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YALI Network Members Learn About Leadership in Exclusive #YALICHAT
May 5, 2015

Women smiles for portrait.

To celebrate the launch of the new online courses, select YALI Network members were invited to participate in a private Facebook Q&A with Sadhana Hall, a YALI Network online course instructor and leadership expert.

From April 28 to 30, more than 20 YALI Network members had the opportunity to engage directly with Hall, posing questions on everything from networking to management. The following are some questions from the YALI Network participants and Hall’s responses.


Question: Can you identify a team leader, manager or mentor who has been the most helpful to you in a positive way and what made them so?

Hall: People who were humble, self-aware of their strengths and weaknesses, did not compete for ideas and were not afraid to talk to me about my weaknesses! They knew how fragile egos can be and were very diplomatic and, at the same time, clear and specific about how I could improve.

Question: How can I be a great leader?

Hall: Great leaders know their strengths and weaknesses, examine values that are meaningful to them, and how these values are congruent or not congruent with their behavior. Good leaders are never afraid to say they are sorry. […] I like this saying of Warren Bennis (noted scholar in leadership): “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right thing.” Leaders must develop their own ways of doing thing right and must have a very clear understanding of the ethical considerations that guide them to take actions.

Comment: How can I improve my pitching skills, especially introducing my ideas to other people?

Hall: Small ideas executed very well and intentionally [are] ones that rapidly demonstrate their value. […] They speak for themselves and they speak for you and about you. Most importantly, these are a combination of people’s ideas and, because you are a leader, you share the triumph with those that helped build the idea in the first place. And very soon, your vision becomes their vision and their vision becomes yours!

Question: How do you successfully network with a high-profile person?

Hall: Do research about them. Think about what in their background and their experience inspires you and how that connects to your own interests. Think about the questions you could ask them. Then, when you say hello, introduce yourself. … Ask them the questions [or] ask how you could contact them.

Question: What exactly can we realistically expect from the people in our network?

Hall: Networking is about building relationships around common interests. You should be as ready to help as you should be ready to receive help.

Question: How have you dealt with difficult situations with managers or team leaders?

Hall: Whenever I have had to have a difficult conversation, I have first tried to think about answers to these questions: How do I view the problem? How does the person or people view the problem? What would be the outcomes if we pursued one person’s or the other people’s approach? Where is the compromise and what would I be able to live with, understanding that I will not be fully happy with the outcome? Why is the person or people upset and what can I do to make life easier for them?

I look for patterns: I can see where I could be creating or adding to the problem, I can see where they are creating or adding to the problem. I am able to see solutions without being emotional. I practice the conversation with someone I can trust. Finally, I am ready to talk to the person or people.

I go into the conversation with the objective of seeking first to understand and then be understood. I ask clarifying questions. If I feel I am becoming emotional — flushed face, defensive language — I immediately withdraw myself from the conversation or take a break, and then start the conversation when I have gathered myself.

I have found that, using this approach, the person or people with whom this difficult conversation needs to take place feel respected, and we have often been able to come up with a compromise and even a clarification of thoughts that have created a misunderstanding.

When you are a manager, people look up to you to create a safe situation for them. You don’t have a choice in the matter.

Question: When, according to you, [can] an entrepreneur leave his job to dedicate himself entirely to his own project?

Hall: Leaving a job for an emerging company … is a personal choice. [It] depends on whether you feel like taking the risk of leaving a secure job, how much you would be earning, how much your skills are used, how fulfilled you feel, how many people rely on you financially, whether the emerging company has a stable product and a market that has the potential for expanding even more, where you feel most happy and productive, where you like the people working with and around you.

Then I would weigh the pros and cons and see how you feel. I have done this once or twice in my life and it led me to quit course [or] change jobs. … Change is always scary but it becomes easier if you reflect on your values.

Read Hall’s guest blog “Leadership: A Personal Reflection on Key Concepts.