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The Giacometti room (Courtesy: The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark)

Shades of Grey: The Nuances of Team Disengagement

Idea posted: February 2019
  • Leadership & Change

As leaders and organizations strive to increase engagement, new research shows different nuances to disengagement that undermine the engagement effort. Some teams are pseudo-engaged, with individuals behaving as if they’re engaged but only interested in their own welfare. Others are contented rather than being disgruntled, deciding they want to do the minimum and no more.

Idea #730
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Pedro Lopez and the Trinity Orchestra, 2017 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Understanding Follower Attitudes Helps Decipher Leadership Success

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

Leadership success is built not only on the competencies of the leader but also the perceptions of followers. Conceptualizing perceptions as attitudes unveils a more nuanced and complete explanation of leadership success (and failure).

Idea #682
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Frank Jordan meets with Doug Cuthbertson and other union leaders at City Hall, New York, during the 1994 newspaper strike

Why You Need to Mend Any Poor Relationships With Your Employees

Idea posted: September 2017
  • Leadership & Change

A leading researcher on the issue of management-subordinate conflicts explains why it is important for leaders to mend any poor or strained relationships with their subordinates — and what steps to take. 

 

Idea #674
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Photo by Luca Onniboni on Unsplash

Bridge-Building CEOs Unite Divided Management Teams to Succeed

Idea posted: September 2017
  • Leadership & Change

Top management teams with entrenched knowledge bases tend to break into knowledge-based subgroups. CEOs by virtue of their integrative characteristics may be able to reconcile the differences and overcome the potentially negative effects. This study shows that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the effects of knowledge diversity in management teams at multinational enterprises.  

Idea #673
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Star Trek crew members, 1968, Chekov, Uhura, Scott and Sulu  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Leader–Team Member Relationships 2: Impact Job Satisfaction, Trust and Empowerment

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

In addition to confirming that the quality of relationships between leader and subordinates impacts performance, a new meta-analysis of the research also identifies why these relationships have such an impact: because they affect the role clarity, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, motivation, empowerment and most importantly, trust.

Idea #671
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Elvis Presley and others being sworn into the US Army, 1958 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Leader–Team Member Relationships 1: Impact on Performance

Idea posted: August 2017
  • Leadership & Change

Leaders and managers have different relationships with different members of their teams. Leader-member exchange theory can help leaders understand how these differences in relationships impact the performance of the team as a whole and of individual team members.

Idea #670
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FAEF conference room, Fairport, NY (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Supervising Projects Despite Limited Time and Expertise

Idea posted: June 2017
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change

Time and expertise limitations can cause steering committees (SCs) in charge of major and complex strategic projects to make errors in judgement and decision-making. The result: such common but serious problems as being late and over-budget. Proactive steps and awareness can help SCs avoid the traps.

Idea #661
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Beware of Egocentricity Causing Team Members to Overestimate their Value

Idea posted: August 2016
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

A new study confirms that individuals typically (but not intentionally) overestimate their contributions to team projects, especially if the teams are large. Managers trying to gauge the contribution of different team members — for reward or other purposes — should recognize when over-claiming is more likely, and use different strategies to remind individuals of the contributions of others.

Idea #615
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Tada' the Chinese poles, 2004 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Build Ambidextrous Teams to Combine Present and Future Objectives

Idea posted: July 2016
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Many companies separate short-term activities focused on the present (e.g. customer service, marketing) from long-term activities focused on the future (e.g. new product development). A new study, however, reveals the power of ‘ambidextrous’ teams, where cohesion overcomes the challenge of pursuing both present and future objectives.

Idea #613
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When Non-Average Performers Are Targeted by Bullies

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

As workplace incivility, aggression and harassment continues to worry business leaders and managers, new research explores some of the ways both high performers and poor performers may be inadvertently inspiring their victimization. 

Idea #553
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Civil rights leader Bayard Rustin(left), who is believed to have coined the phrase, "Speak truth to power." (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Candid Feedback Keeps Power-holders Accountable

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

Those in positions of power have control over an organization’s allocation of scarce resources. But are subordinates as powerless as they think? New research shows that candid feedback from subordinates can compel power-holders to be fairer and less self-serving in their allocation decisions.

Idea #521
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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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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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How to Resolve Workplace Conflicts by Addressing Conflict Expression

Idea posted: February 2015
  • Leadership & Change

Faced with workplace conflicts, attending to how the different parties express themselves — presenting their positions clearly, calmly and honestly or using aggressive language and loud voices, is just one example — can be the key in reaching a resolution.

Idea #489
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Why Leaders Sabotage Their Own Teams

Idea posted: February 2015
  • Leadership & Change

Some leaders, afraid of losing their grip on power, will use whatever means they have to stay in their position. Their favourite strategy is to divide and conquer: they systematically prevent skilled subordinates — the greatest threats to their power — from forming alliances with other subordinates that would help push them to the top. Divide-and-conquer strategies undermine the positive, collaborative relationships that are key success factors for effective groups…but these leaders couldn't care less. 

Idea #482
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The School of Athens (detail), fresco by Raphael in the Apostolic Chapel, Vatican City

Be a Learning Leader

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: Henley Business School

For organizations to learn and adapt, their employees must also learn and adapt. Leaders inspire learning through a range of relationships with direct reports and peers. They must develop relationships that encourage and facilitate individual learning. Different types of learning relationship need distinct personal leadership behaviours. Leaders can adapt to the different learner expectations and create conducive conditions for improving organizations’ learning performance.

Idea #407
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Women Workers in Estonia, unknown artist from the soviet period (Courtesy: ussrpainting.blogspot.com)

Back to Leadership Basics: Make Time for Your Team

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: London Business School

Leaders can make a much greater impact on their businesses if they spend more of their time ‘at the sharp end’, working directly with their people. To do it, they need ruthlessly to delegate, or desist from, time-consuming but relatively unproductive tasks, freeing up several more hours a week to coach and motivate employees to achieve higher performance. 

Idea #393
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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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Can a Leader Be Too Ethical?

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

Ethical leadership reduces the risks of antisocial and selfish employee behaviour and encourages the kind of ‘pro-social’ behaviours that create value and promote the collective interest. There could, however, be a point at which it is counterproductive. Recent research suggests that leaders demonstrating particularly high ethical standards can weaken the psychological contract with employees through perceived ‘moral reproach’.

Idea #377
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Black Eyed Peas during Walmart Shareholders' Meeting 2011 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Diversity in Teams: Tasks, Not Relationships Drive Performance

Idea posted: February 2014
  • Leadership & Change

Diversity is a catalyst to creativity and better decision-making, but is considered to have a downside in terms of relationships: there is less of a ‘bond’ or a connection among members of a diverse team. Researchers now claim that this supposed downside is actually the central mechanism that improves the performance of diverse teams; focusing less time on the relationship, team members — especially in pre-meeting preparation — focus more on the task at hand. 

Idea #322
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Participants in the 2013 Clipper Round the World Race

Leading Dynamic Teams: Alignment, Capability, Autonomy

Idea posted: January 2014
  • Leadership & Change

This Idea offers insights from a round-the-world yacht race to reveal several key behaviours that make a real difference to team performance. Using sports teams as a metaphor for understanding team dynamics in organizations and the associated leadership challenges can be useful. However sports teams generally seek short-term black or white goals; whereas in business, and life, the time horizons are longer and the outcomes much more graded. Trans-ocean sailing teams provide a more realistic environment for leadership analysis. 

Idea #301
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The Meeting, Ester Almqvist, 1929, (Source: The Swedish National Museum. Wikimedia Commons)

Leadership Ensembles: 4 Blueprints for Senior Decision-Making

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

The ‘Lone Ranger’ style of senior leader decision-making is a thing of the past; most organizations now bring together groups of leaders (‘ensembles’) for input into different types of decision-making. This Idea identifies approaches for these ensembles to follow in order to make the most successful choices and reach the best decisions when they come together.

Idea #229
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Exercises in Tábor, 1924, photographed by Šechtl and Voseček (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Co-operative Behaviour: Neuroscience Insights

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

Co-operation is essential for the functioning of human societies — and several current public policy initiatives, including health and lifestyle and environmental campaigns, depend upon it. Many attempts to persuade people to co-operate and collaborate, however, fail — or succeed for only a limited time. Understanding the neural mechanisms for co-operation can help in developing more effective ways of promoting collective behaviour and in designing policies to achieve societal aims.

Idea #185
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Mount Rushmore: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Four Capabilities of Great Strategic Leaders

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

Intellectual honesty, accountability, and self-awareness are three of the four key capabilities of strategic leaders - leaders capable of inspiring change, innovation, teamwork and competitive performance in their companies and organizations. The final and fourth key capability of strategic leaders is the ability to attract and develop great people - to be a ‘talent magnet’. Boards searching for CEOs, and CEOs searching for a top executive team must interview candidates and select CEOs with these four capabilities in mind. And once successful CEOs and C-

Idea #137
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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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The Lone Ranger and Tonto, The Lone Ranger, 1949–1957, Dir. George W. Trendle

Leadership Dyads: Beauty, Disaster, and the Big Five

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: IMD

‘Leadership dyads’ — or leader/deputy partnerships — can be optimised for high performance by looking at the similarities and differences between the two individual personalities, and marrying them to form a complimentary dyad. This can lead to great results for an organization as a whole. Key to applying this Idea is self-awareness — a rare and precious talent indeed. Fortunately, there is a five-factor personality model — ‘the Big Five’ — that we can use to help us achieve it. 

Idea #068
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Chief Information Officers: Secrets to Success

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

A valuable learning tool for CIOs, this Idea draws upon the successes and experiences of 14 extraordinary Chief Information Officers from organizations including FedEx, Cisco, Time Warner and the US Department of Defence. Cross-referencing both personal characteristics and environmental factors universal to all 14 we can define and determine the skills needed to excel in this role.

Idea #069
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Her Complexities, Jennifer Main, www.jennifermaingallery.com

How Women Leaders Can Avoid the Gender Trap

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

There is a ‘Gender Trap’ that women leaders face. The received wisdom that female executives looking to get ahead should adopt male leadership traits is defunct. Traits a male can ‘get away with’, or even be praised for, are perceived very differently in a woman. To break the trap and cultivate a winning leadership style: women must live up to collective expectations of what makes a leader, but remain true to certain gender expectations too. 

Idea #072
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Sir Simon Rattle conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in Das Rheingold by Richard Wagner, 2006 (Source Wikimedia)

Ensemble Leadership: Lessons from the Orchestra Pit

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

An examination of musical ensembles offers insight into how ‘distributed’, or ‘plural leadership’ can work. This type of leadership, as opposed to individual or hierarchical styles can be more effective in moving organizations collectively towards shared goals.

Victoria Concordia Crescit — Victory through harmony.

Idea #074
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The Marx Brothers, Horse Feathers, 1932, directed by Norman Z. McLeod, Paramount Pictures

Rendered Speechless: Too Powerful Leaders Stymie the Team

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

We have all seen it happen; a newly promoted leader monopolizing more and more ‘air time’ in meetings. It seems to be an occupational hazard: when leaders experience heightened power, they are compelled to demonstrate it with verbal dominance. This compromises and even stymies good team communication. The good news is that this effect can be virtually eliminated by taking steps to protect an egalitarian culture. 

Idea #063
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