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 ]

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.

Are You a Superboss? Here’s How to Tell

You’re a good boss. You care about your people. You have vision. You inspire others. But do you have what it takes to be a “superboss”?

The Problem with Rewarding Individual Performers

Given that group membership is such a deeply rooted part of human nature and organizational success, a central element of leadership is the management of group identities. In short, great leaders are “entrepreneurs of identity.” They embrace our tribal nature and seek to shape the identity of their fellow group members. To cultivate a strong group identity, leaders can take the following steps.

Why Leadership Development Isn’t Developing Leaders

Four factors lie at the heart of good, practical leadership development: making it experiential; influencing participants’ “being,” not just their “doing”; placing it into its wider, systemic context; and enrolling faculty who act less as experts and more as Sherpas.

The 5 Elements of a Strong Leadership Pipeline

Investments in traditional leadership development are often misguided and a waste of money. It’s not that development itself isn’t important. But there’s little evidence that much of it works. I’ll share some findings from a study my colleagues and I just completed at Deloitte. We surveyed and interviewed executives from more than 2,000 companies, asking extensive questions about how they develop leaders, how their companies … [ Read more ]

What Great Listeners Actually Do

We analyzed data describing the behavior of 3,492 participants in a development program designed to help managers become better coaches. As part of this program, their coaching skills were assessed by others in 360-degree assessments. We identified those who were perceived as being the most effective listeners (the top 5%). We then compared the best listeners to the average of all other people in the … [ Read more ]

The Dangers of Power

One scholar shows how you can gain more power, and why you should be leery.

The Pivotal Stories Every Startup Leader Should Be Able to Tell

Don Faul shares the nuts and bolts tactics of influential storytelling he’s learned at Google, Facebook and as Head of Operations at Pinterest — and the three types of stories every manager and startup founder should be able to tell fluently.

Why We Don’t Get the Leaders We Say We Want

The state of workplaces, not just in the U.S. but all over the world, can only be described as dire. Whether you prefer Gallup’s data on employee engagement or the surveys on engagement or job satisfaction emanating from the various human resource consulting firms and the Conference Board, the picture that emerges is consistent: mostly disengaged, dissatisfied, disaffected employees. Moreover, there is no evidence that … [ Read more ]

What Leadership Looks Like in Different Cultures

What makes a great leader? Although the core ingredients of leadership are universal (good judgment, integrity, and people skills), the full recipe for successful leadership requires culture-specific condiments. The main reason for this is that cultures differ in their implicit theories of leadership, the lay beliefs about the qualities that individuals need to display to be considered leaders. Research has shown that leaders’ decision making, … [ Read more ]

What Separates High-Performing Leaders from Average Ones

For decades, leadership development has focused on “competencies,” a psychometric-based method of assessing and developing leader behavior. Organizations figure out the competencies that leaders need to be successful, help them develop those competencies, and then measure those competencies in the organization.

The problem is that this logic is inconsistent with how work actually gets done. Leadership does not happen in a vacuum; leaders are always acting … [ Read more ]

Bridging the Disconnect between Leadership Theory and Practice

If you haven’t read the book Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time, by Stanford business school professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, you are missing out. Pfeffer lambasts the leadership development industry — including business schools, human resource departments, authors, and leadership programs and coaches — for being clueless about the harsh political realities of the workplace, and for promoting behaviors that are … [ Read more ]

Creating a Top-Performing Team: Leadership Development for Tomorrow’s Corporations

Billions of dollars are spent annually on leadership development programs, but virtually all of this investment is spent on the same formulaic training model and black-and-white metrics. With their focus almost exclusively on classroom learning and lockstep generic curriculums, these dinosaurs of training simply don’t have what it takes to develop the next generation of leaders, managers and employees.

Linking Candour to Leadership Character with Gen. Rick Hillier

Jack Welch famously called lack of candour “the biggest dirty little secret in business.” It’s an important observation, one that sits at the heart of too many public accounts of corporate scandals and tragic accidents, not to mention not-so-public failures of decision-making. In this article, we describe the critical connection between leadership and candour. Then to understand its application, we turn to General (Ret.) Rick … [ Read more ]

Great Leaders Understand the Fundamentals

Managers are often chosen for reasons other than competence.

What Kind of Leader Are You?

Your employees might have you pegged, but how well do you know yourself?