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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 Early Work Experience Shapes Later Leadership Outlook

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

The context of an employee’s first job — specifically, whether occurring in good or bad economic times for their companies — can have a surprising impact on subsequent performance. Employees who learn the skills and habits required to succeed during economic downturns are more likely succeed when the future matches their early work experiences. The reverse is also true: workers whose first jobs occurred during times of abundance encounter greater success in the future during economic upturns.

Idea #480
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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 Harvesters, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1565. Courtesy the Metrolopitan Museum, New York

Does Work/Life Balance Help or Hurt Productivity?

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

Does paying attention to the work-life balance issues of employees increase productivity and the competitiveness of a business? Or, as pessimists might argue, is productivity and work-life balance (WLB) in direct conflict? New research shows that in fact WLB is more neutral than either proponents or pessimists believe — neither hurting nor particularly helping productivity. The decision on whether to implement WLB practices may rest on a completely different factor: the social norms of the countries in which the business activity takes place.

Idea #475
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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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Using Values-Based Leadership to Drive Performance

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

Values-based leadership can drive the performance of organizations, and managing those values is the key to unlocking increased performance. Richard Barrett’s model maps values for individuals, groups, organizations and nations. It can identify the gaps between observed and desired values and the negative values that create dysfunction, and can be used to show where change needs to occur to create higher performance.

Idea #472
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High CEO Pay Leads to Overconfidence and Poor Results

Idea posted: December 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change

A new study shows a negative correlation between high executive incentive pay and company performance: the higher the pay, the worse the future results. This study also pinpoints the culprit behind the negative correlation: CEO overconfidence. The overconfidence of higher-paid CEOs leads to poor investment decisions and unsuccessful M&A initiatives. 

Idea #469
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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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Ways to Encourage Employees to Help Each Other

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

A cooperative culture featuring generous employees helping each other is a key success factor for innovative and effective organizations. The two mechanisms for such generosity is the pay-it-forward approach, where someone who has been helped helps another person, and reputation rewarding, in which employees with a reputation for helping others are rewarded with help when they need it. New research from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business shows that both mechanisms are effective, but paying it forward will have a longer lasting impact on the organization

Idea #435
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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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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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George Washington and the cherry tree. A lithograph by John C. McRae, 1867, after a painting by G. G. White

How to Limit Ambiguity of Responsibility and Learn from Failure

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

Failed experiences are not always a bad thing; they can be sources of learning, and improved performance. However, individuals do not always learn from failure. Whether they attribute that failure internally or externally has a role to play in their learning, and an additional factor is how ambiguous their responsibility for that task was. This Idea explores these factors and more.

Idea #396
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Players from Clermont Auvergne 2010 Rugby union team in a huddle (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Can Emotional Intelligence Shape a Team's Collective Performance?

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

Emotional intelligence on the part of team members as well as team leaders may have a significant impact on the team’s performance. The mediating factor seems to be trust — something emotional intelligence can enhance, which subsequently leads to better overall collective performance. Read on to find out more.

Idea #398
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Can Late-Night Smartphone Use Reduce Engagement and Productivity?

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

The increasing use of smartphones around the world has led to many organizations endorsing them, and providing them to their employees. However, could there be a downside to the benefit of having instant access to work documents and emails? According to this Idea, late night use of smartphones may interfere with sleep, resulting in employees being less engaged at work the next day. Read on to discover the implications of these findings.

Idea #399
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The White Rabbit, by Sir John Tenniel (1820 –1914), an illustration from the original edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

How to Ensure Knowledge Sharing under Pressure

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

Knowledge sharing among employees is vital to an organization’s success. But increasing time pressure makes employees less willing to break away from their tasks and deadline work to help others. In a busy and competitive environment it is up to organizations to help relieve this pressure.

Idea #392
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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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Kenya's Faith Chemaoi crosses the finishing line of the 2014 Paris Marathon (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How Reference Points Motivate Us

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

Reference-dependent theories state that individuals evaluate outcomes as gains or losses, depending on a neutral reference point. Making 19 sales in a month is a loss when the goal — the reference point — was 20 sales a month. Data from 10 million marathon finishes provides a field test that confirms the behavioural expectations and implications of these theories, shedding a light on how milestone goals can push individuals to higher performance.

Idea #394
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A copy of Auguste Rodin's The Thinker on the Columbia University campus (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How Reflection Aids Performance: The Thinker as Learner

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

What is ‘learning-by-thinking’ and how can it improve individual performance in your organization? This Idea explains why it is important to incorporate time for reflection in the learning process, and how it differs from learning by experience alone, without reflection. 

Idea #390
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Detail from a poster by Eric Frazer, for the Post Office Savings Bank, 1942 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How a Culture of Integrity Boosts the Bottom Line

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

A culture of integrity adds value to the firm. Research shows that the more employees perceive top managers as trustworthy and ethical, the better the financial performance of the firm and the more attractive the firm to potential employees. 

Idea #379
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Columbia Man. A 1902 poster for Columbia University, by John E. Sheridan (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Do Ivy League or Elite Educated CEOs Outperform Others?

Idea posted: April 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

When selecting a potential CEO for your organization, will having studied at an Ivy League school make a difference to the performance they bring? According to this Idea, yes but only under certain conditions. Read on to find out more about whether it is worth the effort to specifically seek out elite or Ivy League-educated individuals for CEO positions.

Idea #370
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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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Rear Adm. Daniel Holloway talks with sailors during his weekly Admiral's ‘brown bag lunch’ aboard aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

How Seeing Things Employees’ Way Builds Performance

Idea posted: April 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: London Business School

By adopting an employee-centred attitude to the way you lead, your staff will not only achieve the best for themselves and their own goals, but they will also deliver the best for your business. It requires a move away from the controlling orientation of traditional leadership and towards a more communicative process, in which you try to understand the strengths, fears, and aspirations of employees, and manage them accordingly.

Idea #353
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Arshile Gorky Fiorello La Guardia at the opening of the Federal Art Gallery (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How Conducting Appraisals Well Builds Ethical Behaviour

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

The annual appraisal interview has a lasting impact on the perceptions and attitudes of employees. Treat people with respect and you encourage the kinds of behaviours that create value for shareholders and stakeholders. Get the interview wrong, on the other hand, and you put the organization at increased risk.

Idea #350
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Cyberloafing: Lost Sleep and Lower Productivity

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

The nature and increased use of the Internet has led to a new workplace threat to productivity — ‘cyberloafing’. In this Idea, the impact of lost and low-quality sleep on employee cyberloafing, as well as conscientiousness is examined. 

Idea #343
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HQ Controls and the Speed of Strategic Decision-Making

Idea posted: March 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

How do control mechanisms set by corporate headquarters in large organizations influence decision-making speed at lower levels? In this Idea, six types of corporate controls are identified, their effects on decision speed are discussed, and the key mechanisms accounting for these effects are outlined.

Idea #339
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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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Jimmy Edwards as the Headmaster in Whack-O!, BBC TV comedy sit-com which was originally broadcast from 1956 to 1960  (©BBC)

The Positive Effect of Negative Incentives

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

New research shows that negative incentives — incentives that require individuals to perform in order to avoid a loss — are more motivating than positive incentives, which motivate individuals through a gain (for example, a bonus).

Idea #308
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Martin Luther King, Jr. gives a speech during his MSU visit, 1965 (Source: Michigan State University archives)

Leaders' Charisma, Team Performance and Organizational Change

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

If a leader has charisma, he/she is said to be more likely to achieve better team performance. But what exactly is it that makes a leader seem charismatic, and why does this have an effect on performance outcomes? In this Idea, these questions are explored, and the behaviours that enhance the perception of charisma are outlined.

Idea #303
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The Pilot Faints, from Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner, illustrated by Gustave Doré, published 1798

Choosing a CEO: Safe Pair of Hands Vs Too Much Experience

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

A good track record of experience as a CEO does not necessarily lead to success in subsequent appointments. Evidence suggests that those appointed to the CEO role without a background in the role outperform their more seasoned counterparts. Why is this so, and what can prior CEOs do to avoid ‘the experience trap’? 

Idea #270
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Positive and Negative Drivers of Creativity

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

There is no doubt that creativity is essential for organizations to thrive. But how can you inspire creativity in your organization? This Idea suggests that in addition to the popular perception that positivity inspires high creativity, negative affects also have an important role to play. In fact, when a combination of both negative and positive effects occur together, the highest levels of creativity take place.

Idea #266
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