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Communication and the Science of Great Team Building

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

There is an ineffable buzz about a good team at work. You can just sense it. Understandings between team members seem effortless, sometimes almost telepathic. The attainment of this serene team cohesion is often discussed in terms of ‘art’ rather than something we can look at through the prism of science. But what if that buzz were something that could actually be taught to a team? This Idea shows just how it can.

Idea #050
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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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LOS ANGELES - JUNE 8: Nintendo showing Wii Fit U for the first time during E3 2012, world video games Expo June 8, 2012 in Los Angeles, CA

Video Games for Learning and Development

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

A study by the US Office of Naval Research found that video game players perform 10-20% better in perceptual and cognitive ability than non-game players. Considering most workers today have played video games at some stage of their lives, these are positive findings. Now, organizations are also acknowledging that well-crafted video games can be used to support learning and to develop organizational talent. This Idea explores how.

Idea #123
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Forced Entry

When Successful Managers Go off the Rails

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

Managers who are solidly established in their organizations and boast impressive track records can suddenly find their careers ‘derailed.’ They no longer have the skills, mindset, personality or reputation that made them effective leaders in the past; eventually they are demoted, fired or asked to take early retirement. New research from the Center of Creative Leadership confirms the causes of such derailment and also identifies what managers and companies can do today to prevent situations that are not only devastating to the individuals but also costly to their organizations.

Idea #136
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The Women's Land Army, Bellingham, 1943

Maximising Employee Performance

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: London Business School

Aligning the personal goals of employees with organizational goals can bring huge benefits but it is not easy. This Idea looks at the benefits of a management model based on the perspective of the employee, which can provide better communication with employees and, as a result, more effective performance from them; and suggests some ways to go about it. 

Idea #084
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Participants in the 2013 Clipper Round the World Race

Leading Dynamic Teams: Alignment, Capability, Autonomy

Idea posted: January 2014
  • Leadership & Change

This Idea offers insights from a round-the-world yacht race to reveal several key behaviours that make a real difference to team performance. Using sports teams as a metaphor for understanding team dynamics in organizations and the associated leadership challenges can be useful. However sports teams generally seek short-term black or white goals; whereas in business, and life, the time horizons are longer and the outcomes much more graded. Trans-ocean sailing teams provide a more realistic environment for leadership analysis. 

Idea #301
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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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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 Marx Brothers, Horse Feathers, 1932, directed by Norman Z. McLeod, Paramount Pictures

Rendered Speechless: Too Powerful Leaders Stymie the Team

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

We have all seen it happen; a newly promoted leader monopolizing more and more ‘air time’ in meetings. It seems to be an occupational hazard: when leaders experience heightened power, they are compelled to demonstrate it with verbal dominance. This compromises and even stymies good team communication. The good news is that this effect can be virtually eliminated by taking steps to protect an egalitarian culture. 

Idea #063
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Closing the Generation Y/Management Gap

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

Some of what we read about ‘Gen Y’ is exciting (they are super-talented, highly motivated); and some more damning (they are selfish, with a sense of entitlement). Some say there is nothing new under the sun and ‘Gen Y’ is merely an immature ‘Gen X’. What’s not in question is that there exists a disconnect between Generation Y and their employers; in terms of perspective and expectations. This disconnect can and must be bridged to create maximum value in an organization. This Idea suggests how it can be done. 

Idea #067
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Chief Information Officers: Secrets to Success

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

A valuable learning tool for CIOs, this Idea draws upon the successes and experiences of 14 extraordinary Chief Information Officers from organizations including FedEx, Cisco, Time Warner and the US Department of Defence. Cross-referencing both personal characteristics and environmental factors universal to all 14 we can define and determine the skills needed to excel in this role.

Idea #069
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Her Complexities, Jennifer Main, www.jennifermaingallery.com

How Women Leaders Can Avoid the Gender Trap

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

There is a ‘Gender Trap’ that women leaders face. The received wisdom that female executives looking to get ahead should adopt male leadership traits is defunct. Traits a male can ‘get away with’, or even be praised for, are perceived very differently in a woman. To break the trap and cultivate a winning leadership style: women must live up to collective expectations of what makes a leader, but remain true to certain gender expectations too. 

Idea #072
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Sir Simon Rattle conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in Das Rheingold by Richard Wagner, 2006 (Source Wikimedia)

Ensemble Leadership: Lessons from the Orchestra Pit

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

An examination of musical ensembles offers insight into how ‘distributed’, or ‘plural leadership’ can work. This type of leadership, as opposed to individual or hierarchical styles can be more effective in moving organizations collectively towards shared goals.

Victoria Concordia Crescit — Victory through harmony.

Idea #074
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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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King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (anon. medieval)

How Evolving C-Suite Structures Affect Performance

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

The size and structure of C-Suites has changed significantly over the past few decades. An examination of these changes reveals a number of shifts, including one towards more product-focused (or front-end) functional managers in organizations with closely-related business units, and an increase in administrative positions where organizations invest more in IT. These findings also have an impact on general managers’ salaries. Here’s why executives should pay attention to these shifts when structuring their top teams.

Idea #082
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Business people in a series with a casual guy doing the headstand

How Team Reflexivity Fosters Innovation

Idea posted: April 2013
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

‘Team Reflexivity’ is the extent to which teams collectively reflect upon and adapt their operating methods and ways of working. This research explores the fundamental belief that highly reflexive teams will be more innovative than teams low in reflexivity, especially when faced with demanding work environments. It is an important predictor of team outcomes and innovation. The researchers explore why teamwork is better and more effective than individual acts and innovation.

Idea #125
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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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Keep Mum She's Not So Dumb: Careless Talk Costs Lives', WW II poster (detail), Harold Foster, 1941

Political Correctness Helps Expression in Mixed-Sex Teams

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

In recent years, speaking in a ‘politically correct’ way has been criticised by many as excessive restriction on the freedom of speech. What was initiated as a positive way to minimize offence, had been taken too far and had come to be viewed negatively. But now, research demonstrates that in organizational settings, and in mixed-sex groups in particular, being politically correct is still a very positive step that can go far to facilitate better team work.

Idea #147
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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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Phil Silvers (Sgt. Bilko) and Maurice Gosfield (Pvt. Doberman), 1956. Photo from Camel advert in Life magazine (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Status in the Team: Extraverts Vs Neurotics

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

How can personality affect your status within a team? Previously, it has often been thought that extraverts are at an advantage through their confident mannerisms, giving the impression that they can get a lot done. But this Idea finds that over time, extraverts tend to disappoint and their more neurotic counterparts end up surpassing expectations and, ultimately, raising their status.

Idea #149
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Blacksmith, India, C19th, British Museum

Leadership Tools: Magnet to Pull, Hammer to Drive

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: IESE Business School

Theorists often speak of management ‘tools’ when discussing resources. This Idea explores how successful leadership is based on two tools from the tool-shed, the magnet and the hammer, and shows how, with an understanding of why and when to use these tools, managers can effectively lead their teams through challenging circumstances.

Idea #009
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Stephen Fry and Hugh Lawrie as ‘Jeeves and Wooster’ a 1990s British TV adaptation by Clive Exton from P.G. Wodehouse's ‘Jeeves’ stories. The series was a collaboration between Brian Eastman of Picture Partnership Productions and Granada Television

How Dominant Personality Trumps Competence in Teams

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

Individuals that display higher levels of dominance within a group also attain higher levels of influence. Through two studies, the authors demonstrate how displaying certain behaviours can make a person appear to be more competent that they may in fact be. This perception in turn leads to greater, but perhaps unjustified, influence within a group.

Idea #038
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The German delegation at the Treaty of Versailles, 1919 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Conducting Better Meetings - Can Data Help?

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

The science of meetings — which includes collecting sophisticated data that analyzes meetings word-by-word and phrase-by-phrase — is still in its infancy. Researchers from MIT, however, used an available database with a myriad of data to reach some tentative conclusions about different facets of meetings, from calculating average ‘wrap-up’ times once a decision is reached to identifying the most persuasive words used in meetings. They were even able to use language analysis to identify when participants in a meeting were about to make a decision

Idea #182
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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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The Wizard of Oz – a publicity still of Jack Haley, Ray Bolger, Judy Garland and Bert Lahr promoting the 1966 CBS broadcast of the 1939 MGM feature film (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Leveraging Diversity through Integrative Thinking

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

Increasingly, companies are embracing diversity. It is right on moral grounds alone, but also they feel it can contribute directly to competitive advantage. Many corporate websites echo the thought that the real power of diversity comes in the form of happier customers and increased profit. Many companies routinely create diverse work teams seeking to capture the financial value of leveraging diverse and opposing views. If only it were so easy. The teams need supporting structures, organizational norms and real tools to achieve their goals.

Idea #187
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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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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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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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National Youth Orchestra performing Beethoven’s ninth symphony at the Royal Albert Hall, London, during 2013 BBC Proms (Source: Royal Philharmonic Society)

Music in the Meeting Room: Beethoven's 9th?

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

The power of music in leadership and the development of trust is widely recognised. So, too, is the value of face-to-face meetings, which, despite a battery of technological alternatives, are still commonplace in organizations. The possible synergies between music and meetings, however, have been overlooked. Managers are missing an opportunity to improve productivity, efficiency and teamwork. Is it time for music, long a feature of corporate events, to make it to the company meeting room?

Idea #264
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The Rejected Suitor, Francis William Edmonds (1806 – 1863)

Once Bitten, Twice Shy? Past Refusal and Future Acceptance

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

Nobody likes to be rejected. But according to this Idea, we may be overestimating the chances that our requests will be denied. In particular, contrary to popular expectation, if we have already been rejected in the past then that same potential helper is more (not less) likely to grant a request the second time around.

Idea #271
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