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…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: Would you rather have a larger leadership role on a smaller team or a smaller leadership role on a bigger team?

  • I want the larger leadership role on a smaller team: 79.09%
  • I prefer the smaller leadership role as part of a bigger team: 20.91%

The Head of the Dog. The preference is clear – people would rather be the head of the dog rather than the tail of the lion. Said differently, taking the larger leadership role is much more preferred even if it’s on a smaller team. This is a common dynamic that’s worth understanding in more depth. It’s only logical. As leaders, many of us seek to have as much impact as possible. (read more…)

This post is sponsored by Covance.

Peter Varney has more than 35 years of senior level Scientific, Business Development and Alliance Management leadership experience within the Contract Research Organization industry, having been with Covance (formerly Hazleton) since 1978.

In Peter’s current role as Global Vice President Alliance Management, he is responsible for the strategic direction of an enterprise-wide relationship with a major pharmaceutical company. Here he talks about Covance MarketPlace, which helps forge partnerships between smaller biotechnology and big pharma companies.

Question: I’ve seen the new Covance advertisement with the slogan “Connect right from the start.” What does this mean?

Peter Varney: “Connect right from the start” speaks to the unique benefit of our new innovative solution, Covance MarketPlace. Covance MarketPlace connects our exclusive network of companies interested in licensing or co-developing molecules for the commercial market. Until now, the matchmaking process between large established pharmaceutical companies and emerging biotechnology companies has been a bit of a hit-and-miss activity. (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…)