1/20/13: Leadership Reading to Start Your Week

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Here are choice articles on hot leadership topics culled from the business schools, the business press and major consulting firms, to start off your work week. I'm pointing you to articles about leadership, strategies and stories of the Orange County Register, Mars, Inc., Fiserv, Amazon, innovation, and agility, as well as surveys, studies, statistics, and lists. Be sure to look for dots that you can connect.


From INSEAD: Meet The World’s Top CEOs
"It’s not just quarterly earnings that determine success. INSEAD’s second ranking of the top CEOs in the world measures the long-term, sustainable success of some 3,000 global executives at more than 1,800 companies."

Stories and Strategies from Real Life

From the Mercury News:  Orange County newspaper defies trend to shrink costs.
"New and expanded sections to cover business, automobiles and food. A nearly fivefold increase in community news pages and more investigative reporting. Even daily color comics. It feels like a throwback to an earlier era at the Orange County Register, where a first-time newspaper owner is defying conventional wisdom by spending heavily to expand the printed edition and playing down digital formats."

From the NY Times: Battered by Expensive Crises, Toyota Declares a Rebirth
"Ambitious changes to the automaker’s lineup and resolution of recalls and supply chain issues signal a recovery, the company says"

From INSEAD: Italian Business: More Than Flashy Cars, Fashion, Families And Pasta
"Can an Italian conglomerate compete, make money, and get respect in today’s increasingly global marketplace?"

From the Wall Street Journal: How I Built It: Wedding Site The Knot Straightens Out
"Wedding-Planner Website, Now Called XO Group, Went Through Rough Patches"

From Fortune: Mars Incorporated: A pretty sweet place to work
"From free candy to pet-friendly perks, working at America's third-largest private company is a toothsome gig. An exclusive look at the secretive empire of Mars Incorporated"

From the Journal Sentinel: Fiserv CEO's focus on more strategic acquisitions paying off
"Fiserv Inc. built itself into one of the nation's top providers of financial technology to banks and credit unions by acquiring one small competitor or complementary business at a time."

From the San Francisco Chronicle: Amazon doesn't put profit first
"January in retail is a little bit like the off-season of a professional sports league. Teams dust themselves off from the grueling holiday season playoffs, evaluate their coaching staffs, and assess the balance of power in their divisions. In this month's period of exhausted self-reflection, one of the industry's broad conclusions is clear: Amazon.com is on its way to establishing a dangerous dynasty."

Special: Industry Week shares nine new profiles from the magazine's Best Plants winners.

Industries and Analysis

From Walter Popper, Brad Power, and Steve Stanton: Make Agility Part of Your Process
"Rational managers for the past thirty years have tightly focused on efficiency, cost cutting, and day-to-day execution — perhaps to a fault. With increasing industry disruption, efficiency is fast becoming of secondary importance to innovation and agility. Many large organizations have too little capacity for external sensing, strategic reflection, and business transformation."

Surveys and Studies and Statistics and Lists

From Science Daily: Born to lead? Leadership can be an inherited trait, study finds
"The study, published online in Leadership Quarterly, is the first to identify a specific DNA sequence associated with the tendency for individuals to occupy a leadership position. Using a large twin sample, the international research team, which included academics from Harvard, NYU, and the University of California, estimate that a quarter of the observed variation in leadership behaviour between individuals can be explained by genes passed down from their parents."

From Fran Melmed: stress keeps me from being healthy, consumers reveal in aon hewitt study
"that sweet spot between intentions and outcomes is the focus of aon hewitt’s consumer health mindset study, a study conducted in partnership with the national business group on health (NBGH) and the futures company. this study explores the perspectives, attitudes and behaviors employees and their families (“consumers”) hold toward health and health care, and the employee plans and offerings that support them."

Wally's Comment: Personally, I like capital letters at the beginning of sentences and proper nouns. The sample above is reprinted as it appears on the blog.


From BCG Perspectives: The Most Innovative Companies 2012
"Innovation has many faces, from incremental changes in existing products to entirely new offerings for customers. Companies also use knowledge new to the organization to increase efficiency, ensure regulatory compliance, improve sustainability, and boost profits. But whatever form innovation takes, its goal is clear to successful organizations: to create value from ideas, whether those ideas are new to the world or new to a particular company."

From Fortune: Why innovation is so hard
"Most business leaders don't understand what makes innovation so different from everything else they do at work -- and they haven't adjusted their behavior to accommodate these differences."

From Chief Executive: 3 Steps to Eliminate the Innovation Frame Factor
"The Innovation Frame Factor is defined as the tendency among individuals and organizations to inhibit the innovation process by enlisting an overly narrow frame of reference. The corporate landscape if scattered with examples of companies that have created artificial boundaries or limitation to innovation, based on historical patterns and precedents"

From the Economist: Innovation pessimism: Has the ideas machine broken down?
"Peter Thiel, a founder of PayPal, an internet payment company, and the first outside investor in Facebook, a social network, says that innovation in America is “somewhere between dire straits and dead”. Engineers in all sorts of areas share similar feelings of disappointment. And a small but growing group of economists reckon the economic impact of the innovations of today may pale in comparison with those of the past."

From Philip Auerswald: Techno-pessimists: Wrong in the 1930s, Wrong Today
"This week’s issue of The Economist contains an article assessing recent claims by Tyler Cowen, Robert Gordon, Peter Thiel and others that we have entered an age of diminished innovation and declining economic prosperity. Here’s an excerpt from chapter 9 of The Coming Prosperity in which I offer some reasons why Cowen, Gordon, and Thiel’s arguments may seem plausible at the moment but are nonetheless very unlikely to hold true in the long run."

From the Mercury News: Ways to make driving easier, safer born at BMW idea factory.
"Those iPod and iPhone adapters that are now standard equipment in nearly every modern car were born out of a "what if" idea by BMW engineers in Silicon Valley in 2003."

From Michael Schrage: Innovating the Toyota, and YouTube, Way
"In terms of people, processes and technologies, Toyota and Google's YouTube have little in common. As global innovators, however, they share a remarkable core value and best practice: they invest in the innovative capabilities of their suppliers. They don't just partner; they provide resources that add value."

Studying individual leaders is a great way to learn about leadership. That's why my weekly post points you to posts by or about individual leaders. Last week I pointed you to posts by and about Charles Berry, Linda Zecher, Will Lansing, Bill Corr, Doug Cavanaugh, Dinesh C. Paliwal, and Amancio Ortega.

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to check back on Wednesday when I select five excellent posts from the week's independent business blogs. Last week I highlighted posts on curing executive ADD, clear agreements, working at connecting, making a difference, and when it's best to keep quiet.

"Hmmmm, that's interesting" and "The Most Important Boss " were popular posts on my blog last week.

If you want to get a book done, improve your blog posts, or make your web copy more productive, please check out my blog about business writing. My coaching calendar for authors and blog writers currently has time open. Please contact me if you're interested.

If you're a boss, you should check out my Working Supervisor's Support Kit.

Wally's Working Supervisor's Support Kit is a collection of information and tools to help working supervisors do a better job. It's based on what Wally's learned in over twenty years of supervisory skills training. Click here to check it out.



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