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The Fall of Icarus, Jacob Peter Gowy, c.1636 (Courtesy Museo del Prado, Madrid)

Setting High Performance Expectations Can Lead to Failure

Idea posted: December 2020
  • Leadership & Change

While high external performance expectations often improve performance, they can also have the opposite effect. Research shows that high-performance expectations can increase the embarrassment of those who experience early setbacks, reducing their motivation to persist and leading, ultimately, to failure.

Idea #782
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Source Pixabay

Why Are Disagreeable Men Being Rewarded for Being Disagreeable?

Idea posted: March 2019
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

Nice guys do finish last, according to a series of studies that show agreeable men earn significantly less and have less opportunity for advancement than disagreeable men. Agreeable women aren’t faced with the same backlash, supporting the assumption that agreeable men are being punished for not living up to their stereotypical gender roles. 

Idea #733
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Corporate Psychopaths: A Menace to Your Organization

Corporate Psychopaths: A Menace to Your Organization

Idea posted: February 2017
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Corporate psychopaths destroy morale, cause the best employees to flee and even commit whole-scale fraud, yet often use blatant lies and cheating to fool their bosses into believing they are valuable assets.

 

Idea #644
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The seven dwarfs, Snow White, 1937, produced by Walt Disney Productions (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Motivation Profiles: Pay and Reward Vs Fulfilling Work

Idea posted: June 2016
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Building on four types of motivation, a new survey helps identify different profiles of motivation for managers, offering a mix of extrinsic (e.g. salaries) or intrinsic (e.g. fulfilling work) rewards. The profiles reveal how the different motives of managers impact their job attitudes. 

Idea #609
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The Dutch East India Co. chartered in 1602, a steel engraving by Cool and Rennefeld, Leiden, c. 1880 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Why Equity-Based Incentives Work Below the C-Suite

Idea posted: October 2015
  • Leadership & Change

Many companies fear offering equity-based incentives for business unit managers. They believe that compensating business-unit managers based on corporate-wide results will hurt local business unit results. New research shows these fears to be unfounded, and that the right balance of equity-based and profit-based incentives increase results at both the corporate level and the business unit level and increase cross-business-unit collaboration.

Idea #562
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High CEO Pay Leads to Overconfidence and Poor Results

Idea posted: December 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change

A new study shows a negative correlation between high executive incentive pay and company performance: the higher the pay, the worse the future results. This study also pinpoints the culprit behind the negative correlation: CEO overconfidence. The overconfidence of higher-paid CEOs leads to poor investment decisions and unsuccessful M&A initiatives. 

Idea #469
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Kenya's Faith Chemaoi crosses the finishing line of the 2014 Paris Marathon (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How Reference Points Motivate Us

Idea posted: June 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Reference-dependent theories state that individuals evaluate outcomes as gains or losses, depending on a neutral reference point. Making 19 sales in a month is a loss when the goal — the reference point — was 20 sales a month. Data from 10 million marathon finishes provides a field test that confirms the behavioural expectations and implications of these theories, shedding a light on how milestone goals can push individuals to higher performance.

Idea #394
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Jimmy Edwards as the Headmaster in Whack-O!, BBC TV comedy sit-com which was originally broadcast from 1956 to 1960  (©BBC)

The Positive Effect of Negative Incentives

Idea posted: January 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

New research shows that negative incentives — incentives that require individuals to perform in order to avoid a loss — are more motivating than positive incentives, which motivate individuals through a gain (for example, a bonus).

Idea #308
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The Laughing Cavalier (detail), Frans Hals, 1624. (Source: The Wallace Collection, London)

Reasons to Be Cheerful: Positivity Linked to Profitability

Idea posted: October 2013
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Over-optimism in business is often seen as a bad thing, associated with recklessness and corporate ‘buccaneering’. New research, however, challenges this view. ‘Against-the-odds’ positivity can, it seems, motivate managers to work harder and propel them towards high performance targets.

Idea #246
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The Money Lender and his Wife, Quentin Metsys, founder of the Antwerp school, 1514, The Louvre, Paris

When Financial Incentives Backfire

Idea posted: July 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: HEC Paris

Companies often rely on performance-based systems to reward their ‘smartest’ or most productive employees. But financial incentives can have unintended consequences. New research suggests that the smartest workers also tend to be the most skilled at playing performance-based systems for personal gain. Leaders need to look closely at the way they structure and design incentives — and reduce the risks of employees concentrating their efforts on activities that trigger rewards.

Idea #180
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Helping Employees Realize Their Dreams: The Search for Meaning

Idea posted: January 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Do you want a more engaged and productive workforce?  You’re not alone—all managers do! To achieve this, managers can help employees realize and reclaim their lost dreams through tailored career development programs. This Idea offers four practical strategies to help you do this.

Idea #015
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