I’m so pleased to welcome Jenni Catron to the blog. Jenni serves as the Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN. She leads the staff of Cross Point and oversees the ministry of its five campuses. Her passion is to lead well and to inspire, equip and encourage others to do the same. She is the founder of Cultivate Her, a community whose purpose is to “connect, engage and inspire” women leaders. She speaks at conferences and churches nationwide, seeking to help others develop their leadership gifts and lead confidently in the different spheres of influence God has granted them. Discover more of Jenni’s life and work at www.jennicatron.tv and www.cultivateher.com.
I’ve had the privilege in my career to work with some great teams both in the marketplace and in ministry. Great teams are essential to accomplishing the purpose and vision you are working towards. Building a great staff and developing a dynamic team culture is core to a healthy team environment.
In reference to 1 Corinthians 12:14-31, John C. Maxwell says, “Leaders must build a team spirit that celebrates diversity. Teams must share a common goal, but not the same gifts. Teams mature when the leader insists on diversity and celebrates what everyone does together.”
In spite of the great team environments I’ve been a part of, one of the areas that I see the most consistent “misses” for team camaraderie and unity is between men and women in the workplace. I’ve seen these misses occur both in secular office environments and among ministry staff.
Here are three “misses” I most consistently see:
- Misapprehension ~ Let’s tackle the awkward one right off the bat. Men and women can be very apprehensive of working together. If you’re a leader with even a smidge of a moral compass you (wisely) wrestle with the tension of appropriate interaction with the opposite sex. While healthy boundaries are essential, the problem with not addressing apprehension is that it often results in avoidance. Sometimes this avoidance is perpetuated by well-meaning rules of our organizations. The rules however don’t help us learn to develop healthy relationships. When we’re apprehensive of one another we limit healthy, God-honoring community that is essential for great teams. If you find yourself apprehensive of the opposite sex, you may need to evaluate where those feelings are coming from. Are there healthy boundaries that you need to put in place to keep yourself accountable? What can you do to have a healthy view of the opposite sex?
- Miscommunication ~ Psychologists have been studying the communication challenges between men and women for ages. If you’re married, you know that this is one of the first lessons newly married folks have to learn. Communication takes work. It requires intentionality to “seek first to understand” as Stephen Covey has so wisely taught us. Unfortunately in the workplace, you tend to see men and women operating within silos in the organization, gravitating to those who they connect with easily…And those silos are typically divided by gender. Good communication is the key to any great team. It isn’t fair to you, the team or the organization if you don’t engage the tough work of good communication with your team members. This is true of all members of your team, but the communication challenges by gender can add to the “misses” that you often see among staff.
- Misunderstanding ~ Men and women are equally emotional creatures. We just happen to typically express that emotion differently. David Hare says “Some people carry their heart in their head and some carry their head in their heart. The trick is to keep them apart yet working together.” Oftentimes men and women in the workplace miss one another because they don’t understand the other person’s viewpoint or perspective. We can easily jump to conclusions rather than take the time to understand what the other person is thinking, feeling or perceiving.
What I’m learning about men and women is that we’re so very different and yet so very much the same. I’ve had great relationships with male co-workers and female co-workers, and I’ve had bad relationships with both genders too. I’ve discovered that oftentimes the challenges or issues that arise between myself and my coworkers often have less to do with gender and more to do with the individual, the situation or my own issues.
The reasons men and women “miss” each other are not all that different from other relational challenges you may face. The key is time investment. Because men and women typically think and feel from different perspectives, the chasm between our understandings of one another can feel very vast and insurmountable sometimes. But the truth is that it comes down to building relationships, developing a healthy respect for one another and being committed to healthy dialogue and unity.
That’s the foundation of great teams – whether male or female!