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 how frontline leaders can deliver breakout performance, cutting through the machine learning hype, how CEOs can put gender balance on the agenda at their companies, figures show gig economy may have peaked, and bringing civility back to the workplace.
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 Vikram Bhalla, Deborah Lovich, Jean-Michel Caye, Christopher Daniel, and Liza Stutts: How Frontline Leaders Can Deliver Breakout Performance
“Imagine this scenario: Josh, one of the top-performing employees in a key division of your company, gets promoted to his first management role. Josh is excited by the trust you’ve put in him, not to mention the pay increase and opportunity to oversee a team. But he’s also nervous because he’s never managed employees before. The company provides him with some training sessions, including a quick ‘welcome to management’ meeting and a few online modules, which he’s supposed to pull up when he has specific questions. The trouble is, most of the modules seem disconnected from his real work. They’re based on abstract concepts with little or no connection to the daily challenges he faces.”
“Leading an organisation’s digital transformation requires simultaneously tackling three questions.”
“Metaphors matter. Explaining the meaning of one thing by referring to it in the familiar terminology of another shapes how we comprehend the world.”
Industries and Analysis
“It’s a silly game to keep tracking Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Just as same-store sales became a meaningless measure of performance once e-commerce took off, Black Friday and Cyber Monday became irrelevant when retailers began trying to outdo each other by starting both events earlier and earlier with deeper promotions. Amazon launched its 2016 Black Friday campaign on November 1st to run through December 22nd. Furthermore, most senior retail executives I talk to cynically admit that Black Friday is an everyday event, all year long. It’s like being in Marine Corps boot camp when the drill instructor shouts out ‘… every day is a holiday and every meal is a banquet in the Marine Corps.’ Over time, one begins to believe it.”
“Real estate speculators stake out territories for what’s to come, infrastructure builders and lawyers queue up for business, investors jostle to get in on the ground floor, and tech startups seek ways to make a new industry run more efficiently. This could be any nascent industry, but in this case it’s marijuana.”
From Nicole Norfleet: More small and midsized businesses turn to accountants to act as finance executives
“Accounting firms find niche in outsourcing role.”
Innovation and Technology
“Often, innovation is viewed through the narrow context of technology, and the subsequent advances in our lifestyles and businesses. But what if we’re missing something by correlating innovation too closely with technology. Shouldn’t innovation occupy a wider meaning and role? And if so, how do leaders ensure that ‘innovation’ is a red thread that runs through the culture of their organisations?”
“The tech ecosystem is well acquainted with buzzwords. From ‘Web 2.0’ to ‘cloud computing’ to ‘mobile first’ to ‘on-demand,’ it seems as though each passing year heralds the advent and popularization of new catchphrases to which fledgling companies attach themselves. But while the trends these phrases represent are real, and category-defining companies will inevitably give weight to newly coined buzzwords, so too will derivative startups seek to take advantage of concepts that remain ill-defined by experts and little-understood by everyone else.”
“It is becoming increasingly apparent that training employees in innovation techniques is an expensive and ineffective practice, unless you have built an environment for proposed innovations to come to fruition. So what are the three conditions that we as leaders should be setting for our teams to create and execute innovative change?”
Women and the Workplace
“Ian Rand shares what he learned about leading diversity, one lesson – and sometimes mistake – at a time.”
“My rational self years ago dismissed the trope of ‘doing it all’ as absurd and unachievable, but emotionally I still grapple with the feeling of falling short in the roles I play – professional, mother, wife, sister, friend, grown child of far-flung parents – as if I should be playing them all at the same time, perfectly.”
“Global talent and customers are more gender balanced than ever before. Women make up half the U.S. workforce, drive 80% of consumer buying decisions, and represent 60% of global university graduates. Gender balance is a big business opportunity, with huge economic implications. It boosts bottom-line results, drives growth with new customer insights, and enhances productivity with better talent acquisition and retention. Companies whose executive teams are more gender balanced report higher profitability and return on equity. Does your own company really understand — and profit from — this 21st-century shift? If CEOs and other leaders want to tap into these benefits, it helps to know the facts and to be skilled at selling the idea of gender balance to colleagues who may be less convinced.”
Work and Learning Now and in the Future
“We’ve all heard about the immense changes to American workplace habits heralded by the dawn of the so-called gig economy. But while online platforms such as Airbnb and Uber offer more flexibility to workers and employers, a recent uptick in economic growth is increasing the availability and attraction of more traditional jobs.”
“Respect and incivility are each contagious as people reflect the treatment they receive. Research shows that individuals and organizations can influence workplace behavior in ways big and small by modeling and rewarding doing the right thing.”
“The more I listen to the parade of folks who claim that we can measure people, teams and organizations in order to make them better or improve their profitability, the more concerned I get. While we have come a very long way in the development of our understanding, we are at the most primitive of stages. That means we are in a spot where we have to look closely at what we believe about ourselves.”
More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock
The Velveteen Rabbit is more than just a great children’s book. You can learn how to become a great boss, too.
My review of Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals by Heidi Grant Halvorson.
Pointers to pieces by and about Ruth Gresser, Blake Irving, Mike Baur, Joe Lacob, and words of wisdom from ten female founders.
Pointers to posts by Art Petty, Kevin Eikenberry, Lolly Daskal, Mary Jo Asmus, and Kate Nasser.
Pointers to stories TE Connectivity, Build-A-Bear, South Florida Tissue Paper, L.L. Bean, and Nike.
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