Leadership Reading to Start Your Week: 12/12/16

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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 why organizations fail, where great leaders earn their stripes, how self-reflection can make you a better leader, and how to fail successfully.

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 Greg Satell: Why Organizations Fail

“Our biology evolved over millions of years to deal with such events, not efficiently, but effectively. Sadly, most organizations work the opposite way. They are highly efficient at specific tasks, but often fail when confronted with a problem they weren’t designed for. The seeds of dysfunction are seldom recognized until it’s too late.”

From Adam Grant: Where Great Leaders Earn Their Stripes

“In a landmark study, economists Efraim Benmelech and Carola Frydman analyzed the role of military experience in corporate leadership. They found that between 1980 and 2006, roughly 30% of all CEOs of large public U.S. firms had military experience. But over time, military backgrounds have begun to vanish from the CEO ranks. In 1980, 59% of CEOs had military experience, but this number plummeted to 8% by 2006. Starting with veterans born in the mid-1920s, the number of veterans in managerial positions has fallen steadily relative to the overall number of veterans.”

From Kellogg: How Self-Reflection Can Make You a Better Leader

“As you frantically consider where to throw your attention, are you in the mood to reflect on what’s driving your behavior? To analyze your larger goals? To consider what got you into this situation and how you might avoid it in the future? Probably not. ‘The usual reaction is, ‘Well, I’ll just go faster,’’ says Harry Kraemer, clinical professor of strategy at the Kellogg School and former CEO of multibillion-dollar healthcare company Baxter International. But that’s mistaking activity for productivity. And productivity demands self-reflection.”

Industries and Analysis

From Judson Wambold: What a beer run means to the future of real estate

“Early in the morning of Oct. 25, a truck pulled out of the Anheuser-Busch facility in Loveland Colorado with 2,000 cases of Budweiser. Nothing seemed unusual, but this trip was anything but routine. The trip was Uber’s first real traffic test of a fully self-driving truck. The truck would make its 120-mile journey through Denver without incident – and without a driver.”

From Mike Esterl and Jennifer Maloney: Dr Pepper, Pepsi Snap Up Alternative Beverage Makers

“Two of the big U.S. soda makers are scooping up fast-growing upstarts that market healthier beverages, as the industry struggles with falling demand for diet sodas as well as new taxes on sugary drinks.”

From Kate Newlin: Where is Retail Headed?

“So what gives? Do we want to shop in the real world, or not?”

Innovation and Technology

From Ron S. Dembo: Making the Leap to Parallel Computing

“Until a few years ago, all programs followed the serial model. They constructed their solutions as a single complex operation or group of operations, conducted on a single computer. The more powerful the computer, the more complex the problems it could handle. But the limits of a single machine also shaped the limits of the problems it could handle.”

From Ross Kelly: Some Expert Advice on Digital Business Transformation: Forget the Technology

“For CEOs trying to get their heads around digitization, it may be tempting to obsess over their understanding of the latest software program or communications gadget. But leaders who place too much emphasis on technology when mapping out a digital business transformation strategy could be falling into a trap.”

From Julian Birkinshaw and Kathy Brewis: How to fail successfully

“The most innovative companies embed experimentation in their strategy and extract maximum learning from their mistakes. How can you be more like them?”

Women and the Workplace

 From David G. Smith and W. Brad Johnson: Men Can Improve How They Mentor Women. Here’s How.

“So what is it about cross-gender professional relationships that flood some men with anxiety? Partly, these guys are rattled by the prospect of close, caring, but nonsexual developmental relationships with women at work. They’re not alone; one 2010 survey found that half of junior women and almost two-thirds of senior men shied away from one-on-one mentoring relationships due to concerns that someone might perceive a sexual relationship where there was none.”

From Anna Marie Valerio and Katina Sawyer: The Men Who Mentor Women

“While women make up 51.5% of all managers, much fewer women rise to the C-suite. A survey of 25,000 Harvard Business School graduates found that although male and female graduates had similar levels of ambition, men were significantly more likely to have positions in senior management, direct reports, and profit-and-loss responsibility.”

From Tracey Massey: How a Background in STEM Can Drive Women to the Top

“The MPW Insiders Network is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for, ‘Why is a background in STEM important for shaping female leaders?’ is written by Tracey Massey, president of Mars Chocolate North America.”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From Wayne Turmel: Headhunting remote workers

“Many (not all, but enough to be statistically significant) teleworkers and remote employees view their work as transactional. One job is as good as another so why not chase a bigger paycheck or a more interesting job? The only time she encounters a problem is when the person is ‘married’ to their current employer. In other words, employee engagement was the main barrier to someone leaving one job for another.”

From Natalie Kitroeff: Warehouses promised lots of jobs, but robot workforce slows hiring

“When Skechers started building a colossal distribution center in Moreno Valley six years ago, backers promised a wave of new jobs. Instead, by the time the company moved to the Moreno Valley, it had closed five facilities in Ontario that employed 1,200 people and cut its workforce by more than half. Today, spotting a human on the premises can feel like an accomplishment.”

From Wendy Hirsch: Trust: does it impact team performance… or not?

“How many teams are you part of right now? Probably at least one, maybe quite a few. How much time do you spend thinking about and working to build trust on the team(s)? If the answer is ‘not much,’ new research may convince you that trust is worth more of your attention.”

More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock

How to Have More Successful Supervisory Conversations

Supervisory conversations are one of the hardest and most important parts of a boss’s job. Here’s how to do them well.

Rereading great business books

You get more value from a book if you read it more than once, especially if you’re reading a great business book.

By and About Leaders: 12/6/16

Pointers to pieces by and about Howard Schultz, Julie Sweet, James Mattis, and Rick Hendrick

From the Independent Business Blogs: 12/7/16

Pointers to posts by Steve Keating, Terry “Starbucker” St. Marie, Kate Nasser, Lolly Daskal, and Mary Jo Asmus.

Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 12/9/16

Pointers to stories about Domino’s, Google, Apple, U. S. Concrete, and Citi.

Writing well gives you the edge in business and in life. If you want to get a book done, improve your blog posts, or make your web copy more productive, please check out my blog about business writing. My coaching calendar for authors and blog writers currently has time open. Please contact me if you’re interested.

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