Not long ago, my neighbor had to have some foundation repairs done at his house. I live in an area of the Texas Gulf Coast where there is long term terrain subsidence. Foundations can shift and begin to crack without intervention.
If you are not familiar with repairing a foundation, the crew will dig holes around the edges of the slab. The holes go as deep as it takes to hit bedrock. Then concrete piers are poured into the holes. Once the piers dry, shims are used to level the structure, returning the foundation to a true and level condition. Once the piers go in, there is very little movement. The foundation becomes strong and firm again.
Anything built for lasting substance has some form of foundation. The tallest buildings are obvious examples. More ethereal examples include the United States Constitution, the foundational document that defined what the country’s forefathers meant the country to be.
Without a foundation, nothing stands for very long. That makes me think about our foundations as managers and leaders. Just like a beautiful building or a socio-political concept, leadership requires a foundation from which to build.
Good managers can operate with a solid core foundation based upon knowledge of the work; the technical aspects of the business. Engineers, accountants, scientists, etc. all have bodies of knowledge that can drive the process to get work done. Having this kind of “skill set knowledge” lets you get work done, projects completed, and plans performed, but they won’t make you a leader.
However, as you begin to become a true leader, there are different principles that distinguish an effective leader from a great one.
Values Based Principles
It has been said that most great leaders did not set out to be the leader. Rather they set out to make a difference. They are focused on the goal, not the role. As they pursued their purpose, people naturally followed.
To be this kind of leader, there has to be a central set of core values or principles from which your leadership flows. Previously, I have written about these 8 principles I follow.
- Always Be Honest
- Forgive and Forget
- Be Kind Hearted
- Keep Your Promises
- Work Hard
- Be Thankful
- Never Give Up
- Love One Another
Assuming you have operated your business from your own set of foundation values, the question today is whether that foundation has begun to crack as did my neighbor’s house.
Has time taken its toll on your values? Have circumstances made you change your principles? Are there any other signs that you no longer work and live by the same core principles you once set out?
Periodically, every leader needs to make an assessment of their foundation. Even if the review is nothing more than a look into the mirror to say “yes, I am still the person I meant to be.”
On the other hand, if that introspection gives you different answers, you are the only one who can face the facts and make a change. Change may be a return to some cornerstone value; perhaps re-reading the book from another leader you aspired to be like. Or turning to a mentor with whom you have previously seen growth.
Another option is to engage close advisors/friends who have proven to be a reliable sounding board for your ideas and interests. You know, the true friends who tell you the truth.
These are only a few of the ways to check for foundation damage and begin the repairs of cracks are found.