The leader of his brethren and the pride of his people was Simon the high priest… who in his life repaired the house, and in his time fortified the temple. – Sirach 50:1
Simon is generally assumed to have been a Jewish High Priest during the time of the Second Temple. His primary accomplishment was rebuilding the Temple of Jerusalem after it’s destruction by Ptolemy. Similarly, there are often times when a new leader inherits a broken team, and like Simon, has a temple to rebuild.
This new leader may face having to overcome deeply ingrained dysfunctions, past hurts, infighting, etc., and will need to devote plenty of effort to rebuilding the team’s foundation before any performance gains can be realized. A maxim attributed to Simon may serve as a guide for this situation: “The world exists through three things: the law, service, and acts of loving kindness.” We can effectively translate those three things into: policy, teamwork, and understanding. Three very necessary elements of a solid foundation.
The most important element is the proper enforcement of policy. This will instill confidence and trust in a team’s leadership, thus paving the way for the second element, teamwork, to develop. Teamwork will not occur whenever the personnel are more concerned about their own survival than the team’s. Just as critical is ensuring that all personnel understand the procedures related to their specific tasks and are following them. Once team members trust their leadership, and are confident in their own and their team’s abilities, then teamwork begins to develop.
Acts of loving kindness, or understanding, can be the toughest element. I have served with counterparts who have had trouble displaying genuine concern for and interest in their team members. This element is often overlooked as most leaders want to be solely mission focused. But leaders must remember that their personnel are ultimately individual human beings; each carrying their own joys, concerns, interests and pains. A leader who demonstrates true concern for the growth and well being of his personnel is more likely to gain their support on the difficult changes that may lay ahead.
If you find yourself in a situation similar to this, then I only ask you to remain committed to your vision of a stronger team. If you lead a well-oiled, solid functioning team, then I say Kudos, and caution you to always be on guard for any cracks in the foundation.