At Impact Hub Boulder, we love highlighting the impactful and inspiring work that our members are doing in our community. Here in this month’s guest blog Spokes, please enjoy the latest from our own Joseph Logan on a basic tenant that we as a community embrace and celebrate: our connectedness.
We need each other.
To the extent that I have any advice or wisdom to share, that would probably be it. We need each other. In my work in coaching and team development, this is by far the greatest opportunity and the toughest challenge. It’s also why I work at Impact HUB.
I believe that there is the seed of something extraordinary in every single person, community, and organization. I also believe —with a great deal of supporting evidence–that most people are never going to do much with that, but the ones who do will change the world. My work is all about finding and cultivating that seed of something extraordinary.
What I talk about less often but believe just as strongly is that cultivating those seeds is a team effort. The most important things we do, we do in cooperation with others. Any idea or contribution we make must happen at scale if it is to benefit the most people and make lasting change in our world.
The strongest, most successful leaders I know are inner directed and other focused. I spend a lot of my time working with start up teams and social entrepreneurs, and even when I am working with one leader, that work always has an eye toward the teams they lead. My work is about context, and our most intimate context is the people around us.
Startups can fail for a number of reasons—running out of money, failing to gain traction, never finding the right market—but teams fail for one reason only: a failure to connect. Conversely, teams that know how to connect with each other have a solid foundation on which to build their success. When teams can establish trust, openness, and clarity, all the skills and the talents of their members have a forum and a stage. Absent these qualities, there is no amount of skill or talent that can overcome the failure to connect.
What I look for in a team and its leader are honesty, transparency, and courage. Honesty means speaking the truth clearly and immediately–there are no withholds in an honest leader. Transparency means being as open as possible so that everyone has the most accurate information and can make the most informed decisions. Courage means doing these things consistently and without equivocation. All three are essential to the connection that individual and team success require.
In his extraordinary book The Hard Thing About Hard Things, venture capitalist and entrepreneur Ben Horowitz eschews recipes and “consultants who have never managed a fruit stand”. I think he’s onto something. When the work gets tough–and if you’re doing truly extraordinary work, it always gets tough—we won’t find the answers in business books and neat little checklists unless we have embraced one very fundamental lesson:
We need each other.
Joseph Logan works with extraordinary leaders and teams. His coaching and team development work focuses on executives and entrepreneurs with world-changing ambition and grit. Joseph has worked with companies on five continents to build the courage, insight, and tenacity to remake the status quo. He has taught at American University and Boston University, and he has lectured at Georgetown University, George Washington University, and the University of Colorado. He is a mentor at MergeLane and Watson university, and he has worked with teams at Techstars, Boomtown, Singularity University, and Tandem. Joseph is the author of Seven Simple Steps to Landing Your First Job and the forthcoming Heretic: How Extraordinary Misfits Change the Rules and Change the World. He is currently writing a book on startup teams.