How To Create A Leadership Foundation by Erik Therwanger

Build your company as a skyscraper.

Building a company is like building a skyscraper. You wouldn’t try to build hundreds of floors on top of just a dirt foundation. The ground shifts and changes constantly over time, and with every new floor, a stronger foundation is required to hold the weight of your building. Companies that neglect to focus on their foundation often fail because their leadership has nothing to stand on. Every company has the potential to stand amongst the tallest skyscrapers, but every skyscraper requires a heavy investment into a sound foundation.

Your company’s foundation rests on leadership and is comprised of three main components. In typical building foundations cement, sand, and water make up the groundwork. In your company foundation cement is your leadership definition, sand is your unifying culture, and water is your important goals. Clearly defining each of the materials in your groundwork will provide you with a solid foundation to build atop, easing growth for your future skyscraper.

 

Cement – Clearly defining leadership
Defining leadership in your business provides something for people to strive towards and comprehend as a way to measure their behavior. This is the first step to establishing your organization’s groundwork. My definition of a ThinkGREAT leader is:

A person who clearly outlines a specified destination, and guides people there by course-correcting and adhering to the greater purpose behind the goals necessary for success.
Creating your own unique definition, borrowing parts from mine, or taking the entirety of the ThinkGREAT leadership definition will bring you one step closer to having a solidified leadership foundation. Once you have defined what leadership is, you must make it known to your leaders. Include your leadership definition on job descriptions to make each employee accountable for their performance as a leader.

 

Sand – Developing a unified culture
Your culture consists of three major elements:

  1. The Big Picture
  2. The Style
  3. The Opportunity

Your big picture is the “Why” behind your organization. Branding documents such as your mission, brand statement, core values, and vision will identify your internal culture from day 1. Externally, your big picture should allow employees to extend beyond the office. In the Marine Corps, we participate in Toys for Tots. This program gives marines the opportunity to tie in their big picture with the community, working towards the greater good.

Your organization’s style is the “how” behind day-to-day operations. Have you ever heard the sales team claim it was operation’s fault? It might sound all too familiar to have your departments working against each other. By defining a workflow, you’re placing responsibility in your team’s hands. Everyone will be fully accountable for their duties, bridging the gap between your different departments. Perfecting a business workflow enables your team to eliminate communication errors and work closer together.

Your culture is lastly defined by the opportunities your company presents. When you talk about company growth, your team is waiting to hear about the opportunity. Great leaders reward company growth through incentives, promotions, and company enhancements to ensure each staff member feels wanted.

A business with a unified culture retains better employees and has no trouble finding new energetic applicants. Team members will be spurred on to work their hardest for a company they want to be working at. Step out of a dismal culture and find the passion that attracts success.

 

Water – Identifying important goals
Identifying your important goals will provide you with concrete direction for growth. A defined set of goals will promote forward-thinking and inspiration among your team. Follow the GREAT acronym to break down each step of accomplishing your goals.

Goals – Identify important Goals in your life!
Reasons – Establish powerful Reasons for accomplishing your goals!
Expectations – Set high Expectations for yourself and your team.
Actions – Take all of the Actions necessary to achieve a greater life.
Tracking – Track your results intensely!

 

Building a skyscraper takes time. Ensure you’re investing the time beforehand to create a sound leadership foundation. Your transition towards vertical growth will come much more naturally after you have defined your leadership definition, created a unified culture, and identified your important goals. You’ll be well underway to enhancing perceptions, putting you ahead of all the other businesses that neglected to focus on their foundation. Stand proudly on your leadership foundation, it’s only a matter of time before your competitors collapse.

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