Leadership Reading to Start Your Week: 9/6/16

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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 when strategy becomes fantasy, Uberworld, computers are for girls, too, and the dark side of high employee engagement.

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 Katie McBride: Crisis Management: 3 CEOs that Handled Them Wrong, and 3 that Handled Them Right

“While some of this may seem obvious, what’s not so obvious is how to implement these things correctly.”

From John Young: When Strategy Becomes Fantasy

“Companies, therefore, often end up dedicating more energy towards maintaining the illusion of pursuing a strategic aspiration than actually trying to make a strategic aspiration real. Failing to deliver can be a safer place to operate from than dealing honestly with why the company is not delivering.”

From Eric J. McNulty: Ritual Questions Help Inform Effective Leaders

“High-impact leaders are insatiably curious — about themselves, the people who work for and with them, and the world in which they operate and beyond. Inquisitive leaders are effective because building knowledge and wisdom are essential to professional success.”

Industries and Analysis

From Ben Thompson: Google, Uber, and the Evolution of Transportation-as-a-Service

“In the eight months since I wrote Cars and the Future, there has been an explosion in news about the future of transportation, much of it in the last few weeks:”

From the Economist: Uberworld

“‘LET’S Uber.’ Few companies offer something so popular that their name becomes a verb. But that is one of the many achievements of Uber, a company founded in 2009 which is now the world’s most valuable startup, worth around $70 billion. Its app can summon a car in moments in more than 425 cities around the world, to the fury of taxi drivers everywhere. But Uber’s ambitions, and the expectations underpinning its valuation, extend much further: using self-driving vehicles, it wants to make ride-hailing so cheap and convenient that people forgo car ownership altogether. Not satisfied with shaking up the $100-billion-a-year taxi business, it has its eye on the far bigger market for personal transport, worth as much as $10 trillion a year globally.”

From Ethan Chiel: Google and Uber both want to monetize hitchhiking

“Uber and Lyft have trained us that it’s okay to get into a stranger’s car, even when that car is not painted yellow with a taxi company name on it. Now that we’ve crossed that hurdle, tech companies want us to do pay to do something that looks a lot more like hitchhiking.”

Innovation and Technology

From Aaron Marsh: From Teakettles to Trucks: Breaking in Through the IoT

“Oh, the possibilities that a system of interconnected wireless devices — generally categorized as the Internet of Things (IoT) — can create, like smarter, more efficient offices, homes, vehicles and environments of all kinds, or new ways your business could be compromised by cybercriminals with you perfectly unaware.”

From Jack Karsten and Darrell M. West: Teaching the public about machine learning

“Fears about the impacts of artificial intelligence often hinge on who or what is responsible for decisions that a computer makes. As shown in the recent case of the Tesla Model S driver who was killed in a collision with a tractor trailer while his car was in Autopilot mode, it is not clear how automotive software works. It may be the case that artificial intelligence systems like the ones in driverless cars cannot explicitly state why they make certain decisions. Many rely on machine learning techniques that make decisions based on input data.”

From McKinsey & Company: Digital in industry: From buzzword to value creation

“In the past few years, we have seen digitization bring its first benefits to the industrial sector, particularly in processing and manufacturing, yet enormous untapped potential remains. Digital capabilities such as e-commerce platforms can significantly improve traditional customer-supplier experiences. Additional advances in automation, big data and analytics, and the Internet of Things create additional opportunities for substantial gains along the entire industry value chain.”

Women and the Workplace

From Zoe Kinias: A Simple Exercise Can Help Women Overcome Self-Doubt to Succeed

“More than 35 years after the term ‘glass ceiling’ was coined, women still are dramatically underrepresented in top business leadership. Although efforts to recruit and develop women, ensure fair practices, and eliminate bias are as important as ever, are there any new ideas to help companies striving for gender parity? My research with Jessica Sim suggests that reflecting on core personal values may be beneficial for women in competitive business settings.”

From Sandra Ondraschek-Norris: Are the days of leadership as command and control by white men numbered?

“As my train rolls through the stunning Swiss landscape, I find myself distracted by three young women talking animatedly about coding, where they might do their PhDs and whether they might prefer to work in academia, banking or high tech. They’re on their way to a Nanobiotech conference while I’m on my way to an event on how men can help close the gender gap in the workplace.”

From Melinda Gates: Computers Are For Girls, Too

“I never would have guessed that my time as a computer science student would turn out to be pretty much the high water mark for women in the field. The percentage of computer science majors who are women has gone down from 37 percent in 1984 to just 18 percent today. In other words, on average my daughters are half as likely to major in computer science as I was 30 years ago.”

Work and Learning Now and in the Future

From Lewis Garrad and Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic: The Dark Side of High Employee Engagement

“Although employee engagement has become something of an HR fad, it would be hard to deny that it matters. In fact, robust meta-analytic studies show that higher levels of engagement boost employee wellbeing, performance, and retention. For example, engaged business units tend to deliver better performance, as measured in terms of revenues and profits, and organizations with enthusiastic employees tend to have better service quality and customer ratings. That said, engagement doesn’t always seem to add up. For starters, the correlation between engagement and performance outcomes is far from perfect, which means that many engaged individuals and teams are not delivering the results that leaders expect. By the same token, some leaders will find that their best performing teams are often amongst the least satisfied. How can this be?”

From Jena McGregor: Stop touting the crazy hours you work. It helps no one.

“And then there is Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who said in a recent Bloomberg BusinessWeek interview that she regularly pulled all nighters when she worked at Google and can judge a startup’s chances for success by whether people are working on the weekends. ‘Could you work 130 hours in a week?’ Mayer said, referring to the value hard work played in Google’s success. ‘The answer is yes, if you’re strategic about when you sleep, when you shower, and how often you go to the bathroom.’”

From Google: What makes one team smarter than another?

“From Olympic hockey teams to presidential cabinets, we tend to focus on the individuals when trying to predict team performance. But research shows that measuring collective intelligence is a far better indicator of success than any individual’s performance.”

More Leadership Posts from Wally Bock

How Flat Can You Go?

Everyone seems to think that flattening hierarchy is a good idea. Maybe it is, but doing it won’t be easy or quick.

Book Review: The Achievement Habit

The concepts are good, but the book is horrid.

By and About Leaders: 8/30/16

Pointers to pieces by and about Lloyd Carney, Lulu C. Wang, Gerry Smith, Danielle Kharman, and several women middle-market CEOs.

From the Independent Business Blogs: 8/31/16

Pointers to posts by Karin Hurt, Anne Perschel, Dorothy Dalton, May Jo Asmus, and Lolly Daskal.

Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 9/2/16

Pointers to stories about WalMart, McDonald’s, J.C. Penney, Barnes and Noble, and High Access.

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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