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Leaders as Builders

Early in my career, I discovered an intriguing aspect of my leadership style.

Despite holding a master's degree, according to our 360-degree assessment, my colleagues described me as embodying the roles of a "Shaper, Implementer, and Completer Finisher" rather than being perceived as a specialist."

Here's a breakdown of these roles: 

  • The Shaper provides the necessary drive to ensure that the team keeps moving forward, maintaining focus and momentum. 

  • The Implementer is crucial for crafting a practical strategy and executing it efficiently. 

  • The Completer Finisher excels at fine-tuning and scrutinizing tasks at the end, ensuring they meet the highest standards of quality. 


In simpler terms, they represent someone who ensures things are completed and done correctly. 


This realization sparked a gradual increase in my self-awareness over the years, affirming my hands-on leadership capabilities, particularly in implementing new systems and coordinating innovative solutions with ideas from the team. 


However, it was a specific chapter in George K. Strodtbeck's book, "Making Change in Complex Organizations," that deeply resonated with me. 


In that chapter, I encountered the concept of "Leaders as Builders," which provided clarity on the important roles of leaders, both who are pioneers, and leaders who are builders, in shaping organizations.  


To understand why builders are just as crucial as pioneers for an organization's prosperity, we can draw inspiration from the history. Prior to the 1500s, the eastern half of North America was covered in such dense forests that squirrels could traverse from the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Ocean without touching the ground. Pioneers and explorers embarked on journeys into these wildernesses to explore, hunt, and escape civilization. While pioneers blazed the trails, it was the builders - farmers, ranchers, merchants, and others - who established the infrastructure that laid the foundation for what is now the United States. 


Builders aren't necessarily the initial trailblazers; rather, they are the individuals interested in creating livable towns and cities. They stay in one place and construct the infrastructure necessary for society to thrive. No wonder, I stayed 15 years with the same company, wore three hats and developed systems across various functions within organizations, embodying the essence of a builder. 


The Need for both Builders and Pioneers 

Builders are indispensable to society and businesses, just as pioneers are known for their entrepreneurial spirit. Having founded two companies, I have come to appreciate the importance of both roles tremendously.  


Synergy Between Pioneers and Builders 

For an organization to thrive, pioneers and builders must collaborate and appreciate each other's contributions. The synergy between these roles is crucial. While pioneers inspire change and innovation, builders ensure that these ideas are translated into reality and sustained over time. This interplay between vision and execution propels organizations forward. 


Now imagine this new perspective; although typically leaders play one of these two types, envision a leader who embodies the qualities of both a pioneer and a builder. Such a leader can facilitate effective change within an organization by understanding the implementation process intimately. 


Leaders in an organization must strive to be both pioneers, generating new ideas and plans, and builders, actively participating in facilitating the implementation process. What happens if you are a Small or Medium Enterprise and don’t have a team that shows these capabilities separately, or you and your leaders are overwhelmed with the day-to-day operations and cannot do more to cope with the necessary change required to improve and remain relevant and competitive? 


Successful change within an organization requires time, perseverance, and dedication. 


The landscape of organizational change is evolving rapidly, requiring leaders to adapt to ever-shifting dynamics. Many books have explored management and leadership, detailing the do's and don'ts of leading an organization. However, the challenges of making changes in today's complex organizations go beyond conventional wisdom. 


Recognizing the indispensable synergy between pioneers and builders, it becomes evident that successful organizational change requires the collaboration and appreciation of both roles.  


With this perspective in mind, our team of experts stands ready to partner with organizations, particularly Small and Medium Enterprises, to embrace the ethos of "Leaders as Builders."  


Together, we aim to cultivate: 

  1. A Positive Culture 

  2. Capable People 

  3. High Performing Teams 

  4. Well-Managed Processes 

  5. Resilience 

  6. Innovation 

  7. Sustainable Practices 


As your Continuous Improvement Partner, we offer tailored solutions in Strategy Deployment, Change Management, Culture Transformation, and more, empowering organizations to thrive amidst evolving challenges and seize opportunities for growth and excellence. 


Nancy Nouaimeh

XcelleratE CaaS Principal








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