.
We are not done with the discussion until we discuss how to empower, or commission, your team.
For the disciples to be effective, they had to disburse and leave the upper room where they gathered. That room was a place of safety, mutual support, and continued development. We can imagine how hard it was for them to embark on their journeys. Jesus had given them instructions to travel in pairs because he knew that would allow them to encourage each other.
We often do this in a business context, too. Mentoring and coaching programs help people at all levels in an organization develop until they are prepared to take on new challenges and new roles. Following the investments organizations make in recruiting and developing people, leadership should do anything else needed to help staff be successful.
Motivation and energy come from each employee knowing that he or she is prepared to take on new challenges and perhaps even a new role. There’s no way to remove every uncertainty someone might have, but at some point, to take advantage of new opportunities, people need to step out into a new situation.
What happened in the upper room to commission the disciples and prepare them for their missionary roles? Three major things occurred:
- Jesus came to them on a series of occasions over forty days and ate and spoke with them. We don’t have the record of every conversation, but from those documented in Acts 1 we know there were a series of question-and-answer sessions that allowed Jesus to reinforce their faith.
- Second, when Jesus left them, the Holy Spirit appeared to bring them the spiritual power they would need.
- Finally, the disciples were reassured by Jesus and the visiting angels that Jesus would return.
What business lessons can we learn from the final acts of preparing the apostles for their new missionary roles? It’s important when you are getting ready to commission or empower someone that they get a final dose of confidence building. Just as Jesus reassured the apostles that the Holy Spirit would bring them power and the angels reassured them that Jesus would return, we should never underestimate the need for confidence building to help someone take their next career step. And encouragement “from the top” is especially powerful in this regard. Who wouldn’t want to hear from leadership that they fully trust you and will always be available for you when you need them? That helps build one’s confidence in taking that next step.
That has happened to me on several occasions when the management of the business I was working in wanted me to take on a new role—a role I hadn’t considered myself. Sometimes someone sees potential in you that you might not see yourself, and when they step forward and talk to you about a new assignment, it helps open your eyes to new possibilities. It’s also wonderful at confidence building. And it’s a fun situation for the person encouraging you, too. These conversations are all about making good people into great team people!
We also understand how important it was for the disciples to receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit isn’t just reserved for missionaries—the Holy Spirit is available to anyone who invites him to come and live within. And the Holy Spirit’s power is not just for bringing the gospel to new people, either. I’ve found that every time I have to do a major presentation to a large group, that a prayer to the Holy Spirit in advance for wisdom, knowledge and the ability to speak clearly is a critical part of a successful delivery. The Holy Spirit is power—your power. Whatever you need (encouragement, words, wisdom, and anything else), he provides.
We also know that sometimes success comes in steps and that we can always get reinforcement and a second chance. We can have confidence in this because just as Jesus promised both he and the Holy Spirit would be available to us, we can have confidence that whatever journey we are on, the people who send us will be there when we need them.
What a wonderful experience to know that you were recruited, developed, and empowered to do something meaningful with your life!
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth.”