In order to flourish in a kingdom culture, one must know what the kingdom culture is not! Certain dynamics that are very common on teams are unacceptable and work against the success of the culture. Functioning in a kingdom culture is not for immature, self-centered people. Prospering in the culture requires that everyone behave in a godly fashion. Here are a few of the common (but unacceptable) devices that, if left unchecked, can cripple a team. Most of them are functions of bad attitudes or immature emotional responses.
Offendedness is getting hurt when others disagree with you, or when things don’t go your way. People who are easily offended steal from the unity of the team. Such are self-centered people or those who do not know how to “esteem others better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3). An easily offended spouse can cripple a marriage. A propensity for being offended, while on the team, can throw a black cloud over the whole team and inhibit healthy proactivity.
A defensive person is not easy to challenge. Their response is to defend their idea or agenda first, instead of considering the challenge or taking personal responsibility for a mistake or misjudgment. Defensive people are often, and perhaps usually, those who are slow to admit wrongs and tend to blame others more quickly than seeing any error in their own thoughts or actions. It is not wrong in any way to defend a position or a thought process you may have, but defensiveness is when one is actually self-protecting, more than truth-protecting.
I’m not sure it is an official word, but my term for being over-passionate is passionating. What can be wrong with passion? Passion is priceless—in its place. Everyone in a healthy culture needs passion and enthusiasm! Enthusiasm generates life! But passion can also work negatively in a kingdom culture. Often, it is used to quench opposition.
A shutdown is when someone blocks someone else’s opinion, or agenda, with strong statements (or when they don’t allow another to fully share his/her thoughts or ideas). I just addressed shutdowns that are caused by unbridled passion, but shutdowns come in other boxes, too.
Shutdowns also happen when someone says something negative or critical about what someone else said—all this without hearing the complete facts attached to the comment or idea.
Destructive comments are major shutdowns and culture killers. Manipulative sarcasm—“Miss know-it-all!” Cutting jokes—“My watch must be broken. It says you’re on time for once!” Stereotyping—“You always support the underdog!” Angry expressions—“I rarely understand anything you say!” Or “That’s ridiculous!” Attitudes, tone of voice, and body language can be as damaging as hurtful words. Let’s bring all these things into subjection to Christ.
A classic, immature behavior on a team is detachment. It’s giving the cold shoulder or the silent treatment when things don’t go your way. It goes like this, “If you don’t like what I say, then you can do it without me!” It’s called adult pouting, and it has no place on a mature team in the culture.
Earlier in our marriage, I would share my dreams with Ruthie. Many of them were way-out-there ideas that were fun to dream about but not practical to pursue. Ruthie’s reaction to me sharing my dreams was often fretting. She would panic and semi-fearfully tell me why such-and-such dream wouldn’t work. I would tell her I was not planning on doing it, just dreaming aloud.
I have seen fretting sabotage good ideas in leadership teams. Fretters with a root of fear, or insecurity, will process a brain-storming idea as if it is a firm resolution to do something. Fretters must learn to be patient, ask questions, wait for details, and chill!
Every team, even marriage, may have dominant, confident, outspoken individuals working with those who are meeker and reticent. The tendency, under normal circumstances, is for the team to lean toward the more dominant influences. The problem is that often those who are less forceful have thoughts and ideas every bit as valuable as the dominant ones. Healthy leadership on the team is able to balance the dominant with the not-so-dominant and bring out the best in each. A highly dominant person can create an atmosphere of fear among the others who find it threatening to challenge the dominant one.
These folk aren’t really seeing what is best for the mission. Quite often, they are locked in a fear of change. Frequently people who are not visionaries will be heard to say: Why fix something that isn’t broken? This may be okay in its place. However, people who dislike change can be perpetuators of stagnation in any organization.
I define politicking as: an attempt to persuade or influence others behind the scenes—to agree with one’s opinion, belief, or agenda. Politicking is disloyal—it is manipulation, and it creates an unfair advantage in the team. Politicking is a cohort of gossip, often playing on people’s emotion to get pity or support.
In my years of leading, team-building, and management, I would put a high degree of emphasis on overlooking as a major culture killer. It means that you don’t have a voice when you are supposed to have a voice. If you have been a victim of being overlooked, you may call it neglect or disregarding. Perhaps you had insights, answers, or ideas, but were never given a voice—a chance to inject your piece.
Any leader has to know the nature of confidentiality. Great damage is done to teams, and victims are created, when team members don’t respect confidentiality. There are no clear lines to what is confidential and what is not, but a leader must know the difference. If you don’t know, err on the side of being quiet until you find out if something is confidential or not. Inappropriately breaking a confidence is almost always a serious matter.
I will emphasize, all of these dynamics will manifest on every team at some point or another, but the goal is not to crush, or shutdown, those through whom these unacceptable attitudes emerge. But we need to be calling them UP to a more excellent way. The goal is to work towards a team that operates respectfully and selflessly.
No team or organization is free from culture killers erupting at any time, no matter how mature an organization is. What principles can be applied for dealing with culture killers as they manifest in a kingdom culture?
This blog post is an excerpt of my new book, “Kingdom Culture.” To learn more about vital leadership skills, grab your copy today on Amazon
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