Strategic Team Development

The Practical Pastors’ STRAT Session

We began our Strategic Team Review and Action Tool (STRAT) debriefing session discussing each member’s role on the team and the purpose of why we were meeting. We allotted 60 minutes for discussion and discussed for a duration of 90 minutes instead. As a team, we developed a team name reflecting the nature of our work and how we approach decision-making and team building. We decided on, “Practical Pastors.” We aim to incorporate practical leadership learnings with high-level strategies to bring about change in our organizations.

We discussed: How can we effectively accomplish the tasks set before us?

Fostering commitment with each other as we engage our assignments.

o   Following our agreements and completing assignments on time.

Defining all team member’s roles

o   Who’s doing what?

Keeping lines of communication open
Upholding a standard of excellence

o   Utilizing our corporate strengths

STRAT Survey Results

Using the STRAT survey found in Appendix B in Hughes, Beatty, and Dinwoodie (2014), each member of the team completed the survey and sent it to the team leader. The results in Figure 2 highlight the focus of our debriefing session.

Question Average Score
# 3 – This SLT has a shared vision of our future. 4.25
# 6 – This SLT is clear about our basic purpose and core values. 4.25
# 8 – This SLT encourages others to improve by experimenting with new or different ways of doing things. 2.5
# 9 – There are few undiscussable subjects here. 2.25
# 11 – Our strategy is discriminating: clear about what we will do and clear about what we will not do. 2.75
# 12 – This SLT works well together. 4.25
# 18 – This SLT strikes an appropriate balance between dealing with short-term and long-term needs. 2.5
# 22 – Members of this SLT trust and respect each other. 4.25
# 23 – This SLT fosters cooperation rather than competition across organizational units. 4.25
# 24 – We share best practices across individuals and departments. 2.5
# 25 – This SLT exhibits a high level of integrity. 4
# 26 – I am proud of the way this SLT handles issues of right and wrong. 3.5
# 30 – This team has the right composition to achieve its purpose. 4
# 32 – This team has direct or indirect control of the resources it needs to accomplish its task. 4

Team Strengths

As we reviewed the results of our STRAT assessment, our team determined several strengths. We considered a strength to be anything with an average score of four or higher.

Our team has a shared vision of the future, and we are clear about our basic purpose and core values. A transformational servant leader (TSL) measures organizational effectiveness, or results, against the vision, mission, and values of the organization (Atha, D., 2018). The values of our strategic leadership team (SLT) come from a spiritual core serving as the primary motivation for why we do what we do. As a team of Christian ministry leaders, we have common ground not only because we share the same vocation and class objectives, but we hold to a belief system which serves as a framework to guide our decisions.

Our SLT works well together. Influenced by our values, we are respectful of each other, investing in a common outcome. As Christian leaders, we engage in strategic leadership out of a drive to learn alongside and from one another. Though our team offers trust and respect from the beginning, both take time to develop. Throughout the initial phases of the course, as clarity and communication increased, so has our ability to develop trust and respect.

As the whole of our team succeeds, so do each member of the team. One of the benefits of team assignments is the inherent connection built between personal success and the success of the team. Our SLT fosters cooperation versus competition (Lepsinger, 2010).

As our team executes, we do so with a high level of integrity. We credit this integrity to the alignment of our spiritual core and our values. We also believe we have the right composition to achieve our purposes. Our high level of cooperation, our similar experiences in ministry, as well as our shared course experiences, lead us to believe we have the necessary ingredients to make an effective team.

Our SLT has the resources needed to be successful and accomplish our tasks. The two areas we are mindful of as we move forward are time management and properly managing any obstacle for which we do not have control.

Points of Confusion

Each member of the team completed the STRAT survey by answering for an SLT they were a part of now or in the past. When we came together to debrief the results it created confusion as to how to frame the results for our SLT. Although the results came from different teams, we decided to approach the debriefing session by framing the results as a single organization—to which we were their consultants. Framing the results of the STRAT survey took a large portion of our time, as the assignment instructions brought confusion.

We were surprised by our rating for question #26 (3.5/5), ‘I am proud of the way this SLT handles issues of right and wrong.’ As pastors and Transformation Servant Leaders (TSL), we seek to lead from a position of integrity and therefore, should not have an issue with right and wrong. In our vocational context, we expected a higher rating.

We scored low on question #8, ‘This SLT encourages others to improve by experimenting with new or different ways of doing things,’ and #9, ‘There are few undiscussable subjects here.’ A low score in these areas brought up a red flag for us. Since we rated our teams highly in adherence to our core values, our basic purpose, and how we work well together, our ratings for #9 and #8 seemed off base. If we work well together, then it should equate to us being able to improve by experimenting with new and different ideas. Although we hold a high level of trust and respect for one another, we were intrigued by our result for #9. Our result for #9 could be a result of the group being new and taking small steps to be open with each other—limiting certain conversations. We found, “while an average [score] is helpful, it does not tell how dispersed the ratings are.” (Hughes Beatty, & Dinwoodie, 2014, p. 293). This kind of report poses a slight risk, depending on the team size, particularly if the team is small.

Areas Requiring Improvement

There are a few critical areas of improvement for our team. Most of the improvements relate to our communication structure. Questions #9, #11, #18 and #24 all have communication as a common factor (Figure 2). Our team was unable to foster an environment where we can speak openly about all subjects. Some topics and conversations are off limits. We must practice open and transparent in conversation–opening more topics for discussion. Prompting others to share rather than waiting for others to respond allows balanced feedback and increase vulnerability (Lepsinger, 2010).

Another way our communication can improve is by clarifying the task at hand. Team members are not clear about what the parameters of our assignments are because of the instructions given—stalling the creative process and creating confusion.

An improvement in communication would also help us to collaborate better. Thus far, our team has not learned how to share best practices with other individuals or organizations. Taking time to share best practices would benefit our entire team and would help foster a collaborative working environment. Collaboration requires others to be willing to share openly. This leads to the right people being put in the right situations to succeed (Lepsinger, 2010).

Going Deeper

We expanded our discussion of the STRAT results to include the following questions and responses:

Question: Are the areas where we have confusion contributing to the challenges on the team?

Our team has a shared vision of the future, but we are unclear about the smaller details. It appears we are unsure about what we will do and not do, which may be contributing to a lack of balance with short-term and long-term needs.

Question: Are there ways we could build on our strengths to help with our challenges?

We need to be more truthful about our responses which can skew the results. Given our high integrity, team composition, shared vision and working relationship with one another, we can create an open and honest environment sharing best practices and opening more topics for discussion.

We are clear about our core values, and yet we are not clear about what each of us will do and what we will not do. If we spend more time aligning around our core values and our vision for the future, our strategy should become clearer.

Our team exhibits a high level of trust and respect for one another. We also work well together. However, these two elements do not lead to team members feeling empowered to experiment with new ways of doing things.

Our level of trust for one another could be utilized more effectively by releasing one another to try new ways of doing things.

Question: Is there any way we are overusing a strength to the point where it becomes a weakness?

We have a clear vision of our future, and we believe we have the right composition to achieve our purpose. These are both strengths. If we lose our desire for growth, these strengths could create an unhealthy ability to settle for what we know and stop us from pushing forward.

Team Goals

As a result of our STRAT debriefing session, we established the following team goals:

  1. Encouraging proper time management practices.

a. Ensuring the team is meeting deadlines.

b. Keeping conversations on track and on time.

  1. Following the requirements of assigned tasks.

    a. Quality control.

    b. Referencing.

    c. Grammar.

  2.  Continuing to practice open communication.

a. Openness.

b. Honesty.

c. Integrity.

References

Atha, D. (2018). Transformational servant leadership for results [The TSL Pyramid]. Retrieved from https://learn.twu.ca/pluginfile.php/130150/mod_resource/content/1/2018_Day_1_Powerpoint.pdf

Hughes, R. L., Beatty, K. C., & Dinwoodie, D. L. (2014). Becoming a strategic leader (2 ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Lepsinger, R. (2010). Closing the execution gap. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.