Planting trees you will never see

sagrada familia interior

Interior of Sagrada Familia

I love cathedrals and other major centres of worship, such as Sagrada Familia, Hagia Sophia, Durham Cathedral and many others.

A key aspect of such buildings is that almost all of those who were part of their construction knew that they were contributing to something they would never see completed in their lifetime.

They were planting trees they would never see.

Today some musing on #OpenLeadership and planting trees you will never see.

planting trees you will never see

One of the potential benefits of having years of experience is to become crystal clear on the type of work you will and won’t do.

My dear friend and mentor Suki Laniado Smith has that clarity. She chooses to work with what she calls “Cathedral Leaders”, which she defines as:

“Leaders whose inspiration and influence will embed in their organisations a sense of purpose and values that will live on longer than they will.”

It takes a special type of leader to model #OpenLeadership, someone who is a “cathedral builder”, who is planting trees they will never see. Such purpose-driven leaders build legacies.

Now, as I write this, I am preparing to work over the next two days with three leaders and ideas such as servant leadership, flipping the pyramid, supporting one’s own foundation (“put the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping others”) are all in my thoughts before these meetings.

I note these thoughts, as such leaders must also build their own strong foundation and roots if they are to provide this sort of powerful leadership to others. To be the tip of the inverted pyramid means one must have a very strong foundation oneself in order to be that base that supports so many others, not only now but in the future, including a future you may not see for yourself.

So, if you are someone who is and wishes to, in your leadership. be planting trees you will never see, then start with focussing on your own roots, foundation, stability. You will need this to be a “cathedral leader”.

Also published on Medium.