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.”

Changing the Change Rules at Google

There is no single way that Google manages internal change, like a reorganization. But we’ve been piloting a new approach that has been used in different parts of the company, impacting thousands of Googlers. After piloting and iterating on our work, we came up with a four-step approach to business-driven organizational change we call “ChangeRules.” Four analytical questions drive this approach: Why? What? Who? How? … [ Read more ]

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.

25 Employee Incentive Ideas that Won’t Break the Bank

Employee recognition is the timely informal or formal acknowledgement of a person’s or team’s behavior, effort or business result that supports the organization’s goals and values. It is a known fact that appreciation is one of the top motivators for employees to work harder and to be more committed to their companies. Even cost-efficient forms of appreciation show employees that they are valued. Therefore, here … [ Read more ]

Maud Lindley, Jeffrey Schwartz, and Malcolm Thompson

Why should organizations care about groupthink? Why not just let the prevailing point of view stand? That may be an expedient solution, but it can cause problems in the long run. An innovative enterprise needs employees who feel that they can contribute freely and bring their whole selves to work. If people are expected to rise above the status quo and challenge their competitors, they … [ Read more ]

Maud Lindley, Jeffrey Schwartz, and Malcolm Thompson

If you’re a leader taking a stand on values in your enterprise, you have a seemingly Herculean task: to engage all your employees, regardless of their attitudes and backgrounds. It’s not possible to achieve your goal by excluding the people who disagree with the prevailing corporate point of view. Nor can you avoid values altogether these days; some topics, including diversity and inclusion, LGBT identity, … [ Read more ]

Bethanye McKinney Blount

Compensation is culture, period. It’s how you pay your people and it’s where the rubber hits the road. It’s the metric you can’t cheat. It’s naive to think that you’re just going to give people money and they’re not going to feel everything that’s attached to it. Pay is incredibly personal and emotionally charged. It directly affects how we live our lives and how we … [ Read more ]

Bryan Hancock, Bill Schaninger

We found through our research […] what drives perceived fairness in the performance-management process. One of the drivers of fairness is that you understand how what you’re working on fits in the bigger picture. […] The second driver of fairness is that there’s an ongoing component. “My manager has an ongoing conversation with me about how I’m doing, so I’m not surprised. I know what … [ Read more ]

Ken Shotts

There are strong arguments that diversity promotes effectiveness. But I think that has implications that people haven’t really thought through. What about situations where some people believe diversity produces ineffectiveness? That’s not a hypothetical — this has long been the argument against diversity in the military. But there’s a counter-argument rooted in social justice. Do I want to live in a world where people’s outcomes … [ Read more ]

The 6 Personalities of Change Rejection

Is it any wonder that so many of us are scared of change?

Before we completed our research into this phenomenon, I often wondered how rational and intelligent people could make such sloppy and irrational arguments against obvious improvements.

Today, I have a much better idea why people resist the inevitable. If you’re unsure why those around you are having such a difficult time embracing a new … [ Read more ]

Phanish Puranam

Every organization, regardless of its scale, faces the same universal problems: how to divide goals into tasks (division of labor) and how to put the results back together again (integration of effort). While these problems are universal, there are many different approaches to solving them, and a set of such solutions is an organization’s design.

Hit the Mark: Make Complex Ideas Understandable

6 ways to communicate challenging concepts to an audience.

James Everingham

You can have more decisions than decision-makers, but if you have more decision-makers than decisions, that’s when you run into problems.

James Everingham

When you think of transparency, you usually default to the communication aspect: telling everyone what’s happening or admitting when you’ve made a mistake. But when folks say that things aren’t transparent, what they’re probably getting at is that decision-making isn’t transparent. It’s the feeling that decisions sometimes roll on down from the lofty perch of the leadership team, seemingly out of nowhere. Instead, pull back … [ Read more ]

John K. Coyle

All of us — individuals, teams, and organizations — have weaknesses. These are not skill gaps; those can be corrected with learning. Weaknesses are inherent deficiencies of talent or capability that do not change even after aggressive efforts to improve them. Pride and our ingrained work ethic may cause us to deny our weaknesses, but acceptance is the first step toward designing for strength.

[…] … [ Read more ]

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 ]

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 ]

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 ]

The Secrets of the ‘High-Potential’ Personality

Ian MacRae and Adrian Furnham have identified six traits that are consistently linked to workplace success, which they have now combined into the High Potential Trait Inventory (HPTI).

Ryan Patrick Hanley

We should fear … “men of system,” as [Adam Smith] calls them, who insist they have all the answers and are ready to run roughshod over the self-interests of the other individuals in a company — or in society.