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E.T. The Extra-Terrestial, 1982, co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Drew Barrymore, Universal Pictures

Make Your Enemies Your Allies

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

Has an antagonistic relationship at work ever cast a cloud over you and your team? It happens to us all. Rivalries at work are natural. But they can be so destructive for the organization as a whole; sapping energy and blocking progress. Here’s a three-step method to help turn your rivalries into productive relationships, and turn your enemies into allies.

Idea #056
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The Lone Ranger and Tonto, The Lone Ranger, 1949–1957, Dir. George W. Trendle

Leadership Dyads: Beauty, Disaster, and the Big Five

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

‘Leadership dyads’ — or leader/deputy partnerships — can be optimised for high performance by looking at the similarities and differences between the two individual personalities, and marrying them to form a complimentary dyad. This can lead to great results for an organization as a whole. Key to applying this Idea is self-awareness — a rare and precious talent indeed. Fortunately, there is a five-factor personality model — ‘the Big Five’ — that we can use to help us achieve it. 

Idea #068
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St. John the Evangelist and St. Francis, El Greco, c. 1608, Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain

Being an Empathic Leader

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

An unexpected ‘skill’ that may be the key to more effective management and leadership is empathy. Empathic managers are viewed as better performers in their jobs, especially in certain cultures. As it is not a fixed trait, it can (and should) be learnt and taught by leaders everywhere, as empathic leaders are important assets for their organizations.

Idea #041
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Leadership to Reconcile Team Diversity or Conflict

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

A diverse team can achieve great things. But diversity can sometimes lead to conflict too. The effects of team diversity on team outcomes vary considerably from study to study. This Idea digs deeper, investigating the effects of ‘values diversity’ on team effectiveness – and how leaders can play a significant controlling role in the relationship between values diversity and conflict within a team. 

Idea #042
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Chinese Office Worker, 2010, Jakob Montrasio (Source: Wikimedia)

Ethics and Conflict Resolution in Chinese Firms

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

Inter-organizational conflicts can be extremely harmful. A study has revealed how Chinese firms manage and reduce their inter-organizational conflict. Ethical leadership plays a vital role in Chinese business culture, and as this study illustrates, it helps them foster more cooperative relationships – and those are the key to less inter-organizational conflict.

Idea #025
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Young woman working as a telephone operator

The Cost of Rudeness and Incivility at Work

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

Rudeness at work is on the rise, according to the latest research from two academics who have studied the phenomenon of incivility in the workplace for many years. The consequence of such rudeness is not just an unpleasant environment for employees. As the research by Christine Pearson, professor of global leadership at Thunderbird School of Global Management and Christine Porath, an associate professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, shows, there is a significant, tangible cost to the company resulting from this behaviour. 

Idea #119
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Envy, Edvard Munch, 1907

Envy at Work - Pros and Cons for the Organization

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

As a team leader, you want your team to work well together and, most importantly, produce results. The last thing you want is their success to be hampered by envy between colleagues, right? Well, according to new research from NUS Business School, some forms of envy may not necessarily be a bad thing, especially when it activates challenge-orientated rather than threat-orientated actions on the part of the envious person. 

Idea #148
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William Mark Felt, Sr. (1913-2008), A.K.A. ‘Deep Throat’. Felt, a former associated director of the FBI supplied Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein with enough insider information to take down President Nixon after the Watergate scandal. (Source: CBS News)

Blowing the Whistle on Unethical Conduct: It Takes a Village

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

Employees who want to report wrongdoing must overcome two fears: the fear of retaliation and the fear of futility (the fear of risking the enmity of boss and co-workers for nothing, because nothing is done). New research on whistleblowers confirms that the boss sets the initial ethical tone for the organization or unit, but also demonstrates that co-workers play an important role in either supporting or discouraging whistleblowing. The research shows that the interaction of the two factors — boss attitude and co-workers attitude — impacts an employee’s fear of retaliation. If either the

Idea #193
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Strike, Stanisław Lentz, 1910, Warsaw Museum (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Three Strategies for Resolving Workplace Conflict

Idea posted: December 2013
  • Leadership & Change

Almost all organizations experience conflict at some point or another, and by acknowledging its inevitability, managers can focus on constructive strategies to deal with it. In this Idea, three ‘systems’ are presented that can be used alone or in combination for effective conflict management.

Idea #284
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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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Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, an illustration for the 1898 Swedish edition by James Mahoney

Bullying Bosses: Don’t Just Take It, Fight Back

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

Employees victimized by a bullying boss should not accept to be victims. While they may think that fighting back will make matters worse, a new study shows that employees who refuse to accept the abuse feel better about themselves, their jobs, and their career prospects than those who accept their ‘victim identity’.

Idea #488
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How to Resolve Workplace Conflicts by Addressing Conflict Expression

Idea posted: February 2015
  • Leadership & Change

Faced with workplace conflicts, attending to how the different parties express themselves — presenting their positions clearly, calmly and honestly or using aggressive language and loud voices, is just one example — can be the key in reaching a resolution.

Idea #489
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St Anne, 8th century, from Faras – a city in Lower Nubia, present day Egypt (Courtesy: National Museum of Warsaw)

Encouraging Employees Who Stay Silent to Give Feedback

Idea posted: March 2015
  • Leadership & Change

Employees with a low sense of power are more likely to stay quiet about problems or concerns and less likely to come forward with suggestions or disagreements. Managers who can convince employees that they are genuinely interested in hearing from their employees can overcome their sense of powerlessness.

Idea #496
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Public Sector Leadership: Managing 'Multirational' Organizations

Idea posted: March 2015
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

Public sector organizations are hybrid organizations that bring together different rationalities (e.g. political, economic, legal) together under one roof. The role of the public-sector manager is to find a way to enable these different rationalities to collaborate effectively. The key, according to social systems theory, is communication: finding the common language.

Idea #497
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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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When Non-Average Performers Are Targeted by Bullies

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

As workplace incivility, aggression and harassment continues to worry business leaders and managers, new research explores some of the ways both high performers and poor performers may be inadvertently inspiring their victimization. 

Idea #553
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An umpire: Australia v World XI, Sydney Cricket Ground, 2005 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How People React to the Fairness of Decisions: Trust Makes a Difference

Idea posted: February 2016
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Perceived fairness, whether of the outcome or procedural fairness, impacts on how people react to decisions. New research shows that the level of trust in decision makers sets expectations that significantly influence this interaction of outcome and procedural fairness.

Idea #583
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Festival goers, Burning Man, 2013 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Integrate Your Multiple Social Identities

Idea posted: November 2016
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

To avoid stress and anxiety, people who have multiple social identities (e.g. lawyer, father, environmentalist, southerner, etc.) must manage conflicting behaviour, norms and values that arise from their disparate identities.

Idea #631
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Photo by Kevin Curtis on Unsplash

Why You Need Diplomats In Your Organization

Idea posted: November 2017
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Friendships in the workplace lay the foundation for collaboration and learning. Friendship cliques, however, can also produce fissures that only people with personalities of the diplomats in the organization can span.

Idea #683
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David and Goliath, Guillaume Courtois, c.1650 (Courtesy: Capitoline Museums, Rome)

Why Goliaths and Davids Are Poor Network Partners

Idea posted: December 2018
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

Can a Goliath company or business entity collaborate on equal terms with a network of Davids? A new case study shows that enforcing network rules might make such a collaboration an insurmountable management challenge. 

Idea #721
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Photo by Claudia Ramírez on Unsplash

Avoiding Toxic Workers Is More Profitable Than Hiring Superstars

Idea posted: January 2019
  • Leadership & Change

Avoiding a toxic worker enhances performance and costs less than replacing an average worker with a superstar — even if the superstar performs in the top 1% of employees.

Idea #729
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The Giacometti room (Courtesy: The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark)

Shades of Grey: The Nuances of Team Disengagement

Idea posted: February 2019
  • Leadership & Change

As leaders and organizations strive to increase engagement, new research shows different nuances to disengagement that undermine the engagement effort. Some teams are pseudo-engaged, with individuals behaving as if they’re engaged but only interested in their own welfare. Others are contented rather than being disgruntled, deciding they want to do the minimum and no more.

Idea #730
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