If someone were taking inappropriate or illegal actions in your organization, you, as a business leader, would hope that another employee who was aware of these actions would report the matter. You strive to set up an organization in which reporting a concern could be done without fear of retaliation.

But what if an employee believed that any action taken by someone higher on the corporate ladder was, by default, appropriate; or blindly assumed that senior management was aware of these questionable activities?

Individuals occupying a lower-ranking position tend to form highly positive perceptions of their superiors’ competence, leading them to believe that those individuals should make more of the contributions. Chris Argyris, a Harvard professor and business theorist, argued that employees in lower-ranking positions become more dependent on their superiors and defer to them more, similar to the way children become dependent on and defer to their parents.

Research has shown that individuals with higher rank are viewed as more intelligent and task-skilled, independent of their actual competence levels (Darley & Gross,1983; Sande, Ellard, & Ross, 1986). (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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 If you could change one thing that happened with your company in 2014, what would it be and why?

yec_Brian Honigman1. Being afraid to say “no”

I’ll never forget the first client I ever got as my own boss. Hearing that yes and having that validation was exhilarating. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past year, it’s that just because it feels good for someone to be interested in what you’re offering, not every match is a perfect one. When every client counts, make sure you have the prudence to pick the best ones possible. (read more…)

Connection Culture Book CoverConsider this: Few of the 500 largest corporations from 50 years ago exist today. They failed to change and became irrelevant, left behind by emerging competitors more in tune with the market.

How is it possible that so many top companies made this same fatal mistake? The answer may lie in a simple explanation. Humans run corporations, and humans have a biological aversion to change.

Change creates stress. It boosts stress neurotransmitters in our brains and stress hormones throughout our bodies. It shifts brain activity from the cortex where we make rational decisions to the mid-brain where we are more likely to make rash decisions.

We can handle short periods of stress. Ongoing stress, however, kills productivity, wellness and well being.

As humans, we naturally avoid change, and when we do encounter change, we tend to handle it poorly. The best organizations recognize this, and cope with change and the accompanying stress through carefully designed workplace cultures. (read more…)

They did it! Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson climbed a rock that everyone thought was impossible to climb. Much has been written and more will be written about their extraordinary feat.

One view of their climbing that has struck me is that there are many lessons for leaders that we can glean from what they did. So as I continue to share vicariously in this ultimate event, I can’t help but think about the extraordinary examples of leadership that we have learned from the two men.

  1. Focus like a laser. The precision required for the El Capitan climb in Yosemite National Park leaves me in awe. In dealing with issues of people or tasks, it is essential for a leader to focus with the “eyes of a super creature” (Superman or Catwoman). Regardless of the size of the target, it is essential to be totally absorbed. Attention must never dip; if it does, the end result may be less than the leader hoped for.
  2. (read more…)

Early in the year, many leaders will take their teams “off-site” for a day or more. An off-site meeting can be a great way to develop strategy, get creative, develop a team, learn and re-invigorate a team. Of course, they can also be like a sentence in purgatory if not planned and run well.

There is plenty of advice on how to run effective meetings, but not enough on planning. A well planned meeting can prevent a lot of the problems associated with bad meetings. Given that off-sites typically involve more time and people than regular team meetings, more thought needs to be put into preparation.

Here’s a few planning tips that will ensure your upcoming offsite is a fun, productive and rewarding experience, and doesn’t turn into an all-day meeting from hell.

1. Ask: “What is the overall purpose of the meeting?” Is it to develop a three-year strategy? (read more…)