There’s no "i" in team.
But I sort of expected there was one in leader. As I have risen in my career and in leadership positions at my church, I confess that there has been a lot of “i” in my expression as leader. All of those personality inventories (even the fake Facebook ones) reveal that I value praise and reward for a job well done. That I’m motivated, in part, by the possibility of atta girls. And to be honest, I didn’t really need a personality inventory to know that. I’m an oldest child who spent years as an earnest people pleaser, and though I have mellowed, some of those traits are deeply (genetically?) engrained.
But wisdom (coupled with hard-learned lessons and frankly, age) is helping me to re-evaluate the characteristics of a true leader. For me, perhaps the biggest shift is truly embracing the value of the team. In my work with Forward Movement and in my participation at my church, I increasingly experience the strength and promise of teamwork. Our congregation hosts an annual fundraiser, and I volunteered again to head up the raffle component. But a big part of the work fell when I was traveling, so I had to count on the team. And they were amazing! I needn’t have worried, and although I felt badly for not being able to participate while I was away, the team did a yeoman’s job of preparing the raffle items. They were a model of the promise and possibility of teamwork.
The shift from I to we has been subtle but some signs are more obvious than others. This spring, I prepared the editorial report for the board, and instead of signing my name as I had in past years, I put the entire team. It just felt like the right thing to do. The work we complete together is a true composite of the gifts from each team member.