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What Happens When Someone on Your Team Drops the Ball?





I-am-the-bossThe power of accountability sets the tone in any organization.

So, what about when someone completely drops the ball? We all have experienced this as leaders. I know I have. How do you respond?

You give a big assignment or project to someone on your team, and they lay an egg—totally drop the ball and don’t get it done. We’ve all been there. I know I have, both as the goat who goofed up, as well as the one in charge trying to figure out how to handle the situation.

So, how do you handle it? Let’s look at this situation from both sides—both the one who dropped the ball and the one in charge.

1. As the one who dropped the ball, just own up to it. Don’t make excuses. Be self-policing and self-aware. Be accountable, and be mature. Realize that your leader or your boss or the person in charge is trying to figure out how to deal with your mistake or lack of action—lean into that and bring it up first, and tell them it won’t happen again. Don’t wait on them to have to confront you. Be proactive. Leaders would always rather find out from you that you laid an egg versus finding out from someone else, many times when it’s too late to do anything about it.

Own up. Grow Up. Shut up. And don’t be the goat again.

2. As the leader, four things to think about:

  • confrontation
  • conversation
  • restoration
  • affirmation

I got these from Kevin Myers in a talk he did a couple of years ago at 12Stone Church. The key on this is to confront, and then move on. Get through the confrontation and onto the conversation and restoration as quick as possible. If you have the right kind of person on your team, they feel terrible anyway, so spend very little time confronting and way more time on restoration and affirmation.

The reality is, a majority of accountability, both with individuals and with teams, should be built around conversation and affirmation. This is not just telling people they are great. That’s part of it. But instead, affirming this person and your team about where you are going as a team, how you are going to get there, how you are winning and how they are incredibly important to the success and accomplishments of the team and accomplishing the mission and vision of the organization. Be accountable to the vision.

As a leader, do no withhold affirmation. This is so hard. I struggle with this constantly, making sure I am affirming our team and not just confronting.

Assuming you’ve established trust, a strong level of commitment and a proper corporate culture, then ultimately affirmation is the greatest power and source of strength for team accountability. If all you are doing is confronting and not moving toward conversation and restoration and affirmation, you’ll struggle with team accountability and a culture that is committed and loyal and willing to conquer the hill.

It’s tough to do this, especially for type-A, hard-charging leaders.


Brad Lomenick is president and key visionary of Catalyst—a movement purposed to equip and inspire young Christian leaders through events, resources, consulting and community. Follow him on Twitter @bradlomenick, or read his personal blog at bradlomenick.com.

For the original article, visit bradlomenick.com.

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