Leading Your Team

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The Messy Business of Management

In a period of rapid technological and business change, successful executives particularly need the ability to think critically — and to be aware that some of their most cherished assumptions may, at any point, be challenged or invalidated by changing events. Business schools excel at teaching young managers well-structured models, theories and frameworks but need to spend more time helping their students surface, debate and test the assumptions underlying each model, theory or framework.

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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.

Image courtesy of Kyocera.

Amoeba Management: Lessons From Japan’s Kyocera

A persistent challenge for companies as they grow is how to maintain the high level of dynamism and employee commitment that drove success in the early days. Over the years, thoughtful managers and management theorists have formulated many approaches for dealing with the problem, all aimed at giving managers and employees more responsibility and accountability for the performance of their own profit centers. But few companies have taken things as far as Kyocera Corp.

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The Elements of Good Leadership

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There is no magic formula for successful leadership, says Deborah Ancona, director of the MIT Leadership Center at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Instead, each leader needs to figure out his or her own unique leadership signature — one that draws on his or her own strengths.

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Clay Christensen Asks: How Will You Measure Your Life?

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In May, 2012, the New Yorker published an 11-page profile of Clayton Christensen, the Harvard Business School professor. The article details his fascination with low-end disruptive products (articulated in his 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma), his Mormon faith, and how good people, like good companies, can lose their way in life. That last topic is the subject of Christensen’s book How Will You Measure Your Life? and his TED talk of the same name.

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How to Build Your Creative Confidence

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It’s a false construct to divide the world into the creatives and the non-creatives, says IDEO founder David Kelley. He helps business people “turn fear into familiarity, and they surprise themselves. That transformation is amazing.”

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The Human Side of Business*

As a business executive, you have to think about the big picture. You need to consider issues such as what trends are affecting your company’s markets, how your company’s strategy should evolve and what new technologies or initiatives your organization should adopt.

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Why Showing Your Face at Work Matters

Working from home or other remote work arrangements can be beneficial to both employees and companies. However, these nontraditional arrangements also have hidden pitfalls. Employees who work remotely may end up getting lower performance evaluations, smaller raises and fewer promotions than their colleagues in the office — even if they work just as hard and just as long. The difference is something called “passive face time” — the simple act of merely being seen in the workplace.

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When Is an Outsider CEO a Good Choice?

On average, CEOs recruited from outside the company perform about the same as those who come up through the ranks, the authors’ research suggests. But there are certain circumstances in which outsider CEOs tend to do better: CEOs recruited from outside the company outperform those who come up through the ranks at companies with a recent history of poor performance. The author studied CEO succession in 90 single-business organizations over 30 years in the U.S. airline and chemical industries.

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The Curse of Your Qualities

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Smart leaders know that what can save you can also kill you — that traits that are good in many ways can boomerang back if you take them too far. The authors of “How to Become a Better Leader” explore how leaders can recognize and manage their psychological inclinations.

Image courtesy of Novo Nordisk A/S.

How to Become a Sustainable Company

Trends suggest that the public is no longer satisfied with corporations that focus solely on short-term profits. A recent study comparing companies that adopted environmental and social policies with companies that didn’t supports this view. However, few companies are born with a commitment to sustainability. To develop one, companies need leadership commitment, an ability to engage with multiple stakeholders along the value chain, employee engagement and disciplined mechanisms for execution.

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What You Wear Can Influence How You Perform

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New research suggests that clothing can have an effect on our behavior if that clothing has a symbolic meaning and if we have the physical experience of wearing the clothes. Researchers at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University call this “enclothed cognition.”

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