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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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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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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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Children Acting the Play Scene in 'Hamlet', by Charles Hunt, 1863, (Source: The Yale Center for British Art. Wikimedia Commons)

Calling in the Consultants: Risks and Rewards

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

The use of management consultants by businesses and other organizations is controversial — and its benefits hard to quantify. (The ‘consultancy effect’ is impossible to isolate from other factors affecting the organization.)

Anecdotal evidence and experience, however, suggest that the leaders who derive most value from consultants are those who see them not as ‘fixers’ but ‘facilitators’ come to ‘counter-observe’ the organization and help create or measure its aptitude for change.

Idea #214
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U.S. Army enlisted promotion - CONTIC Intelligence Center, Ft. Bragg, N.C. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Can Employees Be Motivated by More than Money and Benefits?

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

Managers mistakenly believe that, although they have to provide both intrinsic (e.g. the love of a challenge) and extrinsic (compensation) motivations, employees are only extrinsically motivated. To best motivate their employees, managers need to look beyond the traditional external motivations such as bonuses and find ways to make the work challenging and interesting.

Idea #401
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The Leopard, 1963, directed by Luchino Visconti, starring Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale and Alan Delon, 20th Century Fox Pictures

Charisma or Miasma: Seduced by the Charismatic

  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: University of Florida

Charismatic CEOs come across as higher achievers, and charisma has often been thought of as a must when hiring CEOs, but a large number turn out to be overpaid and underperforming. Boards should measure performance over personality when hiring and compensating CEOs.

Idea #026
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The Pilot Faints, from Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner, illustrated by Gustave Doré, published 1798

Choosing a CEO: Safe Pair of Hands Vs Too Much Experience

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

A good track record of experience as a CEO does not necessarily lead to success in subsequent appointments. Evidence suggests that those appointed to the CEO role without a background in the role outperform their more seasoned counterparts. Why is this so, and what can prior CEOs do to avoid ‘the experience trap’? 

Idea #270
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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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John Evelyn discovers sculptor Grinling Gibbons (1648 - 1721). Gibbons became Master Carver in Wood to the Court of King Charles II

Co-creating with Customers: More Pros than Cons?

Idea posted: March 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing

Involving customers in the design and delivery of products and services can be a cost-effective way to meet the demand for constant innovation and improved ‘customer experience’. It has, however, the power to destroy as well as create value. Much depends on the human and technological interfaces between customers and the company.

Idea #344
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Isaac Newton by Eduardo Paolozzi 2003, based on a painting by William Blake. Newton showed sign of autism (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Competitive Advantage through Individuals Outside the Norm

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

While employees who think ‘differently’ may be hired as part of the social responsibility activities of a corporation, corporate pioneers demonstrate that such individuals, such as those, for example, who are diagnosed with certain forms of autism, can perform certain tasks more effectively than (in this case) employees without autism. Hiring such employees thus becomes a bid for competitive advantage rather than an exercise in social responsibility. 

Idea #425
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Man standing with his back to a crowd

Conquering Racism by Taking Personal Responsibility

Idea posted: July 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: HEC Paris

Increased sensitivity to the problem of racism is not, it seems, being matched by a willingness to take personal responsibility for it. We tend to excuse our own prejudices by blaming them on cultural and social conditioning. If more progress is to be made in the fight against racism, we need to take a more rational approach — and acknowledge that the extent to which we endorse prejudices is within our control.

Idea #168
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Five male trapeze artists, 1890, US Library of Congress (Source: Wikimedia)

Creating a Culture of Trust in Organizations

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

Organizations with high levels of trust have more productive workforces, better employee morale, lower employee turnover, and they also perform better financially than their industry peers. But what exactly are the foundations and characteristics of trust? What steps can executives take to build it and to avoid its erosion?

Idea #076
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Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley with cadets at his retirement ceremony,  2008 (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash. Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Delaying Retirement Can Be Bad for the Brain

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

Changing demographics are forcing many countries to raise the retirement age. But this could increase the social and financial costs of ageing populations. Working for longer does not necessarily keep the mind active. In tests for cognitive flexibility (the ability to switch between two different concepts and think about different things at the same time) the retired perform better than their employed counterparts.

Idea #166
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Image from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Developing Talent to Manage Big Data

Idea posted: July 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Learning & Behaviour

The sudden and prominent appearance of big data in the business world means many organizations need to start thinking about investing in new staff specifically trained in big data analysis. How can HR executives stay ahead and ensure they find and retain the right people for this important role? 

Idea #176
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Columbia Man. A 1902 poster for Columbia University, by John E. Sheridan (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Do Ivy League or Elite Educated CEOs Outperform Others?

Idea posted: April 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

When selecting a potential CEO for your organization, will having studied at an Ivy League school make a difference to the performance they bring? According to this Idea, yes but only under certain conditions. Read on to find out more about whether it is worth the effort to specifically seek out elite or Ivy League-educated individuals for CEO positions.

Idea #370
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Thumbs Up Ballet in a field choreography of Stars in my Eyes, Quebec, 1944 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Does Employee Satisfaction Improve Company Value? It Depends...

Idea posted: January 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

Recent studies of U.S. companies have shown that increased employee satisfaction is linked to higher value for the firm. But what about companies in other countries? A new study shows that the U.S. results are replicated only in countries that have levels of labour flexibility (ease of hiring and firing) similar to the U.S. Companies in countries with low labour flexibility show a more limited benefit from employee satisfaction.

Idea #478
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The Harvesters, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1565. Courtesy the Metrolopitan Museum, New York

Does Work/Life Balance Help or Hurt Productivity?

Idea posted: January 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

Does paying attention to the work-life balance issues of employees increase productivity and the competitiveness of a business? Or, as pessimists might argue, is productivity and work-life balance (WLB) in direct conflict? New research shows that in fact WLB is more neutral than either proponents or pessimists believe — neither hurting nor particularly helping productivity. The decision on whether to implement WLB practices may rest on a completely different factor: the social norms of the countries in which the business activity takes place.

Idea #475
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Driving Risk Appetite Higher or Lower: Penalties Vs Rewards

Idea posted: January 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

‘Innovate or die’ we are told. What if an organization’s ability to innovate could be enhanced by managing risk-taking behaviour through monetary incentive schemes and through a culture that tolerates failure? In this Idea we identify the precise levers that shift risk appetite, and show how they can be tweaked to foster innovation.

Idea #059
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Dayron Robles winning the 110 meters hurdles at the Beijing Olympic Games, 2008 (Source: Wikimedia)

Embedding Diversity: Three Key Steps

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

Diversity within an organization is now obligatory, and management policies in this domain are a must. However, implementing such policies is only the first hurdle in diversity management. In this Idea, two other hurdles faced by executives charged with this are presented, as well as tips based on others’ experiences on how to overcome them.

Idea #027
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Diagram of the Brain, 14th Century

Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Behaviour

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

Emotional intelligence is our ability to control our emotions, understand the emotions of others and use this information to guide thinking and action – and it can have a huge impact on leadership effectiveness. In relation to the collaborative aspects of leadership in particular, emotional intelligence has been found to have a significant effect.

Idea #023
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Satan Leaving the Court of Chaos, Paradise Lost, Anon. British, c.1800 (Courtesy: Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina)

Expel Expensive Toxic Workers Before Hiring Superstars

Idea posted: December 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

While organizations are focused on acquiring star performers, new research shows that avoiding toxic workers is even more profitable. Watching in job interviews for the red flags of potentially toxic workers — self-regarding, overconfidence, stating that rules should always be followed — can prevent expensive hiring mistakes. 

Idea #576
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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Exploration Algorithms Increase Diversity of New Hires

Idea posted: May 2021
  • CSR & Governance

The use of hiring algorithms willing to ‘explore’ job candidates with profiles that differ from past successful candidates increases the diversity of a firm’s workforce, a new study shows.

Idea #791
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Madhubani, or Mithila, painting from Northern India (Source: mithilapaintingtraining.blogspot.co.uk)

Family Business in India: Meeting 21st Century Challenges

Idea posted: October 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing

With 75% of the Indian workforce employed by a family-owned business, how they are run and what challenges they face will be of interest both to organizations in the country and to those interested in doing business there. In this Idea, some of the key features of India’s family-owned businesses are looked into, and some advice is offered to such firms for their long-term success.

Idea #235
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Firms Are Not Adapting to the Millennial Workforce

Idea posted: February 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Millennials bring technological savvy to the workplace, but also require focused managerial attention. According to the latest CFO Survey from Duke Fuqua and CFO Magazine, many companies — especially American companies — are not adapting to attract or retain millennials.

Idea #481
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Flexible Career Paths in Organizations

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

Over the years, career paths have changed from a steady ascent, to unique tracks adapted to each person. Whereas previously, the concept of career trajectory was upward progression on a preset track, today career paths are more flexible and adaptable to personal needs. Why is it important for leaders to understand this? Well, by doing so, they can drive personal and professional development in ways based on feasible flexibility, development-orientated relationships, visibility and transparency, and diversity management. 

Idea #016
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Female Leader

Fostering Diversity and Inclusion with Respectful Leadership

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

Both anecdotal evidence and empirical research suggest that demographic differences can make it harder for leaders and followers to collaborate and cause levels of employee engagement to fall. The problems are greatest where male employees report to a female boss. Overcoming them depends on moral leadership. People who demonstrate respect for others can transcend demographic differences and combat prejudices. As the workforce becomes more diverse, moral and respectful leadership becomes an even bigger imperative for organizations. 

Idea #165
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Global Sales Teams and the Impact of National Culture

Idea posted: February 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing
Institutions: HEC Paris

As international sales forces become more prevalent companies need to standardize their sales force management controls across national borders. This research looks at how the effectiveness of sales force control models is influenced by national culture, and how sales team managers need to understand and balance cultural influences that promote behaviour controls over outcome controls.

Idea #101
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Samurai at a Waterfall, 19th Century Japanese Woodblock Print, Fuji Arts

Grapes of Wrath: How Self Control Leads to Anger

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

Does making a healthy food choice make us angry? In an important piece of consumer research, a relationship is found to exist between exerting self-control, and a preference toward ‘themes of anger’ in e.g. entertainment. This mismatch - getting irritated by our own self-control - has far-reaching implications for marketers and policy-makers as we try to further understand consumer behaviour.

Idea #034
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Harnessing Individual and Organization Networks

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

Leveraging employee networks can optimize individual and organizational performance and unearth hidden talent. Organizations teem with informal employee networks. Awareness of these living networks, and an understanding of how collaborations take place between top performers, can be a great, effective tool for overall success. To do so, managers must understand both the structure of talent networks within their company, and the categories their employees fall into. 

Idea #017
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Helping Employees Realize Their Dreams: The Search for Meaning

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

Do you want a more engaged and productive workforce?  You’re not alone—all managers do! To achieve this, managers can help employees realize and reclaim their lost dreams through tailored career development programs. This Idea offers four practical strategies to help you do this.

Idea #015
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