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 three articles on the state and future of media, Mary Barra on what every B-School graduate should know, innovation lessons from Bohemian Rhapsody, Sheryl Sandberg on the myth of the catty woman, and beyond the holacracy hype.
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
“Is ‘Be yourself’ terrible advice for a leader? Bill George, the creator of the ‘authentic leadership’ approach to management, answers critics and outlines the path for executives to be more effective.”
“Our review of survey data spanning the years 2005 to 2015 suggests three distinct, progressively more sophisticated phases of usage. Companies in our sample began with trial-and-error applications—for example, using social platforms such as YouTube to expand their marketing mix to attract younger consumers. They then switched their focus to fostering collaboration. Most recently, some have deployed social technologies to catalyze the cocreation of strategy. Across this spectrum, we also found that companies shifted the mix of technologies and expanded the terrain of application.”
“In today’s job-hopping culture, Mary Barra is an outlier. The 54-year-old Stanford GSB graduate started at General Motors at age 18, rose in rank and responsibility, and became the automobile giant’s chief executive in 2014.”
Industries and Analysis
“The digital disruption of the US television industry is at hand. Streaming video is changing every existing relationship in the TV value chain. The very neat and structured relationships of the past—with studios and rights holders relying on broadcast and cable networks to air their content, and networks relying on pay TV distributors to deliver their content into people’s homes—are no longer intact. Powerful digital attackers (among them Amazon, Apple, and Google) are emerging from outside the traditional TV ecosystem, and they are armed with fundamentally different business models and motivations to engage with consumers via video services.”
“Sometime in the near future, when Tesla, or Chinese automaker BYD, or Apple produces a digitally enhanced, connected, self-driving car, it could unlock as much as a billion hours per day of customer attention now devoted to watching the road. Instead of checking the speedometer and the rearview mirror, passengers could be watching videos, playing games, reading blogs, or shopping. And it’s unclear whether this new commercial real estate will be owned by automakers, retailers, entertainment studios, or wireless providers.”
“Our analysis of the art and science of creating a hit show.”
Innovation and Technology
“Instead of sitting on data, firms can use it to gain a competitive advantage, argues Michael E. Prescott”
“Contrary to popular belief, innovations don’t sell themselves. Successful adoption depends on how brands position themselves and how much they listen to their customers.”
“Here is an in-depth interview we did at Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Lounge with Barry Ainsworth, the man who engineered ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, perhaps one of the greatest and most innovative rock songs ever written.”
Women and the Workplace
“According to the Mercer report, which surveyed 3.2 million employees, 1.3 million of whom were women at 583 organizations in 42 countries, women across North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America, Australia, and New Zealand are expected to make up just 40% of the professional workforce in the next decade.”
From Denise Restauri: Why Smart Women Aren’t Becoming Electricians Or Plumbers — And Why They Should
“Jane Wurwand is a self-made woman who gives people what they want and need, and she’s great at what she does. Jane is the Founder and Chief Visionary of Dermalogica.”
“The biggest enemy of women, we’re warned, is a powerful woman. Queen bees refuse to help other women. If you approach one for advice, instead of opening a door, she’ll shut the door before you can even get your foot in. We’ve often heard women lower their voices and confess, ‘It hurts me to say this, but the worst boss I ever had was a woman.’ But statistically that isn’t true.”
Work and Learning Now and in the Future
“The size of the ‘middle layers’ of organizations – the managers and administrators – has ballooned in recent decades. Is there a better way?”
“Portland online-education company Treehouse generated national attention in 2013 when it eliminated bosses. It was a radical experiment in empowering employees, giving workers the authority to propose their own projects, manage themselves and evaluate each other. It didn’t work.”
“Our research and experience tell us that elements of self-organization will become valuable tools for companies of all kinds. Yet we see real challenges in embracing the approach wholesale—Zappos is still grappling with them, even though its holacracy adoption circle has regained its footing. Other organizations have decided it’s just too consuming to go all in. Medium, a social media company that recently dropped holacracy, found that ‘it was difficult to coordinate efforts at scale,’ Andy Doyle, the head of operations, explained in a blog post about the change. Using self-management across an entire enterprise to determine what should be done, who should do it, and how people will be rewarded is hard, uncertain work, and in many environments it won’t pay off. So we’ll also look at circumstances in which it makes sense to blend the newer approaches with traditional models.”
More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock
Ben Franklin set the self-improvement standard for the rest of us. Here are five ways to learn like Ben Franklin.
Pointers to pieces by and about Nicola D’Elia, Carolyn Everson, Paul Polman, Neil Grimmer, and Lisa Gersh.
Pointers to posts by Karin Hurt, Art Petty, Jesse Lyn Stoner, Lolly Daskal, and Mary Jo Asmus.
Pointers to stories about Urban Outfitters, Harman International, Shake Shack, iPark, and Nestlé.
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.