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The groundwork and foundations of leadership

By Dan Teuton
10 July 2019

You do not need to work in the property industry to know the importance a property’s foundations have on its structural stability. The foundations of leadership are in the relationships we build. Tall buildings need deep foundations, great leaders need to build strong relationships.

Churchill knew this when he courted Roosevelt and Stalin in the battle against fascism. Mandela bravely showed this by partnering with those that imprisoned him for 27 years to deliver his vision of freedom for all South Africans. Humility, kindness and empathy can go a long way in helping build the trust needed for such relationships, writes Charlie Mason, chartered surveyor and director at Lambert Smith Hampton, Oxford.

Before July 24 the UK will have a new leader. This will give a chance for a new personality to change the energy of the whole nation. Peter Drucker (management consultant, educator and author) once wrote: “Your first and foremost job as a leader is to manage your own energy and help manage the energy of those around you.” Who do you think has had the most impact on the nation’s energy in recent years?

Leadership isn’t necessarily about the position or title you hold. We don’t need a promotion or fancy title to be a leader in the organisations that we work for or the communities that we live in. I think, however, that we need to ask ourselves where truly great leadership comes from.

Martin Luther King’s leadership was instrumental in black Americans’ struggle to achieve equal rights. Would Barack Obama have become president of the United States without King’s groundwork? Core to King’s leadership was his vision. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Do we judge ourselves enough on the content of our characters? And should we judge our leaders on the content of their characters? I certainly think so.

The content of our character is our values. What we really care about. When JFK said in his inaugural address: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” It was a call for civic duty. Should we rely on being inspired by the upcoming prime minister or should we ask ourselves what we care about most and how we are going to take action ourselves to achieve a better future?

The current cricket world cup reminds me that, as a boy, cricket taught me values such as fairness, integrity and teamwork. In today’s competitive global economy the hunger for valuing money and power is ever present. Important as this is, hopefully the majority of us in the Thames Valley business community care about something bigger than this. 

Nelson Mandela gets to the very heart of leadership when he said: “Vision without action is just a dream, action without vision just passes the time, and vision with action

can change the world.” Leadership through others requires engagement. Key to achieving engagement is allowing for co-invention of a vision. Allowing others to come up with the possibilities of a shared future is the most powerful way to enable a culture of commitment.

The 19th Century Danish philosopher Soren Kiekegaard wrote: “If I were to wish for anything I should not wish for wealth and power, but for a passionate sense of what can be, for the eye which sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, so intoxicating as possibility?”

Imagine a new prime minister engaging and uniting the nation in a vision that excites our combined sense of possibility.

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