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The Entrepreneurial Spirit: Great Relationships Create Great Results

By: Courtney Geduldig

I grew up in the gym at Johns Hopkins University. Season after season, I watched my mom coach the women’s basketball team at the school, spellbound at her focus and determination, proud of her many wins. I was an athlete, too, and an important lesson you learn from team sports is knowing what role you have to play and when to play it. Sometimes you’re the first person off the bench; other times you’re the superstar. Sometimes you’re scoring and sometimes you’re passing to your teammate for the winning shot.

As an adult, I often think about how my mother took the time to understand everyone’s strengths and motivations in an effort to bind together a winning team, building relationships with every player—freshman to veteran. Those early lessons in leadership, patience, and the importance of creating a stimulating environment through relationships made an indelible impression on me—one that has served me well throughout my career.

It turns out that whether you’re a basketball coach or a C-suite executive, to be successful in a large organization as an “intrapreneur,” it is vital to know how to build coalitions. Whether you’re trying to move a new project forward, engage the community, or attract the right employees, you have to think creatively to develop that winning team and attitude.

If you want to achieve a positive outcome in the corporate world, you have to bring all the players together. You have to hustle and do the shoe-leather part of building a coalition of support. This means addressing the needs of all stakeholders and driving home the benefit to them in every presentation you give and in every meeting you have. If you can anticipate and address in advance key stakeholders’ concerns, breaking down roadblocks and finding consensus, the road to the optimal result is going to be smoother.

Often, that means we may not be able to move as quickly as we would like. It’s easy in the corporate world to be impatient about an outcome, but being patient and taking all the right steps with all the right people to reach the end result is something I’ve learned over time. I’ve been fortunate to have strong leaders in my life—my mother, my current boss, and several former ones—who have advised me against rushing forward without a coalition strategy, but to instead work toward a goal with the support of a group. It’s a lesson I’m still trying to master: Be patient. Don’t feel like you have to get the answer right on the first try.

All of this speaks to the importance of networking and relationship-building. These soft skills are ingrained in anyone who’s been trained in public policy and, specifically, in Washington, D.C. Relationship-building in the nation’s capital is extremely important. That’s not to say it’s easy, especially in politics.

“Be patient. Don’t feel like you have to get the answer right on the first try.”

Working on Capitol Hill was an invaluable experience for developing my coalition-building skills and learning that things don’t often happen the way you want them to the first time around. I was always trying something again, trying it differently, and most of the time that meant trying to bring new people in, forming partnerships, and being open to change to address the issues at hand.

When things get hectic and challenging, I still think about the time I spent with my mother in that gym. How she truly taught me the value of a team and how to bring a team together—just by virtue of the fact that she cared about what she did and so she did it well. I always knew from her that I had to work hard and be totally committed, in life and in my work.

At S&P Global, we are fortunate to have a strong core of entrepreneurial and singular women in leadership roles—each with her own story of success, failure, and the myriad ways in which her career has been shaped. Here are the stories of their entrepreneurial spirit and those who inspired them.

 
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