Leadership: Builder or Destroyer?

At a certain point as a leader you have to ask yourself if, in your circumstance, you want to be remembered as someone who built something or someone who tore something down.

Sometimes things need to be torn down…but only to allow something new to be built in its place. The tearing down of things for the sake of tearing them down or for savings is short-sighted.

Before anything is torn down leaders must ask some critical questions –

  1. What was the vision that led to this being built in the first place?
  2. Does this vision no longer apply?
  3. Is there no longer any value to this vision?
  4. What/who will this decision impact?
  5. Is it a bad thing just because it was not my vision?

One of the easiest things in the world of leadership is to tear things down for the sake of saving money. One can always find a thing not to spend money on in a budget.

I have said it before and I will say it again – a wise person once told me “if you want to see the true heart and soul of an organization (or a family for that matter), if you want to see where it truly places its value – look at its budget and what it spend its money on.”

Saving money is not an investment, it is stuffing it into your mattress or, like Silas Marner, burying it beneath your floorboards. Saving money is not an expression of value…investing money to see it grow or create value – this is a real investment.

The benefits of investment can be measured in many different ways – does the investment grow dollars? Does the investment add value to and enrich people’s lives (often not measured in $$$)? Will the investment attract development and additional outside investment?

Ask any investment advisor worth their salt how they would respond to a client who says “I have no money to invest?

If you have money…you can invest. If you have $1…you can invest.”

Often times the difference between a leader and someone who simply comes in to slash and burn is seen in these moments of critical decision.

Interestingly this works the same way with people. True leaders invest in their people. They invest in training and equipping. They ensure people are built up and not torn down.

Organizations led by investment-oriented people tend to have higher morale and research shows that happy people push the ROI (Return on Investment) higher. People want to be a part of buidling something – not tearing it down or even maintaining.

What is your organization’s vision? The vision can say alot about whether you are a building organization or not. The vision will either inspire or depress. Having an inspiring vision is not enough however. How are you investing to actually achieve your vision?

As I said earlier – it is easy to be a destroyer – a destroyer of things, ideas, people, etc. The true hard work and reward rests with the builders.


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