Mary Morgan saw the Ministry Insights Equipping Conference email invitation and thought, This is so affordable – I could become certified and develop skills to help our team.
The timing was just right.
Mary, who at the time was executive pastor at Good News Church (Sioux Falls, SD), had become acquainted with Leading From Your Strengths a few years earlier when the church staff worked together through a 9-month discipleship process. The program included the LFYS profiles.
Since then the church staff’s makeup had changed and Mary, whose responsibilities include staff development, knew it was time for some team building. “Our staff is very diverse. We get along pretty well given how different we are,” says Mary. “But I knew we could grow and do better if we understood each other’s differences.”
After attending the conference during the summer, Mary set about preparing each individual staff member for the fall retreat. Those steps of preparation, she says, were pivotal in leading to an informational team retreat experience and building a cohesive team.
Each Member Processed the Profiles One-on-One
In the weeks leading up to the retreat, Mary used her one-on-one weekly meetings with staff members to spend time processing each one’s LFYS assessment. “Together, we went through their profile step by step,” says Mary. “I asked the staff member to choose three sentences or phrases from each paragraph or section that was true about him or her – and we discussed them one at a time.”
The assessment was a tool that helped us open up. “We talked about specific situations and how that team member handled things differently than others,” says Mary.” By the time the staff came together for the retreat, each member had thoroughly digested their individual profiles, understood their personal strengths, and had a basic grasp of what the others brought to the team, too.
The Staff Processed the Profiles Together
The Equipping Conference not only gave Mary the tools she needed to coach each staff member through his or her individual profile but also prepared her to lead the team building process.
She structured the retreat to closely follow Rodney Cox’s conference presentation. During the opening session, Mary explained the biblical foundation for the Mystery of Differences and ended the evening with devotional material and time for individual reflection. The next morning, Session 2 opened with hands-on exercises and teaching that explained the Law of Differences.
For the final session, Mary distributed packets that included a one-page consolidated summary profile (prepared by Ministry Insights) for each person, as well as the team’s Strengths Wheel. One at a time around the circle, each team member shared one piece of information from their consolidated report. The rest of the team members responded and affirmed ways they recognized that strength in the team member and how that strength contributed to the team. Then they started around the circle again with another sentence or phrase from the report until each person had walked through their consolidated report with the team.
“It took all afternoon,” says Mary. “But the staff said the final session was one of their favorite parts of the retreat. It allowed them to articulate the value of each other’s differences.”
For instance, one staff member ranked a 10 as a reflective problem solver while four others scored a 10 as aggressive problem solvers – the widest difference margin possible. “We joked about how he must feel outnumbered,” says Mary. Yet as a result of the discussion, the team affirmed the value that the Reflective’s questions bring to decisions. “He’s not just trying to slow us down,” says Mary. “He’s trying to make sure we haven’t missed ideas or ways of doing things that would cause unnecessary conflicts – and he learned to appreciate when an Aggressive says, ‘now we’ve talked about it and we just need to get going.’”
Two Key Preparations Culminate in Retreat Success
Two facets of preparation, says Mary, contributed to the retreat’s resounding success: her training at the Equipping Conference and the time she spent with each staff member to process their individual profiles before the retreat.
She arrived at the conference with copies of her staff’s completed assessments so she could understand how to process them while she was trained – and even get advice from Ministry Insights staff. “The conference prepared me to walk through the profiles with each staff member individually and gave me the material and structure for the retreat,” says Mary.
Once home, she purposefully set about to process the individual profiles with each staff member over a three-month period The training showed her how to affirm each person’s strengths and speak into the other side. “I was able to truly coach,” says Mary. “The time and money spent on the certification and training was worth every penny for me as a leader and for our team.”
“For me and the staff, the LFYS process has been an incredible tool,” says Mary. “Our retreat was the culmination of an invaluable season of growth and discovery.”