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‘War Horse’, the stage adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s book, performed at the Lyric Theatre Sydney, Australia, 2013 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Indirect Control: The Future of Management?

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

Management models are often seen as falling into one of two camps: command and control or the more laissez-faire, participative variety. But this is a false dichotomy. Successful managers and leaders today combine elements of both — in the ratio that’s right for them and their organizations. They offer autonomy and ‘self-actualisation’ but they do so in a clear and conscious ‘frame’ that reflects their sector and circumstances — and the preferences and skills of their employees. 

Idea #276
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Napoleon's retreat from Moscow, Adolph Northen (1828–1876)

Power Reduces Awareness of Constraints

Idea posted: December 2013
  • Leadership & Change

Whether imagining the future or reviewing the past, powerful people are consistently less aware of constraints and obstacles than the less powerful. This lack of constraint awareness explains their inhibition in attacking daunting goals and projects, but can also make them somewhat reckless and risk-taking.

Idea #279
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The Fall of Icarus, Carlo Saraceni (c.1580-1620), Museo e Gallerie Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy

CSR: Pride Comes Before a Fall

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

CEOs with a strong record in corporate social responsibility (CSR) are more likely to engage in less ethical behaviour further down the line, despite maintaining an appearance of morality. Leaders should, therefore, be aware of their propensity to fall from grace and boards should closely monitor their behaviour, especially if the CEO in question is currently ‘on a pedestal’, with recent CSR achievements to their name.

Idea #273
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Outsider CEOs and Strategic Change

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

While companies in crisis bring in outsider CEOs to effect change, many of them fail. New research shows why: Outsider CEOs need corporate stability to successfully bring change to an organization.

Idea #260
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Global Leadership: One Size Does Not Fit All

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

Successful leaders, it’s commonly acknowledged, share certain core characteristics and competences. You don’t get very far in business without, for example, the ability to ‘envision’ the future, set and design strategy, and motivate others to achieve shared goals. But not all successful leaders are the same. A recent global study finds significant regional variations in the behaviours of successful leaders — and in the expectations and preferences of their followers.

Idea #250
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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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Beating Bias through Mindfulness Meditation

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

Mindfulness meditation, the practice of clearing one’s mind of all other thoughts but the ‘present moment’, partly by focusing on the physical sensation of breathing, has long been associated with personal feelings of ‘wellbeing’ and positivity. But it has wider, more practical, benefits. New research suggests that leaders who use the technique are more likely to be resistant to the decision-making curse of ‘sunk cost bias’ — and, consequently, more likely to create value.

Idea #225
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A scene from 'Iphigenia in Tauris' by Euripides. Roman fresco in Pompeii (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Decision-Making With Emotional Intelligence

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

Decisions, especially decisions involving risk, are often guided by emotions, such as anxiety, that in fact emerge from completely unrelated events. Emotionally intelligent leaders are less likely to make a mistake with “incidental” anxiety because they recognize the irrelevant source of their emotions. Leaders can also help others reduce the impact of incidental anxiety by simply pointing out the true source of their emotions.

Idea #217
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Hamlet's Vision, by Pedro Américo, 1893,The Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Surprising Reality of the Leadership of Change

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

Linear ‘step-by-step’ guides and standardised solutions are of limited use in the management of change. Organizations, by their very nature, defy prescription. Leaders who want to turn companies round are often better off observing things for themselves and encouraging employees to improvise solutions than trying to follow a generalised model. There are, to paraphrase Hamlet, more things in organizational life than are ‘dreamt of’ in the ‘philosophies’ of academics, business writers and management consultants.

Idea #213
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Leaders Less Stressed than Followers Due to a Sense of Control

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

Today’s leaders face increasing demands and must be inundated with stress, right? Not so according to this research, which suggests that the heightened sense of control that accompanies leadership may actually help to reduce stress levels. In fact, non-leaders are probably more stressed than their leaders are. 

Idea #211
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King Lear, a UK TV film version, 2008, starring Sir Ian McKellen, Frances Barber, Romola Garai, Jonathan Hyde and Sylvester McCoy; directed by Sir Tevor Nunn and produced by Paul Wheeler for Channel 4

When Allowing Decision Latitude Can Backfire

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

The best leaders today avoid micromanaging their employees, recognizing that giving employees job autonomy and decision latitude — allowing employees to make decisions concerning their work — will result in greater motivation and better performance. New research, however, shows that too much decision latitude can backfire. Instead of being viewed as effective and conscientious leaders, the research shows managers who give their employees too much discretion and freedom in decisions and managing their work will be viewed as not being conscientious about their work.

Idea #212
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The Education of Alexander the Great by Aristotle, Charles Laplante, 1866 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Aristotle, Ethics and the ‘Art’ of Leadership

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

Aristotle’s ‘master virtue’ of phronesis, which combines ethics and action so that people can ‘live well’ and be happy, is often seen as the key to effective leadership. But it tends to be too narrowly defined. A re-reading of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics reveals that phronesis is linked not only to knowledge, skill, wisdom and intelligence but also to sensory perception, intuition and aesthetics. For Aristotle, doing the right thing partly depended on seeing and appreciating the fine thing. This raises important questions about how leaders reach their

Idea #202
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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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Ablade Glover, Market I, 2010, oil on canvas, 122 x 122cm, photo Jonathan Greet, Image courtesy October Gallery London

Modern Tribes – Managing Diversity and Identity

Idea posted: July 2013
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: IE Business School

Understand modern tribalism in today’s business world and how you can manage it for the good of your organization.

Idea #172
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Nelson Mandela shakes hands with his predecessor Frederik de Klerk and at Davos, January 1992 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Learn to Forgive: Mandela’s Leadership Legacy

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

When we forgive we can change the future. This is one of the greatest lessons organizations can learn from transformational political leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Aung Suu Kyi. Resentment, bitterness and blame make us prisoners of the past and impede progress. In the workplace, we need to accept human fallibility — and encourage people to think of mistakes as learning opportunities. The wise leader — and the wise organization — forgives and learns

Idea #170
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The Good Samaritan, Master of the Good Samaritan, circa 1530–1550, Centraal Museum Utrecht (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How Prosocial Goals Promote Employee Happiness

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

The pursuit of ‘happiness’ is perhaps one of the most important goals in a person’s life, and prosocial activities have proved to be a successful way to achieve it. But as the list of potential prosocial acts is endless, how can you narrow down which are the most effective? According to this Idea, activities framed in concrete rather than abstract terms make the crucial difference between happiness and unhappiness. 

Idea #163
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Argentinian Tango, Buenos Aires, 2009 (Source: Wikimedia Commons

Smart Moves – the Tango and Modern Leadership

Idea posted: June 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: IE Business School

The tango is presented as a metaphor for leadership in the modern world. Although it has adapted to changing social structures and attitudes to gender, it remains a passionate and emotionally powerful pastime. It also provides leaders with a novel approach to assessing their own management capabilities.

Idea #159
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Plato (left) and Aristotle (right), a detail of a fresco by Raphael (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Character - The Unspoken Essence of Leadership

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

In assessing leaders at any level in an organization, three questions are asked:

  1. Do they have the competencies to be a leader?
  2. Do they have the commitment to be a leader?
  3. Do they have the character to be a good leader?

This Idea focuses on leadership character because it is the most difficult to define, measure, assess and develop. Its aim is to define those dimensions of leadership character that are most important in today’s business environment and suggest how character can be developed.

Idea #157
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Quattro Santi Coronati, marble sculpture by Nanni di Banco (1375 -1420), Florence

The Four Orientations of Responsible Leaders

Idea posted: June 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
Institutions: ESADE

This Idea will help you understand how responsible leadership (RL) can enhance your personal reputation, your company’s reputation, and help strengthen those bonds with the society you serve. Furthermore, we will explore how to regard RL as a central feature of how you do business.

Idea #145
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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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World War II poster (detail) J. Howard Miller, 1918–2004

The Value of Front Line Managers

Idea posted: April 2013
  • Leadership & Change

Front-line bosses may be far more valuable for an organization than has been previously thought. According to research from Stanford Graduate School of Business, good as opposed to poor line-managers and supervisors can increase organizational productivity by as much as 11% — or the same amount as adding an additional worker to a nine-member team!

Idea #133
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Business woman draws modern business concept

New Priorities for Marketing Leaders

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

The priorities of marketing leaders are rapidly changing. According to a report from Cranfield School of Management, improving marketing’s ability to work cross-functionally and building influence at Board level are currently two of the lowest priorities for marketing leaders. Could this pose a problem when it comes to long-term strategies?

Idea #130
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Idea of the Ancient Via Appia and Ardeatina, Giovanni Battista Piranesi 1720-1778 (Source: Wikipaintings)

Organizational Capabilities Fit for the Future

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

In the past bureaucratic hierarchies were at the core of most organizational structures. Now, things have changed; from established notions of leadership to operating environments, businesses are going through revolutionary times. In this Idea, a new leadership style for this new environment is put forward - one that combines the best of bureaucratic and ‘post-bureaucratic’ experiences to develop capabilities fit for the future.

Idea #132
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Costume Partee

Unseen Dangers of Positive Stereotyping

Idea posted: April 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

Executives and human resource managers are always on the lookout for demeaning language and negative stereotyping, realizing that any pejorative phrase tinged with racist or other discriminatory connotation is offensive, creates a hostile work environment, undermines the culture of the company, and can eventually lead to expensive litigation.

But what of supposedly ‘inoffensive’ positive stereotypes — joking, for instance, that blacks are more athletic (an all-too common example)? Research by professor Aaron Kay of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business reveals that positive

Idea #116
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Female Directors Create Corporate Sustainability

Idea posted: March 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

Recent research and management thinking often stresses that diversity, especially gender diversity, is a critical factor in improving the quality of a company’s leadership and decision-making. But could it also impact the overall financial, environmental, and social impact of an organization as well?  

Idea #105
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Culture Club: Coaching by Values for Corporate Success

Idea posted: March 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: ESADE

How can leaders create the right corporate culture to confront the myriad levels of complexity in today’s turbulent business environment?

The emerging concept of ‘coaching by values’ (CBV) provides a flexible framework to help them reengineer their organization’s corporate culture and create positive outcomes for all stakeholders.

Idea #106
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Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, 2004, directed by Adam McKay, starring Will Ferrell. Also also written by Ferrell and McKay. Distributed by  DreamWorks Pictures

Balancing Extravert Leaders and Pro-active Employees

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

Despite both being characteristics which are promoted in many organizations, leadership extraversion and employee proactivity are uneasy bedfellows. This research suggests that extraverted leaders are less receptive to proactivity, and that they may only enhance group performance when employees are passive. 

Idea #006
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Harnessing Individual and Organization Networks

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

Leveraging employee networks can optimize individual and organizational performance and unearth hidden talent. Organizations teem with informal employee networks. Awareness of these living networks, and an understanding of how collaborations take place between top performers, can be a great, effective tool for overall success. To do so, managers must understand both the structure of talent networks within their company, and the categories their employees fall into. 

Idea #017
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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 1939, Dir. Alfred L. Werker

Evidence, Facts and Intuition in Decision Making

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

One of the ways we strive to make a good decision is through evidence-based decision-making. Just as often though, and sometimes without realizing it, managers are fitting the evidence to the decision they’ve already made in fact ‘decision-based evidence making’. A clear understanding of the roles evidence can play in making a decision can help avoid this. Although, as explained in this Idea, there are certain times when this is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes evidence-based decision-making is less appropriate than decision-based evidence making.

Idea #021
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Leading Complex Projects through Collaboration

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

Pooling the ideas, resources, commitment and efforts of many is more effective than relying on the few best individuals in an organization. Here, the example of CERN and their successful collaborative model of project management is used to illustrate the ways to lead through collaboration and harmony - collaborative leadership lessons from CERN: the world’s largest physics experiment.

Idea #022
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