I think it would be arguable to say that everyone is an advocate. We advocate for our favorite sports team in the stands. We advocate for our political representatives by voting on the ballot. We advocate our favorite brands claiming better quality or taste. We advocate for our favorite schools, bands, businesses, the list can go on. We give value and worth to these things by being an advocate for them. The same is true of our relationships with our team members at our jobs. As Christians, advocacy is a huge part of following the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39). As a Christ-follower, what does it mean to be an advocate for your team?
Advocate Through Acknowledging Value
We cannot connect with a team without first realizing that each member has worth and value. By acknowledging team members, we are seeing them. Seeing them is a reminder that their part on the team is a significant, needed, necessary part. One of the most loving things we can do as Christians is to give value to others. I’ve been a coach and team member to several different teams; the foundation we always began with was acknowledging the value of what each member brought to the table. This connection established trust and strength to build upon.
Listening Before Speaking
Listening is the most respectful way to communicate. When a team member speaks up, make the effort to listen closely. It’s even a good practice to repeat back what you heard to communicate you’re on the same page. Listening well may even provide some insight on how to solve a problem or reach a goal quicker. Be intentional about the language you use in response, sharing your thoughts & opinions without tearing down or negatively commanding. Asking questions is also a great way to gain insight into your team members’ thoughts, opinions, and reasoning. If something isn’t clear to you, do not be afraid to ask! To be an effective advocate you need to build good relationships with the people you are working towards your goals with, so communicate well!
Advising and Supporting
Selfish advice is bad advice & support for personal gain is robbery. Advice coming from a selfish agenda is no longer about being of service to another, which is no longer acting as a team. A good team advocate is able to process several points of view, not only seeing things from their own perspective but taking into consideration the entire team’s insight. When advocating for other members’ success, we achieve our own.
Lastly, a key ingredient in being an effective advocate for your team is following through. Make an effort to be patient if your team isn’t moving toward the set goal right away. Continue to listen, advise, and ask questions if there are still unresolved smaller goals. Reaffirm the common vision of the team & encourage progress! Follow up on loose-ends and check in with your team members. There is no perfect advocate, but you can make a difference for your team by simply being willing to listen, support, and work toward the common goal.
Advocacy overlaps in several areas of our lives. Putting it into practice at work can create a much more harmonious, effective team. Whether you’re on a marketing team, administrative board, elder team, or university faculty you can make an impact by adding value to your team members. Practice effective advocacy in the workplace and see what your team could accomplish.