4 Ingredients for Developing Great Teams

by Dow Tippett

Let’s talk briefly about how to work with people. Specifically, how to find, train, and keep the best people on your team.

First, let me lay some context. Bill Hybels said the local church is the hope of the world. These principles will work in your family, in your full-time job if it’s outside of your ministry role, but we are going to talk specifically about working with people in the setting of the church.

Here is my premise: Everyone is a leader! Everyone can become a better leader.

However, you will never lead a ministry team effectively unless and until you become a great team player. You will never lead more effectively than you follow.

Here are 4 ingredients to working well with people:


First, we must build relationship and rapport.

Trust is built on the basis of competence, chemistry, and character.

If you are good at what you do, people will want to help you, but if you don’t have chemistry with them, they won't stay long. A team without chemistry creates silos where people do work that has individual accomplishment but there is very little interaction between parts.

I have seen great leaders attract people around them based on their competence, they build relationship and have fun with great chemistry, but if the leader lacks character, the team will operate with dysfunctional. The needed foundation of trust will not be strong to build on.

We build trust when we work as a team with people. When people get the idea they are working for us and not with us, they will resent us. When we value them, and invite them to work with us, it’s more about we than me.

Trust is vital to the recruiting process. You will have to build trust to build a team, and if you break trust it will always impact your team.


You have to put more into people than you take out. If you don’t invest in the people around you, you will not have great relationships and you will not be able to maintain a healthy team.

You have to know when to invest, why you are investing, who to invest in, how to invest the right things to get the right return. This requires intuition, which is often gained through experience. Don’t be afraid to fail, but always fail forward.

Training is all about investing in people. Training is not just telling people what to do or how to do it. People have to know you care. People have to know that you will be there for them. People have to know that you care more about helping them become who God has created them to be.

Every leader needs a clear vision on what they are doing and why, but how we engage people and involve them should help them become something more. We need to see people as apprentices that we are helping to prepare for God’s next step for them and not slaves to only serve our vision at the expense of the vision God has placed in their heart.


We need to help people grow spiritually, emotionally, and relationally, in their leadership. Some people are immature in their relationship with God, they may be immature in their work ethic, they may be immature in their communication skills, they may be easily offended, maturity is vital to getting along with people.

I look for maturity in potential leaders, but I also look for a desire for growth, someone may have some areas of maturity, but if they don’t have a desire for growth, then they may not be flexible in the areas that you need them to learn and adapt to the team.

Maturity empowers others and allows them to learn and grow and make mistakes without getting upset or blowing up. Maturity is patient with others. Think about the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. I don’t care how full of the Spirit you think you are if you can’t be patient with people and allow them to make a mistake and not jump down their throat, then you need another dose.

There are certain toxic things that cannot be allowed even in any form, deception, rebellion, strife, murmuring, complaining. We must shut those things down quick. It’s not ok on our team, it’s not ok in our church, its not ok in our community. But everything else, deserves patience.

Maturity sets people up for success, not failure. Maturity is being secure in who we are so others can be secure in who they are. With maturity diversity brings unity. The body of Christ is full of diversity, our church is full of diversity, our maturity allows us to embrace people fully and come together on all the important things without splitting hairs on things that are not going matter in heaven.

E - Expectation

As a leader, our role is to understand what is expected of us, clearly define the expectations we have for our team, make sure those expectations are understood, ensure that those expectations are consistently being met, confront expectations that are not being met, and to honor, praise, and reward our team when they meet and exceed expectations.

1. Communicate Appreciation – Be clear and specific

2. Apologize – It is ok to be wrong. People follow your strength, but connect to your weakness.

3. Set a plan – Make sure goals, strategy, and KRA’s (Key Responsibility Areas) are clearly defined

4. Set a timeline – Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” So, set clear timelines or every task will take forever!

5. Love and encourage


So, here is the conclusion: Developing great teams requires TIME. Trust, Investment, Maturity, and Expectation set the stage for great work, but developing these skills takes time. Be diligent, be clear, and be patient.