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A king (Louis XVI), a clerk and a blade (a guillotine): Nostradamus predicts the French revolution. Illustration in Vaticinia Nostradami,1629.

4 Nextsensing Skills to See What the Future Holds

Idea posted: September 2016
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
Institutions: IE Business School

Asking, “What’s Next?” has always led humans throughout history to create a better future. But answering, “What’s Next?” is not an easy task in today’s ambiguous and complex world. Four ‘nextsensing’ leadership skills are required to lead in the 21st century. 

Idea #624
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A Brain for Business, A Brain for Life

Book Published: October 2017
  • Problem-Solving
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Leadership & Change
Authors: Shane O'Mara

Advances in our understanding of how the brain affects our behaviour are continuing apace. Trying to align this new knowledge to benefit the way we work as individuals and as teams in organizations is the coming challenge for all leaders. Having a good working understanding of the biases, heuristics and predilections that distort our behaviours and decision-making is therefore important for anyone who want to lead people to produce better organizational performance. This is the second book in Palgrave's 'Neuroscience of Business' series.

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Five gantry cranes, built at ZPMC, destined for Hamburg, on the vessel Zhen Hua 20, 2007 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

A Lesson from China: Growth Is Not Eternal So Be Prepared

Idea posted: March 2015
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing

Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries (ZPMC) was a high-flying builder of large-scale container cranes whose decisions — such as lifetime guarantees on all parts and ambitious diversification — reflected a belief that growth would last forever. It didn’t.

Idea #495
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Margaret Thatcher, 1925-2013 (Courtesy: Associated Press)

A Lower Voice Can Take You Higher Up the Leadership Ladder

Idea posted: February 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

When it comes to success in business, a man’s voice can make a difference — especially if he hopes to become CEO. New research reveals that men with deeper voices manage larger companies, make more money and stay in their positions longer. (Women were not included in this research though Margaret Thatcher’s rise to power was supposedly helped by coaching that lowered the pitch of her voice.)

Idea #483
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Composition VI, Wassily Kandinsky, 1913 (Courtesy: The State Hemitage Museum, St Petersburg)

A Symphony of Agency and Stewardship Values Ensures Family Business Success

Idea posted: May 2015
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

Agency theory describes a contractual relationship between managers and shareholders who have divergent interests. Stewardship theory describes a collaborative relationship between managers and shareholders toward shared goals. Which works best for family businesses? New research reveals that a combination of the two, changing as the business moves through its lifecycle, offers the best recipe for success. 

Idea #518
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Louis Armstrong (Source: Wikimedia Commons). Armstrong and His Orchestra recorded ‘Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive’ in 1945

Accentuate the Positive – the Art of Coaching with Compassion

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

Coaching with compassion creates positive emotions that affect the health and well-being of individuals in the workplace. Not only will they perform better as individuals but the ripple effect of such coaching can filter down through teams, departments and the organization as a whole. It helps develop a more caring culture, a more effective workforce, and a business that is more open to change.

Idea #283
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Adapt Your Choice of Product-Related Services to the Industry Life Cycle

Idea posted: July 2015
  • Strategy
  • Marketing

Different types of services — from ‘complementary smoothing’ services such as maintenance support to ‘substituting’ services such as leasing arrangements — can be more or less effective depending on the current phase (early ferment, middle transition, or late mature) in the life cycle of the product’s industry.

Idea #531
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Abstract image of human heads

Adaptive Leadership: Leading and Following

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

This new approach sees leadership as a socially complex and ‘adaptive’ process that is not constrained by traditional hierarchies and is thus very suited to modern progressive ways of working. Recurring patterns of leading and following interactions produce emergent leader-follower identities, relationships and social structures, which enables groups to evolve dynamically. This ‘adaptive leadership theory’ offers a basis for re-examining traditional theories that focus instead on, for example, individualistic or hierarchical views of leadership.

Idea #066
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Adaptive Space

Book Published: June 2018
  • social networks
  • performance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Creativity & Innovation
Authors: Michael J. Arena

Reed Hastings, the much admired founder of Netflix, noted that “companies rarely die from moving too fast; and they frequently die from moving too slowly”, to which Arena adds, ‘in today’s rapidly changing environments, lack of agility is the kiss of death’. We see this in all sectors: fixed telecoms being challenged by free calling apps; fintech challenging the banking behemoths; auto-giants being threatened by Uber, Tesla and even Dyson; retail veterans succumbing to Amazon, the list goes on and on. Arena asserts that ‘in today’s dynamic environment, organizations need to be more liquid...

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The Hare and the Tortoise, The Fables of Aesop, Thomas Bewick (1753-1828), Source: The Bewick Society

Advantages of Confidence and Dangers of Overconfidence

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

Confidence can be a useful quality for leaders to demonstrate when they wish to gain stature, credibility and influence. But what happens when a leader acts overconfidently? The past is overpopulated with overconfident leaders who have led their companies to disaster. Finding the balance between leveraging the benefits of acting confidently and avoiding the dangers of overconfidence is crucial. This Idea explores how to do so.

Idea #118
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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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Eratosthenes Teaching in Alexandria, by Bernardo Strozzi, 1635 (Courtesy: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts)

Algorithms and Statistical Models Vs Human Judgement

Idea posted: July 2017
  • Learning & Behaviour

For businesses frustrated by algorithm aversion — the tendency of people to reject forecasts based on algorithms and statistical models in favour of less dependable human judgement — there is hope: a new study shows that people will choose to use algorithms if they can modify them, even slightly.

Idea #664
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Pericles, The First Citizen of Athens, c. 495 – 429 BC

Aligning the Organization to Let Leadership Happen

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

Good leadership is the result of ‘shared work’, and shared work is achieved through a process of direction, alignment and commitment in an organization. Creating positive leadership is really about these factors, rather than about adopting a set of ideal characteristics. All members of an organization have a role in making leadership happen.

Idea #014
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Aligning Your Organization for the Digital Future

Idea posted: October 2016
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change

A global survey of executive and managers reveals that many companies are ill prepared for the disruption that digital trends will bring to their organizations and industries. A minority of ‘digitally matured’ companies, however, are making the required cultural, talent management and strategic changes.

Idea #633
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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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1956 Ballantine Ale original vintage advertisement (Source: Brookston Beer Bulletin)

Ambiguous Ads: Hidden Messages, Hidden Risks?

Idea posted: April 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Marketing

Companies sometimes use covert ‘cues’ and ambiguous images to advertise their products. This ‘purposeful polysemy’ enables them to target minority groups without alienating ‘mainstream’ consumers. It is not, however, a foolproof strategy. Research suggests that heterosexual men respond less positively to ‘gay window’ advertising.

Idea #360
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An Holistic Approach to Leadership Development

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

Leadership development tends to focus on behavioural competencies, and how these can be attuned to create more effective leaders. This Idea takes a different approach: look beyond competencies and consider inner experiences as well. Such a holistic approach can help organizations and their leaders utilize a broader repertoire of responses to difficult situations.

Idea #383
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Rainbow people

An Holistic Understanding of Management

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

Organizations should rethink management development, taking into account that the challenges faced by managers, during a time of social and economic crisis, can be better overcome by an integrative, holistic and humanistic approach to management. 

Idea #053
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Angels, Entrepreneurs and the Dark Side of Trust

Idea posted: November 2013
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Learning & Behaviour

Trust is often seen as the key to successful partnerships with angel investors, many of whom provide ‘hand-holding’ services as well as capital for entrepreneurs. But recently published research suggests it can threaten the long-term prospects of a business. Entrepreneurs are, it seems, sometimes so keen to preserve high levels of trust in their relationships with ‘angels’ that they avoid experimentation — and fail to take the kinds of decisions that secure re-investment.

Idea #258
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Anne Bahr Thompson on Doing Good and Brand Citizenship

Podcast Recorded: May 2018
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing
Podcast Guest: Anne Bahr Thompson

Leading brand consultant, Anne Bahr Thompson, has been conducting research over recent years through her CultureQ initiative into, initially how Millennials and then other generations, think about brands. One of the strongest new elements is the power of corporate citizenship and how 'doing good' also helps businesses 'do well'. Her 'Brand Citizenship' model takes customer focus from Me-to-We.

See also the review of her book 'Do Good' .

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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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