Growing leaders grow organizations! This is something I’ve talked about and written about for many years, but my emphasis has been almost exclusively on the “growing leaders” part of the phrase. In recent years, my passion for helping leaders has not waned, but I have new energy for helping leaders “grow organizations.”

If your focus, like mine, has been on helping individual leaders grow, congratulations! You may be perfectly positioned to take your organization to the next level. Personal leadership capacity is a prerequisite for growing organizations, but the strongest leaders alone cannot do what a strong organization can do. The collective force of scores, hundreds, even thousands of people working together can accomplish and sustain remarkable results.

Several years ago, I had the privilege to lead a team to explore what growing, vibrant, healthy organizations look like, and more importantly, what makes them so powerful. After a multi-year exploration and scores of conversations with leaders of amazing organizations, our team reached four primary conclusions. (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. What is one quality of a great COO?

yec_Anthony Johnson1. OCD-level task management

The world is full of terrible task managers. Task management accountability comes from above. If an entry-level employee forgets a task, his manager catches it. If management forgets, the next person does and so on. But the COO is the last line of defense. Companies can crumble if one wrong task gets past the COO. Would you bet your company on your COO never forgetting a task? You just might be. — Anthony Johnson, American Injury Attorney Group

yec_Kelly azevedo 22. Obsessive organization

Tracking projects, tasks, team launches and so much more requires incredible organization skills. (read more…)

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” — H. P. Lovecraft

A handful of community leaders approached me about halfway through my first year as school leader. Some teachers — particularly the tenured vets — were concerned with certain aspects of my leadership style and were starting to vent to board members and other people of influence. After hearing these people out, I asked them what most people in a similar situation would want to know. “Why aren’t they coming to me with this?” I was told that they were afraid of losing their jobs.

To be honest, I found their response hard to accept. I knew that not everything had gone smoothly over the first few months on the job (there was SO much to learn and understand!) and I also wasn’t the one to whom they offered their allegiances (I had not hired and then rehired them year over year). (read more…)

“Now, remember, Ben likes to shake things up; don’t be afraid to stand up to him.”

This was my boss, Eric, coaching me on an upcoming first-time meeting with a powerful VP in our organization. I was an ambitious young professional, recently hired from the outside and ready to make my mark at the new company. Eric realized my potential and arranged a meeting with Ben so that I could demo some new training materials that were being set up for Ben’s area of responsibility.

The meeting started well enough but then devolved into a train wreck as I struggled to maintain my composure with Ben’s “shaking things up.” He poked holes in my assertions, challenged my ideas and didn’t let up for almost 45 minutes. I left that meeting thinking, “I will never work for that man. He’s a tyrant.”

I received no sympathy from Eric. “I told you he was going to be tough,” my typically easy-going boss said in stern reproach. (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: How valuable are your organization’s board meetings?

  • Highly — we get a great deal of value from our board: 21.89%
  • Somewhat — board meetings deliver some value but not a lot: 39.3%
  • Not very — the meetings are more of a formality: 24.38%
  • Not at all — the meetings simply consume time and energy: 14.43%

Stop telling and start asking. The board is tired of hearing you talk and likely frustrated you’re not asking them for more guidance. Spare them the business unit updates. They can read those on the plane on their way to the meeting. Instead, use your limited and valuable time with them to get their perspectives on issues they can help you work through. (read more…)