Leadership Skills

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Protect Your Project From Escalating Doubts

Many big projects start off well, but then lose momentum and spiral downward as skeptical stakeholders withdraw support. Executives need to identify common triggers that spark stakeholder concerns — and take action to avert the ‘cycle of doubt’ that can ensue.

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From the Archives: Establish a Personal Advisory Board

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Here’s a new year’s resolution to consider: Build a personal advisory board that meets your current needs. “A person’s developmental network can’t be static but needs to evolve over time,” noted the authors of a 2015 article in MIT Sloan Management Review. Yan Shen, Richard D. Cotton, and Kathy E. Kram make the case that a professional mentor is just one element of a fully formed personal board of advisers, which might also include a personal guide and a career adviser, among others.

End Your Business Journey, Please

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In a rapidly changing world, full of mixed messages and various uncertainties, it’s reasonable for leaders and managers to look for some language — a narrative — that helps people grapple with it all. “Journey” fits this particular bill in many respects. It’s a familiar and perhaps comforting framework for describing the pursuit of some end — but using it could affect your ability to envision a wider range of possibilities.

A Leader’s List for 2017

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In the spirit of the resolution season, here is an incomplete list of my commitments to my organization, the people who compose it, and to you, our audience, without whom we do not exist.

The 20 Most Popular MIT Sloan Management Review Articles of 2016

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In 2016, MIT Sloan Management Review website visitors gravitated toward new articles about the management implications of technology-driven trends such as the internet of things, analytics, and artificial intelligence. They also showed significant interest in articles related to setting strategy in times of rapid change. But the most popular new article by far was about a timeless topic: meaning in their work.

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Please Go Away (and Spend More Time Somewhere Else)

Rapid changes at all levels of society and technology are upon us. Seemingly stable business and social environments aren’t immune. Whether it’s technology, policy, or broader socioeconomic forces, the transformation of your organization and your role in it are all but inevitable. One suggestion for responding: Get outside your standard routine and engage with the changes.

The Three New Skills Managers Need

As digital technologies evolve, managers and employees will need to learn three important skills: partnering with new digital “colleagues,” creating a mindful relationship with omnipresent digital technologies, and developing empathy for the varying technology preferences of their human coworkers. Organizations, for their part, will need to design processes to support these efforts, and managers will need to be both flexible and thoughtful in how they respond.

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Stop Jumping to Solutions!

When presented with complex decisions, many executives turn to the tried-and-true decision matrix, spelling out the pros and cons of various options. One flaw in this method, however, is that executives don’t take the time to thoroughly frame the decision and explore the full scope of options. But the matrix’s real value is when it is also used as a process tool that helps executives expand their set of options and criteria.

The New Rules For Crisis Management

Digital media have produced an explosion of nontraditional news outlets. When a crisis arises, managers must be aware of media controlled by various stakeholder groups, which may have significant influence on how the crisis evolves. Failure to recognize the power of stakeholder-controlled media has significantly affected the outcomes of past corporate crises. Companies need to know how stakeholders gained this power, how they use it, and what to do about it.

The Lost Art of Thinking in Large Organizations

Making the transition from management to leadership requires managers to exercise skills in strategic thinking — skills they don’t often get to practice in the action-oriented environment they know best. Managers moving into senior leadership must learn to embrace ambiguity and uncertainty and learn the importance of taking time to think things through.

What Makes Work Meaningful — Or Meaningless

When employees find their work meaningful, there are myriad benefits for their productivity — and for their employers. Managers who support meaningful work are more likely to attract, retain, and motivate the talent they need to ensure future growth. But can companies ensure this experience for their employees? A groundbreaking study identifies five factors that support meaningful work — and the seven management sins that can destroy it.

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