Why Tim Cook is Steve Ballmer

What happens to a company when a visionary CEO is gone? Most often, innovation dies and the company coasts for years on momentum and its brand. Rarely does it regain its former glory. Here’s why.

Editor’s Note: for more on this theme, read “Visionary, Salesman and Pragmatist Model of Business Succes.”

Amy Edmondson

Psychological safety takes off the brakes that keep people from achieving what’s possible. But it’s not the fuel that powers the car. In any challenging industry setting, leaders have two vital tasks. One, they must build psychological safety to spur learning and avoid preventable failures; two, they must set high standards and inspire and enable people to reach them.

David Reimer, Adam Bryant, Harry Feuerstein

Our work with succession candidates indicates that a track record of grooming multiple effective leaders is an oft-overlooked measure of authentic leadership capability, yet a reliable predictor of C-suite performance. It is also a measure of self-awareness; people who rise quickly in an organization usually have bosses who are looking out for their best interests.

A leader who develops leaders is also more likely to … [ Read more ]

Michael Pennisi

All leaders cast a shadow. It’s really easy to be a star when times are good. But when things are difficult, and particularly during times of great change, you learn what leaders are made of. People want confidence that you know where this is going. Then they’ll follow you.

Taya Cohen

Moral character is a broad dimension of personality that captures a person’s tendency to think, feel, and behave in ethical ways. It subsumes a number of more specific traits. For example, guilt proneness is an important moral character trait. People who have high levels of guilt proneness have a strong conscience — they feel guilty when they make mistakes or let others down. Moreover, they … [ Read more ]

Five Practices of the Most Change-Ready Leaders

We have identified five leadership meta-practices of athletic CEOs. Each of them allows leaders to effectively manage a particular challenge. Within each meta-practice, we found a number of very specific behavior strategies, which we called leadership practices.

Nancy Koehn

Widespread transformation always unleashes waves of collective fear, discontent, and doubt—emotions that often translate into vocal, and potentially more destructive, opposition. …If left unacknowledged, adversaries have the power to derail even the worthiest attempts at reform, and thus it is a leader’s responsibility to identify and, when necessary, neutralize his or her most powerful critics. But how is the person at the center of the … [ Read more ]

Nancy Koehn

The bigger the issue, the less likely it is that a leader can resolve it in one or two swift strokes. Understanding this means abandoning the quest for the single definitive answer. Letting go of this quest frees leaders—emotionally and practically—to focus on the many possible approaches and actions needed to make a meaningful difference.

Nancy Koehn

Leaders trying to accomplish a worthy mission have to cultivate the ability to identify the one, two, or three essential issues facing them at a given moment. It is never five or ten. It is always one or two—maybe three—issues that really matter. Having identified these, leaders must let the remaining concerns go, either by giving themselves permission to turn their attention away from all … [ Read more ]

Terra Carmichael

I’m a big believer in teaching leaders to fish. That’s why we’ve rolled out a weekly(ish) email for leaders … that summarizes all the things they need to be thinking about in terms of managing and messaging to their team. We break it down into a few sections: things to know, things to do, things to share. It sounds simple, but let’s be real, leaders … [ Read more ]

Scott Keller, Mary Meaney

[Books often] say that you have a limited period to achieve full productivity as a leader and that if you don’t make it in time, you are doomed. The evidence doesn’t support these claims: 92 percent of external and 72 percent of internal hires take far more than 90 days to reach full productivity.14 Sixty-two percent of external and 25 percent of internal hires admit … [ Read more ]

Scott Keller, Mary Meaney

Every leader should mount a transition in two equally important stages: first take stock and then take action by asking questions about five basic dimensions of leadership—the strategy and operation of the business or function, the corporate culture, the team, the leader herself or himself, and other stakeholders that need to be managed. Beware of generic answers because every leader’s starting point is different. For … [ Read more ]

Scott Keller, Mary Meaney

Organizations most often try to help newly appointed leaders by supplying them with mentors or informal “buddy” networks. Yet only 47 percent of external hires and 29 percent of internal ones find these helpful. Standard orientation programs are the second most common approach, but only 19 percent of externally and 11 percent of internally recruited executives consider them effective. Some methods—for instance, tailored executive coaching … [ Read more ]

Alain Bejjani

We always look at leadership through the lens of leading teams, leading others, leading businesses, and leading change. But the most daunting task, for the most junior and the most senior among us, is leading ourselves. It’s a duty we have, first, toward ourselves, and then toward our business and toward our people, to support them in their leadership journey and development.

Jim Collins: On Leadership In America

Chief Executive magazine interviews Jim Collins. This is the first of five parts.

Adam Grant’s Simple Matrix to Get Employees (or Kids) More Engaged and Creative

When it comes to praise, leaders of any type (be they managers, parents, or coaches) hold unique power. The actions they exalt become standards of success, while those they critique become standards of failure.
 
Too often, leaders praise the wrong things and leave good work unremarked upon. The effect is that the people over whom they hold influence (be they employees, children, or mentees) are more … [ Read more ]

The Three Altitudes of Leadership

Leaders must cultivate the seamless ability to mix forward-vision thinking, tactical execution and self-awareness – across the altitudes of leadership.

The Four X Factors of Exceptional Leaders

Understanding what differentiates a great leader from a good leader will help companies make the right choices for the top jobs.

Tyler Odean

The reality is that visionaries like Steve Jobs haven’t been successful because they thought of something amazing and original out of thin air. Rather, they were gifted at constantly persuading many people to follow them on their journey to something amazing and original. To succeed, startup founders need to cultivate persuasion as a skill and habit. That’s how they’re going to get the funding, the … [ Read more ]