Teams that Thrive by Ryan T. Hartwig and Warren Bird is an interesting read. This book is mainly directed at people who are either a member of or the leader of a senior leadership team at a church. They argue that there are 5 core disciplines of a team that will improve its function.

Summary of Teams that Thrive

The book is written on a very practical level – which I personally find boring though I know many like practical works. There is very little theory here. They start by trying to answer the question “Why read a book about leadership teams?”. To me, the book doesn’t need to answer that question because the reader is already doing so. Part two argues for the validity of leadership teams from a biblical foundation (chapter 3) and a practical need (chapter 4). Then part three asks how well a team is thriving. Chapter 5 gives 8 reasons that teams fail. Chapter 6 gives a few disciplines of teams that thrive (which are expanded on in the later chapters). So the first 100 ish pages are not even to the main point.

Part four, the main point, is called “What Are the Collaborative Disciplines of Teams that Thrive?”. Chapter 7 calls for the team to focus on purpose; both defining it and staying on topic. Some problems from a lack of purpose are: a lack of clarity and a lack of challenge. They argue for a 5c (Rick Warren Purpose Driven Life term here) purpose: clear, compelling, challenging, calling-oriented, consistently held. The benefits of doing this are that it will narrow a team’s scope, create space for others to contribute at a high level, compel people to contribute their best to the team, inspire and energize the team, distinguish the leadership team’s unique place in the church, and cultivate trust and relationships among team members. Thriving teams make key decisions, do it as a team, and decide the most important issues, and structure meetings to do so.

Chapter 8 argues that a leader needs to leverage the differences of the team. This is done by having 5 or fewer people on the team, who are diversely skilled and experienced. Make sure it’s the right people and transition the wrong people to a different team. Chapter 9 argues that a leader should rely on inspiration more than control to lead a team. In other words, the leader needs to give other people a chance and inspire them to do their best. It’s a function of discipleship. Be strategically incompetent to allow others a chance to lead sometimes. Chapter 10 argues that a team leader should intentionally structure the team’s decision making process. For a communication major, this is nothing new. Chapter 11 argues that a team leader must build a culture of continuous collaboration. Keep each other in the information loop as much as it will help the team. Have structured meetings with the structure in place before the meeting begins so that everyone comes prepared. Stay in contact throughout the week to keep momentum.

Evaluation of Teams that Thrive

I went into this book having heard about it on multiple podcasts as if it were an amazing book every leader should read. I left it puzzled as to why people had that thought. The book’s main argument is about 130 pages, but the book itself is 250 pages long. The book has some editorial problems as well (I noticed spelling and punctuation errors). While the book describes itself as well researched, its structure of endnotes prevents it from reading as a well-researched book. The Endnotes also hide the fact that there are very few scientific studies referenced in the book, and instead many other leadership theory books are referenced. While I definitely appreciated the arguments of chapters 7, 8, and 11, the book itself is uneven due to its many contributors.

If you are still interested in this book, and want to support my site, you can purchase the book from amazon.

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