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American Shipping off the Rock of Gibraltar, Ivan Aivazovsky, 1873 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Ships in the Night: How to Unite Warring Executives

Idea posted: May 2020
  • Leadership & Change
Institutions: INSEAD

Executives often flounder, unable to execute a strategic vision and lead their people as they battle other executives over conflicting goals and priorities. Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries shows how group coaching instills a team culture among executives that breaks the deadlock, creates alignment, and helps them fulfill their roles as leaders.

Idea #770
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Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Promotion-Focus CEOs and CFOs Drive Strategic Growth

Idea posted: October 2019
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

CEOs and CFOs with a high promotion focus, who are afraid to miss opportunities and willing to experiment, are more likely to lead a company to growth than low promotion-focused CEOs and CFOs, who are more aware of potential risks. The best strategic decisions, however, seem to come when the two executives have clashing levels of promotion focus. 

Idea #753
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(Source: Pixabay)

How Competition Devolves Into Conflict Between Two People of Equal Status

Idea posted: April 2019
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

While competition between individuals is a fact of life in the world of business — people vying for that newly opened promotion, for example — a recent study explores the conditions that can turn healthy competition into dangerous conflict.

Idea #736
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Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash

Why Self-Confident Women Have Less Influence than Self-Confident Men

Idea posted: October 2017
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

A new study shows that the appearance of self-confidence resulting from high performance gives men greater influence in their organizations. The same is not true for women, who in addition to appearing self-confident must also demonstrate active concern and support for others. 

Idea #675
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Brave New Workplace

Three Generations of Young Professionals Reshape the Workplace

Idea posted: March 2017
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

Three generations of young professionals and emerging workers — Gen X reaching the higher levels, Gen Y bringing their focus on purpose and cause, and Gen Z just breaking in — create both challenges and opportunities for the 21st century workplace.

Idea #646
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Millennials 6: Attitudes Differ Based on Age and Gender — Sometimes

Idea posted: October 2015
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

A global survey of Millennials from around the world looks at the impact of age and gender on attitudes related to issues such as work-life balance, greatest fears, and retirement. (Editor’s Note: This article is based on Part 6 of the survey.)

Idea #560
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Millennials 5: Attitudes and Aspirations in Different Regions of the World

Idea posted: October 2015
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

Millennials, poised to become the biggest generation in the workforce and the leaders of tomorrow, are less homogenous in attitudes and aspirations than commonly believed. A global survey of Millennials highlights the differences among this generation in the different regions of the world, and even with different countries in those regions. (Editor's Note: this article is based on Part 5 of the survey.)

Idea #559
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The Unexpected Creative Effect of Sarcasm

Idea posted: September 2015
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Sarcasm in the workplace may not be as destructive as once thought. New research shows that expressing or receiving sarcasm can spark creativity through abstract thinking — especially if the sarcasm is directed at or received from a trusted person

Idea #550
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Millennials 4: Value Work-Life Balance But Are Willing to Work Hard for Their Careers

Idea posted: July 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

Stereotypes about Millennials can oversimplify nuances, especially if preferences among different regions of the world are not taken into account. A new global survey of Millennials shows that work-life balance is important, but Millennials are still willing to work hard to advance their careers or achieve leadership roles. (Editor’s Note: This article is based on Part 4 of the survey.)

Idea #533
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Millennials 1: A Diverse Generation Often Misunderstood

Idea posted: May 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

A new study of Millennials across the globe confirms some common assumptions about this generation while proving other stereotypes wrong. The most important lesson, however, is the heterogeneity of this generation, which is overlooked by employers. (Editor's Note: this article is based on Part 2 of the survey.)

Idea #515
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Millennials 2: Concerned about Opportunities for Growth and Quality of Life

Idea posted: May 2015
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

A new global survey shows Millennials from different regions of the world have different fears about their work lives. On average, the number one fear was getting stuck in a job with no development opportunities. In Latin America, however, the fear of not realizing their career goals dominated, while North Americans feared working too much most of all. (Editor's Note: This article is based on Part 2 of the survey)  

Idea #516
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Edward Lloyd's Coffee House, where Lloyd's List was originally published in the 17th century (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Constructive Networking: The Strategies of Players and Purists

Idea posted: February 2015
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD, ESCP

Research and experience tells us that networking improves individual and organizational performance. But how does it work and what dynamics are at play? This research helps us understand the strategies individuals use to build networks and uses specifics about individual’s attitudes, behaviours, and position to identify three networking archetypes - Devoted Players, Purists, and Selective Players. Understanding these archetypes can help organizations encourage constructive networking.

Idea #485
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Robert Maxwell, media tycoon and owner of Mirror Group Newspapers, 1991 in London. Maxwell died in November 1991 (Copyright: Shutterstock)

The Curse of the Narcissistic CEO

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

In theory, strategic decision-making is a democratic process in which the knowledge and previous experience of all executives is brought to bear. In practice, it doesn’t always work that way. A recent study finds that more narcissistic CEOs fail to pool knowledge effectively, putting themselves and their own experiences first. This underlines the importance of checks and balances on CEO power.

Idea #404
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Walkie talkie. Image from World War II US Signals Corps' manual (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How to Lead Virtual Teams

Idea posted: May 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

Virtual teams, groups of diverse and geographically dispersed people communicating mainly by technology, pose challenges for companies. They can deliver superior performance and become an important source of value creation, but they demand a new management and leadership approach. Organizations that apply the ‘rules’ for classic or traditional teams will be disappointed.

Idea #384
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Mortality: The Ultimate Motivator

Idea posted: April 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

Existing management theories fail to provide the complete picture on employee motivation. To understand what drives us as human beings you have to understand a range of complex psychological factors — including fear of death and denial of our own mortality. Death is a powerful ‘stealth motivator’ that leads to defensive and avoidance strategies in the workplace. 

Idea #365
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St. Augustine Departing for Milan, detail from a fresco in the apsidal chapel, Sant'Agostino, San Gimignano, by Benozzo Gozzoli, 1464-65

How to Keep Clients When a Linchpin Leaves

Idea posted: February 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing
Institutions: INSEAD

Losing clients can be a serious risk when a key member of staff leaves, particularly in the creative and professional-services industries. Including non-compete clauses in employee contracts has, so far at least, proved an ineffective mitigation strategy. Is ‘multiplexity’ — increasing the number of ‘human ties’ between client and company — the ‘optimal’ solution? Only, finds new research, in certain circumstances.

Idea #330
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Oilholics Anonymous Club. Allegory of the oil corruption

Reflective Leadership to Counter Corruption in Emerging Markets

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

Corruption remains a major obstacle to doing business in rapidly developing countries such as China, India, Brazil, Indonesia and Russia. It destroys value, distorts markets and encourages executives to work in their own rather than shareholders’ and stakeholders’ interests. Solving the problem depends on a new approach from companies: ‘reflective leadership’.

Idea #307
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The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, Caspar David Friedrich, 1818, Kunsthalle, Hamburg

Body Language: Power Poses That Get Lost in Translation

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

Expansive postures and gestures — leaning forward, standing tall with arms outstretched, etc — are considered part of the ‘body language’ of power. They make the ‘actor’ feel more positive and focused and they communicate confidence and authority to the observer. But not all of them ‘travel well’ or cross cultural boundaries. Recent research suggests leaders should stop and think before striking a ‘powerful pose’.

Idea #278
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The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1939, starring Charles Laughton as Quasimodo, directed by William Dieterle, RKO Radio Pictures

How Power Mediates the Effects of Social Exclusion

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

How would you react if you were socially excluded from a group? According to this Idea, your level of power will be a strong determinant of this. High power individuals will try to connect with others, whereas low power individuals may withdraw further. It is important for managers to understand the dynamics of social exclusion not least because it can have a negative effect on productivity.

Idea #254
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Global Leadership: One Size Does Not Fit All

Idea posted: November 2013
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

Successful leaders, it’s commonly acknowledged, share certain core characteristics and competences. You don’t get very far in business without, for example, the ability to ‘envision’ the future, set and design strategy, and motivate others to achieve shared goals. But not all successful leaders are the same. A recent global study finds significant regional variations in the behaviours of successful leaders — and in the expectations and preferences of their followers.

Idea #250
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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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Elizabeth I of England, the Armada Portrait, George Gower, 1588 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Identity Crises: Occupational Hazards for Female Leaders?

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

Life is notoriously tough and demanding for female leaders. The difficulties, however, are not confined to balancing the commitments of home and working life. Female leaders often find it hard to reconcile their professional roles with their identities as women and feel prevented from being their ‘authentic selves’ at work. Solving the problem may depend on a fundamental shift in organizational values — and reversing ‘gendered definitions’ of leadership.

Idea #239
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US TV sitcom Happy Days, 1975, broadcast by ABC. Pictured are Potsie (Anson Williams), Richie (Ron Howard), Fonzie (Henry Winkler) and Ralph Malph (Donny Most) (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Coaches, Mentors and the Risk of ‘Rescuer Syndrome’

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

Coaching and mentoring are increasingly seen as integral to effective leadership development. Like all ‘therapeutic’ interventions, however, they carry risks. Some executives are attracted to the mentoring role for complicated personal reasons and may form ‘co-dependent’ relationships that do more harm than good. Organizations need to take steps to protect mentors and the people they’re trying to help from ‘rescuer syndrome’.

Idea #240
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Group Coaching: The ‘X-Factor’ Explained

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

Group coaching can be a catalyst for both individual and organizational change. Its ‘active ingredients’, however, are not commonly understood. Greater awareness of why and when group coaching works can help maximise its benefits. Anecdotal evidence and research suggest effective sessions share a number of key characteristics.

Idea #234
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Beating Bias through Mindfulness Meditation

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

Mindfulness meditation, the practice of clearing one’s mind of all other thoughts but the ‘present moment’, partly by focusing on the physical sensation of breathing, has long been associated with personal feelings of ‘wellbeing’ and positivity. But it has wider, more practical, benefits. New research suggests that leaders who use the technique are more likely to be resistant to the decision-making curse of ‘sunk cost bias’ — and, consequently, more likely to create value.

Idea #225
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Nelson Mandela shakes hands with his predecessor Frederik de Klerk and at Davos, January 1992 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Learn to Forgive: Mandela’s Leadership Legacy

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

When we forgive we can change the future. This is one of the greatest lessons organizations can learn from transformational political leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Aung Suu Kyi. Resentment, bitterness and blame make us prisoners of the past and impede progress. In the workplace, we need to accept human fallibility — and encourage people to think of mistakes as learning opportunities. The wise leader — and the wise organization — forgives and learns

Idea #170
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Eihi Shiina in ‘Audition’, 1999, Japanese, Director: Takashi Miike, Distributor(s): American Cinematheque; Vitagraph Films

Psychopaths in the C-Suite: How to Avoid Them

Idea posted: June 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

Not all psychopaths are destined for prison or secure psychiatric hospitals. There’s a subset of ‘psychopaths lite’ – and it includes the ‘seductive operational bully’ (SOB). Manipulative, unprincipled and devious, and often highly persuasive and articulate, SOBs are capable of rising to the top of organizations – and wreaking havoc while there. Stopping them depends on creating an ‘inhospitable’ environment – and taking a ‘clinical’ approach to organizational diagnosis and intervention.

Idea #156
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Humanoid with his knowledge of universe on space background

Embed the Strategy (Do Not Rely on Cascading)

Idea posted: May 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

It’s not enough to ‘cascade’ strategy down through the chain of command. Senior leaders need a ‘direct line’ of communication with employees. Decisions about the future of the business need to be explained by those who make them. Supervisors and middle managers help to embed strategy by creating the working conditions that make it possible — not by ‘parroting’ the ideas of senior leaders

Idea #143
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Alistair Sim as Scrooge, A Christmas Carol, 1951, United Artists

Don't Let CFOs and Accountants Slow Innovation

Idea posted: April 2013
  • Finance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
Institutions: INSEAD

What can you do when penny pinchers get in the way of your disruptive ideas – ideas that may bring the critical changes your company needs? Firms with a greater degree of accounting conservatism are less innovative because of an obligatory accounting practice of immediately provisioning for future losses. How can you get the breathing space necessary away from the demands of shareholders and the market to innovate and bring about change?

Idea #117
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Principles of Competitive Global Talent Management

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

Companies must use talent management to build and sustain a talented workforce. Recruit, develop, deploy and retain the right people; these are the core aims of a successful global talent management strategy. Rather than follow untailored ‘best practices’ to do that, a company can subscribe to six outline principles that are consistent with the organization’s overall strategy and culture.

Idea #018
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