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Leadership, Architected by Gaudì

| May 3, 2011

by Jim Bruce

Luca Baiguni, Professor of Organizational Behavior and Personal Development at the Politecnico di Milano, was recently was in Barcelona on business and spent some time visiting the city.  One of his must see places was the Sagrada Famìla, the basilica universally considered the masterpiece of Antoni Gaudì, the Spanish architect who lived from 1852 to 1926.

Gaudì, through his work on the basilica, also helped shape the “identity” of Barcelona.  This led Baiguni to think about the relationship between architecture and leadership since a leader often faces the task of building an organization’s identity.

In his short blog post, “Leadership, Architected by Gaudì”, Professor Buiguni discusses four leadership lessons we can learn from Gaudì:

1.  Gaudì worked with total commitment to a work he knew he would not complete.  He had a vision and conceived a project that went far beyond him – the work continues today.  How many leaders today are capable of such work?

2.  He worked amid a lot of uncertainty.  The basilica was designed through a trial and error process, modifying the project little by little, without a concrete plan.  Would we undertake such a project that is going to always be it beta?  (Maybe, in the IT world, the Google search engine is an approximation to that.)

3.  He focused on details and on the big picture.  He focused on one hand on the larger vision and on the other on construction and design details – continuously switching from micro to macro and back again.  What’s the right balance?  Amar Bose, when he was designing his first loud speakers, was continually going back and forth from the pencil and paper work of theoritical analysis to building it in the laboratory.

4.  He approached his life’s work with humility.  He insisted that the highest spire of the church be one meter lower than the highest hill in the city.  He was convinced that his work should not be taller than God’s.

I don’t think that this is necessarily a recipe for leadership today.  But it certainly is good food for thought as you reflect on our own leadership style and lasting results.