The Foundation of Leadership-Make sure your footings are in place

The idea for this post came to mind while I was in church this morning.  Our pastor was speaking about morality and truth and I had one of the “ah ha” moments and felt compelled to write down my thoughts to share with you today.

As a homeowner I am also in the midst of a remodeling project at our home.  We have decided to add a screened in porch to the rear of our home and the analogy of this post and the construction project have helped me to crystallize how I will structure what I have to say.  Let’s start with the tangible project first and then move to the less tangible aspects of leadership.

Building a structure can be a pretty complex endeavor.  While most of what you see is above the ground, a great deal of what you don’t see is below the ground.  We have faith that what we don’t see has been done properly in order to support what we do see.  Think about what I just said as I will come back to that again later in this post.

Having a solid and long-lasting structure involves having an adequate footing and foundation structure.  The photo below will show you the footings for the new porch we are having built.  Consider this-I know the footings are there because I have seen them.  I saw the workers dig the holes and this aspect is so important that they had to have the holes and footings inspected before they could start to build the “visible” parts of the porch.

Consider that most people would never see the footings dug in a project they have.  They would not see the steel rods, called rebar, that have been put into place to add strength and stability to the structure.  We have faith that these are in place in order to insure that the structure is stable and does not shift as time passes.  This part of the project does not appear to be very “sexy” in comparison to the visible part, but without it the rest of the project will fail, either in the short or the long-term.  The lack of a strong foundation will always lead to failure.  Think about that statement also as we shift to leadership.

According to Webster, a Leader is someone who guides or directs a group.  Based on my professional experience many leaders are guiding or directing others in order to make some type of change or improvement in a situation or process.

Leadership is a dynamic process and there needs to be a starting and ending point.  Leadership is rarely, if ever, static.

Those who are being led need to have faith and confidence in those who are leading them.  While the group may have some idea of the beginning and ending destination or state, they may have little idea about what strategies their leader may employ or put into place to move the group.  In some cases there have been leaders who have used less than honorable or respectable methods in order to achieve their goals.  Just as in the footing I showed above, those being led need to know that their leader has a firm foundation, a set of guiding principles, that will guide the methods the leader will employ to achieve their goals.

Many leaders have gotten results without firm principles.  They may do this once or twice, but that lack of a foundation will come back to wreck their progress eventually.  Just like leaving out the rebar, or not digging a deep enough footing, the leader without principles will ultimately fail and take down those around them.  Leaders without principles are similar to flags waving in the wind.  They will fly whichever way the wind blows.  That kind of unprincipled leadership is destined to fail.

Just what are the guiding principles a leader should employ?

We’ll talk about that in our next post.

See you soon.