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 leadership perils for subject matter experts, what retail “Goliaths” must learn from the “Davids,” how companies are benefiting from “lite” artificial intelligence, when gender inequality controls whole organisations, and are you ready for robot colleagues?
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
“Sporting analogies for business leaders are great. But they come with two caveats.”
From Laura M. Little, Janaki Gooty and Michele Williams: Leaders pay a price when they mismanage employees’ negative feelings
“Want to improve the quality of your relationships with your employees? Learn to manage their negative feelings. For example, what should you do when one of them wants to discuss an infuriating client interaction, a difficult co-worker, an anxiety-provoking deadline or even a distressing family situation?”
“It was a warm, sunny day in southern Louisiana as my colleague and I walked among bustling groups of people. Mobile command trailers were clustered around a central compound. My colleague and I were there to observe the leadership challenges of responding to an oil spill. Our guide, someone with decades of experience with such incidents, authoritatively explained the operations underway. Then I asked him about his greatest challenge.”
Industries and Analysis
“Most retailers are relieved now that 2015 is in their rear-view mirrors. It was the worst year in retail since 2009, closing in the red, down 0.2 percent from previous year, if motor vehicles and food services are excluded. Unfortunately, 2016 doesn’t promise to be much better.”
“For a time, size gave CPG companies a staggering advantage. Centralising decisions and consolidating manufacturing helped firms expand margins. Deep pockets meant companies could spend millions on a flashy television advertisement, then see sales rise. Firms distributed goods to a vast network of stores, paying for prominent placement on shelves.”
“The arrival of the Internet began major disruption to decades old methods of consumer packaged goods (CPG) distribution. The tried and true method of manufactures selling to a collection of wholesalers, who then sold the product on a range of retailers began to be reexamined. We saw the arrival of online retailers like Amazon who sought to compete with brick and mortar retailers, trying to offer a wider selection while also offering potentially a more convenient (and possibly cheaper) shopping experience for a few (or possibly for many). We saw retailers experiment with selling on Amazon (adding an extra layer of intermediation) and grocery stores experiment with online ordering and local delivery.”
Innovation and Technology
“When top tech evangelists such as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Sundar Pichai, and Ginni Rometty all sing from the same hymn book, it’s a good time for the congregation to pay attention. The hymn at Code Conference 2016—the annual tech industry get-together (BCG is a founding sponsor) organized by Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher—was that artificial intelligence (AI) will drive the next wave of technology disruption in business.”
“International Data Corp. predicts the worldwide market for cognitive software platforms and applications, which roughly defines the market for AI, to grow to $16.5 billion in 2019 from $1.6 billion in 2015 with a CAGR of 65.2%. The market includes offerings from both established tech giants and AI startups. But many technology leaders don’t have clear ideas about the role of AI in their business, or how to maximize its value. ‘The number one issue for CIOs is how can I invest anything in artificial intelligence without having clear visibility into real business results,’ Gartner Inc. fellow and research vice president Tom Austin said. Here’s a detailed but non-technical guide for the curious business person:”
“But the good news is that the early dividends from AI are already within reach of most midsize companies as they look for ways to expand their digital boundaries. In fact, the building blocks of AI can produce great results with fewer technical requirements and less time and money than many companies realize. What’s more, those that take this initial step are getting a leg up on AI’s future, since that step is going to be a prerequisite for everything that follows.”
Women and the Workplace
“In venture capital-financed, high-growth technology startups, only 9% of entrepreneurs are women.”
“Gender equality in the workplace is a topic much discussed today: politically, socially, economically and demographically. Women everywhere wonder ‘what’s it going to take?’ to be paid on par with men for doing the same work. Visier’s new Viser Insights™ Report: Gender Equity gives some new insight into the demographic and economic side of this situation. It’s great data and will give you some new avenues to pursue as you lead your organization to more equitable compensation outcomes.”
“When cultural traditions and interpersonal relationships coincide, businesses start acting in irrational ways.”
Work and Learning Now and in the Future
“The shop floor is rapidly changing as it evolves from a place bound by hands-on labor and interpersonal communication skills to an environment of smart machines that collect and analyze data, captured in real-time, to provide valuable insights into the manufacturing process. Meanwhile, the skills gap widens as advanced manufacturing firms struggle to find and train workers with the skills they need to keep pace with the technological-industrial revolution.”
“Traditional management methods are rooted in the days of steam trains and textile mills and need to be updated to cope with a workforce that has to make decisions on the spot, says Jim Whitehurst. His name might not be familiar to you, but since becoming CEO of the open source tech company Red Hat eight years ago he’s transformed it into a powerhouse with more than $2bn (£1.5bn) in annual revenues and a $13bn market cap. So he probably knows a thing or two.”
“Is the convergence between artificial and human intelligence, which once seemed like just a gleam in the eyes of computer scientists and science fiction authors, almost upon us? And if robots become as clever as we are, how will the role of managers change?”
More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock
The grind is the price of greatness.
Buy and read Adam Grant’s Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World if you want to improve your own originality.
Pointers to pieces by and about Cathy Englebert, Greg Becker, Donna Allie, Satya Nadella, and Risto Siilasmaa.
Pointers to posts by Tanveer Naseer, Jesse Lyn Stoner, Art Petty, Jennifer Kahnweiler, and Mary Jo Asmus.
Pointers to stories about Unilever, Apple, Fisher-Price, Supervalu, and Fogo de Chão.
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.