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Does Your Team Have The Right Chemistry?

One the most influential books on leadership for me has been Bill Hybels‘ “Axiom” (purchase below). I wish I had picked it up and read it years ago when I first stepped into organizational leadership. It would have saved me lots of headaches and missteps and it would have saved the people around me from a lot of Sean-inflicted wounds.

Since reading Axiom one line has reverberated in my soul. Talking about staffing and leadership, Hybels says, “All I ever wanted was to do was something that I loved with people I loved to do it with.” That one sentence has been a holy irritation in my soul ever since. Sadly, one of the most critical yet overlooked aspects of congregational leadership is the “chemistry” of the ministry staff. Hybels makes the point that chemistry is as or more critical than competence and character. I have found this to be true.

So why is the chemistry of your team so important?

  1. Productivity. Teams with a high-degree of chemistry simply get more done. They respect and enjoy each other’s gifts and skills. Respect in turn becomes trust.  Without chemistry even something as routine as a weekly staff meetings becomes an energy drain. Teammates stop trying to understand one another’s point of view and paying attention each other’s inputs. I once had the pleasure of being on a team with a high degree of chemistry. We did more together than a group without chemistry could do with twice as many people.
  2. Enjoyment. Nothing is more emotionally invigorating than working with people you personally like. Of course, you want to do well for yourself and your mission, but you also want to work hard and do well for your teammates. Their opinions matter to you. Wondering if you enjoy your teammates? What emotion comes to mind when you consider spending a weekend evening with them at a party? Excitement? Dread? That’ll tell you.
  3. Down Stream. Congregants and customers recognize a team with great chemistry. The enthusiasm teammates have for each other translates into positive vibes for the people you’re trying to serve. When your team lacks chemistry, folks pick-up on that as well. People won’t be able to articulate what’s wrong with your organization, they’ll just say, “Something just doesn’t seem right.”

I think Hybels is right. If you’re looking for a job, look past exteriors like the size of the church or organization or size of your paycheck. And if you’re adding a new staff person, competence and character will get you far, but they won’t take you all the way to where you want to go. Your team needs chemistry. You’ll miss the mark in regards to your mission until you have it.

So what’s been your experience? Have you been on teams with great chemistry? Bad chemistry? What has made the difference?

Help us figure out what makes great chemistry by leaving a comment below.


  • Sean,
    Great post! As one who is blessed to work on a GREAT team I can affirm each of your points above. My ministry team includes Brandon Baker (who write http://www.practicalyouthministry.com ) and Scott Seela.

    We are more productive and we enjoy our work because we enjoy the team. But your 3rd point is the one that has the most potential. At Western Hills we have never made an announcement like, “We, the staff want you to know how much we enjoy working together.” BUT we constantly get unsolicited feedback from the congregation that they can tell how much we enjoy our jobs. That is a huge advantage because they feel great about their church.

    Thanks for the post!

    • You guys have great team, Scott. It’s evident in your church.

  • zack blaisdell

    Sean, this is all so true. I’ve read Axioms by Bill Hybels and highly recommend it the resource.
    Your points were also highlighted in 7 Practices of Effective Ministry by Andy Stanley in one way or another.
    The ability to work together as a group like a well-oiled machine is crucial. To hear and respect another person’s point of view is so important in all phases of life.
    Thank you Sean for pointing this important subject. God bless you, your family,and the work y’all are doing. Grace and Peace.

  • I’m pretty sure that we don’t have the right team.

    But it doesn’t seem to matter.

    Where the Word is present, and where people believe it…things happen…often in spite of our best efforts.


    • Yeah, Steve you’re pretty go looking there. I would make a distinction between the “right team” and great chemistry. They are not always hand-in-hand nor exclusive. Very different, even competitive teammate can have great chemistry. And sometimes people who get along well have bad work chemistry.

      It’s all about fit for me. That’s a broad category.

  • I think, Zack, Sean and myself are triplets.

    I’ll take it. You guys are much better looking and a lot younger than I am 😀

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