Management Practices

Learn to let go of punishment

December 6, 2010
Revenge is sweet, but not as sweet as avoiding pain in the first place. That’s worth considering as you confront a team about a screw-up. Here’s a prime example of punishment vs. learning:

The myth of the ‘perfect leader’

November 17, 2010

The concept of the “complete leader” who has it all figured out is finally bowing before the sheer complexity of modern problems. After working with hundreds of people who struggled under the old myth, researchers at the MIT Sloan School of Management and MIT Leadership Center have come up with a new theory: distributed leadership.

Minding the details at Walmart

October 29, 2010

With a $408 billion business, you would think that Mike Duke, CEO of Walmart, couldn’t possibly keep an eye on the details. Not so. At a recent Walmart morning meeting for 900, the CEO decided to bring up a problem he had spotted with the ladies’ underwear section …

Hadrian, a leader for the ages

October 28, 2010

The Roman emperor Hadrian, who ruled just after 100 A.D., is a model for leaders to this day. Examples of his good governance: wisdom, tolerance, modesty, legacy.

How Big Blue avoided extinction

October 25, 2010

In 1999, IBM’s then-CEO Lou Gerstner learned that Big Blue had failed to capitalize on 29 separate technologies the company had developed. Why, he wondered, was IBM missing market opportunities? An internal analysis revealed that the same strengths that allowed the company to exploit mature markets made it difficult to explore new spaces.

Are you growing bigger feet?

September 13, 2010
One of the common things that keeps managers from becoming leaders is spending too much time and attention protecting their turf. Over time, their attention gets internally focused on protecting and keeping order in their own little world … Are most managers more concerned with their toes getting stepped on or growing bigger feet?

The man who fired Steve Jobs

September 13, 2010
Say what you will about John Sculley, the man who fired Steve Jobs in 1985. At least he can admit he made a mistake. He takes responsibility for his mistake and believes that Apple’s board should have understood that Jobs needed to be in charge. “Maybe he should have been the CEO and I should have been the president,” Sculley says.

Leadership Tips: Vol. 910

August 13, 2010
Help a team inch closer to perfect solutions by starting a failure contest. Why? It lets your people know that it’s better to unleash their creativity, even if the result isn’t ideal. Ask them to come up with the most outrageous idea, instead of the safest. Those risky “failures” may push them toward a breathtaking innovation—separating your company from the also-rans.

Are your incentives irrational?

August 13, 2010

Dan Ariely knows a thing or two about being irrational. The Duke University professor has already written two books on our often-irrational process of making decisions. When asked, “What kinds of things do companies do that are irrational?” he says, “It puzzles me how little companies understand about how [employee] incentives really work.”

Putting the job review out of its misery

August 13, 2010

Ever since his article in The Wall Street Journal two years ago drew an outsize response, Samuel Culbert has been calling job performance reviews “baloney.” The UCLA business professor doesn’t stop there. “First,” he says, “they’re dishonest and fraudulent. And second, they’re just plain bad management.”