Lead Like You Love ‘Em: Building Teams with Heart

But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, giving thanks to his God.<br />


“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

Philippians 2:3 (ESV)


Alright team, listen up! We’ve all been there, stuck under a boss who throws their weight around like a kingpin in a bad movie. Sure, maybe they get things done, but often at the expense of their team’s well-being. Burned-out employees, stifled creativity, and a work environment colder than a Minnesota winter in the middle of January– that’s not exactly a recipe for success.

Philippians 2:3 throws down the gauntlet for leaders like us: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (ESV) Forget the “me, me, me” leadership style. We’re called to something different – compassionate leadership. It’s about ditching the ego and recognizing the amazing people behind the titles.


Building a Symphony, not a Solo Act

Imagine your team as a beautiful tapestry. Each person brings a unique thread, their skills, experiences, and perspectives. A compassionate leader focuses on weaving those threads together, creating something truly spectacular. It’s not about a one-man show; it’s about harnessing the collective power of the team.

When I look at my team for Eclipse DOT that the good Lord has allowed me to curate from across the world, it simply amazes me how GREAT it is to see everyone’s different unique abilities. A few years ago, I found Richelle our bookkeeper. She wanted to learn more about accounting, now she pretty much runs the show for accounting in our company. Sam used to sell cars and taught English as a second language in China for a while. Then he came to us and is now a team lead for our client care and sales teams!  Then there is Gale, she used to work for a really big name in the horse training industry, and now she helps our clients stay 100% compliant. William started with us as a part-time position, but less than a year later is leading a team of developers helping us to re-imagine DOT Docs (the software that we have built for DOT compliance) and make it a million times better!  Then let’s not forget about Jovelyn. I came to our team and said that I needed a personal assistant to help me stay on top of things. Richelle introduced us and now I can’t imagine my life without her!  She makes things so much easier on me and our whole team. In fact, if you are reading this, it’s because she published it and sent out the email! So, without her on my team, this would not be as good as it is!

I’m sure that I missed some people on our team, but the thing that I constantly remember as a leader is that without my team, none of this would be possible. There is no way that we could conquer the world of DOT or spreading the word of God across the world!

If you think about it we are all part of God’s team! How do you fit into his team? What is your role? And how do you better serve him?


Here’s the thing: Translating this into action on Monday morning might seem fuzzy. But fear not, my friends! Here’s your battle plan for building a compassionate team that thrives:

  • Become a Listening Machine: Active listening is your secret weapon. Shut up, pay attention, and I don’t just mean to the words, but the emotions simmering beneath the surface. Ask questions that make them think, really listen to their ideas, and show you actually care about what they have to say. Don’t be that leader who zones out while someone’s pouring their heart out. Make eye contact, ask clarifying questions, and show them you’re genuinely interested.


  • Truth Time: Let’s rip off the band aid: open communication is a must. We need a safe space where folks feel comfortable sharing their ideas, concerns, heck, even their failures. Vulnerability builds trust, and trust builds teams. Imagine a team where everyone feels supported enough to take risks and share their wildest ideas – that’s the magic we’re striving for.  Open communication is a two-way street. Sure, you need to listen actively, but you also need to be transparent and honest with your team. Share the wins, but also be upfront about challenges.


  • Celebrate the Quirks (and the Wins): Every team member brings a unique flavor to the table. Don’t just value results, value the person behind them. Appreciate their weird quirks, their strengths, and what makes them tick. Maybe Sarah loves wearing mismatched socks, but she’s also a coding whiz. John might crack terrible jokes, but his customer service skills are legendary. Embrace the full package – it’s what makes your team special.  Celebrating wins is a no-brainer, but don’t forget to acknowledge the small stuff too. A public shout-out for a great idea, a personalized note for going the extra mile – these small gestures go a long way in showing you appreciate your team.


  • Be Their Cornerman: Life throws curveballs, both personally and professionally. Be there for your team, through thick and thin. Offer guidance, celebrate their wins (big or small!), and pick them up when they stumble. A compassionate leader is a cheerleader, a mentor, and a shoulder to lean on. Being a compassionate leader doesn’t mean being a pushover. You still need to set expectations, hold people accountable, and make tough calls when needed. But you do it with respect, with understanding, and with a genuine desire to see your team win. It’s about tough love – challenging them to be their best selves while creating an environment where they feel supported and valued.


Take Action: Lead Like You Love Today!

Alright, aspiring compassionate leaders, let’s put this into practice! Here are some battle-tested tips to get you started:

  • Schedule one-on-one meetings: Dedicate time to truly connect with each team member. Ask about their goals, challenges, and how you can support them. These meetings are gold. They show your team you care, and they give you valuable insights into how to be a better leader for them.


  • Start small, but start now: Maybe it’s a simple “thanks for your hard work today” or offering to help with a personal project. Small acts of compassion go a long way. You don’t have to overhaul your entire leadership style overnight. Start with small, intentional acts of compassion, and build from there.


  • Seek feedback: Don’t be afraid to ask your team how you’re doing as a leader. Are you creating a safe space? Are you listening effectively?


  • Become a Champion for Growth: Compassionate leaders understand that growth is a journey, not a destination. Look for opportunities to invest in your team’s development. Offer opportunities for training, mentorship, or participation in conferences.


  • Celebrate Openly, Debrief Honestly: When things go well, celebrate together as a team! But remember, setbacks are inevitable. Use them as opportunities for growth. Hold debriefing sessions that focus on learning, not blame. Analyze what went wrong and use that knowledge to improve as a team.


  • Lead by Example: Remember, your team is always watching. Be the embodiment of the compassionate leader you want to be. Show empathy, celebrate others’ successes, and be open about your own challenges. When you lead by example, you inspire your team to do the same, creating a ripple effect of compassion throughout the organization.


Leading with compassion isn’t just good for your team; it’s a reflection of God’s own heart. So, go forth, leaders!  Build teams that are strong, not because of fear or obligation, but because of a shared purpose, mutual respect, and the unwavering compassion that Christ calls us to. Remember, a transformed leader can transform a team, and a transformed team can transform the world!  Now get out there and be the leader your team (and God) needs you to be!


Dear Heavenly Father,

As we gather together today, our hearts are stirred by Your Word and Your call to lead with love. We come before You, recognizing the challenge and privilege of leadership, and we seek Your guidance in building teams with heart.

Thank You, Lord, for the wisdom found in Philippians 2:3, reminding us to do nothing from selfish ambition but to count others more significant than ourselves. Help us, O God, to embody this humility in our leadership, putting the needs of our team members above our own desires.

Lord, we confess that sometimes the pressures of leadership can lead us astray. We may be tempted to prioritize our own agendas or seek recognition for ourselves. Forgive us, Lord, and realign our hearts with Your will – a will that seeks the flourishing of others above all else.

As we reflect on the analogy of a symphony, where each member contributes their unique talents to create something beautiful, we are reminded of the diverse gifts and experiences within our teams. Thank You for the incredible individuals You’ve placed in our midst, each one adding their own thread to the tapestry of our work.

Lord, we lift up each member of our team to You. From Richelle, who started as a bookkeeper and now leads our accounting efforts, to Sam, whose journey from selling cars to leading our client care and sales teams is a testament to Your faithfulness. We thank You for Gale, William, Jovelyn, and all the others who bring their unique abilities and passions to our team. Help us to recognize and celebrate the value they bring.

Grant us the strength, Lord, to lead with compassion and integrity. Help us to become listening machines, actively seeking to understand the thoughts and emotions of our team members. May our communication be marked by honesty, transparency, and vulnerability, creating a safe space for collaboration and innovation.

Lord, as we embark on this journey of compassionate leadership, we ask for Your continued guidance and support. May Your Spirit empower us to lead by example, to champion growth and development, and to celebrate both victories and setbacks as opportunities for learning and growth.

In the name of Jesus, who exemplified perfect love and humility in His leadership, we pray.


Dan Greer