Leadership Skills

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Learning for a Living

We need to learn at work, but it’s costly and time consuming, and we worry we might be found lacking. What if we can’t pick up the skills we need? Further, most organizations are not as hospitable to learning as their rhetoric suggests. Part of the problem is that we seldom acknowledge that it doesn’t just happen at work — it is work. Employers can better support learning, and individuals can do it more effectively, by understanding that there are two types of learning and that each needs its own space.

The Five Bestselling MIT SMR Articles of 2019

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This year’s bestselling articles examine perennial challenges for leaders and organizations. From predicting how technology will impact markets and outcomes to creating successful frameworks for strategic decision-making, this collection of articles gives managers practical insights for leading in an age of uncertainty and disruption.

How Vigilant Companies Gain an Edge in Turbulent Times

In fast-changing business environments, companies need to stay vigilant and watch for threats from both internal and external sources. The most vigilant companies use systematic approaches to determine where to look for — and how to explore — potential disruptions.

Employee Emotions Aren’t Noise — They’re Data

Within organizations, emotions reveal not just how people feel but also what they think and how they will behave. Emotional culture gets communicated non-verbally in people’s facial expressions, vocal tone, and body language. You see it expressed by the people around you, including—or even most of all—managers. For companies, emotions are an important lever for improving employee satisfaction and productivity.

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What Does It Mean to Lead?

Are management and leadership entwined in a digital world? Or are they distinct activities, one more important than the other? Can you be closely involved in day-to-day operations, as data-driven tools allow and encourage, without watching and directing employees’ every move? How do you cede top-down control without courting chaos? And how do you eliminate entrenched practices that obstruct change? Experts wrestle with these questions and share their perspectives on how leadership is evolving.

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.

Leading Remotely

Digital tools make remote teams possible, but it’s not easy to wrangle an increasingly distributed workforce. Leaders must grapple with problems in several key areas: communication, project management, talent development and management, and reliable access to technology. Still, those who take steps to harness the strengths of remote work while minimizing the drawbacks will find themselves with a highly motivated, invested team.

Leaders Don’t Hide Behind Data

The theory is simple: With a clipboard and a stopwatch, you can measure and improve the performance of your workforce. But management by metrics doesn’t facilitate breakthroughs. For that, you need leadership: the art of doing things you’re not sure of, and doing them with enrollment instead of authority.

Five Rules for Leading in a Digital World

To thrive in times of digital transformation and rapid change, organizations accustomed to siloed bureaucracy must become nimble and customer-centric; command-and-control models must give way to distributed leadership. Many leaders fear letting go, but they must evolve quickly or risk extinction. Research at the MIT Leadership Center suggests that executives and managers who do five things in particular are best equipped to navigate what lies ahead.

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Seven Key Steps for the Evolving CIO

  • Read Time: 7 min 

As “digital” becomes the competitive priority in every industry, CIOs must lead their companies’ digital transformation — which requires much more than technology leadership. The technical side of operations — communications networks, software applications, and data management and security — must still run smoothly, CIOs must also adopt new practices and missions if they’re to evolve into transformative digital leaders.

Tell Your Colleagues: MIT SMR Is Unlocked Today Through Thursday

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On Oct. 8-10, MIT SMR is dropping its paywall — all of the content is freely available to visitors. Readers will have immediate access to ideas, research, benchmarks and tools, all grounded in the reality of our technologically driven economy and society. We’re offering some recommendations based on what readers tell us are some of the most pressing problems they’re facing right now.

Choose Charts Everyone Understands

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  • Read Time: 6 min 

Complex charts are good for aggregating data and then digging into it, especially if users can click on sections to find additional material or generate custom data sets. But interactive data visualizations aren’t always necessary — and sometimes, they’re just too complicated. While complex charts are good for exploring data, a classic bar chart, line chart, or pie chart is often best for communicating information.

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The Downstream Damage of the Leadership Skills Gap

  • Read Time: 4 min 

Despite companies’ efforts to invest in leadership development, studies show that managerial skills gaps are increasingly common. The downstream effects of these gaps negatively affect not only businesses but extend to the global economy as well. To address this critical problem, leaders must place increased focus on their own development as managers in order to facilitate an increase in productivity across the board.

Closing the Gender Gap Is Good for Business

While the corporate world has made progress in advancing women’s careers in leadership roles, there is a long way to go to achieve workplace gender equality. By supporting women’s career development and advancing them into managerial positions, a company’s customers, teams, and bottom line will benefit.

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