Leadership Skills

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The False Choice Between Business and Ethics

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  • Read Time: 6 min 

Should there be an imperative — moral or otherwise — to consider what’s fair when making a business transaction? Many say that it’s perfectly ethical to profit from an asymmetry of information, where, for instance, one party is paying much more for an item or service than others would say it’s worth. But other people are working to integrate the business case with the ethics case. They reject a narrow, transactional view of business in favor of a more relationship-oriented approach.

Five Strategies for Investing in Your Career

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  • Read Time: 2 min 

Whether you are a long-tenured leader in your organization, a new manager, or an individual contributor with rising responsibilities, it’s always valuable to take stock of your career path and make investments for the future. These five strategies offer practical steps for motivated employees looking to stay ahead of the pack.

Four Profiles of Successful Digital Executives

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  • Read Time: 10 min 

Hoping a jack-of-all-trades can lead your organization’s digital transition is unrealistic. We found four distinct types of successful digital executives who can best provide vision and purpose for digital. Crucially, each type has unique strengths and performs best in different contexts.

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A Shared Passion for Place Can Make a Business More Resilient

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  • Read Time: 5 min 

Leaders are increasingly strangers in the places where their organizations reside. With greater mobility and a disconnect from a physical office space, many leaders have identities that are not tied to one location. Yet leaders who lack a clear “passion for place” and well-established stakeholder connections might be putting their companies at a disadvantage during times of hardship.

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.

Why Great Leaders Focus On Mastering Relationships

Mastering personal relationships that build trust and create a collaborative work environment is central to leadership effectiveness. In today’s digital economy, leaders must address leadership challenges with a renewed focus on relationship building in order to achieve sustainable success.

Free Reading Spree to Kick Off Spring

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MIT SMR is dropping its paywall on March 5 and 6; all content will be freely available to visitors online. The open site is one way to thank our readers and our authors. By periodically providing free access to leading-edge insights and research, we can help spread the ideas far and wide — which means more managers can use them to run their organizations and teams more effectively.

A Structured Approach to Strategic Decisions

Many decisions about strategy require that senior executives make evaluative judgments on the basis of extensive, complex information. Such work is prone to common errors, but a disciplined, sequential approach can mitigate those errors and improve the quality of both one-off and recurrent decisions in an array of business domains. The process described in this article is easy to learn, involves little additional work, and (within limits) leaves room for intuition.

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Career Management Isn’t Just the Employee’s Job

Now that companies have replaced rigid hierarchies with flatter, more fluid structures to promote agile ways of working, they have also made it harder for employees to chart a path for growth and advancement. This challenge is also a concern for employers, who must — for the sake of engagement and retention — show high performers how they can progress within the organization. Analytics can help highlight opportunities for getting ahead.

Self-Reports Spur Self-Reflection

The disadvantages of asking people to rate themselves are obvious. For instance: You could fake your way to a higher score, or you might lack self-awareness. But self-report surveys have advantages, too. They make data collection efficient, and nobody but you has 24-7 access to your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. And here’s another benefit many people don’t consider: The act of answering the questions can promote greater self-awareness, which opens the door to self-development.

Ethics as Conversation: A Process for Progress

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  • Read Time: 5 min 

Most organizations can agree on what questions to consider before making a decision about marketing, finance, or operations. But many stumble when the issue has ethical consequences. Leaders need to define what set of questions they want to consider when confronted with an issue that has ethical implications. Seven basic questions can get them started.

Leadership Lessons From Your Inner Child

Examining childhood traits such as boldness, experimentation, and resilience may help leaders access these qualities in service of their leadership roles. Rather than trying to learn how to be more creative or innovative, learning how not to lose the innate creativity and curiosity within us is more effective.

The Top MIT SMR Articles of 2018

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  • Read Time: 2 min 

In 2018, MIT Sloan Management Review readers gravitated toward new articles that will help them prepare for the future of work, including topics as varied as skills needed in the age of AI and digital communication tools for virtual teams. The most popular article of the year focused on an area high on the list of most CEOs’ agendas: how to transform your organization successfully.

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How to Get Others to Adopt Your Recommendation

When a business is growing fast, decisions can get lost in the fray — especially if it’s unclear that a decision even needs to be made. People in the workplace bring recommendations to four audiences: a manager or top executive (those who approve a recommendation), and peers or a broader set of stakeholders (those who execute a recommendation). To sell an idea and get others to take action, you have to understand what your particular audience needs to hear.

Every Leader’s Guide to the Ethics of AI

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  • Read Time: 9 min 

As artificial intelligence-enabled products and services enter our everyday lives, there’s a big gap between how AI can be used and how it should be used. A 2018 Deloitte survey of AI-aware executives found that 32% ranked ethical issues as one of the top three risks of AI, but most companies don’t yet have specific approaches to grapple with the challenges. Here, we list the seven actions that leaders of AI-oriented companies — regardless of their industry — should consider taking.

The Enabling Power of Trust

Examining skill sets and mind-sets will help leaders understand what it means to be a leader in the digital economy. This will include requirements such as changing mastery, executing excellence, nurturing relationships, and, notably, building a culture of radical trust.

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.

Using Artificial Intelligence to Promote Diversity

What if, instead of perpetuating harmful biases, AI helped us overcome them? What if our systems were taught to ignore data about race, gender, sexual orientation, and other characteristics that aren’t relevant to the decisions at hand? They can do all that — with guidance from the human experts who create, train, and refine them.

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