CNLP 039: How to Build a High-Performing Team from Scratch—An Interview with Chris Lema

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Most of us think if we could hire or recruit a few superstar leaders, it would catalyze growth for our church.

What if that theory is just dead wrong?

Chris Lema, author, blogger and entrepreneur, walks you through how to build and develop a great team from inside your church or organization.

Welcome to Episode 39 of the Podcast.

Crowd Favorite

Chris Lema on Twitter

Chris Lema on Facebook

Jay Leno

Reggie Joiner

Ashish Nanda – The Risky Business of Hiring Stars

John Sculley

Lorne Michaels

Will Ferrell

SNL’s Most Successful Cast Members Ever

Gary A. Klein

E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About it

Books on team building, culture and leadership by Chris

3 Things You Can Do Right Away

Most of us have a singular perspective around the teams we’ve been in. So we come at it with our default perspective, who is the right team person? What happens is the default approach if we keep looking for the one kind of person who will be the high performer, and that’s not really the scenario. Chris Lema tells us about his experience with team building and tells us what you can do as a leader.

  1. Stop looking to the outside for superstars. You would think that offering the right salary for the right talent would solve the problems of your organization, but statistics suggest otherwise. Half of people who start in a new environment performed 20 % worse over a five-year continual span, and one-third left after a period of three years. Hiring a performer and bringing them is a 50/50 shot. Companies such as Meryl Lynch spend two years finding the right leaders. More than 95% of players for the Green Bay Packers were developed only within that organization. When you bring someone new in, you have to say, “Our commitment to you over the next several years is to develop you.”
  2. Match the experienced with the inexperience. Chris emphasizes that diffusion of leadership doesn’t happen at a coffee table over coffee. It happens while being in context, and it happens while being able to articulate the essentials of how your organization is ran. Take Saturday Night Live, for example. Creator Lorne Michaels provides many opportunities for the new cast members to learn with the season cast members. He collaborates with their team of writers to ensure the success of each actor and the longevity of the show. Additionally, Chris encourages all leaders to write because it allows you to emphasize the abstraction from the lesson so that people who are coming behind you have a way to be fed. They understand your message, mission and values. “Write because you are articulating your understanding of things, and people will embrace and leverage it.”
  3. Meet daily with your teams and find a book to read. Leaders should spend at least 10-15 minutes a day with their teams to put projects, goals and agendas into context. You’ll develop a common vocabulary and develop a common vision among your group. Every six months, read one book as a group and spend time creating a conversation about development. At the end of six months, find another book, read and apply its context. “More often than not, we read and don’t apply, or we never read. But one thing remains – You have to move to get better, and we won’t get better naturally,” Chris says.

Quotes from Chris

CNLP 039: How to Build a High-Performing Team from Scratch—An Interview with Chris Lema Click To Tweet CNLP 039: How to Build a High-Performing Team from Scratch—An Interview with Chris Lema Click To Tweet CNLP 039: How to Build a High-Performing Team from Scratch—An Interview with Chris Lema Click To Tweet CNLP 039: How to Build a High-Performing Team from Scratch—An Interview with Chris Lema Click To Tweet

Chris and Carey’s Top Ten Leadership Books

As promised, here are Chris and Carey’s Top Ten books to read as a church staff or as a church leader. Chris and I titled the list toward leadership, because we assume you’re going to read theology (and your Bible).

Chris Lema:

1. The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes & Posner

2. The Fifth Discipline, Senge

3. Leading at a Higher Level, Blanchard

4. Good to Great, Collins

5. Organizational Culture & Leadership, Schein

6. Multipliers, Wiseman

7. Visioneering, Stanley

8. Leadership & the New Science, Wheatley

9. Silos, Politics & Turf Wars, Lencioni

10. First Break All The Rules, Buckingham

Carey Nieuwhof:

1. The Advantage, Lencioni

2. Good to Great, Collins

3. Next Generation Leader, Stanley

4. Emotional Intelligence, Goleman

5. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey

6. Essentialism, McKeown

7. Leading Change, Kotter,

8. E-Myth Revisited, Gerber

9. Made to Stick, Heath

10. Getting to Yes, Fischer and Ury

Feel free to add your top leadership books to the list in the comments section!

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Next Episode: 

Of all the questions facing the church, reaching Millennials is one of the most pressing ones.

Author and church planting expert Geoff Surratt, shares how some churches are becoming effective at reaching millennials using widely different methods.

Subscribe for free now, and you won’t miss Episode 40.

Lead With Confidence and Clarity. Grow Your Church.

As leaders, we tend to see the challenges and roadblocks before other people do.

We've all been there before...

  • You need to refresh your vision for the future but know that change will be an issue for that person.
  • You're overstaffed (or missing a key role) and can't find the right person to fill the role.
  • You aren't reaching enough new people even though you've tried everything that's working for other churches.
  • You can see the issue but aren't confident in what to do about it.

And with another Sunday morning coming up, it'll just have to wait until next week when you have a few minutes to figure it out.

Now ask yourself this:

What would it feel like to have those answers at your fingertips 24/7?

Whether it's reaching new people, improving your preaching, increasing volunteers, refreshing your vision, engaging your staff, or any of the countless challenges we face as church leaders, The Art of Leadership Academy will equip you to lead your church with confidence and clarity.

Between comprehensive church leadership courses, live coaching calls, staff and volunteer training resources, and direct access to a private online community of senior-level church leaders, you'll get the exact insights and answers that fuel your church for growth.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is a best-selling leadership author, speaker, podcaster, former attorney, and church planter. He hosts one of today’s most influential leadership podcasts, and his online content is accessed by leaders over 1.5 million times a month. He speaks to leaders around the world about leadership, change, and personal growth.