Leadership

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    Can philosophy teach us anything about leadership and management?

Can philosophy teach us anything about leadership and management?

Philosophy can teach us much about leadership and management, but you would not guess it from the two recent books by Robert Spillane and Jean-Etienne Joullié, Philosophy of Leadership (Palgrave Macmillan) and The Philosophical Foundations of Management Thought (Lexington). The premise of each is this: the roots of our thinking about leadership and management reach deep into ancient times, and we […]

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    The experience of an early-life disaster affects how a CEO relates to risk

The experience of an early-life disaster affects how a CEO relates to risk

During most of Steve Job’s tenure as CEO of Apple Inc. the company did not have any long-term debt obligations. Apple started an aggressive buyback program only after Tim Cook took over, simultaneously adding debt to its capital structure. Coincidentally, San Francisco, where Steve Jobs was born, experienced more disaster-related fatalities during Jobs’ formative years than Tim Cook’s birthplace […]

Leaders get the teams they deserve

Consider the exasperation of a CEO when their top team is underperforming. “Why is this happening?” they ask. Dig down and the answer is that leaders get the teams they deserve. The team’s dynamics are a reflection of the leader. In the C-suite this can mean that the top team is dominated by the CEO. They spend their time […]

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    Putting servant leadership to the test and doing away with scepticism

Putting servant leadership to the test and doing away with scepticism

It is not uncommon today, in both non-profit and for-profit organisations, for servant leadership to be used as a term to speak well of current leaders or to describe what is expected of future leaders. After all, if an organisation values their employees or demonstrates concern for its customers or community, isn’t this servant leadership? It may well be, […]

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    There’s no innovation without anger (think Lars von Trier and Steve Jobs)

There’s no innovation without anger (think Lars von Trier and Steve Jobs)

Despite having different professions, the entrepreneur Steve Jobs and the film director Lars von Trier have one thing in common: they are both notorious for their outbursts of anger or irritation and for bringing about shifts in mood between disturbance and enthusiasm. Far from being a coincidence, this appears to be a result of their extraordinarily creative and innovative […]

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    How leaders can enable employees to voice more and quit less

How leaders can enable employees to voice more and quit less

Interested in hearing genuine suggestions from subordinates? Want to reduce their turnover? Actually you can achieve both together by learning to become an ethical leader. In a recent study, my co-authors and I studied whether supervisory ethical leadership can engage employees more on their jobs, and in turn, influence the likelihood that they will speak up more and stay […]

Change starts with a leader’s ability to look inward

Most of us only embark on change if we can travel in ways that reinforce existing patterns. That’s the paradox. We seek a new what by comfortably using the same how.

In my work assisting leaders navigate large complex transition, I define change as the “disturbance of repeating patterns”. Unless leaders can pay as equal attention to the system-changing process […]

How to co-lead a team

Blue Angels maneuvers, Kaneohe Bay Air Show 2010, by Lance Cpl. Tyler L. Main, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons
We don’t lead alone. We lead with others. The days of the ‘Great Man’ theory of Leadership – where one sole leader rules over the masses from their ivory tower, are long gone.

Some of us quite literally lead with another person – […]

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    Exporters to countries that value CEO power will have more powerful CEOs

Exporters to countries that value CEO power will have more powerful CEOs

Silicon Valley from above, by Patrick Nouhailler, under a CC-BY-SA-2.0 licence
Corporate governance scholars have long argued that a board of directors can serve a legitimising role for their organisation. But strong CEO power, in their view, can be de-legitimating because of its non-compliance with “good governance” principles.
By legitimacy, in corporate governance terms, we mean that there is a perception that […]

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    From apartheid to today’s divided politics: a CEO calls for responsive leadership

From apartheid to today’s divided politics: a CEO calls for responsive leadership

Syrian refugees, by Freedom House, Public Domain
In three months’ time, the world’s leaders will gather in Davos and the world’s citizens will ask of us: what have you been doing all these years to make the world a better place? The world is fraying as social and economic inequity increases. It’s no surprise that frustration is mounting. We see this reflected in […]

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    Leaders pay a price when they mismanage employees’ negative feelings

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?

In a recent study, we studied how supervisors manage their subordinate’s negative feelings (e.g., anger, fear, […]

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    If a supervisor or a subordinate has a disability, who fares worse?

If a supervisor or a subordinate has a disability, who fares worse?

If two employees in an organisation had a disability, “the umbrella term for impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions” (WHO) – one in a supervisory role, the other in a subordinate role – which employee do you think would face greater negative consequences? You might not expect the supervisor, whose higher status might buffer against the potential negative effects […]

Do happy people lead better?

One of the most prominent leadership theories in management science pertains to transformational leadership. According to Bass (1985), leaders are “transformational” when they provide the following four things: (1) “idealised influence,” or role modelling of high standards of moral, ethical, and personal conduct; (2) “inspirational motivation,” or an optimistic vision for the future; (3) “intellectual stimulation,” or encouragement for […]

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    Why José Mourinho’s protégés failed when they became managers

Why José Mourinho’s protégés failed when they became managers

When Jack Welch was chairman and CEO of General Electric, he was widely considered to be the best manager in the world and his protégés were in demand as CEOs of their own companies. But most of these protégés failed in their new roles despite the Jack Welch connection. Similarly, the assistant coaches under José Mourinho, when he was […]

The NHS needs to ‘flip’ its leadership programme

The healthcare system in the UK is currently facing what some are calling a leadership crisis. Leaders are under exceptional pressure to reduce running costs, meet regulator targets and continuously deliver high-quality care to patients with ever-growing expectations. The selection of leaders available to fill the increasing number of vacancies is falling, and the current targeting of support and […]

Women hold a mere 23% of board seats in Europe

When women started entering the workforce after the Second World War in greater numbers than ever before, it was assumed that, in time, the best and brightest would naturally rise to the top. However, 70 years on, women are still not represented in the upper echelons of the business world—holding just 22.7 per cent of board seats of the […]

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    Flock leadership helps teams achieve the firm’s innovation goals

Flock leadership helps teams achieve the firm’s innovation goals

Imagine two work teams. Team A pursues continuous innovation; it aims to do better tomorrow what it did well yesterday. Team B pursues discontinuous innovation; it seeks a tomorrow in which it sees and does things in fundamentally novel ways. How do you lead Team A and Team B? What leadership challenges are common to both contexts? What distinguishes […]

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    Women are more likely than men to be appointed CEO of firms in crisis

Women are more likely than men to be appointed CEO of firms in crisis

Mounting evidence suggests that women leaders impact their organisations in positive ways. From innovation and profitability to consumer outreach and social responsibility, firms that promote women to top positions reap significant benefits. We also know a great deal about the factors that limit women’s advancement. But what about women who overcome the odds and ascend above the glass ceiling? […]

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    Analytics will get you only so far: leadership requires judgement

Analytics will get you only so far: leadership requires judgement

What marks the great business leaders apart is not their capacity for hard work. Virtually all work insanely long hours. Nor is it their intelligence. Most CEOs are smart people. Nor is it good fortune.  In life and business luck tends to even out over a life or a career. No, what separates the great from the merely good is […]

Leadership: one size does not fit all contexts

Within the domain of executive education, the concept of leadership development is an increasingly romanticised one. When we say ‘leadership development,’ more often than not, images of executive travel, luxury retreats, world class ‘experts’ delivering ‘high-end management interventions’ spring to mind, with management gurus flown across the globe to impart knowledge on organisational transformation. But the accepted approach taught […]