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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Attracting, Developing and Retaining Millennials

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

The number of ‘Millennials’ entering the workforce is peaking, and there is now global interest in understanding how best to manage them. By some estimates, nearly 80 million Millennials (young adults born between the late 1970s to early 2000s) make up today’s global workforce. There is also evidence that they are fundamentally changing how business is conducted. Here are some steps to maximizing their effectiveness in your organization. 

Idea #086
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Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Authentic Leaders Inspire Creativity, Organizational Citizenship and Performance

Idea posted: April 2019
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

A new study confirms that authentic leadership inspires creativity, organizational citizenship and individual performance. The study also explores how creativity and organizational citizenship explains the impact of authentic leadership on individual performance.

Idea #737
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Red flag on the beah

Avoiding Bad Decisions: ‘Red Flags’ and Reflection

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

Decision-making can be understood better with an awareness of the brain processes involved in it. There are certain ‘red flag’ conditions that can lead to distortions in judgement, in turn leading to bad decisions being made. The authors provide examples of where this has been the case, and highlight safeguards that can be adopted to avoid them.

Idea #028
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Man jumping cliff

Avoiding Flawed Decisions: A Finance Manager's Role

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

Finance executives are particularly well-positioned to help organizations improve their decision-making and introduce more rational decisions-making processes. In particular they are in a position to help management teams learn to identify ‘red flags’ and adopt extra safeguards against them. 

Idea #037
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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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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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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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Women Workers in Estonia, unknown artist from the soviet period (Courtesy: ussrpainting.blogspot.com)

Back to Leadership Basics: Make Time for Your Team

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: London Business School

Leaders can make a much greater impact on their businesses if they spend more of their time ‘at the sharp end’, working directly with their people. To do it, they need ruthlessly to delegate, or desist from, time-consuming but relatively unproductive tasks, freeing up several more hours a week to coach and motivate employees to achieve higher performance. 

Idea #393
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Back to the Future: Managing Change with Retrospection

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

Change initiatives have almost become a permanent feature of organizational life, the norm rather than the exception. But one of their critical stages is often missed. The period between projects, when people make sense of what’s happened, needs to be ‘built into’ the programme. It’s the moment of retrospection that defines the relevance and continued impact of decisions — and the corridor of the future. 

Idea #310
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Jean Charles de Menezes, memorial plaque at Stockwell Station, London (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Bad Framing Leads to Bad Decisions and Bad (Even Fatal) Actions

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

Decision makers must frame or ‘make sense’ of events and situations, and then make their decisions accordingly. A groundbreaking analysis of an innocent civilian’s tragic shooting by anti-terrorist police reveals how groups of individuals commit, through the interaction of communication, emotions and material cues, to a single, common frame — in this case an erroneous frame. It is a cautionary tale for leaders and other decision makers, exposing how errors or assumptions can cascade into a complete misunderstanding of situations.

Idea #563
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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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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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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 School of Athens (detail), fresco by Raphael in the Apostolic Chapel, Vatican City

Be a Learning Leader

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: Henley Business School

For organizations to learn and adapt, their employees must also learn and adapt. Leaders inspire learning through a range of relationships with direct reports and peers. They must develop relationships that encourage and facilitate individual learning. Different types of learning relationship need distinct personal leadership behaviours. Leaders can adapt to the different learner expectations and create conducive conditions for improving organizations’ learning performance.

Idea #407
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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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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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