In life and in leadership there are times and situations that qualify as crises. These times can make you, or in some cases, break you. We have all heard the saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Well, that’s easier said than done.
Paul was in a crisis on his way to Rome. “Some sailors pretended to go down to drop anchors from the bow when in fact they wanted to lower the lifeboat into the sea and escape, abandoning ship. Paul said to the Roman officer and his soldiers, “Unless you all stay together on board the ship, you have no chance of surviving” (Acts 27:30-31 TPT).
Sometimes in a time of crisis, leaders and staff allow fear and doubt to cause them to want to “abandon ship” and their responsibilities without regard for their fellow workers, friends, or families. This is not what we see in Paul or his words to those on board the ship that chaotic day.
We have all experienced some form of crisis over the last 12 months to one extreme or another. We also know someone who has acted just like the fearful sailors or has had team members who “jumped ship” and left everyone else with even more work. In those times, leadership is not for the faint of heart. Instead, it’s the point when both tenacity and fortitude kicks in.
The quality most needed amidst the pressure of a difficult challenge is collaboration. Teen Challenge, as a family, works together to make a difference–to collaborate with one another and other organizations is critical to both our success and minimizing impact. It is critical that we stay together and work together.
Becoming a collaborative team player requires change in four areas:
It is important that we see our teammates as collaborators, not competitors. Completing one another is more important than competing with one another. In a crisis, our willingness to collaborate and work closely with the team around us makes a huge difference. I am always saying that this organization is a “We” organization, sharing the tools and talents we have gained with those around us and coming together to learn how to best serve the need.
When in a crisis, be supportive, not suspicious. Trust is key and helps us to treat people well. We must trust that the intention of our team is for the good of each other and the organization. Both sides will then be more likely to create collaborative relationships. As leaders, it is critical that we maintain an attitude that reflects faith and forward motion. We cannot give in to fear and doubt, regardless of what the news or others say. When we stay the course with a trusting attitude, we will win over a crisis.
As a leader, it is important to concentrate on the team, not ourselves. If we do so, we are to pass the baton when necessary. Author Cavett Roberts points out that, "True progress in any field is a relay race and not a single event." Two years ago, I met with John Maxwell and he said, “When you are the leader, it is important to stay focused and run hard all the way to the finish line, so your team has a chance to win.” He was speaking of succession, but the principle is true: Leaders cannot let up in this race and expect to win as a team.
When we collaborate, it has a multiplying effect on everything we do, because it releases and harnesses not only our skills but the skills of everyone on the team. Collaboration results in multiplication, which creates great victories.
I cannot tell you how many times I called other TC directors over the years for advice and input. It is a blessing, as a leader, to be able to work together to serve those who are hopeless. We are so much stronger together than we are apart. I enjoy collaborating with others to accomplish common goals and see projects completed.
The power of collaboration is truly valuable in times of crisis. I pray these words are encouraging as you think through managing the days ahead.
Jerry Nance, PhD
Global Teen Challenge