12 Essential Leadership Insights

For decades, researchers have published findings around leadership in MIT Sloan Management Review. This collection offers a dozen of our most popular leadership articles of all time.

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For a publication centered on the unique challenges of management, it’s no surprise that leadership has become a perennially popular topic for our readers. Leading teams and organizations today requires honing strategic and digital skills, hiring and mentoring diverse employees, and being agile and adaptive in the face of constant change.

We’ve collected a dozen of our most popular leadership articles from our archives. With this collection, you’ll benefit from decades of research from academics and practitioners on the skills, processes, and frameworks that can help managers lead through times of uncertainty and disruption.

1. The Most Underrated Skill in Management

Nelson P. Repenning, Don Kieffer, and Todd Astor

Few questions in business are more powerful than “What problem are you trying to solve?” Leaders who can formulate clear problem statements get more done with less effort and move more rapidly than their less-focused counterparts. But stopping to ask this question doesn’t come naturally — managers must put conscious effort into learning a structured approach.

2. The Smart Way to Respond to Negative Emotions at Work

Christine M. Pearson

Many executives try to ignore negative emotions in their workplaces — a tactic that can be counterproductive and costly. If managers respond to employees’ negative feelings wisely, employees may provide them with important feedback.

3. The Five Steps All Leaders Must Take in the Age of Uncertainty

Martin Reeves, Simon Levin, Johann D. Harnoss, and Daichi Ueda

Leaders need a new mental model to better understand the complex interplay between companies, economies, and societies. To do so, they must shift their focus to the broader business and social ecosystems in which their companies are embedded.

4. Don’t Confuse Digital With Digitization

Jeanne Ross

“Becoming digital” is a totally different exercise from digitizing. Digitization involves standardizing business processes and is an important enabler of becoming digital, but digitization on its own won’t make a business a digital company.

5. What Makes Work Meaningful — Or Meaningless

Catherine Bailey and Adrian Madden

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.

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