Max De Pree

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.

Frederick W. Smith

Leaders get out in front and stay there by raising the standards by which they judge themselves – and by which they are willing to be judged.

Ray Kroc

The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.

Indra Nooyi

The distance between number one and number two is always a constant. If you want to improve the organization, you have to improve yourself and the organization gets pulled up with you. That is a big lesson.

5 Questions Leaders Should Be Asking All the Time

I believe there are some essential questions that are useful across a variety of contexts, including, and perhaps especially, the workplace. In fact, I gave a commencement speech last year on this topic, suggesting to students from the Harvard Graduate School of Education that there are really only five essential questions in life. Although the audience was future educators, I believe these questions are equally … [ Read more ]

Ali Rowghani

Most leaders understand the science of building trust. They understand that they need to think and communicate clearly about product and strategy and make good choices when they are hiring and promoting people into leadership positions. They understand that they have to show deep commitment and get things done. But in my experience, the truly great leaders also understand the art of building trust. Leaders … [ Read more ]

Movie Producer Brian Grazer Explains How Asking The Right Questions Will Make You A Better Boss

Questions are a great management tool.

Asking questions elicits information, of course. Asking questions creates the space for people to raise issues they are worried about that a boss, or colleagues, may not know about. Asking questions lets people tell a different story than the one you’re expecting. Most important from my perspective, asking questions means people have to make their case for the way they … [ Read more ]

A Data-Driven Guide to Becoming an Effective Boss

Most leadership advice is based on anecdotal observation and basic common sense. Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Kathryn Shaw tried a different tack: data-driven analysis.

Hiten Shah

All good advice tips people toward action, not options. You may think all you need is advice. Practice is what you need.

Jay Van Bavel

Human beings evolved in groups, and most of us still work in groups every day. Our affinity for groups is wired deeply into our basic biology. Indeed, humans are unique among primates in that we readily cooperate with in-group members–even if they are completely unknown to us. […] Group identification is one ingredient that can bring strangers together.

Given that group membership is such a deeply … [ Read more ]

Paul B. Thornton

Effective leaders:

  1. See what’s possible
  2. Describe what’s possible
  3. Pursue what’s possible

What Incoming Leaders Should Know About Employee Personalities

While personality differences between leaders are to be expected, a major shift can create difficulty in adjustment for everyone involved.

Gary Klein

What concerns me is the tendency to marginalize people who disagree with you at meetings. There’s too much intolerance for challenge. As a leader, you can say the right things — for instance, everybody should share their opinions. But people are too smart to do that, because it’s risky. So when people raise an idea that doesn’t make sense to you as a leader, rather than ask … [ Read more ]

Seyi Fabode

You shouldn’t be CEO if you say ‘I only work with people smarter than me’ and you do not truly mean it. That being said, and this part is often not said enough, you should be smarter than everyone else on your team in one thing. It does not matter what it is, as long as it enables you to inspire the people who commit … [ Read more ]

Jeffrey Pfeffer

Thinking on leadership has become a sort of morality tale. There are writers who advocate authenticity, attention to employees’ well-being, telling the truth, building trust, being agreeable, and so forth. A smaller number of empirical researchers, contrarily, report evidence on the positive effects of traits and behavior such as narcissism, self-promotion, rule breaking, lying, and shrewd maneuvering on salaries, getting jobs, accelerating career advancement, and … [ Read more ]

Getting Beyond the BS of Leadership Literature

Management books and commentaries often oversimplify, seldom providing useful guidance about the skills and behavior needed to get things done.

Art Kleiner

You may indeed have gone into business in the first place because the subject of finance is relatively clean and clear; it doesn’t have the messy ambiguities of, say, psychology or literature. Such preferences don’t matter. You will end up distinguishing yourself (or not) on your ability not just to work with others, but to inspire them, draw insight from them, observe them accurately, and … [ Read more ]

Jacques Neatby

CEOs have always had to address conflicts between team members. But this task has grown as each new member comes aboard with a strategy to implement and an expectation that their priorities supersede all others. Health & Safety executives admonish peers who don’t put safety first. Talent executives insist colleagues make “people” their priority or risk an exodus of the best and brightest. Digital executives … [ Read more ]

Leadership in Context

McKinsey’s leadership staircase is a pyramid of behavior analogous to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In this hierarchy, like similar ones, some kinds of behavior are always essential. As organizational health improves, quartile to quartile, additional behaviors become apparent. More tellingly, some appear to be differentiators: emphasizing them in different situations can lift the organizational health of a fourth-quartile company to the third quartile, a third-quartile … [ Read more ]