Leadership Reading to Start Your Week: 7/21/14

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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 how financial markets negatively influence business strategy, the hard business of restarting U.S. factories, disruptive innovation, the effect of “war” jargon on women in the workplace, and why Comcast won’t let you cancel your service,

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 James Heskett: Are Today’s Business Heroes Challenging Our Ideas About Leadership?

“Are today’s most talked about business leaders–Jobs, Bezos, Gates–a group to be admired and followed? They seem to lack the humility and lead-from-behind mentality so espoused by serious management thinkers such as Jim Collins and Bill George. Who do you want leading your company?”

Hat tip to Miki Saxon for pointing me to this piece.

From Walter Chen: The Best Leaders at Google Aren’t Stanford/MIT Grads With Perfect SATs

“Google’s data-driven people analytics team uncovers the surprising character trait that makes for great leaders.”

From Patricia Panchak: Michael Dell: How Financial Markets Negatively Influence Business Strategy

“The man who, to date, led the privatization of one of the largest companies, by revenue, has something to say about how finance influences business decisions. Michael Dell, CEO, took his namesake Round Rock, Tex.-based company private in October 2013, the year it ranked 24 in the IW US 500 with nearly $57 billion in revenue.”

Industries and Analysis

From Julie Creswell: Race Is On to Profit From Rise of Urgent Care

“A growing category in health care promises an alternative to the hospital emergency room and perhaps the family practitioner, with low fees and extended hours.”

From Wharton: Will Video Kill the Classroom Star?

“New research by Christian Terwiesch, Andrew M. Heller Professor and Co-director of the Mack Institute, and Karl Ulrich, CIBC Endowed Professor and Vice Dean of Innovation at the Wharton School, examines the emergence of the Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) and its impact on business schools.”

From Timothy Aeppel: The Hard Business of Restarting U.S. Factories

“Televisions are just one item that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. wants to obtain more often from U.S. suppliers under a pledge made last year to spend an added $250 billion over the next decade on U.S.-made goods. It has already identified 140 products ripe for the move—from shoes and bikes, to food dehydrators and bath towels. But as the Element Electronics Corp. television factory here shows, the definition of ‘U.S. made’ can be tricky. The company’s experience illustrates how tough it can be to revive an industry from scratch, especially when it is a complex product such as an electronics item.”

Innovations and Technology

From Wharton: Has ‘Disruptive Innovation’ Run Its Course? Not Yet…

“Economic theories emanating from business schools do not usually draw 6,000-word takedowns in the popular press. But then, few ideas have permeated society as thoroughly as the notion of disruptive innovation. The theory describes the way a new product or service transforms an existing market — and eventually replaces and redefines the status quo — by bringing new simplicity, convenience and affordability. In a June 23 article in The New Yorker, Jill Lepore launched an attack on the soundness of the theory itself and the solidity of the scholarship behind it. She also decried the misappropriation of the concept across a variety of arenas beyond pure business.”

From Penelope Green: Putting Magic in the Mundane

“David Rose, the author of ‘Enchanted Objects,’ sees a future where we can all live like wizards.”

From the Economist: Little things that mean a lot

“Businesses should aim for lots of small wins from ‘big data’, that add up to something big.”

Women and the Workplace

From Kathryn Heath: Even When Women Ask for a Raise, They Don’t Ask for Enough

“In her landmark study published in 2003, Linda Babcock found that women don’t get ahead at work because they don’t step up and ask for money and promotions. Our research indicates that this finding still applies, but perhaps not in the way people think. In the process of coaching hundreds of top female executives over the past decade, we’ve routinely interviewed hiring managers and pored-over 360-degree feedback reports in search of trends and commonalities. One of the things we’ve found consistently is that women do, in fact, step up and ask for more money and better jobs. But they don’t ask for enough. They take what they get on their first try without lobbying for what they really deserve—more.”

From Peggy Drexler: Women Form A Negative View Of Other Women More Quickly Than Men Do Of Men

“Female subordinates are often less respectful of, and deferential to, their female bosses than they are to their male bosses. They question more, push back, and expect a certain level of familiarity or camaraderie that they don’t expect from the men. This speaks to the long tradition of women being notoriously hypercritical of one another, an assertion proven by science: a study published in the journal Psychological Science concluded that women form a negative view of other women in their lives—including friends, co-workers, and, yes, bosses—far more quickly and freely than men do of other men.”

From Raina Brands: Killing the competition

“Such jargon has long been a source of amusement and irritation in the business world. But its effects reach far deeper: the use of military parlance in organisations may reinforce historically-rooted and implicitly held beliefs that business is no place for a woman.”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From Jordan Weissmann: Comcast customer service: An employee explains why they won’t let you cancel your service.

“Comcast says it’s ’embarrassed’ by the recording of a customer service rep desperately refusing to cancel a subscriber’s account that had the entire Internet gawking in horror yesterday. However, the company would like to assure us all that this was simply a case of a single, misguided employee leaping over the edge.”

From Caroline McMillan Portillo: WaterSaver Faucet Co. limits bathroom breaks to less than six minutes a day

“Steve Kersten, CEO of the faucet-maker, found out that his company lost 120 hours of production in May because of bathroom visits outside of allotted break times. Believing much of it was due to employees’ chatting on the phone in the restroom, he implemented a new rule: Employees must spend less than 60 minutes over 10 days (about six minutes a day) in the restrooms, when not on a sanctioned break, CNN Money reported Tuesday. Otherwise, they face disciplinary action.”

From Steven Greenhouse: A Push to Give Steadier Shifts to Part-Timers

“Unpredictable hours and on-call shifts have kindled a nationwide movement to give part-time workers more rights.”

Part-Time Schedules, Full-Time Headaches” is Times readers’ responses to the article above.

Last Week’s Leadership Posts from Wally Bock

By and About Leaders: 7/15/14

Pointers to pieces by and about Sidney Toledano, Keith Pelley, David Ossip, Mike Hoffman, and Satya Nadella.

From the Independent Business Blogs: 7/16/14

Pointers to posts by Tanveer Naseer, Lolly Daskal, Julie Winkle Giulioni, Mary Jo Asmus, and Karin Hurt.

Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 7/18/14

Stories about real businesses and how their strategies work (or don’t) in real life.

The Bronx Science Rules

I learned a lot at the Bronx High School of Science. Many of the most important lessons weren’t academic.

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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