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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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Joan of Arc depicted on horseback in an illustration from a 1505 manuscript

Younger Generations Determined but Concerned about Leadership

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

The rising generation of young leaders have evolving expectations about leadership. Young leaders are ambitious and willing to work hard, but they also believe that great leadership does not necessarily require compromising work-life balance or authenticity. Organizations must adapt to these expectations if they want to attract the best and the brightest. 

Idea #477
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Thumbs Up Ballet in a field choreography of Stars in my Eyes, Quebec, 1944 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Does Employee Satisfaction Improve Company Value? It Depends...

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

Recent studies of U.S. companies have shown that increased employee satisfaction is linked to higher value for the firm. But what about companies in other countries? A new study shows that the U.S. results are replicated only in countries that have levels of labour flexibility (ease of hiring and firing) similar to the U.S. Companies in countries with low labour flexibility show a more limited benefit from employee satisfaction.

Idea #478
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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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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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National Data Centre Capacity Building training course, 2012 at the CTBTO, Vienna, Austria (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Training Knowledge Workers Pays Off for SMEs

Idea posted: December 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Learning & Behaviour

While previous studies have researched the return of investment in training for corporations, much of this research focused on manufacturing employees. New research based in India focuses specifically on knowledge companies in the SME sector, and shows that the return on training is not only significant, but also increases with the size of the firm.

Idea #464
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How to Build Brand Equity Through Employee Engagement

Idea posted: December 2014
  • Finance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing

From the friendly retail clerk helping a customer to the highly paid consultant who delivers groundbreaking solutions to the business unit, employees can directly impact a company’s brand equity. Therefore, any employee-related policy or resource decision — from training to lay-offs — is in effect a branding issue. 

Idea #466
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A watercolour by Gustaf Tenggren, 1918-19. An alternative version was used to illustrate an edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales published 1922.

Ethics and the Slippery Slope: Why Good People Do Bad Things

Idea posted: November 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

An in-depth study of ordinary people over an extended period of time reveals how easy it is for ‘good’ people, starting with an initial small, self-justified deception, to quickly justify bigger and bigger indiscretions, thus falling down the ‘slippery slope’ to major unethical behaviour.

Idea #462
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Good News and Bad News,  John Bagnold Burgess, 1876, courtesy Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Bournemouth

Overreacting to Bad Financial News Can Lead to Poor Investment Decisions

Idea posted: November 2014
  • Finance
  • Learning & Behaviour

A University of North Carolina experiment involving investment choices confirms the neuroscience research that reveals how people learn differently from good vs. bad outcomes and when being exposed to positive vs. negative news. The result, the experiment shows, is a bias to too much pessimism when investors experience negative outcomes.

Idea #459
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Two Big Black Hearts, Jim Dine, 1985, Bronze, courtesy deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln MA

Negotiate a Career with a Heart for You and Your Employees

Idea posted: November 2014
  • Strategy
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

A career with a heart goes beyond job satisfaction. It means being delighted with every job in your career. It’s waking up every morning excited to get to work. A career with a heart is a career that is self-directed, generates positive emotions and is integrated with overall life of the individual. Developing such a career takes hard work — and is built on a series of mindful negotiations. 

Idea #460
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Five Things a New CIO Must Do to Operate as a Business Leader

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

In the age of ‘big data’ and all pervasive social media the role of the CIO is increasingly important. However, traditionally seen as a ‘techie’, the CIO needs to shift perspective to operate as a business leader; and the newly appointed CIO must position her or himself to take on this leadership role.

Idea #454
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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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Markdown Vs Everyday-Low-Prices: The Impact of Regret and Availability Misperceptions

Idea posted: October 2014
  • Strategy
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing

The behavioural motives of consumers — such as regret over buying too soon or too late and misperceptions about the product’s future availability — should be considered as companies develop their optimal pricing and inventory strategies.

Idea #453
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Richard Long, Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young, Martha Wentworth, Orson Welles, Philip Merivale, Byron Keith, in The Stranger, 1946, directed by Orson Welles (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Succession Planning: Boards Need to Know Their Senior Managers

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

When a CEO leaves, his or her successor will be chosen from among internal and external candidates. Research shows that a board of directors will know surprisingly little about internal candidates, since directors have minimal interaction with executives below the CEO level — often limited to formal board presentations. Effective succession planning requires directors to become more directly involved in the organization’s talent development program.

Idea #443
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Launch Intentional Communities of Practice in Global Companies

Idea posted: September 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

As professionals in an organization acquire knowledge and experience, they share this knowledge among themselves in informal communities of practice (CoPs). In large international organizations with geographically dispersed professionals, such organic, informal CoPs aren’t possible; however, research shows top management-initiated, deliberately structured intentional communities of practice (ICoP) can fulfil the same function of distributing knowledge throughout the organization.

Idea #441
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Lion tamer in cage with two lions, a lioness, and two tigers.  Chromolithograph, Gibson & Co. (Cincinnati, Ohio), published c. 1873 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Coaches Needed to Help CEOs and Senior Managers

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

Nearly two-thirds of CEOs do not receive any coaching or leadership advice from the outside (e.g. from mentors, coaches or consultants), says a Stanford survey on executive coaching. Yet the CEOs would welcome the help. The survey shows that nearly 100% would welcome outside advice and coaching — especially on issues such as sharing, leadership delegation, and conflict management — the major developmental areas of concern for CEOs.

Idea #442
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Contemplation, Ghassan Salman Faidi, 2009 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Mindfulness Leads to Better Decisions

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

Faced with a decision, we are more likely to take the path we want rather than the path we should. The reason is that the want choice is quickly identified through assumptions, easy categorizations or past experiences; the should choice only emerges when time and effort is made to consider new situations or alternative attributes. Increasing the state of conscious awareness known as ‘mindfulness’ during the decision making process will allow decision makers to see the better choice… before it’s too late.

Idea #438
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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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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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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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Isaac Newton by Eduardo Paolozzi 2003, based on a painting by William Blake. Newton showed sign of autism (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Competitive Advantage through Individuals Outside the Norm

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

While employees who think ‘differently’ may be hired as part of the social responsibility activities of a corporation, corporate pioneers demonstrate that such individuals, such as those, for example, who are diagnosed with certain forms of autism, can perform certain tasks more effectively than (in this case) employees without autism. Hiring such employees thus becomes a bid for competitive advantage rather than an exercise in social responsibility. 

Idea #425
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Pierre and Marie Curie in their laboratory, 1906 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How to Build Long-Lasting Collaborations

Idea posted: August 2014
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Effective collaboration is at the heart of the best organizations. It’s not enough, however, to launch new collaborative relationships. Ongoing, long-lasting collaborations have a greater return on an organization’s productivity and performance than new collaborations. Managers must understand how to help collaborations to last — and new research shows that the actions and activities that make collaborations last are not the same as those that enable new collaborations.

Idea #426
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'Envy' a detail from the 'Table of the Seven Deadly Sins' by Hieronymus Bosch, c.1485, Museo del Prado, Madrid

Turn Employee Envy into a Tool for Personal Development

Idea posted: August 2014
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

Driven by envy — often as a result of misguided performance appraisal systems — employees focus more on undermining their colleagues’ success than beating the firm’s competition. Sensitive management of envy, however, can turn this negative energy into a force for good. 

Idea #424
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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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Queen Elizabeth I of England, by an unknown Dutch artist, c.1575

Why Women Who Blend Gender and Professional Identities Are Better Negotiators

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

Women who believe that their gender and professional identities are compatible are more likely to be successful in negotiations and other professional pursuits than women who are unable to ‘integrate’ their multiple identities.

Idea #417
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'The Times They Are a-Changin', Bob Dylan's third studio album, 1964 (Courtesy: Columbia Records)

What is the Psychology Behind Resistance to Change?

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

Successful change does not only depend on how change agents manage the change, but also on employee attitudes toward change, which are shaped by psychological antecedents. Specifically, well-informed employees who have high social support will have a more positive attitude about organizational change efforts.

Idea #419
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“They spake not a word. But, like dumb statues, or breathless stones, star'd on each other, and look'd deadly pale.” Shakespeare’s Richard III. Image:  15th Century tapestry showing Richard III, Coventry Guildhall

Why Employees Hide Their Knowledge and How to Encourage Sharing

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

Employees who refuse to share knowledge, either by playing dumb, being evasive, or saying that other factors are to blame, undermines the cooperation, efficiency and effectiveness of organizations. Understanding how perpetrators and targets view the damage from knowledge hiding is an important step in preventing this behaviour.

Idea #420
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Steve Jobs and Bill Gates at 'D5: All Things Digital' conference in Carlsbad, California, in 2007 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How to Formulate a Winning Strategy

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

Many companies struggle to develop a good competitive strategy and to set a clear direction for managers and employees. Strategy formulation, in fact, almost poses as many challenges for business leaders as strategy implementation. The solution is a back-to-basics approach — and a framework that addresses four fundamental questions about where and how the business will compete.

Idea #411
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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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