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Persuading with Pitch, Volume and Non-Verbal Cues

Idea posted: June 2021
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

In their efforts to persuade and influence others, leaders pay close attention to the words they choose. Listeners, however, often doubt the sincerity of those trying hard to persuade them. Research into how leaders modulate their voices — by adjusting the volume of their speech, for example — reveals that such ‘paralinguistic cues’ can enhance their persuasiveness, and even increase their perceived sincerity. 

Idea #794
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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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The Freezeanalysts, Aris Kalaizis, 1995 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Too Much of a Good Thing: Collaborative Overload

Idea posted: May 2018
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

While the power of collaboration and teamwork is well-documented, the potential dark side of collaboration — for example, the same people in an organization being over-burdened by requests from others because they’ve acquired a reputation as collaborators — is ignored. A team of researchers warn of the dangers of ‘collaborative overload.’

Idea #703
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Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

Can Leaders Be Too Smart?

Idea posted: April 2018
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Can leaders be too smart? A recent study offers a surprising answer: up to a certain point, the smarter you are, the more effective you are as a leader. But being too smart can actually reduce how effective you are perceived— in large part because you lose touch with your subordinates. 

Idea #696
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Why High-Status Companies that Attract the Best Fail to Keep Them

Idea posted: September 2014
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

In the labour market, ‘high-status’ companies (the marquee names for people who want to work in that industry, such as Apple for high technology or Goldman Sachs for investment banking) will attract the best and the brightest employees — at least in the beginning of their careers. Once the résumé is burnished with the high-status employer, these employees are even more marketable, and often seek their fortunes elsewhere.

Idea #440
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Chinese New Year, Dragon Walk, Hong Kong (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

How Landmarks in Time Help Employees Set Aspirational Goals

Idea posted: July 2014
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Temporal landmarks — such as the first day of the year, a milestone birthday or the completion of a major project — can spark an attitude of renewed optimism in people that motivates them to seek out and achieve aspirational goals. Managers should take advantage of temporal landmarks to bolster employee development and achievement.

Idea #416
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Tina Turner in 1985, the year after she recorded 'What's Love Got to Do With It?' (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

What’s Love Got to Do with Work?

Idea posted: July 2014
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

A culture of companionate love — defined as affection and compassion — in the workplace can lead to greater employee satisfaction and engagement, while a culture that undermines such emotions leads to unhappy workers… and customers.

Idea #412
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Napoleon on his Imperial Throne, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, 1806, The Musee de l'Armee, Paris

The Speed of the Ascent: Which Leaders Get the Top Jobs?

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

Although there are many paths to senior roles, and many types of leader that take those paths, the route to the highest level of management, CEO level, appears to be the most clearly defined. And it tends to be established early on in a career. This research gives fresh insights into how people get to the top of the 21st century corporation.

Idea #333
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Woman and Man Contemplating the Moon, David Caspar Friedrich, c.1818-1824, Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Innovation: Seeing the Wood for the Trees

Idea posted: November 2013
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

Popular process management activities such as total quality management (TQM) facilitate incremental innovation but impede exploratory innovation. If a firm’s capacity for innovation is rooted in its ability to explore new areas – perhaps making groundbreaking discoveries – as well as exploiting existing capabilities, then process management activities must be separated from efforts to generate completely new ideas. 

Idea #268
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The Press Gang, George Goodwin Kilburne, 1839-1924 (Source: Burlington Paintings, London)

Should I stay or should I go? The Power of Headhunters

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

We can learn much from recent research about the behavioural aspects of top executives when approached by search firms. It suggests that the decline in corporate loyalty – prevalent among lower level employees since the downsizing era of the 1980s – has spread to the upper echelons as well.

Idea #233
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The Board Game, Magdelena Giesek, 2010. View her work at www.giesek.com

Gamification and Games at Work that Work

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

Employers are using gamification — the introduction of games in the workplace — to make work more enjoyable and ‘fun’, and hopefully improving, in the process, employee engagement and motivation. But mandated fun is considered no fun at all, unless employees consent to the game. Without consent, new research shows, the gamification attempt will backfire; with consent, gamification will engage employees even though the essential core task has not changed.

Idea #228
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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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Keep Mum She's Not So Dumb: Careless Talk Costs Lives', WW II poster (detail), Harold Foster, 1941

Political Correctness Helps Expression in Mixed-Sex Teams

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

In recent years, speaking in a ‘politically correct’ way has been criticised by many as excessive restriction on the freedom of speech. What was initiated as a positive way to minimize offence, had been taken too far and had come to be viewed negatively. But now, research demonstrates that in organizational settings, and in mixed-sex groups in particular, being politically correct is still a very positive step that can go far to facilitate better team work.

Idea #147
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Script the Change, Then Make It Happen

Idea posted: March 2013
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Change initiatives often fail for a reason that may seem obvious in retrospect but is often overlooked: no clear and detailed vision of a future with the change in place. What is the new environment? Who is doing what? Writing a movie script of the change — starting with the ideal future then imagining the story of how that change can be achieved — inspires and guides the change initiative, injects creativity into the change process, and reveals inconsistencies and challenges that can block successful implementation.

Idea #113
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Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, 2004, directed by Adam McKay, starring Will Ferrell. Also also written by Ferrell and McKay. Distributed by  DreamWorks Pictures

Balancing Extravert Leaders and Pro-active Employees

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

Despite both being characteristics which are promoted in many organizations, leadership extraversion and employee proactivity are uneasy bedfellows. This research suggests that extraverted leaders are less receptive to proactivity, and that they may only enhance group performance when employees are passive. 

Idea #006
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Leadership to Reconcile Team Diversity or Conflict

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

A diverse team can achieve great things. But diversity can sometimes lead to conflict too. The effects of team diversity on team outcomes vary considerably from study to study. This Idea digs deeper, investigating the effects of ‘values diversity’ on team effectiveness – and how leaders can play a significant controlling role in the relationship between values diversity and conflict within a team. 

Idea #042
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