Leadership is Like Mortar

May 2021

By Nico Hohman

When you look at a brick wall, what do you see?

At first glance you probably notice the bricks. You see their color, their shape, and their patterns. They might be old, worn down bricks. They might be painted a bright, fire-engine red or a cool, off-white color. Some might be square-shaped. Some are long and rectangular. You might notice the different patterns of the brick installation: soldier bricks, Herringbone patterns, or even a Flemish bond. The more you stare and the closer you get to the brick wall the more

fascinating it becomes.

Are your leadership duties and responsibilities pliable and flexible like mortar or rigid and unbending like the brick?

After you stare long enough at the bricks you then might notice the mortar between them. If you have never stared at a brick wall it is quite possible you might have never noticed the mortar at all. You may have only seen it if there was something wrong with it or if it looked out of place. Ideally, the mortar is doing its job so well that it's practically invisible.

While it may seem invisible, the mortar in a brick wall is the most crucial part of it. Without mortar, the bricks would simply be stacked on top of one another with no support. A gentle push or the removal of a handful of bricks would make the whole structure come tumbling down.

Let's imagine you see another brick wall, but this time the first thing you notice is the mortar. That usually means there is something wrong with it or there was something wrong with the way the mortar was installed. The masons may have put too much mortar on one brick, or not enough mortar on another. This might cause the mortar to overflow onto the front face of the brick wall. Or, over a period of time, the elements may have simply eroded away the mortar. Either way, the mortar is no longer invisible.

Now look at that brick wall again, what else do you see?

You see the bricks, each one approximately the same size, shape, color, and durability. You also see the mortar. But unlike the bricks, the mortar is pliable and easily molded to fit whatever shape it needs to fit. While one brick by itself may not be remarkable, as a whole, all of the bricks can make and do incredible things. However, the bricks can only do their jobs when the mortar has the flexibility and pliability to fit into the areas where the bricks cannot. It is only when the bricks and mortar are working together in harmony that they make something beautiful.

Now, take a few steps back from the brick wall. You would see that this one wall is a collective of other walls, doors, windows, roofs, and other components of a great building. You can think of the brick walls as a representation of the whole world. The bricks are all the people of the world and the mortar is the Common Good. The Common Good is all around us, invisibly holding everything in place. We as the bricks are capable of building and doing great things, but we cannot do these things on our own. We need the support of other people, other bricks. More importantly, we need the powers of the Common Good to bind us together in order to change the world and make it a better place.

The Common Good is “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily. The Common Good embraces and supports all the goods needed to allow all human beings to develop personally and communally.” There are three specific requirements that need to be met in order to accomplish the Common Good: respect for all people, the well-being and development of the people of the world as a whole, and peace.

As business leaders and executives, we are bound to respect the God-given and inalienable rights bestowed to all people of the world simply through the knowledge and belief that all people are our equals as fellow human beings. No one person can expect to lead an organization unless he believes in the dignity of every living soul. A leader best shows his desire to serve the world when he has virtue, discipline, and courage. As a fellow member of the human race, our priority should be aimed at developing each person to their fullest potential. That development includes everything from providing the basics (like food, health, and shelter), the necessities for making a life worth living like education, culture, and friendship, as well as the wealth to be able to share those basics and necessities with others. Finally, as servants of God, we should strive to live in a peaceful society. There is no Common Good without peace. We should fight by any morally acceptable means necessary in order to preserve stability, security, and justice. Leaders do this by dignifying the work of others to allow them to lead prosperous and peaceful lives.

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Nico Hohman, the Founder of Eaactive Leadership, is an award-winning leadership, real estate, and construction consultant with an extensive background in business development, sales training, and change management roles throughout the United States. Nico serves business executives and aspiring leaders on how to sustainably grow their organizations through better use of their physical and knowledge-based assets. Nico's focus is to help others be leaders in their communities, guide their followers, and make better decisions using the findings of their personalized Eaactive Leadership Style Assessment (ELSA). You can connect with Nico on LinkedIn and get the latest daily updates on the Assorted Questions & Such blog.

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