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Few mixed-gender work teams in faith-based organizations are as successful they as could be-and the reasons for success or failure are not always evident. Women often grapple with people whose practices and theological understandings do not welcome their leadership, and both men and women fall into counterproductive power struggles and traps of miscommunication. In these circumstances, even highly effective teams have found it hard to explain the magic formula behind their success. Until now.
In the first book to address this issue, Carol Becker gives specific guidance for implementing change in the religious workplace, based on her extensive study of twenty-three different teams of men and women from congregations, denominations, and faith-based nonprofit organizations. Becker uses stories from successful teams to outline nine criteria required for effective mixed-gender working relations and tells how to use these criteria to create and sustain an effective team.
As a prelude to action, mixed-gender teams must be reflective in their work together. Focusing first on the inner work of pausing and pondering rather than acting, effective teams
Reflect about themselves, their team and teammates, and their work.
Learn about gender and individual differences and about leadership and what it takes to build a team.
Examine what they believe (their values) about the leadership of men and women.
Name-or know- themselves and each other deeply.
Include, looking beyond stereotypes and prejudices.
Having accomplished this exercise of awareness through their reflective work, team members then engage with their mission and take specific action to change their way of working together. Effective teams
Communicate with deliberation.
Work together in the same setting, respecting boundaries and sharing commitment.
Influence others toward constructive action, using power positively.
Model new ways of leading together through effective partnership.
In practice, successful teams integrate elements of all nine criteria in order to build a successful mixed-gender work experience. The stories from the teams in this book bring these criteria to life and demonstrate a common theme that is intangible: the great joy that men and women of faith experience when they are working together effectively.
Includes discussion questions for group use.
Create effective and mutually satisfying teams
Becoming Colleagues provides a powerful rationale for personal reflection and change, a call for systemic reform, and specific guidance for implementing change in the faith-based workplace. Through stories of mixed-gender teams in religiously affiliated settings-including congregations, agencies, educational institutions, and other faith-based nonprofit organizations-this book explores nine change factors critical to ensuring that men and women work together in mutually supportive ways. The proven principles revealed through these stories provide a new model for the workplace that is certain to help teams achieve success and satisfaction in their ministries.
"Challenging, helpful, inspiring. . . . Carol Becker lays a foundation for team ministry that can transform the church."—James F. Cobble Jr., executive director, Christian Ministry Resources
"A decade of unique research has produced a management pearl. Becker's performance criteria offer management development value beyond gender diversity and teamwork. She provides new insight into the emerging leadership culture for the millennium. Nonprofit and for-profit leaders take heed!"—James B. Beddow, vice president of learning, the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society
"I could not put this book down. Story after story excited me and piqued my curiosity to want to know more. What delightful reading, with remarkable insights into universal issues about men and women in the workplace! It is a must-read for people in leadership positions who are responsible for personnel management. I will use this book in international training."—Musimbi Kanyoro, general secretary, World YWCA
"Challenging, helpful, inspiring. . . . Carol Becker lays a foundation for team ministry that can transform the church." --James F. Cobble Jr., executive director, Christian Ministry Resources
"A decade of unique research has produced a management pearl. Becker's performance criteria offer management development value beyond gender diversity and teamwork." --James B. Beddow, vice president of learning, the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society
"I could not put this book down. Story after story excited me and piqued my curiosity to want to know more. What delightful reading, with remarkable insights into universal issues about men and women in the workplace! It is a must-read for people in leadership positions who are responsible for personnel management. I will use this book in international training." --Musimbi Kanyoro, general secretary, World YWCA
"Carol Becker's work and creative case studies invite us into the very reflection she encourages as we consider our leadership, power issues, and colleague relationships through the gender lens. I have deep admiration for Carol Becker's work and applaud this book!" --Joanne Negstad, president/CEO, Lutheran Services in America
CAROL E. BECKER is a marketing communications and organizational development consultant who for nearly twenty-five years has helped nonprofit organizations achieve their goals through effective planning and communication. She formed and headed the communication office of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, where she worked for five years. Becker lives in Park Ridge, Illinois.
BRIAN AND MARTHA
CREATING A SUCCESSFUL
For twelve years beginning in 1985, Brian and Martha worked together in a large United Methodist parish in a conservative midwestern city. Brian was the senior pastor and head of a large staff. Martha came to the congregation to work in the nursery school, eventually went to seminary, worked with the youth group, and upon graduation was appointed as an associate pastor in the congregation. Her appointment to the same congregation in which she had worked as a layperson prior to her ordination was unusual, Brian and Martha agree, but this gave them an even greater opportunity to get to know each other over a long period of time. The congregation had the same opportunity to get to know them both. That was part of the formula of their successful shared ministry.
Then quite suddenly, in late 1997, Martha was reassigned to a small solo pastorate just twenty minutes away from the congregation where she had served with Brian. The United Methodist Church has itinerant clergy who agree to move at the will of the denomination. Martha actually moved within weeks of being reassigned. Originally asked by the conference not to reveal her reassignment to Brian until after her interview with the new church, Martha objected and was permitted the time to say goodbye.
I see a lot of senior-associate teams doing effective parallel ministry, but they don't know each other. We had a deeper relationship, and it served the congregation well. Our relationship included deep respect for each other, a sense of safety in sharing our theological ideas with each other, deep listening to each other personally as well as professionally, speaking the truth to each other and to others on our team, and a commitment to helping each other see things from our individual perspectives. These things were most important in building our relationship.
Getting to this point definitely required personal preparation. For one thing, I had to be secure in who I am as a woman. I learned that I do not have to be like a man, but I don't have to force feminism on anyone either. I must confront what's wrong but also be able to step back when it's my issue. I must also be very secure in my own calling to ministry but at the same time flexible enough to realize that change takes time. It's not fair, but that's the way it is. I have to be willing to love people into change. Knowing all this was important since I was the first woman pastor in this congregation.
Getting to know one another does not happen in isolation. We did a lot to build our team. We talked constantly. We spent time together, both working and socializing. And we spent structured time building the team. We also used team reflection as a structured activity to consider our decisions together before we announced them. For me, all of this was an outgrowth of my personal reflection, which was-and is-an integral part of how I do ministry. That is precisely why the reflective tasks must come first. I need to balance the activity by getting away from it. I need to know where the Spirit is leading me. I also spend lots of personal time thinking about where we are going as a congregation. I write my reflections, sometimes for me, sometimes for the congregation. So, yes, the criteria ring true in terms of our experience. But they begin with me.