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Methuselah, the grandfather of Noah, purported to be the oldest person to ever live, stained glass window Canterbury Cathederal (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Age Diversity and Performance: Negative Stereotypes and HR Policies

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

Diversity in the workplace is now strongly encouraged in progressive organizations, and an increasing number of companies are enacting diversity-related policies. But this Idea suggests certain policies, such as those related to age diversity, may in fact hamper a firm’s performance if managers appear to hold negative age stereotypes.

Idea #256
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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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The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1939, starring Charles Laughton as Quasimodo, directed by William Dieterle, RKO Radio Pictures

How Power Mediates the Effects of Social Exclusion

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

How would you react if you were socially excluded from a group? According to this Idea, your level of power will be a strong determinant of this. High power individuals will try to connect with others, whereas low power individuals may withdraw further. It is important for managers to understand the dynamics of social exclusion not least because it can have a negative effect on productivity.

Idea #254
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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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Taxcaltecans meets Hernan Cortez. Mural created by Desiderio Hernandez Xochitiotzin 1956-2000. Palacio de Gobierno, Tlaxcala City (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Avoiding Managerial Derailment in Latin America

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

Why do some managers ‘derail’ and how do these factors differ in various regions of the world? In the research behind this Idea, managers in Latin America and the U.S were compared to analyse managerial derailment. The Idea offers suggestions as to what Latin American organizations can do to avoid this and effectively develop their leaders to an international level.

Idea #245
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The Laughing Cavalier (detail), Frans Hals, 1624. (Source: The Wallace Collection, London)

Reasons to Be Cheerful: Positivity Linked to Profitability

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

Over-optimism in business is often seen as a bad thing, associated with recklessness and corporate ‘buccaneering’. New research, however, challenges this view. ‘Against-the-odds’ positivity can, it seems, motivate managers to work harder and propel them towards high performance targets.

Idea #246
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Balancing Local and Global Efficiency with Anchored Agility

Idea posted: October 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations
Institutions: IMD

If your organization is struggling to balance local flexibility and global efficiency, it is not the only one; even leading multinationals are facing the problem of managing fixed vs. local needs. According to this Idea, the solution lies in adopting a framework called ‘anchored agility’. 

Idea #247
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The Mona Lisa (detail),Leonardo Da Vinci, c.1503-1506, Musée du Louvre, Paris

In the Eye of the Beholder – When Eye Contact Fails to Persuade

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

Maintaining eye contact has long been considered an effective way of engaging a listener and thereby enhancing the persuasive power of the speaker's arguments. But leaders should be aware of new research showing that eye contact may actually make people less susceptible to persuasion, especially when they already disagree. 

Idea #248
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Elizabeth I of England, the Armada Portrait, George Gower, 1588 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Identity Crises: Occupational Hazards for Female Leaders?

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

Life is notoriously tough and demanding for female leaders. The difficulties, however, are not confined to balancing the commitments of home and working life. Female leaders often find it hard to reconcile their professional roles with their identities as women and feel prevented from being their ‘authentic selves’ at work. Solving the problem may depend on a fundamental shift in organizational values — and reversing ‘gendered definitions’ of leadership.

Idea #239
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US TV sitcom Happy Days, 1975, broadcast by ABC. Pictured are Potsie (Anson Williams), Richie (Ron Howard), Fonzie (Henry Winkler) and Ralph Malph (Donny Most) (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Coaches, Mentors and the Risk of ‘Rescuer Syndrome’

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

Coaching and mentoring are increasingly seen as integral to effective leadership development. Like all ‘therapeutic’ interventions, however, they carry risks. Some executives are attracted to the mentoring role for complicated personal reasons and may form ‘co-dependent’ relationships that do more harm than good. Organizations need to take steps to protect mentors and the people they’re trying to help from ‘rescuer syndrome’.

Idea #240
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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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Group Coaching: The ‘X-Factor’ Explained

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

Group coaching can be a catalyst for both individual and organizational change. Its ‘active ingredients’, however, are not commonly understood. Greater awareness of why and when group coaching works can help maximise its benefits. Anecdotal evidence and research suggest effective sessions share a number of key characteristics.

Idea #234
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Avoiding the Acceleration Trap

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

Is your organization stuck in an ‘acceleration trap’? If you demand that your employees constantly give you the same level of accelerated effort, however committed they are, eventually their energy will burn out and the company’s performance will suffer. This Idea explains how to spot this trap, break free from it, and avoid getting stuck in this harmful position in future.

Idea #231
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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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The Board Game, Magdelena Giesek, 2010. View her work at www.giesek.com

Gamification and Games at Work that Work

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

Employers are using gamification — the introduction of games in the workplace — to make work more enjoyable and ‘fun’, and hopefully improving, in the process, employee engagement and motivation. But mandated fun is considered no fun at all, unless employees consent to the game. Without consent, new research shows, the gamification attempt will backfire; with consent, gamification will engage employees even though the essential core task has not changed.

Idea #228
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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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Singing in the Rain, stage production, Birmingham UK, 2012 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Bad Weather Means Better Productivity

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

We all know that bad weather often leads to a bad mood, and therefore it must also lead to bad productivity, right? Not so, according to this Idea which suggests that bad weather actually increases productivity. Through a field study and laboratory experiment, researchers show that when the weather is rainy, there is low visibility and extreme temperatures, workers seem to be more, not less, productive.

Idea #226
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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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Children Acting the Play Scene in 'Hamlet', by Charles Hunt, 1863, (Source: The Yale Center for British Art. Wikimedia Commons)

Calling in the Consultants: Risks and Rewards

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

The use of management consultants by businesses and other organizations is controversial — and its benefits hard to quantify. (The ‘consultancy effect’ is impossible to isolate from other factors affecting the organization.)

Anecdotal evidence and experience, however, suggest that the leaders who derive most value from consultants are those who see them not as ‘fixers’ but ‘facilitators’ come to ‘counter-observe’ the organization and help create or measure its aptitude for change.

Idea #214
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John Cleese, Ronnie Barker, Ronnie Corbett in The Class sketch,  first broadcast on The Frost Report on 7 April 1966, BBC Televisio (Source Wikimedia)

Social Status, Performance and Managing Stress

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

Leaders and managers may be underestimating the impact of social status in the business world. New research links higher social status to healthier biological responses to stress, as well as positive behavioural outcomes, such as higher performance levels and greater generosity to colleagues. This insight into the power of social status can help leaders and managers anticipate problems and conflicts, and encourage better performance from their teams and business units.

Idea #216
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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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A sales assistant demonstrates a blackout coat for dogs at Selfridge's in London, circa 1940. The coat would ensure the dog was visible during the dark nights of the blackout (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Secret of a Good Sales Assistant: Reading Customer Mood

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

The ability to interpret facial expressions and body language is an important interpersonal skill. However, relatively little is known about how it affects people’s perceptions and experiences of retailers. New research suggests that sales assistants sensitive to ‘non-verbal cues’ are viewed positively by customers but negatively by third-party observers. This has important implications for the way ‘customer-facing’ staff are recruited, trained and evaluated — and for the way shops are designed. 

Idea #220
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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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All-consuming: Brand Management in the Digital Age

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing
Institutions: ESADE

Media fragmentation, globalization and expanding social networks are changing the way we view and follow brands. Leaders need to respond to these changes and challenges, taking a comprehensive approach to satisfying an increasingly diverse set of stakeholders in an ever more competitive environment. 

Idea #215
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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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1940's advert for Mum antiperspirant (Source: The Smithsonian.com)

Ethical Lapses in Negotiations – A Male Tendency

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

Do women act more ethically than men? According to this Idea, yes they do, particularly during negotiations; men tend to be more pragmatic in their ethical reasoning at the bargaining table than women, especially when they feel like their masculinity is being threatened. 

Idea #210
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Cinderella and her sisters, Aubrey Beardsley illustration of the classic story, from The Yellow Book, 1894

Stopping Women Bullying Women in the Workplace

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

Women bullying women in the workplace is a worryingly common phenomenon and one that is important for leaders to understand and deal with; because, according to this Idea, its negative effects can ripple throughout an organization. Here, a metaphor involving priming, painting, peeling, and polishing is used to explain how such bullying occurs, and how it can be overcome.

Idea #200
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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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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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