“If your action inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”
John Quincy Adams
Anyone following the news these days is painfully aware of the divisiveness plaguing politics. There exist far too many examples of leaders who seem to think leadership means making themselves look better by tearing down those around them. To use a construction metaphor, those leaders specialize in demolition rather than construction.
A foreman of a construction company is there to ensure a structure is well-built and will stand the test of time. By starting with a solid foundation, ensuring the supports are strong and finishing with a sturdy roof, the foreman builds something that will be useful to the customer and continue to provide support to others for the life of its existence.
In similar fashion, a constructive leader is continuously building new leaders. By building a strong foundation of knowledge of the team, ensuring the support structure of people skills is in place and finishing with a strategic vision, a leader can create new leaders who will further benefit the company and society as a whole.
Constructive leaders also act as architects, planning personnel moves and job assignments to create the necessary capacity to build new leaders. Just as structures cannot be built without a plan, a new leader cannot be grown without one either. As John C. Maxwell said, “A leader is the one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”
In contrast, the foreman of a demolition company is there to ensure the tear-down of a structure is accomplished quickly and efficiently. The foreman looks for the quickest, easiest way to remove the roof, walls and, if needed, the foundation. There are no thoughts given to future construction, just to eradication.
In similar fashion, a demolition leader tries to build himself up by taking down those around him. If he cuts down those around him, he may feel taller because everyone is now shorter. But the reality is quite the opposite. A leader can choose to actually raise himself up by raising the foundation of the organization with new leaders or appearto raise himself up by tearing down those around him. Although the result may be similar in appearance, the demolition leader is actually no higher than when he started and will often sink due to the deterioration of the foundation of his organization.
Imagine how much more smoothly our government might function if instead of spending time demolishing their opponents, our leaders instead focused on growing new leaders in industry, civics, education and healthcare. A demolition leader only appears to benefit himself. A constructive leader actually benefits himself and everyone around him. Ralph Nader, a longtime political activist and government reformist summed it up well: “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” Someone who builds a great structure will be remembered for the ages but the man who demolished the previous structure is long forgotten to history.
Go out there and construct new leaders and be remembered for the ages for your inspirational leadership!