Leadership Reading to Start Your Week: 10/27/14

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Here are choice articles on hot leadership topics culled from the business schools, the business press and major consulting firms, to start off your work week. I’m pointing you to articles about leadership, strategy, industries, innovation, women and work, and work and learning now and in the future. Highlights include deciding of your leadership style is influencing bad behaviour, a fork in the digital road, warfare, software, and industrial design, whether queen bees are real, and defining critical thinking.

Be sure to look for dots that you can connect.

Note: Some links require you to register or are to publications that have some form of limited paywall.

Thinking about Leadership and Strategy

From Gerry Hansell, Decker Walker, and Jens Kengelbach: Lessons from Successful Serial Acquirers

“The successful serial acquirers BCG studied spend more than 5 percent of their entity value per year on acquisitions.”

From N. Craig Smith: Could Your Leadership Style Be Influencing Bad Behaviour?

“Rupert Murdoch says he was ‘shocked, appalled and ashamed’ to discover his employees were hacking phones. But did his leadership contribute to the practice?”

From John Michel: A Military Leader’s Approach to Dealing with Complexity

“I know how daunting it can be to lead dedicated professionals to undertake complex endeavors, and I’ve lived the reality of trying to bring positive change to large, bureaucratic organizations. Here are four principles I’ve learned that can help you enhance your leadership while concurrently bringing out the best in those around you.”

Industries and Analysis

From Nick Carey: Union Pacific CEO: Major rail mergers ‘don’t make sense’

“The chief executive of No. 1 U.S. railroad Union Pacific Corp said on Thursday that he does not think mergers of major railroads ‘make sense’ because of the regulatory hurdles they face and the service issues they create.”

From the Economist: Information technology: A fork in the digital road

“Poor performance foreshadows the industry’s restructuring”

From Walter Loeb: Why Target, J.C.Penney, and Gap’s New CEOs Have To Learn To Be Merchants

“The CEO appointments of Brian Cornell at Target, Art Peck at The Gap and Marvin Ellison at J.C.Penney were all surprising and worrisome. All three are experienced men who have great knowledge of logistics, statistics, store operations or food operations. They lack the hands-on knowledge of merchandising and marketing – of finding true winners and occasionally making a mistake.”

Innovations and Technology

From Lee E. Miller and Kathleen Hayes Onieal: Getting People to Believe in Something They Can’t Yet Imagine

“What would you do if you had a working prototype of a revolutionary tablet computer that was receiving rave reviews well before Apple came out with its iPad? Cancel further funding for the project in favor of developing an updated version of an existing company product? In hindsight that seems crazy, but it’s exactly what Microsoft did with its prototype ‘Courier’ tablet.”

From Salim Essaid: Augmented reality may trump virtual reality for work and play

“Augmented reality isn’t new. But it’s hitting the mainstream thanks to the rising popularity of wearable technology like fitness trackers, smartwatches and glasses. GPS tracking, sensors and camera technology on mobile devices are finally strong enough and widely available. Video gamers are an obvious target group for use, but businesses too are finding that combining wearables with augmented reality could solve practical problems. For example, crews needing to repair a complex mud pump on an oil rig could simply activate step-by-step visual instructions right in front of their eyes, hands-free, and in real time.”

From Al Kent: Warfare, Software, and Industrial Design

“The benefits of an organic, more iterative approach to product development.”

Women and the Workplace

From Peggy Drexler: Are Queen Bees Real?

“The existence of the Queen Bee—the ultra-competitive, hypercritical female boss who has zero interest in fostering the careers of fellow women, possibly even actively seeking to keep them down—has been much discussed. Is she real—a real, live enemy to female career advancement? Or is she any woman who reaches a position of power and, it’s assumed, must have stepped on more than a few toes along the way? In other words, is the Queen Bee yet another way to slap the ‘bitch’ label on women who succeed?”

From Rick Barrett: Manufacturers scramble to fill jobs, struggle to recruit women

“Manufacturers are having trouble finding people in welding and other skilled trades as a wave of older workers retires and younger people aren’t stepping up to take their place. They say women represent manufacturing’s largest pool of untapped talent, but that it’s difficult to sell them on the careers.”

From Nellie Bowles: The Venn Diagram of Hard Odds: Female Technical Founders With Venture Funding

“The odds are not in their favor. Only three percent of venture-backed startups are founded by women. An even smaller slice of that three percent, if you can imagine it, are technical founders. And it felt like they were all at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., last night, where about 200 current and aspiring technical founders got together to mix and mingle.”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From Melissa Korn: Bosses Seek ‘Critical Thinking,’ but What Is That?

“Critical thinking is a critical skill for young workers these days. What that means, though—and how to measure it—is less clear. Employers complain that colleges are not producing graduates who can solve problems and connect the dots on complex issues, but bosses stumble when pressed to describe exactly what skills make critical thinkers.”

From Gary Hamel: What I talk about when I talk about innovation

“It’s a very energising time in which we live. There is so much new going on, and every time you go online, you pick up a paper, there’s some completely new idea that you hadn’t thought of, and it’s amazing. The rate of human progress has always been governed by how densely we were connected to one another, because the more densely connected, the more you see this melange and interplay and common chemistry of ideas and resources, and now it’s happening everywhere at warp speed. So, it’s a great time to be thinking and be alive.”

From Rick Wartzman: What Peter Drucker Knew About 2020

“‘Every few hundred years throughout Western history, a sharp transformation has occurred,’ Peter Drucker observed in a 1992 essay for Harvard Business Review. ‘In a matter of decades, society altogether rearranges itself – its worldview, its basic values, its social and political structures, its arts, its key institutions. Fifty years later a new world exists. And the people born into that world cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived and into which their own parents were born. Our age is such a period of transformation.'”

More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock

Be that helpful boss

Great bosses put the great in great places to work. Here’s one common characteristic of great bosses.

By and About Leaders: 10/21/14

Pointers to pieces by and about Courtney Holt, Sreekanth Ravi, David Pottruck, Bill McDermott, and Douglas Bergeron.

From the Independent Business Blogs: 10/22/14

Pointers to posts by Karin Hurt, Kate Nasser, Tanveer Naseer, Mary Jo Asmus, and Chris Edmonds.

Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 10/24/14

Pointers to stories about Gap, the Container Store, Urban Outfitters, FedEx, and the Michelin Guide.

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