In Part I, we discussed how knowing one’s objective and responding effectively to external threats and distractions – qualities personified by Mattisyahu – can be difference makers in our desire to inspire and advance our organizations.
In this article we will seek to identify additional leadership qualities of the Chashmonaim that can positively influence our leadership practice today.
Be a man – The great sage Hillel the Elder taught us that “in a place where there are no men, strive to be a man.” (Avos 2:6) At the time of the revolt against Antiochus, there was no formal Jewish leader in place. The position of Kohen Gadol had been filled by an unworthy imposter, a non-kohen who had bribed his way to the post. Mattisyahu recognized the void and stepped into it in order to offer hope and direction to a nation that was being bombarded by pressures to conform to foreign behaviors and values.
Leadership is often about recognizing and filling a void. Perhaps this will take place within your own organization, such as expanding your original suite of services to meet an increased demand.
Maybe it will require you to identify others who can assume responsibility to address the issue. Either way, the leader is someone who is not content to leave matters alone when they require attention.
Identify the right person for the job – Yehuda, Mattisyahu’s handpicked successor, was not the eldest son. Yet, when his father, on his deathbed, selected Yehuda to assume the reigns of leadership, he did so because he recognized that his third son’s blend of piety, tactical skill and general capacity made him the right man for the job. This may or may not have been the most popular decision, but it was the choice that Bnei Yisrael needed in order to defeat the Seleucids.
Oftentimes, leaders struggle with choosing the right person to assume positions of influence within their organizations. They may have a few legitimate candidates, each with meaningful skill sets and experiences. Some may also be popular or well connected.
They may not, however, necessarily represent the most important qualities for the position. A leader needs to identify what it is that the position and circumstance demand and make the best possible selection, even if it means bypassing the popular choice and going beyond the organization to find the right fit.
Do what you can… and then pray – Yehuda was a great leader with many admirable physical qualities. Yet, he is recorded numerous times as leading his troops in prayer for success against the enemy. He understood that there was only so much that he could do; success, if it were to occur, would ultimately have to be divinely orchestrated. He also took no credit for his successes. Hashem was the root cause of his victories.
Successful leaders do all that they can to achieve their goals. They invest all of the necessary effort and talent to meet and exceed their objectives. But they also need to be able to step back and bring their Maker into the picture. They pray for their success, knowing full well that it will not occur without His blessing.
The struggle of Mattisyahu, Yehuda and the Chashmonaim offer us many insights into how to live inspired lives and lead change. Let us hope that the lessons that we have gleaned will help us in our capacities to bring added focus, fulfillment and sense of purpose to our tasks, so that we can lead optimally, and bring our teams to new levels of achievement.