Leadership Reading to Start Your Week: 5/1/17

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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 why so many leaders are charismatic narcissists, how retailers are thriving despite the supposed death of their industry, taking the ego out of ideas, Silicon Valley’s sexism problem, and an inside look at Amazon’s futuristic distribution system.

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 Margarita Mayo: If Humble People Make the Best Leaders, Why Do We Fall for Charismatic Narcissists?

“Humble leaders improve the performance of a company in the long run because they create more collaborative environments. They have a balanced view of themselves – both their virtues and shortcomings – and a strong appreciation of others’ strengths and contributions, while being open to new ideas and feedback. These ‘unsung heroes’ help their believers to build their self-esteem, go beyond their expectations, and create a community that channels individual efforts into an organized group that works for the good of the collective.”

From Jennifer Pellet: Innovativeness: One of 11 CEO Leadership Qualities

“At a time when so many legacy businesses are being disrupted by fast-growing upstarts, it’s little surprise that Chief Executive’s selection committee vets CEO of the Year contenders for a proven ability to foster innovation.”

From Susan Cain: Not Leadership Material? Good. The World Needs Followers.

“If college admissions offices show us whom and what we value, then we seem to think that the ideal society is composed of Type A’s. This is perhaps unsurprising, even if these examples come from highly competitive institutions. It’s part of the American DNA to celebrate those who rise above the crowd. And in recent decades, the meteoric path to leadership of youthful garage- and dorm-dwellers, from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg, has made king of the hill status seem possible for every 19-year-old. So now we have high school students vying to be president of as many clubs as they can. It’s no longer enough to be a member of the student council; now you have to run the school.”

Industries and Analysis

From Deborah Weinswig: Apparel Retailers Lead The Charge Out Of Brick-And-Mortar

“Closures are impacting multiple sectors: electronics is represented by RadioShack, furniture and appliances by Hhgregg, office products by Staples and healthcare by CVS. Apparel, however, is leading the charge out of brick-and-mortar. We calculate that apparel retailers and department stores account for 2,060 (82%) of the 2,507 closures announced so far this year.”

From Robin Lewis: Stop Talking and Start Doing, Now and Faster

“By now, if anybody in the entire retail and consumer facing industries, from C-level executives down to the janitor working the night shift, is not aware of the fundamental earth-quaking changes going on across all of commerce, they are a ‘dead man walking.’ In fact, they all should just declare themselves dead, period, and crawl into a hole somewhere.”

From Lydia Belanger: How Retailers Are Thriving Despite the Supposed Death of Their Industry

“To frame it as a battle between brick-and-mortar and ecommerce is to miss the point.”

Innovation and Technology

From Marc Andreessen: “Take the Ego out of Ideas”

“The venture capitalist explores how to shape an innovative mindset.”

From Will Knight: There’s a big problem with AI: even its creators can’t explain how it works

“Getting a car to drive this way was an impressive feat. But it’s also a bit unsettling, since it isn’t completely clear how the car makes its decisions. Information from the vehicle’s sensors goes straight into a huge network of artificial neurons that process the data and then deliver the commands required to operate the steering wheel, the brakes, and other systems. The result seems to match the responses you’d expect from a human driver. But what if one day it did something unexpected—crashed into a tree, or sat at a green light? As things stand now, it might be difficult to find out why.”

From Greg Satell: Don’t Look For A Great Idea, Look For A Good Problem

“In researching my book, Mapping Innovation, I found that the most innovative firms often aren’t any more creative or even that they are better at solving problems. Rather, it was how they aggressively seek out new problems to solve that made all the difference. The truth is that if you want to create a truly innovative culture you shouldn’t glorify ideas, but problems.”

Women and the Workplace

From Eliot Sherman and Anna Johnston: Gender inequality: where are all the men?

“Gender parity is still a way off. But flexible working, shared childcare and encouraging more men into the debate could help bring it closer.”

From Lisa Unwin and Deborah Khan: Rethinking Returnships for Retaining Women

“It started as a whisper. Back in 2008, Goldman Sachs, which originally coined the term returnships, began a high-level, paid internship program for professionals returning to the workforce after an extended absence, with the opportunity for a permanent role. The participants were mostly women who had dropped out to raise children and now wanted to restart their careers.”

From the Economist: Silicon Valley’s sexism problem

“Venture capitalists are bright, clannish and almost exclusively male”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From the London School of Economics: Leaders get the teams they deserve

“They try to fix the team, when it’s often their own inner state and routines that cause employee underperformance, argues Deborah Rowland.”

From Wharton: At Work, Love Isn’t All You Need

“The Beatles famously sang that ‘all you need is love,’ but a new study by Wharton management professor Nancy Rothbard finds that maybe love alone isn’t enough in the workplace.”

From Melissa Burns: Behind the Scenes: An Inside Look at Amazon’s Futuristic Distribution System

“Ever since Ford revolutionized auto production by implementing the assembly line in 1913, manufacturing has come a long way. One of the current innovations taking place pertains to distribution. With an extremely demanding multinational client base and fierce competition from rivals, fast and efficient distribution is becoming one of the greatest competitive advantages for a company. People do not want slow delivery times and will not tolerate errors or delays.”

More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock

Boss’s Tip of the Week: Learn to let go

It’s easy to over-control, but it’s a trap. One of 347 tips from Become a Better Boss One Tip at a Time.

4 Things to Let Go Of

Here are four things you can let go of to make some space in your life for some of the things you want to do.

How Art Petty chooses what books to read

Here’s how author, speaker, and management educator Art Petty chooses what business books to read. Art is a member of our Intentional Reading Panel.

Leaders and Strategies in Real Life: 4/25/17

Articles about real leaders and real companies in real life. This week it’s article about Farmers Business Network, NYU Langone Medical Center, Walmart, Westfield Santa Anita Mall, and Facebook.

From the Independent Business Blogs: 4/26/17

Pointers to posts by Jesse Lyn Stoner, Chantal Bechervaise, Terry “Starbucker” St. Marie, Kevin Eikenberry, and Mary Jo Asmus.

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.

The 347 tips in my ebook can help you Become a Better Boss One Tip at a Time.

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