First published in Vancouver Business Journal – Friday, January 12, 2007
Steve Rosvold – Guest Columnist
Leadership takes place when a meaningful vision is delivered with passion
October marked the 10th anniversary of Trey Foote’s passing. Most of this column was written 10 years ago but the message seems as important today is it did back then.
Our community experienced a tremendous example of leadership in the fall of 2006. It did not occur in a political, civic or business setting. Its impact was so profound it transcended the boundaries that partition these areas.
Why did the story of Trey and his family have such an impact on our community?
The Foote family led us through a heartbreaking, yet ultimately uplifting human story about their battle with cancer. What makes their leadership so meaningful and life changing for many people familiar with their story?
Vision: The Foote family has a clear vision that is expressed in the way they live and how they communicate with the community.
Passion: They show love and passion for what they believe in. Trey’s father, Jim, passed on a story how each evening he would ask Trey how his day was and each evening Trey answered, “It was a good day, Dad.” His passion for life and attitude about living define success.
Something bigger than ourselves: Their actions and words helped all who are familiar with their story to see the bigger picture and provide meaning. It was more than their child’s illness – it was about using their experience to help humankind.
Sharing: By sharing a very personal and emotional part of their lives, they gave a part of themselves away. That gift is a seed that has and will continue to make a difference in the lives of many people.
It may seem trite to take this very personal example of a young man’s life and use it to improve our work as professional business people. I argue the opposite is true. With many people spending nearly half their waking hours at work, and business often considered impersonal, it is a perfect example to apply to business leadership.
Responsibly run businesses and strong leadership are key ingredients to creating a healthy and vibrant community. Providing good jobs and employment opportunities to an area’s citizens is a wonderful gift to a community.
Having a vision for your company means having a forward thinking picture of your business. It captures the imagination of your employees and your customers. It is not today’s state; it is the state of the future.
Vision without passion is a dream without hope. The strength of your desire to achieve the vision will determine the likelihood of your success. Those whom the success of the business depends on will adopt your attitude about work, employees, customers and the vision.
What is it all about? It is about making the community, a region, or the world a better place. There are millions of ways to make the world a better place. If your vision is clear on how it improves the world, or at least a little part of our world, it will invoke the passion needed to be successful. We need our objective to be bigger than us if we are to work at our peak.
Leadership is a burden best shared. If not properly distributed its weight can collapse the strongest of foundations. Communicating your values and culture may at times seem mundane and never ending – nothing like that new product rolling off the factory floor. However, through that painstaking communication community is built, understanding is achieved and your ability to roll new products off the factory floor sustained.
Leadership doesn’t happen by election, appointment or promotion. It won’t happen by chance. It will happen when a meaningful vision is delivered with passion.
The Trey Foote Foundation honors the leadership of Trey. Donations may be made at the Foundations website: