According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. – 1 Corinthians 3:10
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul speaks to the fact that he handed over a cohesive community, which had later fractionated as core principles fell to neglect. Today’s leaders face the same challenge in building, maintaining and handing off solid performing teams.
With each successive leader, the foundation of a team is either damaged or improved. Damage occurs when standards are not enforced and accountability is lost; when unity of purpose and discipline are non-existent; when respect among team members is replaced by infighting and distrust. Conversely, improvement is marked by performance gains resulting from a well-trained, disciplined and united team.
The foundations of our teams must be strong enough to resist fracturing under the stress of ever-increasing performance demands. In my experience there are three key components of a strong foundation:
- Properly aligned priorities
- Development of junior leaders
- Periodic assessment
The priorities that we set must be clearly communicated and aligned with our organizations’ goals and visions. Will our teams just “get the job done”, or will they hold fast to established procedures? Enforcing standards builds accountability and leads to the development of our junior leaders. From learning our priorities, they gain the confidence to hold others accountable and to perform those critical on-the-spot corrections. That frees us to step back and assess our teams’ foundations, addressing any areas that are out of alignment. Ignoring any of these components, runs the ultimate risk of handing off a damaged team to the next leader.
Take some time this week to assess your team’s foundation. Are there any communication problems, procedural concerns, or performance issues that require attention? Whether you find hair-line cracks or large gaps, keep in mind that repairing any damage will not be a simple weekend project. But don’t be discouraged. Just look how Paul’s team has flourished over time.