Coaching highlights from coaching Columbia Business School students: Use your teammates

December 3, 2013 by Joshua
in Blog, Education, Leadership, Tips

[This post is part of a series on Coaching Highlights from coaching Columbia Business School students. If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]

Making change stick means practice and accountability.

How do you find people to hold you accountable? The following advice works for everyone, not just business school students. I’ll describe how it applies to your life after writing how I tell the students I do lightning coaching with.

Leadership requires other people. Every time you work or do anything in a team is an opportunity to lead. For this reason Business School students have to work most of their first year in school-assigned groups they don’t get to choose and can’t escape. At Columbia they call them “Learning Teams” now and called them “Study Groups” when I was there. I’m sure you have experience working in teams you couldn’t easily escape from. That’s why learning to lead in such environments is so valuable.

Being stuck together aligns everyone’s interests — not just to get good grades together, but to have productive, effective, and friendly working environments. In other words, it’s in everyone’s interests to improve each other’s team and leadership skills. They have vested interests in your success.

For this reason, I tell students to use their Learning Team to help them with accountability, outside perspectives, feedforward, and whatever it takes to improve. Often the students either so love their teammates or are so frustrated with them they lost the perspective of how to stop evaluating them and start using them for mutual gain (sound familiar?).

Whatever you do, if you have teams that endure beyond one meeting, your teammates have vested interests in your improving as a teammate and leader. Use their motivations to help them. That’s leadership everybody benefits from.

Learn to make Meaningful Connections

with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.


  • Step by step instructions
  • Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
  • An excerpt from my book

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