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 busting the myths of successful CEOs, improving company culture, mechanizing agriculture, four myths about innovation, what CEOs need to understand about innovation, GoDaddy turns the corner on sexism, why “believe in yourself” is bad advice for women, the 2020 workplace, and why remote working succeeds at some companies and not others.
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
“A 10-year study examined thousands of CEOs to determine what makes a successful leader – with some surprising results.”
Thanks for Dr. Alison Eyring for pointing me to this post.
“What’s the difference between culture and employee engagement? It’s a good question. Many people use the two terms interchangeably. In their minds, the term company culture is synonymous with free food, foosball tables, and other workplace perks deemed to improve the employee experience, increase satisfaction, and drive greater commitment to the company. There is, of course, a lot more to employee engagement than workplace goodies. Employee engagement surveys typically ask about factors such as empowerment to make decisions, freedom to innovate, and work–life balance. There is some evidence to suggest that high scores on these issues make a difference to a company’s bottom line. According to Gallup’s 2016 Q12 Meta-Analysis report, business units in the top quartile in terms of employee engagement outperformed business units in the bottom quartile by 21 percent in profitability.”
“The next wave of great innovative ideas won’t come from environments in which leaders control and micromanage employees. Innovation only thrives in organizations whose members are free to think and openly express themselves. And environments where members can freely confront the status quo are cultured through the behavior of their leaders.”
Book Suggestion: Pacing for Growth by Alison Eyring
Industries and Analysis
From Geoffrey Mohan: As California’s labor shortage grows, farmers race to replace workers with robots
“Such has been the progress of ag-tech in California, where despite the adoption of drones, iPhone apps and satellite-driven sensors, the hand and knife still harvest the bulk of more than 200 crops. Now, the $47-billion agriculture industry is trying to bring technological innovation up to warp speed before it runs out of low-wage immigrant workers.”
From Jason Glickman, Pratap Mukharji, Joseph Scalise and Kelly Boone Swaintek: Cost Reduction for Utilities in a Zero Load-Growth World
“An increasingly challenging landscape has pushed cost reduction to the top of the agenda for executive teams at North American utilities. Rising energy efficiency has flattened demand for electricity, even as operating costs, living expenses and pension liabilities continue to rise. Meanwhile, utilities are investing to modernize their infrastructure and operations. All of this is happening at a time when regulatory and competitive conditions make rate increases unlikely, yet utilities still aim to deliver earnings-per-share growth of 4% to 6%.”
“Advertising in the digital age bears little resemblance to the Mad Men depiction—the Don Drapers of advertising have been replaced by big data and the people who work with it. Professor John Deighton, the author of the case ‘WPP: From Mad Men to Math Men (and Women),’ and Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and group chief executive of WPP and the protagonist in the case, discuss how WPP has been successful in the new advertising world order, where algorithms and robots rule.”
Book Suggestion: Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy
Innovation and Technology
“Yet without fail, they will neglect to ask crucial questions. How many organizations who pursued a Steve Jobs’ path failed? How many with Elon Musk’s toil in relative obscurity? All too often, correlation is confused with causality because so few take the effort to look for examples to the contrary. It gets in the way of a nice story. That’s how myths take hold.”
“How should CEOs think about innovation as a path to growth for their companies? In a decade of listless economic growth companies can either grow through acquisition or by creating new products or services and the businesses that support them. When thinking about innovation most assume one is referring to high tech. Innovation is said to be the specific tool of entrepreneurs, the means by which they exploit change as an opportunity for a different business or service. But prosaic mid-tech companies such as 3M have created more than 100 new businesses or major new product lines over the last 70 years and has been successful four out of every five times in its ventures. Procter & Gamble has been able to effectively partner with researchers and engineers outside its organization to develop billion dollar products.”
From John Lucker, Susan K. Hogan, Trevor Bischoff: Predictably inaccurate: The prevalence and perils of bad big data
“When big data contains bad data, it can lead to big problems for organizations that use that data to build and strengthen relationships with consumers. Here are some ways to manage the risks of relying too heavily—or too blindly—on big data sets.”
Book Suggestion: Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
Women and the Workplace
“Women often have to consider it ‘part of the job’ and tolerate it if they want to get ahead professionally, write Sophie Hennekam and Dawn Bennett.”
“Today, as Silicon Valley sexism again draws attention, it’s worth studying those shifts at GoDaddy. There’s a regular procession of headlines about sexual harassment scandals at venture capital firms and large tech companies. But learning to address this problem requires studying where things have gotten better, as well. And GoDaddy has become, surprisingly, a lodestar among gender equity advocates — an example of how even regressive cultures can change. So what did GoDaddy do right?”
“In the workplace, women can capitalise on self-confidence only when they exhibit ‘feminine’ behaviours as well.”
Book Suggestion: Own It: The Power of Women at Work by Sallie Krawcheck
Work and Learning Now and in the Future
“Here’s the dirty little secret about automation: it’s easier to build a robot to replace a junior attorney than to replace a journeyman electrician. And that fact helps explain why economists and politicians are feeling misgivings about ‘creative destruction,’ which, up to now, they have usually embraced as a net good for society. Technology and automation, they’ve argued—correctly—boost productivity and create more jobs overall (even as some kinds of work get eradicated).”
Thanks to Smartbrief on Leadership for pointing me to this story
“So how can you ensure that your organization is keeping up with this rapidly changing landscape to attract and retain today’s top talent?”
“Though a growing number of U.S. employees are working remotely, thanks in large part to technology that enables flexibility and young workers who expect it, the perk has been getting mixed reviews of late as some high-profile companies call employees back to the office for more face time.”
Book Suggestion: The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly
More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock
What you don’t do naturally you must do consciously. One of 347 tips from Become a Better Boss One Tip at a Time.
Edward Deci and Richard Ryan defined three intrinsic motivators that work for most people. Use them to be a better leader
One way Terry Moore gets value from his reading is sharing the insights he gains with his clients.
Your brain is a random collection of connections. Your book needs to be linear and organized. That can be a problem.
Articles about real leaders and real companies in real life. This week it’s article about Steve Case, General Motors, Bahram Akradi, Airbus, and Bill Sandbrook.
Pointers to posts by Dan Rockwell, Steve Keating, Suzi McAlpine, Jesse Lyn Stoner, and Julie Winkle Giulioni.
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.