“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…)

So, the promotion finally came through. You’ve joined the management ranks. You’re excited, apprehensive, and itching to get started, all at the same time. Succeeding at getting that promotion is just the first step. Succeeding at being a good boss is another thing altogether.

You don’t just want to be a boss — you want to be a great boss. But if you stumble out of the starting gate you may never have that chance. Here are four major pitfalls most new bosses face and how you can avoid them.

Pitfall No. 1: You don’t know your boss’ expectations.

How to avoid it: Set up a meeting, and do it sooner rather than later. Even a week of being headed in the wrong direction can do some serious damage to your image. Remember, one of your first tasks is to make your boss’s job easier. The first question I often recommend is, “If we sit down together three months from now, how will you know that I’m being successful?” The answers to this question can make sure you and your boss are on the same page from Day One. (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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What is one question remote managers should be asking their team members every week or month to gauge their level of engagement?

yec_Juha Liikala1. Do you need help with anything?

Managing a team where members are highly determined and conscientious is a wonderful thing. There are times, however, when conscientious can become an issue. A team member might be afraid to admit that he/she has a problem he can’t figure out by himself. This leads to delayed deadlines and unnecessary stress. Avoid this by asking, “Is there anything at all you need help with this week?” – Juha Liikala, Stripped Bare Media

yec_Adam Stillman2. (read more…)