Leadership Lessons from St. Augustine

May 9, 2007 — Leave a comment

The executive minister from Christ’s Church–Jason Cullum–is a gifted leader and team builder. In his blog he details a field-trip that he led his team on last week and the lesson he gave them on teamwork.

I found it really helpful.

Here’s an excerpt:

Last week I took a team I had built from the ground up on a field trip. It was the last day I would be their leader. They are an incredible team. Passionate. Strong. Energetic. They truly embody the elements of a great team. I took them to The Castillo De San Marco. For those not up on the history of North Florida, the Castillo is the oldest remaining masonry fort in the United States. It was constructed in 1672 by Spain and was built completely of something called coquina. More on that later.

The fort was originally constructed for two purposes. One, as a protection for the city of St. Augustine and two, as an outpost for the growing Spanish colony in the new world. The Castillo De San Marco was never taken by force, even though it was attempted on several occasions. The unique design and composition of the coquina made it virtually impenetrable.
While the fort was never conquered by military might it was however, politically traded. The Castillo was transferred from country to country, from treaty to treaty. It went from the Spain to Britain, back to Spain, then to America, to the Confederate States and finally back to the United States. Through two hundred years, The Castillo De San Marco exchanged hands six times, yet never fell in battle. Nor did any of the tenants make any major changes to its unique design.

The Castillo has stood the test of war, expansion, weather and time. As I stood high up on one of the four bastions I realized how special a place this is. I was not only standing on an incredible feat of engineering and design, but I was face to face with a lesson my team needed to hear on my last day with them.

It is truly amazing to see how The Castillo De San Marco has stood the test of time. While one our field trip I asked a park ranger what allowed the structure to stay so strong. He simply said, “Coquina.” The entire fort was constructed with small, thousands of year old, sea shells. Well, it was a little more than just shells. While the compacted shells were quarried near by, they still required something to bond them together and provide their strength. That’s where clams came in. What they did was boil huge vats of clams until the clams broke down into their most basic form…lime. That lime was then combined with a little water and sand to make an almost impenetrable fortress.

So if you break this team down to its most basic element what would you get? An enormous and passionate desire to impact the lives of kids. That’s simple. It’s why they do what they do. But it’s also how they do it that makes them unique.

Here are the eleven characteristics that set this team apart:
1. Trust. They trust each other. They trust their teams. They trust their programs.

2. People. They love people. They do what they do for people. Others come first.

3. Team. They are not alone and they never think individually. It’s about moving the entire group…even if it is one person at a time.

4. Work. They are not afraid of it. Great things require it. They model it to everyone.

5. Fun. They love to laugh…especially at themselves. While they are serious about what they do, they are never too serious to loose sight of the joy of what they do. Laughter keeps them grounded.

6. Big Picture. They see the forest…and the trees. They understand that they do not exist in a vacuum. Every decision or action affects another. They balance the extreme paradigm of big and little.

7. Excellence. They do everything great. They don’t accept much less. The people they serve deserve it. Whether it is their favorite activity or something they loathe, they do it right.

8. Creative. They are gifted to see unique ways for accomplishing rote activities. They make communication come alive. They provide texture for everything.

9. Ministry. They understand service and sacrifice. They understand that in the quiet moments, one on one is where most ministry occurs. They understand they don’t work in a 9 to 5 world. Ministry is caring enough to stay longer, listen more and serve better.

10. Discontent. They are never happy with the ways things are or have been. They always want to improve, grow and achieve their vision.

11. Servants. They desire to serve those around them…and each other. They believe the greatest impact they can make on the world is to meet the needs of others…even if it requires to put themselves second. They live to impact others.

While this may not be the formula to create great teams everywhere, it is what created a truly exceptional team here.

Here’s a link if you’d like to read more: the Fission blog

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