Leadership Reading to Start Your Week: 1/3/17

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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 key traits that separate CEOs from other senior executives, strategic planning in today’s reality, the neuroscience of strategic leadership, the “Jobs to be Done” theory of innovation, what happens when women run companies, why you should stop blaming women for gender inequality, the pros and cons of robot managers, and why your people’s brains need face time.

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 J. P. Donlon: The Key Traits that Separate CEOs from other Senior Executives

“There are two traits that stand out when it comes to the ‘essence’ of the CEO personality: an ability to embrace appropriate risks and a bias toward acting and capitalizing on opportunities. In other words, a CEO is significantly less cautious and more likely to take action when compared to other senior executives.”

From Ben Ridler: Strategic Planning in Today’s Reality

“There’s only one way to protect yourself, and that’s through strategic planning. But what a lot of entrepreneurs don’t realize, until it’s too late, is that they never really think about strategy at all. They think about goals and targets and marketing schemes, but not actual strategy. And in a world with less innovation and change, they could get away with it. No more.”

From Jeffrey Schwartz, Josie Thomson, and Art Kleiner: The Neuroscience of Strategic Leadership

“Have you ever had a difficult executive decision to make? This is the kind of decision where the best options aren’t obvious, the ethics aren’t clear, and the consequences could affect hundreds of people or more. How do you figure out the right thing to do? More importantly, how do you develop the habit of making better decisions, time and time again, even in difficult and uncertain circumstances?”

Industries and Analysis

From Nikhil Ati, Marcel Brinkman, Ryan Peacock, and Clint Wood: Oil-field services sector gears up for a recovery … but is not there yet

“Stabilizing oil prices stimulated activity in some areas, which fed through to the OFSE sector, helping support the market. Emerging consensus amongst OPEC countries is likely to position the market for recovery; however, execution remains a challenge.”

From Kelsey Gee: Big Food Battles Meal-Kit Startups for Dinner-in-a-Box

“Tyson Foods, Campbell Soup and Hershey crowd into market for dinner in a box.”

From Justin Rose, Vladimir Lukic, Tom Milon, and Alessandro Cappuzzo: Sprinting to Value in Industry 4.0

“To improve performance and gain a competitive edge, manufacturers must adopt the new digital industrial technologies that are collectively known as Industry 4.0. Leading manufacturers are already applying these advances in order to bring products to market faster, reduce their cost bases, and build new revenue streams. The value created by Industry 4.0 vastly exceeds the low-single-digit cost savings that many manufacturers pursue today. The new technologies promise to revolutionize manufacturing, thereby shifting the competitive balance among countries and transforming the industrial workforce.”

Innovation and Technology

From Nicolaus Henke, Jacques Bughin, Michael Chui, James Manyika, Tamim Saleh, Bill Wiseman, and Guru Sethupathy: The age of analytics: Competing in a data-driven world

“Big data’s potential just keeps growing. Taking full advantage means companies must incorporate analytics into their strategic vision and use it to make better, faster decisions.”

From the Harvard Business Review: The “Jobs to be Done” Theory of Innovation

“Clayton Christensen, professor at Harvard Business School, builds upon the theory of disruptive innovation for which he is well-known. He speaks about his new book examining how successful companies know how to grow.”

From Michelle M. Smith: unleashing creativity and avoiding groupthink

“It’s hard to find a leader today who isn’t aggressively calling for growth and innovation within their organization and hasn’t clamored for more creative, original thinkers to make those goals a reality. But where do we find all this creative talent – and how do we harness it? Is the ability to be an out-of-the-box thinker a matter of nature or nurture?”

Women and the Workplace

From Henrich Greve: Stop Blaming Women for Gender Inequality

“It’s hard to ‘lean in’ when you feel you’re being pushed out.”

From Alana Samuels: When Women Run Companies

“The past year may have been a tough one in many respects, but there was one measure in which the country made some progress. 2016 marked the year in which there were the most women ever heading companies in the S&P 500. That’s according to S&P Global Market Intelligence, which tracks the number of women CEOs in both top U.S. and European companies.”

From Thomas Hoyland: Star Wars passes the Bechdel test – if only our galaxy respected women leaders as much

“There is no doubt that the glass ceiling is still firmly in place. Positions at the highest echelons of society are still dominated by men, women face barriers in their career due solely to their gender, and the view of leadership as masculine continues to dominate. World Economic Forum data suggests there will not be equality of pay for another 118 years. And even if that weren’t the case, pay parity is not equality. I often ask students to draw a leader. Time and time again, the majority of pictures I get back will be of men in suits – even if they were drawn by women. Sometimes I will ask them to name great leaders, the list is dominated by men.”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From Eric J. McNulty: Your People’s Brains Need Face Time

“An interesting phenomenon emerged in an executive education class I regularly teach. Participants from around the U.S., and sometimes the world, come to the Harvard campus for a week, form teams that work on a significant group project remotely for six months, and then return to Harvard for a concluding session where they present what they’ve accomplished. A couple of years back, one of the teams decided to meet in-person about halfway through. They were so enthusiastic about the meeting, and the project they delivered so impressive, that I have related their experience to subsequent cohorts. Now, more and more teams opt for a mid-project, in-person meeting — a day or two of their own time at their own expense. Those projects continue to be among the best.”

From Tomas Chamorro-Premuzicand Gorkan Ahmetoglu: The Pros and Cons of Robot Managers

“How would you feel working for a robot? Although the idea may sound far-fetched, not least because the automation of jobs is usually discussed vis-à-vis unskilled labor rather than management-level positions, it is actually more feasible than most people think. Consider some of the main tasks of managers: e.g., using data to evaluate problems, making better decisions than the team, monitoring team members’ performance, setting relevant goals, and providing accurate feedback. Not only is technology capable of rivaling humans on these core management tasks, it is already playing a pivotal role in helping humans to more effectively accomplish these tasks.”

From Lynda Gratton: Managers: an endangered species?

“Today’s great managers excel at building trust rapidly, coaching, empathising and inspiring their people. They are able to build effective teams, to set clear and achievable objectives and to resolve conflicts. These management capabilities and practices will in time be aided by technology in ways we can’t yet foresee. What is certain is that the manager’s role will become more highly skilled and more essential than ever before.”

More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock

What’s your story for 2017?

Instead of those detailed goals and graphs, use a story to plan 2017.

By and About Leaders: 12/27/16

Pointers to pieces by and about Max Levchin, Bethany Yellowtail, Amancio Ortega, Max DePree, and Chris McIntyre.

From the Independent Business Blogs: 12/28/16

Pointers to posts by Terry “Starbucker” St. Marie, Marcella Bremer, Tanveer Naseer, Margaret O’Hanlon, and Dan Rockwell.

Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 12/30/16

Pointers to stories Nokia, Google, TIKD, Ubisoft, and Spotify.

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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