Managing Your Career

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The New Leadership Playbook for the Digital Age

The 2020 Future of Leadership Global Executive Study and Research Report finds that leaders may be holding on to behaviors that might have worked once but now stymie the talents of their employees. Organizations must empower leaders to change their ways of working to succeed in a new digital economy.

How Women Can Improve Their Venture Pitch Outcomes

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 6 min 

A large-scale study in Europe of funding decisions finds that VCs evaluate male and female entrepreneurs by different standards. Savvy entrepreneurs can anticipate potentially biased responses to their pitches and plan accordingly. Certain tactics keep audiences engaged and confident of the idea’s potential, positioning the petitioner to succeed.

What Makes Dual-Career Couples Work (or Not)

We do plenty of strategic thinking about our careers but surprisingly little when it comes to our relationships. Strategy might sound like a cold word to use to describe managing our personal lives, but as you’ll hear in this week’s Three Big Points podcast, the ideas driving Jennifer Petriglieri’s research into why some dual-career relationships work better than others are quintessentially human.

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.

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.

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How to Manage Your Career in the Age of Uncertainty

The days of the well-planned career path are over. It is rare for a professional to stay in the same industry, let alone the same company, for the majority of their working life today. And the threat of career disruption grows only greater as the pace of digital change increases. Author and expert Whitney Johnson offers her prescription of specific steps you can take to help ensure you stay in control of your own career amid all this unpredictability.

Hacking Inequality at Home

Working couples are turning to technology to divide household labor more equitably. But the results have been mixed. Those who treat chore-management apps as the solution to imbalance often jump straight to implementation, making things worse. A better approach is to first have probing conversations about the underlying forces driving imbalance in the relationship. These discussions aren’t easy, but they form the basis of a deal, and then the couple can use technology to help make it happen.

How Managers Can Help Workers Tackle Digital Distractions

Managers and staff alike have been conditioned to respond to digital messaging platforms to the exclusion of all else — and digital distraction is costing businesses big in employee productivity. Managers can teach their reports how to tune out the siren song of digital devices, but they must model these behaviors themselves if they’re to encourage employees to do the same.

New Frontiers in Re-skilling and Upskilling

Everyone at some point will have to spend time either reskilling (learning new skills for a new position) or upskilling (learning current tasks more deeply). Embracing this idea requires an individual sense of agency, but corporations also have to step up. There are promising pilots underway: Some companies are figuring out how to engage on this issue, to the advantage of both individuals and the businesses themselves.

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Pathways to Progress for Women Entrepreneurs

  • Read Time: 4 min 

The hidden obstacle to women who want to found B2B startups is often rooted in the way they are mentored and advised in the business world. Where men are more often coached in strategy and business tactics, women are more likely to be taught how to avoid internal politics and “fit in” culturally. This difference in mentoring leaves women at a disadvantage with respect to entrepreneurship.

Let Your Mind Wander

Leisure time does two important jobs for us. Recharging is the obvious one. But it can also heighten our powers of creativity, given the cognitive benefits associated with letting our minds wander — and that gives us an edge over AI in the battle for jobs. Kellogg professor Adam Waytz makes this research-based argument in “Leisure Is Our Killer App,” the lead article in MIT SMR’s package on talent in a digital age. Check it out, along with the other pieces, in the fall issue of the magazine.

Older and Wiser? How Management Style Varies With Age

The starting point for managing age diversity is to develop a basic understanding of cross-age differences in working style. The authors found that management style varied more with age than with any other characteristic in their survey. Younger managers prefer narrower approaches to management, while older ones tend to work through others and focus on the big picture. Being attuned to style differences can make it easier for individuals to navigate their working relationships effectively.

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Five Strategies for Investing in Your Career

  • 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.

Leisure Is Our Killer App

How can we avoid being automated out of our jobs? When recommending areas for development, experts tend to focus on two broad classes of skills that distinguish people from machines: sociability and variability. But homing in on those areas can lead to burnout, leaving us even more vulnerable to obsolescence. Leisure can mitigate these effects. Beyond reducing burnout, leisure is a uniquely human activity that robots cannot perform, and it might actually make us better thinkers and workers.

Do Men Know More About Salaries?

  • Read Time: 3 min 

When it comes to salary transparency, one widely held belief is that women have a harder time collecting salary information than men. While some research suggests this may be true in some cases, collective research has not tackled a fundamental question: Are female employees truly less informed about salaries, or is this just a stereotype?

Free Reading Spree to Kick Off Spring

  • Read Time: 2 min 

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.

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.

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