Young Upstarts

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[Review] Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams

Imagine this scenario – as head honcho of a company you’ve put together a talented, winning leadership team that by all accounts should be driving the business forward and destroying the competition… but it all seems stuck. People aren’t working with one another, distrust is rife, and worse, you’re struggling to see results.

If this sounds familiar, your company may be suffering from a case of “unilateral control mindset”, asserts organizational psychologist Roger Schwarz, author of “Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams: How You and Your Team Get Unstuck to Get Results“.

The unilateral control mindset happens when a leader views leadership as power over others and can lead people to try to achieve goals by influencing others without being influenced in return. A leader with a unilateral control mindset believes in the need to hold onto power, but this ultimately lead to unilateral leadership –  you think of yourself as the sole leader in your team, and alone become accountable and responsible for the team’s leadership.

This leadership malaise – yes, it’s one – is more rife than one thinks. According to a study conducted in the 1970s which covered six thousand individuals on their leadership approach, 98-percent of professionals applied unilateral control mindset especially when under pressure.

In the book Schwarz – also the author of “The Skilled Facilitator” and “The Skilled Facilitator Fieldbook” – similarly explores another approach that may help a stuck organization get unstuck, the “mutual learning mindset”. In the “mutual learning mindset”, a leader instead embraces transparency and curiosity and create a common pool of information and understanding between the leader and members of the team. This leads to informed choices and accountability, helping leaders and teams work together to achieve better decisions, greater commitment, and leading to stronger results.

Some leadership books provide you the “how-tos”, without exploring the psychology behind those recommended actions. In “Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams” Schwarz argues that the basis of leadership is actually organizational mindset – once individual and team mindsets are molded  as one, drastically improved business results ensue.

Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams” is a highly recommended read for those in leadership positions of any sort.

Daniel Goh is the founder and chief editor of Young | Upstarts, as well as an F&B entrepreneur. Daniel has a background in public relations, and is interested in issues in entrepreneurship, small business, marketing, public relations and the online space. He can be reached at daniel [at] youngupstarts [dot] com.

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  • Robyn Neal Lloyd

    This scenario is all too familiar to me. I have a team that is stuck in the “hen house”. Everyone trying to peck their way to their way to the top, looking out for the individual instead of the company. I am researching leadership and team building books and articles to help me save my company. I like the psychology behind this book. To “influencing others without being influenced in return is something that I am striving for and not being successful at.” I am anxious to read it. I just finished up the book, “Stop Playing Safe: Rethink Risk. Unlock the Power of Courage. Achieve Outstanding Success” by author Margie Warrell. She has some truly unique ideas on leadership and professional development that have inspired me in how I approach my job. My favorite two points of her book are: Grow your influence regardless of your position or authority level and build a culture of courage in your workplace that improves bottom line results. She did a fantastic job and I am going to read the book again with a highlighter pen.