What’s A Leadership Book, Anyway?

Without anyone having noticed, the field of leadership apparently has become the home base for business generalists and, in particular, the last bastion in academia of cross-disciplinary thought and teaching.

After 500 Years, Why Does Machiavelli Still Hold Such Sway?

It may be five centuries old, but The Prince remains one of the most quoted leadership tomes of all times. The reason for its persistent popularity is clear: “Big Mac” was an unabashed realist.

How Boards Can Rein In CEO Pay

I’m all in favor of greater corporate disclosure and transparency, but the goal shouldn’t be simply to limit CEO pay. Instead, it should be to make certain their compensation is tied to the company’s long-term performance. And it would be better for all concerned if boards, rather than regulators, assumed their rightful responsibility to get executive compensation right. Three general principles can serve as guidelines … [ Read more ]

The Enduring Management Wisdom of Lincoln

Headlines espousing the relative decline of the U.S. industrial base, despite a recent upsurge, have left American managers focused on today’s news and this quarter’s results. As a result, few have heeded the invaluable lessons of the country’s longest-running manufacturing success story. For nearly a century, the Lincoln Electric Company has consistently ranked among the most productive manufacturing enterprises in the United States, all while … [ Read more ]

Best Business Books 2012: Capitalism

Not just a rundown of the top book choices by strategy+business, but a good look at the topic in general and the issues discussed in particular.

James O’Toole

my guess is that organizational traits may not be the most relevant factor in determining why or how some profitable companies do good things while others don’t (instead, such traits may be a result of doing good, what social scientists call dependent variables). Instead, I am now inclined to believe that having a dedicated, courageous leader is the key factor in determining the extent to … [ Read more ]

Mad about Leadership

James O’Toole, author of more than a dozen leadership and management books, and coeditor of Good Business: Exercising Effective and Ethical Leadership, introduces an excerpt from The End of Leadership, by Barbara Kellerman, that takes the leadership industry to task.

James O’Toole

In the only scientifically valid study of the motivations of a cross-section of the entire U.S. workforce, researchers unveiled the secret of why leaders…have been able to create working conditions that effectively tap into the deep wellspring of worker motivation. This 2002 survey of 3,000 workers, undertaken by the U.S. Census Bureau, found that there are two main sources of employee motivation, loyalty, commitment, and … [ Read more ]

B-School Reform: Better Late Than Never

Five years after rocking the B-school world with a call for reform, two professors reflect on the outcome and find stirrings of change.

Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor

In Transparency, the authors – a powerhouse trio in the field of leadership – look at what conspires against “a culture of candor” in organizations to create disastrous results, and suggest ways that leaders can achieve healthy and honest openness. They explore the lightning-rod concept of “transparency” – which has fast become the buzzword not only in business and corporate settings but in government and … [ Read more ]

On Peter Drucker’s Centennial

Why the impact of this preeminent, farsighted management writer is still so difficult to gauge.

Peanut Butter on the Chin

What The Lucifer Effect, Philip Zimbardo’s landmark book on a prison experiment at Stanford University, tells us about the dangers of corporate conformity.

James O’Toole

[Philip Zimbardo’s] observations belie the standard explanation offered by business leaders when people in their organizations are caught misbehaving: Hey, there are a few bad apples in any barrel. Zimbardo argues that, in fact, ethical problems in organizations originate with the “barrel makers” — the leaders who, wittingly or not, create and maintain the systems within which participants are encouraged to do wrong. Hence, instead … [ Read more ]

Best Business Books 2007: Biography

strategy+business reviews the best business biography books of 2007

Creating the Good Life

To adopt O’Toole’s own categories, this is a self-help book not for the many but for the rest of us-those willing to expend intellectual and emotional discipline in planning a life to fulfill one’s potential: the true source of happiness, according to the author. O’Toole, a senior fellow at the Aspen Institute and author of more than a dozen books, confesses to having hungered in … [ Read more ]

Bringing Shakespeare to B-School

Two professors sound off on what’s missing from most MBA programs — from real-world relevance to the Bard’s wisdom.

Yellow-Light Leadership: How the World’s Best Companies Manage Uncertainty

“our research finds that the CEOs whose companies are best weathering the recent downturn are practicing old-fashioned, pragmatic management by the numbers – what we call yellow-light leadership. This conclusion is based on an onging Booz Allen Hamilton study of about 40 Fortune 500 companies, conducted with the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California and initiated in 2001.

This finding is significant … [ Read more ]

Leadership A to Z : A Guide for the Appropriately Ambitious

In this latest of O’Toole’s prolific body of work (Leading Change, The Executive’s Compass), he synthesizes in a neat A-Z format his 30 years of leadership coaching experience, writing, and consulting to produce a smorgasbord of succinct stories that form a handy “desktop” guide. This anthology of his beliefs on leadership will serve as sound advice for anyone in that role. Topics covered include communication, … [ Read more ]