8 Characteristics of People Who Don’t Fit Well on a Team

Your leadership will only be as strong and as good as the people you have on your team. Making the right choices on who those people are is critical to your fruitfulness and success as a leader. Ron Edmondson shares some characteristics of people who won't fit well on your team.

Originally posted by Ron Edmondson

Have you ever heard the phrase “odd person out”?

It means you don’t fit. You don’t measure up for some reason. You are excluded. Being odd person out can hurt if for some unfair reason one is descriminated against.  While I certainly can’t claim discrimination the way many people understand the term, I’ve been odd man out numerous times. I’ve been there because I’m pastor at times. People assume I can’t also be fun – or I would judge their activities – so there are many social events I don’t get invited to attend. I remember feeling this way as the only person from a single-parent home among my friends in high school. 

We’ve all been excluded at some point in life for some reason. 

It’s a bad thing to be “odd person out” by no choice of your own, but some people actually place themselves in the position by the decisions they make and the way they respond to others. It happens all the time in team dynamics.

Some people seem to choose to be ” odd person out”. The choices they make cause them not to fit well on a particular team.

I’ve led or worked with many teams and whether there are a few people or many on who make up the team, there can often be one who chooses to be “odd person out”. And, in fairness, it may or may not be a conscious decision they’ve made – they simply don’t fit well with the rest of the team, but they got there by some of their own decisions.

If unaddressed it can be dangerous for organizational health. Trying to build consensus or form team spirit becomes more difficult. Morale is infected by the intentional “odd person out”. Spotting this as the problem early can avoid further issues down the road.

In this post, I’ll address some ways this occurs or symptoms of the issue. I’m writing from the perspective of the one who doesn’t fit well on the team. 

Here are 8 ways to be the “odd person out” on a team:

1.  Be resistant to every change – Whenever a new idea is presented, always be the first to say it won’t work. You don’t have to have a reason. Just oppose it.

2.  Always be negative – about everything – See the glass half-empty. Always. There’s nothing good about this place – leader – idea – day – life.

3.  Always have an excuse – It’s not your fault. It’s someone else’s fault. Always.

4.  Never have the solution – It’s your job to point out problems, not to help solve them. In fact, you don’t care to build – you’re here to tear down. And, you intend to do your job well.

5.  Hold opinions until after something isn’t working well – Make sure everyone knows you were opposed to the idea from the start. You can clearly see how things should have been done. And, you make sure everyone knows. 

6.  Talk behind people’s back – Rather than going to the source – it stirs more drama if you talk about someone rather than to someone. Of course,  you talk behind the leader’s back too, though your usually extremely pleasant in their presence. 

7.  Refuse to participate in any team social activities – Who needs them, right? Why would you want to hang out with people you work with? You might get to know them – and they might get to know you. 

8.  Don’t buy into the vision – And, actually, this translates into working against the vision. You may even have a vision of your own. 

Of course, these are written with a hint of sarcasm, but these people distance themselves from others on the team by the way they respond on the team. Have you ever worked with anyone like this?

As you read the list, do you spot the “odd person out” on your team?

It should be noted, this doesn’t mean these are bad people. Many times, I’ve learned, these people were injured in some way previously. It could have been on the job or in their personal life. They may have been passed over for a promotion or they began to feel taken advantage of in some way. They may have social disorders which need to be addressed. They may just really be negative about their own life and bring this attitude into their professional life. Often, understanding why they feel as they do can help address their performance on the team. 

I should also note, I’m not advocating always agreeing with a team. It’s okay to have different opinions, challenge the system – and even the leader. Differing viewpoints help make us all better. The key is to do so in a spirit of cooperation, not a spirit of disruption. You don’t have to be the odd person out – even if you’re different from everyone else. In fact, don’t be.





A strong sense of calling! Is it the missing ingredient in today’s leadership?  

Over the years, I have come to a few conclusions about leadership. As a leader and a leader developer, I am always thinking about various aspects of leadership: What characteristics make a good leader? What are the some of the best practices of good leaders?

 One of the aspects of leadership that, in my opinion, is often missing, overlooked or not considered important, is a sense of “Calling.” At times I’ve gotten pushback when suggesting that a leader needs to be called into leadership. Some feel I’m advocating a sort of Pauline experience” that is not normative; Moses and the burning bush.

I devoted an entire chapter in my book “Leaders Who Last” to calling.  If you were interested in pastoral ministry during the days of Charles Spurgeon and wanted to attend his college, you did not get in until Spurgeon himself had a conversation with you and was convinced that you were “called.” 

Calling has to do with the God of the universe speaking into your life and circumstances, expressing his will and desire for you. Suffice it to say that every Christian should serve the Lord by functioning in the body of Christ. At the same time, I believe that those who are serving in major leadership roles should have a strong sense of calling on their life (however that call is ascertained and experienced.) There is too much at stake to simply fill a slot or assume a responsibility based on feeling, desire, or ambition.Here are three aspects of “calling that I have been thinking about lately:

 1.  What are you called to do?

As a leader we need to spend time discovering our spiritual gifts. This can be accomplished through an inventory, by responding to questions. It can also be ascertained through feedback from those who know you well, along with your own evaluative experience. Additionally, ask yourself what are you passionate about and care deeply about. What keeps you up at night, or gets you up in the morning?  Gifts, passion, burdens can very well point to what the Lord is calling you to do.

2.  Where are you called to do it?

The world is a big place, and you can’t be everywhere.  Do you have a particular burden for a certain part of world? Do you seem to have an unusual interest in one country over another? Some, from early on, are drawn to Asia or Latin America or Africa. Others are even more specific and have a strong interest in a specific country but are not quite sure why. Jim and Elizabeth Elliot would be an example of this. Hudson Taylor and his interest in China or William Cary and his feeling drawn to India would be two more such examples.

The Holy Spirit could be placing an interest for a geographic region on your heart and that might be his calling for you.

3.  With whom and for whom are you called to do it?

What you may be called to do and where can then be followed by what kinds of people you feel called to invest in. Mother Teresa was called to the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, India.  Here we have a country and people type. Some have a burden for parents, for successful business people, for the homeless, for unwed mothers.  You get the idea.

When you think, pray and discern what, where and whom, it can get pretty exciting. Personally, I feel called to work with aspiring and emerging leaders.  My purpose statement, born out of my calling, is: “To equip and empower the next generation of leaders in local churches by coaching, writing and teaching.” I don’t have a geographic aspect to my calling other than I want it lived out in local churches.

I would like to see the concept of calling revived so that it receives some fresh and creative attention. It could very well be the missing link in God-anointed ministry. Calling can help you stay the course when you are tempted to quit. It can anchor you in the grace and empowering of the Holy Spirit as you persist and don’t give up.  (I Timothy 4:16)

As stated above, all Christians are called to serve (Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4); but, in another sense, there is the need also for a new generation of visionary leaders who are clearly called by God to lead the charge in a powerful new way.


Warning signs of a bully church member!

Leading can be diffuclt, and in many cases, is difficult. There are certain kinds of people that you are leading that appear to be helpful, but in reality they are hurtful and very harmful. But how do you recognize them? Thom Rainder gives us some clues.

Originally posted by Thom Rainer

Eight warning sings of a bully church member

 “I love you pastor, but I want you fired.”

Several months ago I wrote about bully church members. The post focused on the damage they do and the problems they create. The article resonated with many church leaders.

But some of those leaders told me the article was too little too late. They had already heard something akin to the first sentence above.

The damage was done.

Here is a direct quote of a plea to me: “Thom, I am currently encountering a bully church member. He wants me fired. I didn’t see it coming. How can we be warned about potential bullies before they inflict the most damage?”

I get it. It’s one thing for me to state the obvious: the traits of a bully. But it’s another thing for me to provide early warning signs so you won’t be blindsided. Here are eight of those warning signs:

1.  They are among the first in the church to tell you how much they love you. And they will continue to love you as long as you do everything exactly the way they want it done every single day.

2.  They have strong personalities. They tend to be boisterous. They speak up frequently in meetings. They can be loud. They like to dominate conversations.

3.  They are highly opinionated. And if you ever disagree with them, you become their next target.

4.  They are terrible listeners. They want you to listen to them; they don’t want to listen to you.

5.  They build unhealthy alliances. The bully in one church built an alliance with two weak staff members. The three of them spoke in secret to the personnel committee about the pastor. The pastor was fired without even being asked his side of the story. Watch carefully those the bully befriends.

6.  They murmur and gossip. Most of their words are negative. They are the anti-Barnabas.

7.  They do most of their toxic work in darkness. They let other people become the fall persons for their nefarious deeds. They meet with them behind closed doors and then slither away.

8.  They have been to several churches. Bullies tend to move around. They do their damage at one church and then leave. They are sometimes asked to leave.




Two things are essential in finishing well!

I assume that most of you who read these blogs are well aware of the fact that I am very fond of The Message by Eugene Peterson who recently passed away at the age of 85. I know that The Message is a paraphrase and not on par with a genuine translation. Peterson translates ideas not words and, in his rendering of what he feels the meaning is, will use words not in the original; so it’s always a good idea to have a legitimate translation in front of you when reading, studying or memorizing in The Message. I enjoy both reading and memorizing key passages in The Message. I find it very helpful and illuminating.

Most of you also know that I authored the book, “Leaders Who Last” and am always thinking about, writing about and focused personally on being a leader who finishes his race well. (Acts 20:24 & 2 Timothy 4:7)

There are two passages in The Message that speak specifically to the issue of finishing well that I want to share in this post.

“A life frittered away disgusts God; he loves those who run straight for the finish line.”  Proverb 15:9 (Underlining is mine)

“I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.” 1 Corinthians 9:26,27 (Underlining is mine)

Straight for the finish line in my way of thinking has to do with intentionality. In Philippians 3:13 Paul says: “This one thing I do.” Psalm 27:4 has the psalmist saying: “One thing I ask of the Lord.” There is enormous power in being very intentional about one (or a very few things), whether we are talking about a week in your life or your entire life.

It was C.S. Lewis who said that everyone is composed of a few themes. Not many of us will excel at a lot of things, but just a few--maybe only one. A runner has a single focus on the finish line and does not get sidetracked thinking about anything other than reaching and crossing that line. Focus, focus!

When I begin a coaching partnership with clients, I share that being intentional is one of the benefits of our coaching. I tell them that we are going to be intentional about a handful of things and that they are going to tell me what those things are.

I worked with The Navigators organization for 37 years. Billy Graham preached Dawson Trotman’s (founder of The Navigators) funeral and said “It could be said of Dawson Trotman: “This one thing I do, not these 40 things I dabble at.” It was Steven Covey who is famous for saying: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” I believe that the journey in finishing well should begin by identifying your purpose in life and then being faithful and consistent in staying focused on that purpose.

Hard for the finish line has to do with intensity by giving it everything we’ve got. “Leaving it all on the field” as President George H. Bush was fond of saying.   In Numbers 14:24 we read: “But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.” (ESV)  This is the same Caleb who said at 80 that he was as strong as he was at 40 and was ready to ask for a mountain. No half-heartedness with him. If he was a football player he would be giving it everything he had on every play. Caleb had energy, excitement and enthusiasm. He was running hard for his finish line, not a  lazy bone in his body, no slacking off. I’ll be 80 next year and can totally resonate with Caleb. He is my kind of guy.

A few weeks ago I wrote down some ideas for a five-year plan that would take me to 85. I don’t know how many years I have left, but whatever the sovereign Lord wants to give me I, by His power, want  to live them well and run with intentionality and intensity.

I truly believe that these two traits will help all of us finish well and hear His,  “Well done good and faithful servant enter into the joy of your Lord.”



Don't mistake micromanagement for accountability; huge difference!

One of the things I've learned is that the key to overseeing people is to give a capable person a job, agree on expected outcomes and then get out of their way and let them figure out how to do it. I don't know anyone who enjoyes being "Micromanaged." Here Ron Edmondson shares some excellent insight on this topic.

Originally posted by Ron Edmondson

I must admit I have a good number of pet peeves in leadership. Leadership is hard. But, there are some principals in leadership, which simply need to be adhered to for good leadership.

Let me share a story as an illustration of one of my pet peeves.

Years ago, I had a boss tell me who to place on my team. He told me how to conduct sales meetings with my department. He told me what each person’s assignments would be. And, he told me how to conduct the meeting – going as far as to write out my agenda.

He wasn’t going to be at the meeting. He didn’t actually know the people on my team. He was holding me accountable for results in sales, but yet he continually gave me the script for how to do my job. I had to turn in reports, which indicated I had followed his agenda.

I hated it. I felt so controlled. My team, with whom I was very open and honest, were frustrated. And, when I could, I secretly altered things and scripted my own way. Maybe it was rebellion – okay, it was rebellion, but, I never thought he was practicing good leadership. And, I experienced direct results in employee morale.

Here’s the pet peeve, which developed from this experience.

If you aren’t going to be doing the actual work, don’t script how it’s done.

As a leader, you can share what you want accomplished. That’s vision-casting.

You can set reasonable boundaries. This actually helps fuel creativity.

You can share your thoughts and ideas. It’s helpful. You probably have good ones.

You can monitor progress. This is your responsibility.

You can even hold people accountable for progress. It ensures completion.

But the people who are actually doing the work

The ones carrying out the plans – Getting their hands dirty –

Should determine how the actual work gets completed.

There, I feel better.



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