Leadership Reading to Start Your Week: 3/28/16

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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 leading in the digital age, changing the game in industrial goods through digital services, the rise of machine learning, how women and men internalise the glass ceiling, and the explosion of wearing work on our wrists.

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 Eric McNulty: You’ve Got to Serve Someone

“Servant leadership is not a new concept. Robert Greenleaf introduced the idea back in 1977. In recent years, however, concrete evidence has emerged that the approach delivers more than warm, fuzzy feelings. Last month, the first quantitative study that begins to explain a connection between servant leadership and improved individual performance was published by researchers in Canada. This new evidence may help move servant leadership from a niche practice to one adopted by more executives.”

From Nina Simosko: Three Degrees of Separation and the Compassionate Leader

“Recently, Facebook announced that the world had become smaller – that the six degrees of separation that has been popularized through books, movies and hundreds of articles, had been halved. A team of data scientists working for Facebook crunched through the 1.6 billion strong membership of the social networking platform to reveal:”

From McKinsey & Company: Leading in the digital age

“The automation of work and the digital disruption of business models place a premium on leaders who can create a vision of change and frame it positively.”

Industries and Analysis

From Michael Füllemann and Francisco Salmerón: Changing the Game in Industrial Goods Through Digital Services

“Services have long been an attractive area of growth for industrial goods companies. Spare-parts, modernization, and maintenance services typically have higher margins and growth rates than do sales of new equipment. These services also promote customer loyalty and lead to future equipment sales.”

From David Lazarus: Click here for actual journalism

“As newspapers and magazines struggle to survive, you’ll probably be hearing a lot about ‘native advertising.’ It’s a purposefully vague way of saying that online ads will look more and more like articles, making it harder for readers to tell the difference.”

From Satish Shankar, François van Raemdonck and Dalton Maine: Can Agribusiness Reinvent Itself to Capture the Future?

“Everyone from soy growers to meat packers now faces a mounting list of new hurdles. Commodity prices have never been more volatile. Arable land, water constraints and climate change pose increasing challenges. Food safety and sustainability have surfaced as major concerns. The industry requires lengthy investment cycles, but investor patience is diminishing. There’s the continuing threat of unpredictable government intervention that could distort global trade. And amid these daunting challenges, companies are also struggling to understand the growing role that digital capabilities will play in the years ahead—and how to adapt.”

Innovation and Technology

From Eathan Baron: Google victories in Go game amaze experts

“Lee Sedol wasn’t just playing against a Google computer this week when the 18-time world champion lost two straight matches in Go, the most complex board game in the world. Lee was, in effect, competing against hundreds of the best players on the planet, whose millions of moves had been fed into Google’s AlphaGo during the machine’s training. AlphaGo’s victories — a sign of rapid advancements in artificial intelligence — have amazed some Bay Area computer scientists. Not since IBM’s Deep Blue upset world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997 has a machine so humbled — and impressed — man.”

From Aaron Fanetti: Leaders should Advocate Fast Feedback over Failing Fast

“Language matters. This is true whether you’re crafting a clause in a contract or changing the culture of an entire organization. In fact, with a move from ‘customer’ to ‘client’, a single word helped transform IBM from a product provider into a professional services company. This is because the language of an organization plays a critical role in shaping the thoughts and behavior of its people. For IBM, the word ‘customer’ emphasized transactions and making sales whereas ‘client’ emphasized service and building relationships.”

From Dale Buss: The Rise of Machine Learning

“Here’s what you need to know to get the edge Big Data and machine learning can offer your business.”

Women and the Workplace

From Benjamin Kessler: How Women and Men Internalise the Glass Ceiling

“The recent research on gender equality in business is perplexing. As evidence showing a link between gender-diverse leadership and higher performance continues to mount, the pace of women’s advancement into top management positions remains slow, and may actually be slackening. Absent a rational solution to this puzzle, many researchers argue the glass ceiling of old has become unconsciously encoded within seemingly gender-neutral business norms, a phenomenon termed ‘second-generation gender bias’.”

From Claire Cain Miller: As Women Take Over a Male-Dominated Field, the Pay Drops

“Work done by women pays less because women do it, research shows.”

From Carmen Nobel: Researchers Prove C-Suite Gender Gap—but Can’t Explain It

“In research involving virtually every top executive in Sweden, Matti Keloharju and colleagues document what many already believe: women get fewer opportunities at top positions and lower pay when they get those positions. But just what is causing this gender gap is not so clear.”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From John Boudreau: Work in the Future Will Fall into These 4 Categories

“Organizations are more boundary-less, agile, global, and transparent — and will be even more so in the future. Work and workers (yes, humans) will always be essential to organizations, but organizations themselves will be more diverse, and work will be organized, structured, and done in new ways, increasingly through arrangements outside of regular full-time employment. How can leaders navigate this new digital work ecosystem? How should your organization plan for the changes ahead?”

From the Economist: Team spirit

“TEAMS have become the basic building-blocks of organisations. Recruitment ads routinely call for ‘team players’. Business schools grade their students in part on their performance in group projects. Office managers knock down walls to encourage team-building. Teams are as old as civilisation, of course: even Jesus had 12 co-workers. But a new report by Deloitte, ‘Global Human Capital Trends’, based on a survey of more than 7,000 executives in over 130 countries, suggests that the fashion for teamwork has reached a new high. Almost half of those surveyed said their companies were either in the middle of restructuring or about to embark on it; and for the most part, restructuring meant putting more emphasis on teams.”

From Cali Williams Yost: Scary Trend: The Explosion of Wearing Work on Our Wrists

“As I look back on this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, I am struck by the explosion of all-purpose wearables and the reality that soon we will wear work on our wrists. If you already struggle with the boundaries between work and life with your smartphone, wearables will take that challenge to a whole new level.”

More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock

Individual Contributor to Manager: Advice and Resources

If you’ve recently been promoted from individual contributor to manager, here are some things you need to know and some resources to help you.

Ransom Note Desktop Publishing and Your Self-Published Book

Just because you can make your book look like a third-grade crafts project doesn’t mean that you should.

By and About Leaders: 3/22/16

Pointers to pieces by and about John Chambers, Hau Thai-Tang, Christina Minardi, Dan Levin, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo.

From the Independent Business Blogs: 3/23/16

Pointers to posts by Susan Mazza, Nina Simosko, Art Petty, Terry “Starbucker” St. Marie, and Chris Edmonds

Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 3/25/16

Pointers to stories about the Wallenberg family, MasterCraft, Lowe’s, Polivka LLC, and Kickstarter


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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