Situational Leadership

When leaders need to be boring

October 26, 2012
Stanford professor Bob Sutton regards leadership as an expression of comedy and tragedy. For instance, he has said that good leaders know when to be boring, vague, emotionally detached and authoritarian. In a recent interview, he was asked when boredom might be desirable.

Phrases that can kill a sale

February 1, 2012
Avoid the following phrases when speaking to prospective clients.

One CEO’s Rx for a doctor shortage

September 22, 2011
Albany, Mo., population 1,730, was sorely lacking doctors and nurses. So John Richmond, the hospital’s retired CEO, started speaking at local schools. Those who showed an interest got financial aid for their medical studies in exchange for coming home to work for a number of years.

Leading by example

May 11, 2011
Leadership gurus recommend leading by example. Good advice! But here are a few situations when leading by example doesn’t work:

Up against a wall? Try humor

April 26, 2011

Creative consultant Andy Stefanovich had a problem in 1995. A Fortune 100 client wasn’t paying its tab, and nothing—from calls and gifts to lawyerly nudges—had produced a payment. To clear her head, a colleague took Stefanovich’s dog out for a walk and came back with a crazy idea—a letter:

The new model: adaptive leadership

April 11, 2011

Many business thinkers have already pro­­nounced the death of the hierarchical, command-and-control approach to leadership. Those approaches simply don’t work anymore. What’s in? Adaptive leadership. Among other things, adaptive leaders embrace uncertainty and adopt new approaches.

Put your rivals at ease

April 8, 2011
When the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff visited MBA students at Wharton and worked the classroom, he met a student from Moscow whose father had been a general in the Red Army at the height of the Cold War. Realizing that the generals served on opposite sides, the class fell silent …

Nothing beats customer visits

January 24, 2011
As the newly minted president and COO of Medtronic, Bill George had to cool his jets for a while at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, waiting to begin a day on the job learning about the company’s products firsthand. He soon learned in the operating room why Med­tronic’s catheter sales weren’t great …

Avoid the cost of ambiguous orders

December 8, 2010
In the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans police shot 11 people, at least some of whom were thought to be looters. While he denies giving the order to shoot looters, former Police Chief Warren Riley does acknowledge telling police captains to “take back the city.” How it was interpreted points to how dangerous ambiguous orders can be.

Aflac CEO: It only takes a duck

August 13, 2010

The once-obscure Aflac insures one in four Japanese households because of a duck. And a cat. Actually, a cat duck called Maneki Neko. The cat duck is so popular in Japan that Aflac’s new ad was voted No. 1. How? Why? Ask Aflac’s CEO.