Leading Your Team

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From the Editor: Beyond the Organization

Business executives today are figuring out how to harness the energy not just of the talented people within an organization, but of those outside of it as well. The fall 2013 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review features a special report on leveraging external innovation, from the phenomenon of corporations using innovation contests to an investigation of what motivates volunteers to take part in innovation projects.

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The 2013 Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize

The editors of MIT Sloan Management Review announce the winners of the 2013 Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize, awarded to the authors of the most outstanding MIT SMR article on planned change and organizational development published from fall 2011 to summer 2012. The Winners: Eoin Whelan, Salvatore Parise, Jasper de Valk and Rick Aalbers, authors of “Creating Employee Networks That Deliver Open Innovation.”

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The CEO Experience Trap

New research suggests that hiring a CEO with previous experience in the role is not always a wise choice. Authors Monika Hamori of IE Business School in Madrid and Burak Koyuncu of Rouen Business School in France, collected data on 501 CEOs of S&P 500 corporations. About 20% had at least one prior CEO job. Their findings? “Our research found that these prior CEOs performed worse than their peers without such experience.”

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How to Build More Personal Power

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Executives who find themselves experiencing a power deficit have two strategies for overcoming it: they can either play the existing game more effectively or they can change the game. “Career counselors often advise people to shore up weaknesses, but the secret to becoming indispensable is consolidating strengths,” write Jean-Louis Barsoux and Cyril Bouquet.

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Would Your Employees Recommend You?

No matter how good a workplace a company provides, it may come not matter if employees dislike their immediate line managers. Most of us have at had direct experience with egocentric or micromanaging bosses, and we have seen how much damage they can cause.

So why is there so much bad management? “Most managers have a remarkably narrow or ill-thought-out understanding of how their employees actually look at the world,” writes Julian Birkinshaw of the London Business School.

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Five Steps To Leading Change Successfully

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Before making a change, you need to identify the influencers who can push the project forward — or who can cause it to stall. “Left unattended, skepticism, fear and panic can wreak havoc on any change process,” write Ellen R. Auster and Trish Ruebottom.

Their solution is a five-step, proactive process designed to help leaders navigate both the politics and the emotions that are churned up by heading in new directions. The steps include mapping the key stakeholders who will be affected by the change and involving the most influential of them.

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Navigating the Politics and Emotions of Change

Skepticism, fear and panic can wreak havoc on any change process. But proactively addressing these types of feelings can ease resistance and disengagement. Research shows that executives can successfully initiate change initiatives by mapping the political landscape to identify the key stakeholders who will be affected by the change and the key influencers within each stakeholder group. They should also involve influential early adopters and engage with skeptics.

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How to Overcome a Power Deficit

Many factors can cause a talented executive to be ignored or sidelined within an organization. “The fact that I was right didn’t matter,” said one manager whose recommendations went unheeded. “What I hadn’t done was build sufficient internal credibility.” Fortunately, power deficits in legitimacy, critical resources and/or networks can almost always be overcome. Research looking at 179 executives found two basic strategies that worked: “playing the game” more effectively or ”changing the game.”

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The Dangers of Disgruntled Ex-Employees

A study of professional soccer players found that players who left a team on bad terms subsequently played unusually well against that team. This phenomenon, known as the “Immutable Law of the Ex,” demonstrates the power of a person fueled by anger and pressure to prove new loyalty. The findings are relevant to other settings in which organizational performance relies strongly on individual contributions. Employers can prevent employees from wanting to strike back by being sensitive to morale.

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Designing Trustworthy Organizations

A lot of the literature about trust supports commonsense notions for individual leaders. But building organizational trust turns out to be different from building interpersonal trust — and less intuitive. “A new model is required to understand how to manage trust in large, complex organizations operating in highly diverse global environments,” write the authors. Once trust is broken, repair requires understanding the systemic causes of the failure and confronting deeply embedded mindsets.

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From the Editor: Creating and Leading Change

Consumers are driving change for retailers. As the new article “Competing in the Age of Omnichannel Retailing” notes, “Recent technology advances in mobile computing and augmented reality are blurring the boundaries between traditional and Internet retailing.” Meanwhile, “The Executive’s Role in Social Business” notes that while C-suite executives see social business as an opportunity, they are having a hard time turning that potential into reality.

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Why Good Leaders Don’t Need Charisma

Among charismatic executives, for every Steve Jobs, there is at least one Dick Fuld — maybe more. Fuld presided over the downfall of Lehman Brothers. Nor is Fuld alone: Six out of 18 of Germany’s most recent “Manager of the Year” winners were responsible for dramatic missteps, including Daimler’s disastrous acquisition of Chrysler Corp. under CEO Jürgen Schrempp. That raises a question: do charismatic business leaders typically outperform their more ordinary counterparts over the long run?

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Reinventing Employee Onboarding

Wipro BPO, a business process outsourcing firm in Bangalore, India, was experiencing high turnover rates. In Wipro’s traditional onboarding program, new employees learned about the company. But when the onboarding focused, instead, on individual identity, employees were more than 32% less likely to quit their jobs during the first six months. The bottom line: By making small investments in socialization practices, companies can improve employee retention.

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How Much Does a Company’s Reputation Matter in Recruiting?

When it comes to recruiting, few studies examine the degree to which a company’s social reputation or other aspects of its reputation are more or less important than other, more utilitarian job choice factors. When a survey task simply asks people to rate the importance of a laundry list of job attributes such as corporate social responsibility, it hides the marginal value of each attribute to the potential employee. There is every indication it is not a case of one size fits all.

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Is It Really Lonely at the Top?

There’s a business relationship that’s often overlooked: the relationships in between friends and allies — in other words, business relationships with people you enjoy being with. This article defines these people as chums and asserts that their importance too often goes unnoticed. Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends & Influence People is a practical classic on the art of cultivating chums — of inviting business allies into your courtyard while keeping them out of your kitchen.

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Managing the Human Cloud

Online crowdsourcing platforms are growing at double-digit rates and are starting to attract the attention of large companies. Just as cloud computing offers unconstrained access to processing capacity and storage, the “human cloud” promises to connect businesses to millions of workers on tap, ready to perform tasks and solve problems that range from the simple to the complex. The article explores four new human cloud models: The Facilitator model, The Arbitrator, The Aggregator, The Governor.

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How to Change an Organization Without Blowing It Up

Too often, organizational change occurs all at once, on a large scale, and often in response to crisis. Yet we know from a great deal of experience that such transformation attempts often fail, fostering employee discontent and producing mediocre solutions with little lasting impact.

Continuously pursuing smaller-scale changes — and weaving them together — offers a practical middle path between large-scale transformation and small-scale pilot projects

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The Role of the Chief Strategy Officer

The Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) is a comparatively new but increasingly important role in many organizations. This article proposes a typology of four CSO archetypes – Internal Consultant, Specialist, Coach and Change Agent – who carry out a variety of responsibilities in the CSO role. By understanding how the duties of the CSO can vary significantly from organization to organization, boards and CEOs can make better decisions about which type of CSO is necessary for their leadership teams.

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