Council Post: Foundational Leadership: Structuring Supportive Management

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By Tyler Bray, Owner, The Trailer Parts Outlet.

Managing a team is a long-term project that involves developing sturdy relationships. When somebody asks me, “How do you choose your team?” I ask them, “How do you choose your friends?”

Sometimes, a boss is imagined to be somebody cracking a whip. If this is your style, don’t be surprised if high turnover keeps you spinning your wheels, constantly teaching new people the basics of the job. When employees have options, this style makes building a foundation and growing unlikely.

Teams are often structured as a pyramid. In fact, some research shows there’s something instinctive and inescapable about this hierarchy. As a leader, you might think you naturally sit at the top of the pyramid that is your team. 

I’d like to propose a new vision to you, one that has yielded incredible profits and happy, loyal teammates for me. I’m talking about a management style I call foundational leadership. 

What Is Foundational Leadership?

Foundational leadership is a management structure in which the leader serves as the stable bedrock of the team. If you visualize your team as a pyramid, you, the leader, serve as the base. From here, you support and empower every part of your team. You’re probably wondering who sits at the top, then. It’s not a person. It’s the overall vision for your company. Every member of your team is striving upward to get closer to that vision. 

How do you support your entire team? First of all, don’t confuse foundational leadership with micromanagement or a failure to delegate. To understand your role from the base better, consider the values this structure emphasizes:

• Support.

• Empathy.

• Stability.

Setting this tone creates a powerful ripple effect on your team. They support and empathize with each other, and then they pass this same tone on to customers. This leadership style builds a team that’s truly committed to passing these values on in their dealings with customers. I’ve found that this develops long-term relationships with customers that are a core part of profitability.

When You Take Care Of Your Team, They Take Care Of Your Customers

When you take care of your team, they take care of your customers. That’s the key to stable, long-term growth. Everybody knows that actions speak louder than words. As a leader, be what you want your team to be. Avoid “Do as I say, not as I do,” or “Know what I mean, not what I say” styles of leadership. That will just build a current of destructive resentment over time. If you lead by example, your team will empathize with, support and take care of customers the same way you do for them. 

A Stable Foundation When Life Becomes Uncertain

This year threw everybody for a loop. The average employee — in fact, the average person — felt a deep sense of uncertainty about their economic situation. If you develop a habit of foundational leadership, you can be more confident that your team will double down when times get rough, rather than abandon post or jump ship. I’ve found this style of leadership brings out the best in my team and in me. There’s no limit to what my team and I can achieve with these values in place.



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