Teams: Why Guess About Each Other When You Can Know Each Other?

Russ Olmon and Lake Pointe Team are Accountable to Know Each Other’s Strengths

“Pastors have two choices when it comes to managing staff,” says Russ Olmon, multi-site pastor at Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall, TX. “You can believe that you’re gifted at guessing at how God has made people. Or you can know who you are working with by using a tool that is objective and biblically-based – one that has been shown to have been blessed by God.”

Russ Olmon and one of his team's Strengths Wheels

Russ Olmon and one of his team’s Strengths Wheels

The tool Russ refers to is the Leading From Your Strengths profile assessment, which he and his Lake Pointe team have embraced as an institutional standard over the last 15 years.

“Why guess about people – when you can know them?” says Russ.

Value the Strengths of the People on Your Team

“We want our ministry to thrive. That means we want our team members to thrive in their positions,” says Russ. “To do that, we need to know their strengths and set them up for success.” Each Lake Pointe team member completes the profile.  Many departments post their team’s Strengths Wheel on staff cubicles, reflecting team members’ strengths. In fact, individual differences are valued so highly that staff members and supervisors are responsible for knowing each other’s strengths and using the strengths wheel data as they relate to one another in their day-to-day work.

The leadership team reviews staff profiles regularly, especially to ensure a good fit when they are considering moving a team member into a new position or department. Even potential staff candidates complete the profile assessment as part of the interview process.

“Our people know how to talk with each other well,” says Russ. “Conflicts may arise from competence or other issues, but our team knows how to communicate because they have the tools they need from their profiles.” Profile data helps the staff to circumvent many of the usual communication problems so common on teams, allowing Lake Pointe personnel to focus on ministry instead.

Value the Strengths of the People You Lead

Russ espouses the same approach to the profiles in his role as president of Ministry Advantage (MA), a coaching and equipping ministry for leaders which grew out his own personal need. After beginning work as a pastor, Russ discovered his seminary training prepared him well in theology, preaching, and teaching – but did not address skills in communicating, developing teams, and interacting as a leader with different kinds of people. Ministry Advantage steps in that gap for ministry leaders.

A partner brought the Leading From Your Strengths profiles to Russ’s attention around the time of Ministry Advantage’s launch. Once Russ completed his own assessment and saw its benefit, he and his team integrated the profile into all MA coaching and training. Each client completes the profile before his or her coaching session. “This way, the coach knows who they are coaching and knows how to communicate with him,” says Russ. “The profiles have tremendously enhanced our ability to coach ministry leaders.”

Leading From Your Strengths has impacted Russ’s personal life as well as his ministry life.

When his son, Stephen, entered adolescence, Russ asked him to complete the profile. The results shocked Russ – and transformed his relationship with Steve. “I work hard and then play when I’m done,” says Russ. “Often I don’t leave enough time to play.” But Steve is wired to have fun along the way. Russ had assumed their conflict was one of values, but the profile revealed the two Olmons had different strengths. Russ realized he might alienate his son if he didn’t change the way he was leading as a father. The very next weekend father and son set about washing the car, and Russ turned the water hose loose on his son. Steve was shocked – and thrilled. “That experience became the basis for one way I related to him from then on,” says Russ. “The profiles changed everything. We get things done, but we always have fun.”

Bottom Line: Value Other People

At the core, Russ believes the profiles reflect a biblical truth: we are to esteem each other.

“God says each of us is ‘fearfully and wonderfully made,’ and everything God makes is good,” says Russ. “With the profiles, leaders can know what their people are like and how to relate to them with respect. You don’t need to guess.”

It’s a tool that helps bridge interpersonal issues that arise so often in ministry. “It works,” says Russ. “Who doesn’t want that?”

As president of Ministry Advantage, Russ Olmon has served more than 1,000 churches in the U.S., Canada, and Australia, working to equip pastors and leaders to reach their full potential. He has been pastor of multi-site ministry at Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall, TX, since 2004 and a Ministry Insights partner for more than 15 years. Russ and his wife Suzy have one adult son.

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