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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 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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Henry the Navigator leading Vasco da Gama, Magellan and others. Monument of the Discoveries, Lisbon, Portugal (Source: Wkimedia Commons)

What Does It Take to Develop Globally Competent Leaders?

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

Most companies recognize the importance of training top leaders in global competence skills, according to a new survey of more than 300 HR professionals. Many companies, however, are unsatisfied with their leaders’ and potential leaders’ skills in this area. A variety of methods can help build multicultural sensitivity and other global capabilities. 

Idea #541
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Alice and the Queen of Hearts

Bossy: What’s Gender Got to Do with It?

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

Bossy is not a synonym for assertiveness, or other positive executive leadership skills, and women are labelled bossy in the workplace more often than men are. But what lessons can be learned — for both genders — from  this blatant, and damaging, double-standard?

Idea #511
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Shakespeare's Prince Hal (Henry iv part 2). The Gower Memorial, Stratford (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Why First-Time Managers Need More Development Support

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

First-time managers, according to a recent survey, face a variety of leadership challenges, the most difficult being leading teams effectively, learning to be a better leader, and (mentioned by nearly 60% of respondents) being able to assert your authority over former peers while maintaining positive relationships. Organizations, focused on executive development, need to put more money into leadership development for first-time managers, especially in these three areas.

Idea #487
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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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Two short but sharp leaders: Bernie Ecclestone (1.59m) and Vladimir Putin (1.70m) (Courtesy: www.premier.gov.ru, Source:Wikimedia Commons)

Potential Leaders: Height Helps But So Does Being Smart

Idea posted: February 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

Studies show that leaders are more likely to be taller than average. Previous research revealed the perceptions of leadership qualities, such as persuasiveness, that are more easily assigned to taller men, which may explain their success. New research from the Stockholm School of Economics points to new reasons for the correlation. One revealing result: half of the tall leaders owe their managerial positions to their cognitive (intelligence) and non-cognitive (e.g. motivation or persistence) ability, indicating that a correlation between height and ability may explain the preponderance of

Idea #484
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A lecture in rhetoric at a knight academy, Pieter Isaacsz or Reinhold Timm, 1620 (Courtesy: Rosenborg Castle, Denmark)

Develop Next Generation Leaders: Start Early and Focus on Adaptability

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

Current leaders rate self-motivation and communication skills as the most important leadership competencies, but say adaptability and multi-cultural awareness will gain in importance for the future, according to a recent survey. 

Idea #486
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Character Head N°9, by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, after 1770. Wien Museum Karlsplaz (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Facial Cues: Can We Judge Who Looks Like a Leader?

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

Previous studies have shown that facial characteristics can help elevate a person into leadership roles. New research shows that different facial characteristics fit different domains — for example, businesspeople are expected to look ‘competent,’ while sports leaders look more ‘masculine.’ The research also shows that most people don’t have much confidence in their leadership inferences based on facial cues. But those who are confident, including corporate board members, may unconsciously be placing too much weight on facial cues in selecting leaders.

Idea #479
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Lifecycle of the Emperor Penguin in Chinese, designed by Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation, Arlington V.A. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Seven Key Steps to Effective Succession Planning

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

Strong leadership is key to the success of a company, yet most companies do not have an actionable succession planning process in place to replace departing CEOs or key C-Suite executives. The solution: to craft succession plans closely tied to coaching and internal talent development.  

Idea #452
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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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Why Women, Particularly Mothers, Miss Out on Mentors and Networking

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

Mentorship can overcome the barriers to leadership positions for women. Even with mentors, however, women, especially those with children, face continued resistance in personal development, included limited access to the networking opportunities so vital to a leadership career.

Idea #376
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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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BOAC advertisement (detail), 1946. BOAC was a British airline, which merged with BEA in 1974 to form British Airways.

Top flight talent? The Value of International Assignments

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

What are the factors – at both an individual level and a corporate level – that affect the relationship between international assignment experience and career advancement? Research suggests it is not as easy for leaders to rise to the top if they have been away from head office for too long.

Idea #244
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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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Bathing beach parade, 1919, Bathing Beach Washington D.C. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Identifying High-Potential Talent

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

Organizations are struggling with how to effectively identify, attract and retain high-potential talent. This Idea — based on a Leadership Survey carried out by UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School — proposes employing a formal and systematic approach, and outlines four steps to putting such an approach into practice. 

Idea #203
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Tweedledee and Tweedledum, John Tenniel, an illustration for ‘Through the Looking-Glass’ by Lewis Carroll, 1871

Leadership: Is it in the Genes?

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: NUS Business School

Are leaders born or made? When looking at this question, some people believe that leadership can be taught and developed, while others believe it is essentially ‘hard wired’. This Idea, however, suggests that neither can be said to be accurate. Both genetics and the environment play an important role in leadership formation; the real question is, how much?

Idea #189
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