The Taj Mahal – a leadership love story

My recent travels have taken me to India, where after a false start 18 years ago I was able to see the Taj Mahal in person. Considered to be the greatest architectural achievement in the whole range of Indo-Islamic architecture, it lives up to its reputation. 

Built by Muhgal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his last wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth – on the battlefield –, the Taj Mahal is seen as an architectural expression of their love story. With a mausoleum housing the tombs of both Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan, it’s grand, majestic and a lavish display of their story. 

But, of course, the Taj Mahal didn’t crop up overnight. Construction started in 1632 AD with the mausoleum finished in 1648 AD and the entire grounds being completed in 1655 AD – a total of 23 years, not to mention the hundreds of years it has been maintained in the time since completion. 

Shah Jahan gathered the best architects, carvers, stone-cutters, calligraphers and other artisans from the whole of the Mughal empire as well as Central Asia and Iran. He was driven by his vision – to honour his late wife  – to bring this team together and build something incredible. 

The big question is: what can leaders learn from the Taj Mahal? 

No one expects every leader to build something as grand as the Taj Mahal, and particularly not in honour of your 2IC or business partner. But the Taj Mahal’s origin story reminds us of the importance of having really good people in your team. 

No matter which task or project is at hand – whether you are constructing an actual building, creating a new business plan or navigating change management – leaders need good, capable and passionate people around them to help build the strategy and execute it in a way that is going to deliver an exceptional outcome. 

Passionate leaders inspire capable teams 

When leaders feel strongly about the work you’re doing, the service you’re providing or the product you’re supplying, teams are  inspired by that drive. When leaders are able to communicate that vision to their team effectively, their team understands exactly how their skills and ideas fit into making that vision a reality. 

Not only that, but a leader’s passion and dedication rubs off on their team, meaning that they’re able to bring the project to fruition with that same sense of enthusiasm and commitment – all the way through the process … even if it takes 23 years. 

Even now, the story behind the Taj Mahal is what brings tourists to see it in all its glory, just as much as the architecture itself. The same is true for the end result that you and your team are working towards. The final project is important but the story, the why, is what will draw others in to investigate further. 

As the year draws to a close, it’s important to take time out with your team to look at what you’ve accomplished this year and thanking those in your team who have contributed to your version of the Taj Mahal in 2023 and acknowledging that contribution. 

Want to become a leader that fosters a strong team to reach big goals? People Make the Difference can help. To find out more, visit or call us on 0412 333 415. Try our online leadership training videos – $99 for complete access. Great value if you’re committed to growing your leadership potential.