Leadership Skills

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Finding the Middle Ground in a Politically Polarized World

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 7 min 

Consumers and employees increasingly expect companies to engage with social, environmental, and economic issues. But business leaders can find themselves between a rock and a hard place, especially when corporate political activism is framed as “take a stand or be silent.” The reality is that companies need a more nuanced set of options.

Bringing Lessons From #MeToo to the Boardroom

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 7 min 

In the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp social movements — not to mention the continuing wave of resignations amid misconduct allegations — sexual harassment policies must be on your board’s agenda. This is true regardless of whether the organization is public, private, or nonprofit. For the sake of all its stakeholders, employees, and customers, directors need to do the right thing — and do it now.

With Goals, FAST Beats SMART

The conventional wisdom of goal setting is so deeply ingrained that managers rarely stop to ask if it works. The traditional approach to goals — the annual cycle, privately set and reviewed goals, and a strong linkage to incentives — can actually undermine the alignment, coordination, and agility that’s needed for a company to execute its strategy.

The Ability to Navigate the In-Between Spaces

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  • Read Time: 7 min 

Efforts to effectively connect decision-makers in large organizations across functions, divisions, and business units — not to mention with other companies, governments, and other external stakeholders — usually require organizational innovations. Several key leadership attributes are necessary for this to work. They include the ability to navigate the gaps not covered by specialists, a record of following through and getting things done, and knowledge of other cultures, including the ability to speak multiple languages.

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.

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MIT SMR Unlocked for All Visitors

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 1 min 

On March 20 and 21, MIT Sloan Management Review is unlocking its site, allowing visitors to freely explore all of our articles, reports, posts, videos, webinars, tools, and case studies. Why? We’re celebrating our ongoing growth and invite new and long-term customers to celebrate with us. We work to collect here the best new ideas, research, and tools, and we want to give visitors the chance to experience all of it.

What Sets ‘Superbosses’ Apart From Other Leaders?

  • Interview
  • Read Time: 7 min 

In a Q&A, Sydney Finkelstein, the author of Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent, notes that employees entering the workforce today have technological capabilities unmatched by any workforce before them. That’s changing the way leaders must operate. Today’s best leaders embrace technology as a management tool but retain a human touch, creating opportunities for the employees they manage and enabling flexible work practices.

Tangled Webs and Executive Naïveté

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  • Read Time: 6 min 

Leaders in a digital world have to navigate more complexity than ever before, where a problem that arises in one node of such network work can spread easily, with widespread adverse impact. But complexity-induced problems often have similar fundamental causes — and similar solutions. Leaders can ameliorate the effects of complexity by developing broader, not just deeper, perspectives; learning to think in terms of scenarios; and being clear about strategic intent.

The 20 Most Popular MIT Sloan Management Review Articles of 2017

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 4 min 

The impact of artificial intelligence on the future of work and organizations was an especially popular topic on MIT Sloan Management Review’s website in 2017. But AI wasn’t the only subject on readers’ minds. Other widely read pieces of new content addressed timely issues like digital transformation and design thinking — as well as perennially important topics such as innovation, strategy execution, problem formulation, and negative emotions in the workplace.

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The Unique Challenges of Cross-Boundary Collaboration

Technology has made business more globally connected than ever before. This is especially true for innovation projects, where diverse experts bring their specialized knowledge to play. But there’s a hitch: Many of today’s team projects have built-in hurdles because of differing communication styles, cultures, and professional norms. Leading this kind of “extreme teaming,” which often involves complicated hierarchies of power, demands both curiosity and humility.

MIT SMR Contributors Prominent on 2017 ‘Thinkers50’ List

  • Blog

Twenty-three of the 50 top management thinkers in the world have had their work featured in MIT Sloan Management Review. The list comes from thinkers50.com’s 2017 global ranking of management thinkers. List members published in MIT SMR include Don Tapscott, Clayton Christensen, and Lynda Gratton. MIT SMR congratulates its contributors on this honor.

What the Military Can Teach Organizations About Agility

  • Blog
  • Read Time: 6 min 

Once bastions of command-and-control management style, U.S. military institutions have moved to the forefront of organizational and leadership agility. Today’s military leadership emphasizes efficient movement through four decision cycles — observe, orient, decide, and act — to speed up its response to external threats. It’s also investing significant resources to become more agile and experimenting with innovative solutions.

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Five Rules for Managing Large, Complex Projects

Large-scale, long-term projects are notoriously difficult to manage. But recent research on megaprojects — defined as projects costing more than $1 billion — reveals five lessons that can help executives manage any big, complex project more effectively.

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