Leadership Development

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How Tech CEOs Are Redefining the Top Job

About a quarter of high-tech companies are run by CEOs who double as inventors. Through patenting and publishing activity, such leaders contribute their own expertise to their companies’ innovation and production efforts, even as they steer their respective ships. This hands-on approach may sound like a distraction from strategic thinking, but it’s the future for top leaders across many sectors, not just tech — and it is already upon us.

How Digital Leadership Is(n’t) Different

Many of us assume that the leadership handbook must be completely rewritten for the digital age. Is this true? Or are we overly focused on what’s changing and thus neglecting the fundamentals? There is something to be said for both arguments. While many core leadership skills remain the same, the demands of digital disruption call for certain new ones, as well. This article explores which are which and what we can learn from organizations that are digitally maturing.

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Why Teams Should Record Individual Expectations

To improve decision quality, risk management, and leadership development, organizations and teams should record individual expectations when making big group decisions. That may sound like a tall order, especially for a large organization. But interactive dashboards can make the process of gathering and analyzing everyone’s input much less cumbersome, and the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs.

MIT SMR Summer Must-Reads

  • Read Time: 1 min 

The most popular articles from the MIT SMR archive reflect the depth and range of management challenges our readers face in areas such as innovation, leadership, strategy, and technology. Authors of these “must reads” include MIT Sloan faculty Nelson Repenning and Donald Sull, plus Clayton Christensen, Albert Segars, Michael Schrage, Sam Ransbotham, David Kiron, Philipp Gerbert, and Martin Reeves.

Need Motivation at Work? Try Giving Advice

  • Read Time: 3 min 

Research shows that giving advice is key to restoring confidence and motivation, which are two important factors for achieving long-term goals. So, instead of having struggling employees seek advice, it’s helpful to have them give it to others.

The Mindsets of a Leader

Researchers have identified six distinct mindsets that contribute to leaders’ portfolio of leadership styles by asking one simple question: Whom do the leaders serve? Identifying these mindsets can help companies recognize how the leader’s styles are helping — or hurting — their performance.

Leading Analytics Teams in Changing Times

Analytics teams are often underfunded, misunderstood, and starved for talent. Extracting business value from data depends on nurturing the development and effectiveness of these teams — not just in terms of finding talent, but also in terms of getting leaders up to speed on how to use the insights analytics teams produce.

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Entrepreneurship Is a Craft and Here’s Why That’s Important

  • Read Time: 6 min 

Like pottery, entrepreneurship is a craft that blends both science and art. Both pottery and entrepreneurship are accessible to anyone, learnable, built on fundamental concepts — and best learned through on-the-job training. To inspire today’s generation of company builders, entrepreneurship education needs a common language to ground students in fundamental concepts, and it needs to offer apprenticeship opportunities.

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.

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.

Leading by the Numbers

It can be difficult for finance professionals to transition to broader leadership roles. Leadership development, it turns out, is different for people from finance backgrounds. But five changes in how they approach their job can help them succeed when taking on broader roles in an organization. Those changes include transitioning from being the expert to being someone who leverages expertise, and being able to unleash their thinking to see that a problem can have multiple plausible solutions.

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Mastering Strategy

How can executives develop their skills as strategists? One way is to learn from the masters. The book Strategy Rules: Five Timeless Lessons From Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs (HarperCollins, 2015) explores insights drawn from the careers of these former CEOs of Microsoft, Intel, and Apple. In a Q&A, the book’s authors, David B. Yoffie of Harvard Business School and Michael A. Cusumano of MIT Sloan, explain how strategic thinking is a capability that leaders — even the superstars — develop over time.

Developing the Next Generation of Enterprise Leaders

Aspiring corporate leaders first learn to build and implement visions for their individual business units. But as they advance in their careers, executives also must learn how to lead with an enterprise perspective. The essence of enterprise leadership lies in the need to combine two often incompatible roles: being both an advocacy-oriented builder who can develop a unit’s vision, and an integration minded broker who can integrate the unit’s vision into the wider corporate vision.

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Rethinking Leadership

Businesses need a new approach to the practice of leadership — and to leadership development. “Leadership is really not about leaders themselves,” argues Joseph A. Raelin. “It’s about a collective practice among people who work together — accomplishing the choices we make together in our mutual work.” Nelson Mandela was particularly adept at this new model of leadership, Raelin says. “One of the most important leadership lessons we might distill from Mandela was not his acquisition of leadership but the way he shared it.”

Do-It-Yourself Leadership Training in China

In recent years, China’s economy has grown so rapidly — and changed so much — that demand for skilled business managers exceeds supply. A gap between Chinese companies’ unwillingness to invest in training and young managers’ hunger for an opportunity to learn may create an opening for companies with a strong tradition of employee education. Can leadership self-development programs help address that gap?

How Digital Acceleration Teams Are Influencing Nestlé’s 2,000 Brands

  • Interview
  • Read Time: 14 min 

Nestlé is taking digital vitamins, using a leadership and social media training program called the Digital Acceleration Team to spread knowledge of how to operate brands across different mediums. Pete Blackshaw, global digital marketing chief at Nestlé, talks about the benefits of spreading digital vitamins, discusses adaptive marketing. and acknowledges the ongoing “torture tests” social media presents for companies.

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