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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Beware of Egocentricity Causing Team Members to Overestimate their Value

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

A new study confirms that individuals typically (but not intentionally) overestimate their contributions to team projects, especially if the teams are large. Managers trying to gauge the contribution of different team members — for reward or other purposes — should recognize when over-claiming is more likely, and use different strategies to remind individuals of the contributions of others.

Idea #615
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Tony Blair and George W. Bush at the White House, 2003 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Beware of Hubris Syndrome! A Leadership Personality Disorder

Idea posted: March 2015
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations
Institutions: Duke University

Researching the medical history of UK prime ministers and US presidents, a member the UK House of Lords and a psychiatrist and researcher from Duke University in the US reveal the symptoms and traits of hubris — a syndrome that befalls many who have substantial power over a length of time.

Idea #499
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Details, drills and measuring tools

Beyond 'One-Size-Fits-All' Leadership Development

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

Different methods are suited to the learning needs of different leaders. There are unique challenges faced by leaders in different situations and at different stages of development, and as such, and a ‘one-size-fits-all’ type of methodology may not always be the best strategy for leadership development practitioners.

Idea #003
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Bricklayer to Architect: How Managers Become Leaders

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

Many executives making the shift from leading a function to leading an enterprise can stumble as they take the step up. It’s tough to do. We are asking someone to shift from left-brain, analytical thinking to right-brain conceptual mind-sets. It’s a big change. Michael D. Watkins highlights seven Seismic Shifts here that allow the emerging leader to do that over time: to draw focus from a wider lens, and make the transition successfully.

Idea #060
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Photo by Luca Onniboni on Unsplash

Bridge-Building CEOs Unite Divided Management Teams to Succeed

Idea posted: September 2017
  • Leadership & Change

Top management teams with entrenched knowledge bases tend to break into knowledge-based subgroups. CEOs by virtue of their integrative characteristics may be able to reconcile the differences and overcome the potentially negative effects. This study shows that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the effects of knowledge diversity in management teams at multinational enterprises.  

Idea #673
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Tada' the Chinese poles, 2004 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Build Ambidextrous Teams to Combine Present and Future Objectives

Idea posted: July 2016
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Many companies separate short-term activities focused on the present (e.g. customer service, marketing) from long-term activities focused on the future (e.g. new product development). A new study, however, reveals the power of ‘ambidextrous’ teams, where cohesion overcomes the challenge of pursuing both present and future objectives.

Idea #613
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Untersuchungen am Mikroskop im Labor, 1952, Deutsche Fotothek (Source: Wikimedia)

Building Trust to Retain Female Employees

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

There is a key issue that organizations must tackle in order to retain female employees: trust. Evidence shows that women are more sensitive to and more aware of - both trust and distrust. In order to retain female talent, leaders must build trust between themselves and their employees, and there are specific behaviours and strategies that can help them do that.

Idea #012
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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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Can a Leader Be Too Ethical?

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

Ethical leadership reduces the risks of antisocial and selfish employee behaviour and encourages the kind of ‘pro-social’ behaviours that create value and promote the collective interest. There could, however, be a point at which it is counterproductive. Recent research suggests that leaders demonstrating particularly high ethical standards can weaken the psychological contract with employees through perceived ‘moral reproach’.

Idea #377
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Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

Can Leaders Be Too Smart?

Idea posted: April 2018
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Can leaders be too smart? A recent study offers a surprising answer: up to a certain point, the smarter you are, the more effective you are as a leader. But being too smart can actually reduce how effective you are perceived— in large part because you lose touch with your subordinates. 

Idea #696
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Andrus Ansip, Prime Minister of Estonia, witnesses a nitrocellulose explosion 2012 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Can Stress Improve Experiential Learning for Leaders?

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

In this Idea, the behavioural neuroscience (or ‘psychobiology’) of learning is explored, suggesting that the key to better learning may be to ensure raised heart-rates — something that take place when participants feel challenged and taken out of their comfort zones. 

Idea #297
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Civil rights leader Bayard Rustin(left), who is believed to have coined the phrase, "Speak truth to power." (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Candid Feedback Keeps Power-holders Accountable

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

Those in positions of power have control over an organization’s allocation of scarce resources. But are subordinates as powerless as they think? New research shows that candid feedback from subordinates can compel power-holders to be fairer and less self-serving in their allocation decisions.

Idea #521
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