Unscientific criticism of unscientific leadership training practices

Inspiration is a very poor foundation on which to build substantive change, and the leadership tales we hear, stories that often have only modest amounts of validity, routinely make things worse, and possibly much worse, according to Jeffrey Pfeffer in his book Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time. The author goes on to make his case with a number of non-validated propositions supported by inspirational or perhaps de-inspirational anecdotes.

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Challenging questions for the leadership development journey

Leadership doesn’t require a written invitation. It isn’t something that only “important people” can do. It isn’t a function of money, power, or title, although these elements can certainly affect, for better or worse, your ability to pursue your aspirations. Leadership is a way of thinking that engages your special talents now and, ideally, for the rest of your life, according to Robert Kaplan in his book What You Really Need to Lead: The Power of Thinking and Acting Like an Owner.

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One way to achieve success on the Internet

Today’s availability of technology means that any business in any industry can develop an audience through consistent storytelling. No longer does the company with the biggest marketing budget win the most attention. Businesses are now rewarded on the substance of their message and on the audience they can attract through the consistent flow of information, according to Joe Pulizzi in his book Content Inc: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses.

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How to revitalise a charity

The crisis for Australian charities is one of identity. They are in crisis because so many of them do not know who they are and they do not know why they are doing what they are doing. And what is sad is that many do not even understand the concept, according to Stephen Judd, Anne Robinson and Felicity Errington in their book Driven by Purpose: Charities that Make the Difference.

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Software tools to enhance your productivity

In a world of ever-expanding online opportunities, it is essential that we stop treating the Internet as a distraction to be resisted and instead see it as an ally in the battle for focus, productivity, and personal effectiveness. But the Internet can only be your ally when you know how to use online tools effectively: when you start by thinking about your priorities and working style, and then customize your digital toolkit accordingly, according to Alexandra Samuel in her book Working Smarter with Social Media: A Guide to Managing Evernote, Twitter, LinkedIn and Your Email.

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A quick way to catch up on recent management thinking

HBR’s 10 Must Reads 2015 provides a handy way for the busy business leader to get an update on new ideas and academic thinking from the past two years on management issues. The featured writers and their ideas are:

  • Julian Birkinshaw, on the dangers of importing new management ideas without thinking through their applicability in the particular context of your organization
  • Clayton Christensen and Devek van Bever, on how unhelpful scarcity-thinking is causing corporate reluctance to invest in market-creating innovations
  • Daniel Goleman, on the need for leaders to cultivate a balance in their attention between inward focus, focus on others, and focus outward
  • Roger Martin, on the need to keep strategy uncomfortable, taking risks and facing the unknown, rather than creating detailed risk-reducing grand plans which are ultimately useless
  • Tarun Khanna, on how and why management best practices in one country are often inappropriate in another country
  • Patty McCord, on the high-trust HR policies used by Netflix, involving management through honest communication and common sense
  • W Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, on using the Leadership Canvas analytic tool to discover activities which leaders should eliminate, reduce, raise or create in order to increase employee engagement
  • Marc de Swaan Arons, Frank van den Driest and Keith Weed, on the rapidly changing landscape for marketers, with success now requiring the use of customer insight to deliver rich customer experience
  • Michael Mankins, Chris Brahm and Gregory Caimi, on the importance of managing an organization’s time as carefully as its capital
  • David Garvin, on how the rigorous use of measurement and data underlies a number of management practices at Google
  • Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, on the need to focus on potential, rather than just competencies, when selecting the best employees for ever-changing business environments

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Raising professional services marketing to a new level of sophisication

Professional services firms have to recognize that they are no longer in business just to provide technically excellent products and services; they need to go the extra mile to anticipate, understand and deliver commercial solutions to their clients, in a manner and style that not only resolves their clients’ challenges, but also delivers a great experience in the process, according to Nigel Clark and Charles Nixon in Professional Services Marketing Handbook: How to Build Relationships, Grow Your Firm and Become a Client Champion.

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The enormous advantages of ethical leadership

Does a leader’s character really contribute to the organization’s bottom line, or are strong business results simply a reflection of a solid business model and positive macroeconomic forces? That is one of the questions asked by Fred Kiel in his book Return on Character: The Real Reason Leaders and Their Companies Win. The findings of the book are based on a large number of surveys of employees of substantial organizations, concerning their leaders, as well as interviews with the leaders themselves, and also financial information relating to those organizations.

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Controversial solutions to capitalism’s problems

The U.S. economy is increasingly run by a “visible hand” instead of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand.” Large sectors of the economy are guided by a few powerful companies. The question is whether the visible hand runs these sectors with Smith’s “enlightened self-interest” or with just “self-interest”, according to Philip Kotler in his book Confronting Capitalism: Real Solutions for a Troubled Economic System.

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Key insights into different branding practices

Brands operate in sectors, and each sector is a separate playing field, according to Kartikeya Kompella in his book The Brand Challenge: Adapting Branding to Sectorial Imperatives. So, instead of trying to write a book on branding principles which are applicable to all industries, he assembled contributions from experts in a number of different sectors, to explain how branding in their sectors works. The 15 different sector experts who have contributed to the book include: (more…)