Effective Leadership Begins with a Strong Foundation

Guest post from Tabitha Laser:
What is
leadership?  Since joining the workforce more than 25 years ago, and
serving as a leader for numerous organizations, it’s apparent that leadership means
very different things to different people.  Simply put, leadership is the
art of inspiring, motivating, empowering, supporting, and assuring a group
of people to act towards achieving a common goal.  Unfortunately, the term
is often confused with management, which can be defined as the process of
dealing with or controlling things or people.
Why, in our current
environment, is there confusion around these two terms and does what makes a
strong leader still exist? 
Part of the problem lies
with our current misconception around how organizations are led.  A day
doesn’t go by where I don’t read or hear the term “led from the top.” This is
what I believe to be a ‘deadly practice’ because it creates unhealthy
competition, acts as a barrier for growth, and limits an organization’s ability
to achieve sustainable success.  Allow me to elaborate on that.
Imagine your
organization as a building, where its leaders are at the roof of the
building.  Now imagine the workforce, processes, and equipment as the
walls, fixtures, and foundation of the organization below, and your customers,
market factors, and environment as the external pressures being applied to your
If your building is made
of bricks, picture the three little pigs’ scenario. Your organization will be
able to survive quite a beating.  If your building, on the other hand, is
made of straw, then it’s likely your organization will succumb to the slightest
Regardless of your
building’s strength, when your leadership forms the roof of the organization,
you are creating a situation where they are practically forced to take on more
of a “management” role that one of “leadership,” making it extremely difficult
for that organization to grow.  In some cases, there has been growth;
however, it has been as a result of falsifying data, back-stabbing, and other
counterintuitive behaviors. That’s not a sustainable way to grow any business.
So, how can we fix this
First, we need to flip
the script, and start requiring leaders to lead from the basement.  Not
just from the bottom up, but from the basement.  They need to be the ones
who define success, illustrated by the location for the organization and the
expectations necessary to achieve success, which form the foundation for the
organization.  When organizations are led from the basement, the challenge
to build around them to grow is eliminated, and the building is encouraged to
innovate, experiment, and expand far beyond the organization’s expectations for
success.  Only then leaders will be properly positioned to truly spearhead
their organization and provide the inspiration, motivation, empowerment,
support, and assurance necessary to sustainably grow without limitations.
In other words, 
“The sky is the limit
for a roofless building built on a strong foundation.”
When organizations are
led from the basement, management is ultimately unnecessary.  This is a
difficult pill for most to swallow, but a necessary step every organization
needs to consider if they want to survive and thrive long into the future!
Tabitha Laser
Laser is a multi-faceted professional with over 25 years of leadership
experience in a wide variety of industries ranging from oil and gas, energy,
manufacturing, agriculture, construction and many more. Her diverse background
has provided her with numerous opportunities to work with government agencies
and some of the world’s largest companies, including Fortune 500 companies like
BP, 3M, and General Mills. 
experience and education have fueled her passion to help shape the next
generation of leaders, especially millennials, to avoid the pitfalls of their
predecessors and lead beyond best.
Tabitha is the author of the book, Organization
Culture Killers
.  This is the first
in a series of leadership books she calls “The Deadly Practices.”