I had the chance to visit one of the most stunning architectural structures I’ve witnessed when I ambled through the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona, Spain with its soaring arched ceilings of stone and glass. I still wonder at the genius it took to think up a structure so different than the Neo-Gothic works of the time and then to actually construct it – taking over 140 years since its inception. What risk, bravery, and passion it required from the leader, the architect Antoni Gaudí, and the generations of builders that embraced the vision.
The architectural feats of the Sagrada Familia, are built from strong materials, carefully designed and laid with precision in order to hold the weight of the beams and ceilings above. Similarly, your business needs vision, innovation, and tenacity as building blocks to reach its highest potential. And the architectural foundation of your business needs keystone people to lead and grow the business – ones that see and think differently, inspire others, act diligently, and dedicate themselves to success. These are the foundational leaders who disrupt the status quo through strategic initiatives and mindful execution to produce value and spur exponential growth.
Without effective leaders, your business could struggle with growth, market positioning, and overall profitability.
What makes a foundational leader? The bedrock of foundational leadership lies in the principles that guide an individual throughout their professional journey, shaping how they perceive their work, business, and their calling as a leader. Their personal lens drives the energy, direction, and commitment needed to guide, energize, and influence others to embrace new ideas and actions needed to drive success. And, these leaders are not all at the management or executive levels. Often, the ones who make positive changes and create value are the ones in the trenches, your front-line leaders.
The beginning phase of strategic execution hinges on your leader’s ability to not only articulate a compelling business story for change but to illustrate “Why It Matters”. The story, or initiative, should resonate with all parties involved in planning and implementing, as well as those who will be impacted by it. It is essential for leaders to speak from the heart and clearly communicate their personal commitment to the success of the initiative. This transparency and clarity of leadership commitment holds the power to engage your people.
Once the importance of the initiative is explained to participants and teams, awareness moves to understanding, acceptance and finally, to commitment. It is through this process where your foundational leader builds critically needed consensus and shepherds the initiative through challenges. Without the respect and trust of your people in a credible and effective leader, the important and necessary changes to radically improve value and prosperity in the business will fail. Cracks in the base will not support and bear the load above.
Much like selecting your building materials and laying a solid foundation, recognizing who your natural, principled leaders are, and then equipping and encouraging them to see and risk remarkable change is key to your business’ success. As an organization that values its leaders, your investment and support of foundational leadership will indeed inspire action around successful strategies and allow your business to reach new heights.
May your spires reach the heavens.