Five leadership habits that will destroy teamwork

Meredith Flynn —  February 13, 2014

Pat_Pajak_blog_calloutCOMMENTARY | Pat Pajak

You might actually be tearing down the very thing you’re trying to build if you’re guilty of these teamwork killers:

1. Practicing the age-old adage: My way or the highway
When trying to build teamwork, don’t forget that everyone has an opinion. Oftentimes, the thoughts, ideas and suggestions that arise through team discussions can be helpful. Listen to and learn from your team, involve them in decision making, ask for their input, and embrace the reality that teamwork can often be better than “my way or the highway!”

2. Being all about the numbers
Make no mistake about it, numbers do matter and the bottom line is important, but it’s not the final measurement. The very best teamwork (strategies, goals, planning and effort) doesn’t always produce the expected results. Numbers become a problem when a leader puts so much focus on them that he or she forgets about the importance of the team – the people who are making those numbers happen. People matter more than numbers, and forgetting that fact destroys teamwork.

3. Talking without listening
If no one else can get a word in or share an opinion, there is no teamwork. A leader destroys the opportunity to build future leaders if he or she is always talking and never listening. If people are never heard, they will soon cease to share things that matter.

4. Changing things just for the sake of changing things
Change is good and sometimes necessary. But it must be based on a specific outcome. Any leader who takes this to another level by changing things just to let you know they’re in charge doesn’t really understand teamwork. Operating as a team requires a leader to explain why change is necessary, move carefully through the process, and be willing to admit that what the team is saying sometimes makes perfect sense. Failure to survey the impact, timing and necessity of change destroys teamwork. Get everyone on board before any change takes place.

5. Micro-managingThe quickest way to destroy a team is to micro-manage every decision, action and assignment. Team members know the difference between being given a responsibility, and being handed a predetermined to-do list. Leaders who care more about things being done exactly their way destroy the notion of teamwork. Are you really interested in building a team? Remember the word of Dr. John Maxwell: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Pat Pajak leads IBSA’s church strengthening team.

Meredith Flynn


Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.