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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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411_World War 2 poster. Wireless operators (Courtesy: BT Archives)

CIOs: Coach and Communicate with C-suite for Digital Innovation

Idea posted: January 2016
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

European companies are losing innovation opportunities because C-suite executives fail to respond to information technology and digital-related proposals of the CIO and the information technology function of the company, according to a new survey of European companies in three countries. The problem: lack of communication between IT and non-IT leaders.

Idea #573
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How Creativity Starts With Respectful Engagement

Idea posted: January 2016
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

There are a wide variety of methodologies and concepts for developing individual and team creativity in organizations. New research, however, reveals the unexpected foundation of organizational creativity: respectful relationships.

Idea #578
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Jean Charles de Menezes, memorial plaque at Stockwell Station, London (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Bad Framing Leads to Bad Decisions and Bad (Even Fatal) Actions

Idea posted: October 2015
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Decision makers must frame or ‘make sense’ of events and situations, and then make their decisions accordingly. A groundbreaking analysis of an innocent civilian’s tragic shooting by anti-terrorist police reveals how groups of individuals commit, through the interaction of communication, emotions and material cues, to a single, common frame — in this case an erroneous frame. It is a cautionary tale for leaders and other decision makers, exposing how errors or assumptions can cascade into a complete misunderstanding of situations.

Idea #563
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Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich: the Sister, by Edward Ardizzone,1941 (Courtesy: The Imperial War Museum, London)

The Overlooked Productivity Costs of Collaboration

Idea posted: October 2015
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

While management theorists and business leaders trumpet knowledge sharing and other advantages of collaboration, new research shows that workforce collaboration also comes with ‘spillover’ time-related costs that hurt productivity. These costs, however, can be managed.  

Idea #552
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Who We Call and Why in Uncertain Situations

Idea posted: July 2015
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

When facing uncertain situations of threat or opportunity, people will call on their contacts to help them meet the threat or take advantage of the opportunity. New research shows that how many contacts they call can be influenced by such factors as their rank in the organization, whether they have an internal or external locus of control, and the type of threat or opportunity that the uncertainty represents.

Idea #529
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Napoleon at the Battle of Wagram 1809, Horace Vernet, 1836 (Courtesy: Palace of Versailles)

Ensure the CEO Gets the Right Information at the Right Time

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

CEOs must be informed at all times about all internal and external facets of the company relevant to his or her performance as leader of the company. A personal knowledge infrastructure, based on the right practices, relationships and tools and aligned with the needs and personality of the CEO, can make the difference between leadership success and failure. 

Idea #532
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The Keystone Cops, 'In the Clutches of the Gang, 1914, directed by George Nichols and Mack Sennett (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How to Avoid Task Conflicts Damaging Team Relationships

Idea posted: June 2015
  • Leadership & Change

The potential performance benefits of task-related conflicts can be jeopardized when those conflicts deteriorate into personal relationship conflicts. Strong team identification can prevent such deterioration — as long as the original conflict is of medium intensity.

Idea #523
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Investors Complain Proxy Statements Unclear on Executive Pay

Idea posted: June 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change

Proxy statements are often unclear on major issues, notably executive pay questions such as the appropriateness of compensation size and structure, according to a new survey of major asset managers and owners. They also lack clarity on pay ratios, corporate political contributions, corporate social responsibility and sustainability and CEO succession planning.

Idea #528
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How Political Correctness Increases Creativity in Mixed-Sex Teams

Idea posted: April 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Creativity can suffer in mixed-sex teams. Men and women both experience uncertainty when asked to generate ideas as members of a mixed-sex work group: men because they may fear offending the women and women because they fear having their ideas devalued or rejected. Being PC helps men and women become more creative. 

Idea #505
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The Tower of Babel, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1563 (Courtesy: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)

The Language Challenge for Social Media in Multinationals

Idea posted: March 2015
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

The growth of social media in business enables and enhances a company’s communication among employees and with outside stakeholders, including customers and partners. The diversity of languages within a multinational, however, can hamper communication and collaboration both externally and internally. 

Idea #500
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St Anne, 8th century, from Faras – a city in Lower Nubia, present day Egypt (Courtesy: National Museum of Warsaw)

Encouraging Employees Who Stay Silent to Give Feedback

Idea posted: March 2015
  • Leadership & Change

Employees with a low sense of power are more likely to stay quiet about problems or concerns and less likely to come forward with suggestions or disagreements. Managers who can convince employees that they are genuinely interested in hearing from their employees can overcome their sense of powerlessness.

Idea #496
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Public Sector Leadership: Managing 'Multirational' Organizations

Idea posted: March 2015
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

Public sector organizations are hybrid organizations that bring together different rationalities (e.g. political, economic, legal) together under one roof. The role of the public-sector manager is to find a way to enable these different rationalities to collaborate effectively. The key, according to social systems theory, is communication: finding the common language.

Idea #497
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Daniel's Answer to the King, Briton Rivière, Mezotint, 1892 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Overcoming Our Evolutionary Fears to Speak Up to Authority

Idea posted: March 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Employees are often afraid to speak up even though they may have something to say. New research points to the evolutionary origins of fear-based silence and highlights the productive steps (e.g. developing emotional intelligence and better communication skills) employees can take to overcome these fears.

Idea #498
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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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Remote Working Vs Office Working: Why Office is Best

Idea posted: January 2015
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: NUS Business School

While technology makes remote work more and more feasible, companies are finding that keeping employees on site is more effective. There are significant disadvantages to remote work and equally significant advantages to working in the office.

Idea #471
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How Neuroscience Can Aid Collaborative Leadership

Idea posted: January 2015
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Insights from neuroscience can improve the way we understand our own and other people’s behaviour. The SCARF® model provides a framework for this understanding and for how the brain processes our interactions and collaborations with others. This Idea focuses on findings from recent social neuroscience research supporting SCARF®.

Idea #473
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Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, enthroned over his defeated enemies, Giulio Clovio, mid 16th century

What Boards Think of CEOs

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

The greatest weakness of CEOs is their lack of people management and talent management skills, according to a Stanford Graduate School of Business survey of Boards of Directors. However, the directors themselves must shoulder part of the blame: the survey also shows that when evaluating their CEOs, boards place significantly more value on financial metrics than any other factor. 

Idea #439
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Bring Your Own Device to Work: The Pros and Cons for a Multinational

Idea posted: August 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

Rapid advances in communications technology available to consumers has meant that employees often have far greater private access to sophisticated technology than they do in the workplace. Is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) - permitting employees to bring personal laptops, tablets, and smart phones to work, and to use their devices to access company information a sensible policy? In theory organizations benefit, in practice this presents many problems. This Idea uses a case study of a particular multi-national organization to see its response to this question. 

Idea #433
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How Best to Juggle Multiple Conversations at Work

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

Can an employee multicommunicate – simultaneously participating in a face-to-face meeting while checking emails, for example — and still be productive? The answer, research shows, depends on such factors as whether the employee initiated the second conversation, the different media being used (some are complementary, some are not), and the complexity of the conversation.

Idea #408
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Third Floor Coffee Bar, London School of Economics, 1964 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Building Buy-In: The Value of Informal Relationships and Coalitions

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing
Institutions: Baylor University

Being able to influence senior executives is desirable for most, if not all, members of an organization. According to this Idea, the key lies in internal relationships and informal coalitions. These relationships, used by executives positioned in lower levels of the organization, can help span internal boundaries across a company's various business units, thus enabling better communication and better strategic decision-making.

Idea #405
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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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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 Mona Lisa (detail),Leonardo Da Vinci, c.1503-1506, Musée du Louvre, Paris

In the Eye of the Beholder – When Eye Contact Fails to Persuade

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

Maintaining eye contact has long been considered an effective way of engaging a listener and thereby enhancing the persuasive power of the speaker's arguments. But leaders should be aware of new research showing that eye contact may actually make people less susceptible to persuasion, especially when they already disagree. 

Idea #248
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All-consuming: Brand Management in the Digital Age

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing
Institutions: ESADE

Media fragmentation, globalization and expanding social networks are changing the way we view and follow brands. Leaders need to respond to these changes and challenges, taking a comprehensive approach to satisfying an increasingly diverse set of stakeholders in an ever more competitive environment. 

Idea #215
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Peer-to-Peer Deference in Email Communication

Idea posted: August 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Emails have fast become the most widely-used form of written communication in business, both externally and internally within organizations. This Idea looks at the relationship between hierarchy and the language used in emails, showing that surprisingly, peer-to-peer communication tends to contain more signs of deference than subordinate-superior communication.

Idea #196
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Pricing and the Power of Red

Idea posted: August 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing

Retailers commonly highlight prices and ‘good deals’ in red in their ads and promotional material. But relatively little is known about how this affects consumers. New research reveals that the impact varies significantly by gender. Put simply: men are likely to see a bargain when they see red; women are far less easily swayed. The findings have clear implications for companies — and for precision marketing.

Idea #197
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The German delegation at the Treaty of Versailles, 1919 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Conducting Better Meetings - Can Data Help?

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

The science of meetings — which includes collecting sophisticated data that analyzes meetings word-by-word and phrase-by-phrase — is still in its infancy. Researchers from MIT, however, used an available database with a myriad of data to reach some tentative conclusions about different facets of meetings, from calculating average ‘wrap-up’ times once a decision is reached to identifying the most persuasive words used in meetings. They were even able to use language analysis to identify when participants in a meeting were about to make a decision

Idea #182
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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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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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