“Leadership is always dependent on the context, but the context is established by the relationships we value.” ~ Margaret Wheatley

Many people think that they were promoted to leadership positions because they are smarter, better equipped and/or more capable than their peers. They assume that others look to them for guidance and eagerly await their every direction. While that may be true to a degree, leaders need to know that they won’t last very long unless they get to know and respect their people.

The process of connecting with your professional team begins with becoming acquainted with them as individuals. Try to learn and understand their strengths and their goals, professional as well as personal. What are they passionate about? What are their concerns? People appreciate when you take an honest interest in then and demonstrate care. They also love it when you can identify specific qualities and behaviors that make them special. (read more…)

The Young Entrepreneur Council is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Read previous SmartBlogs posts by YEC.

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Q. How do you stay calm and collected when business isn’t going well? When is it right to tell your team that you’re off course?

YEC_Joseph DiTomaso1. Check in once a week

Bill (my co-founder) and I ask ourselves these questions at least once a week: Are we on track? Are we allocating our time efficiently? Is the team focused on the right things? Do we have enough money? It is always a delicate and tenuous balance. If you have been open and honest with your team, this won’t be that big of an issue. (read more…)

“Are you a tough boss?” asked an interviewer of John L. Weinberg, senior partner and de facto CEO of Goldman Sachs. A former Marine, Weinberg was a blunt-speaking, unabashed, and self-driven man who knew that most of Goldman’s employees sought to work as hard and as wisely as he himself did. During the period of his leadership, Goldman furthered and consolidated its rapid ascent as a global banking powerhouse.

Weinberg answered the question without hesitation. “Oh, tough is easy. Anyone can be tough.” What is really difficult, he explained, was getting a group of workers to perform to their absolute utmost and in coordination with one another. He was right, of course. The challenge facing Weinberg, and many managers, involves establishing an environment in which an already ambitious crew can deliver their best efforts and have those best efforts most advantageously applied. In my years at Goldman, that was our focus — seeking out the most able and appropriate resources within the firm to find solutions for clients and opportunities in the markets. (read more…)

I sat with two leaders in one of the last meetings we’d have. Six months of hard work by these two dedicated leaders who were leaders at odds with each other in an organization had paid off, and we were discussing what they’d learned.

These were not the same two people I saw in the beginning: blaming each other for the breakdown, angry, and worn down by fighting for their way. Recently, I had sensed a shift in them and their relationship.

They had the ability to make this shift all along. But when we started our work, it was buried under years of “stuff” that included judgment, assumptions and self-preservation.

Now, they didn’t shut down when the other person spoke. There was active engagement, a softening toward each other, and a willingness to appreciate each other. Today, they listened to understand the other’s viewpoint and to seek agreement on the important work decisions they jointly had to make. (read more…)

Much has been written about leadership and “turnaround” situations. Loads of tips are out there for becoming a superhero executive , a heroic doctor who can take an ailing organization and bring it back from the brink. But what if you are the new leader of an organization that has been relatively healthy? That is poised for growth? That has a well-functioning team?

Some organizations need a family practitioner to help them flourish, so if you see yourself as a heart surgeon, be careful — or your patient might die on the table. Here are six things you can to do destroy a well-functioning team:

  1. Break what is working well. Even organizations that are struggling and in need of a turnaround superhero probably have some things going well. Keep your ego in check, and know the difference between what is going well and what needs improvement. Don’t focus on areas you are most comfortable tinkering with if those are going well.
  2. (read more…)