Leadership lessons from a flock of geese

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 6 days ago

Contributed by Jeff Ton, as originally published on April 8th on the author's blog

No, this post is not about a 2015 version of the 80's band, Flock of Seagulls. Nor, is it really about a flock of geese (lovingly referred to as Sky Carp by my friend Lance). This post is really about the lessons I learned while attending Transforming Your Leadership Strategy conducted by MIT Sloan Executive Education. I often joke that I feel smarter just by stepping on campus here in Cambridge. But, it really is no joke, I really do gain new insights each and every time I attend one of the classes here.

flock of geese

I believe what makes these courses unique and extremely valuable are the students themselves. The diversity of the participants is incredible. The countries and therefore the cultures represented included Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Greece, Spain, Ghana, France, Nigeria, Canada, Denmark, Brazil, and, of course, the United States. The industries represented ranged from NGO's, government agencies, banking, retail, financial, Army, and education (and many others). To be able to gather with these 60 professionals and discuss leadership was indeed a privilege.

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Beware the negative review

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 6 days ago

Business owners and foodies alike are relatively well versed in the dynamics around Yelp and other crowd-sourced review sites. Recently, trust is a primary area of concern. Just this week, Jonah Bromwich stately plainly in his New York Times article, "Two Apps to Guide you to Good Food," that "I don’t trust Yelp reviewers." And it appears he may have good reason.

negative review

recent study by MIT Sloan Professor Duncan Simester and Eric T. Anderson of Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University, found that approximately 5% of product reviews on a large retailer's website were submitted by customers who had no record of purchasing the product. These insincere reviews were also significantly more negative than others. As a result of findings such as these, many businesses are now including language in their contracts to ban customers from (or even fine them for) writing negative reviews--a reaction that has created it's own ripple of controversy. Anti-disparagement clauses, however, are probably unenforceable and are now illegal in California and may soon become illegal in every state.

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So many bad bosses, so few good leaders?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 13 days ago

Search for the term "bad bosses" online and you might be shocked at the results. One survey reveals two in ten people say a manager has hurt their career; another states one in five workers have a bad boss; a third, as covered by Forbes studied the impact of bad bosses and found that a shocking "77% of employees experienced physical symptoms of stress from bad bosses."

Why do so many companies lack the team of leaders they envision, despite the time and resources they invest in leadership development programs? MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Douglas Ready and Jay A. Conger, Professor of Organizational Behavior at London Business School, have studied leadership efforts at more than a dozen international companies over the last two decades, trying to answer that very question 

In the MIT Sloan Management Review article, "Why Leadership Development Efforts Fail," Ready and Conger reveal that most of these efforts are to no avail because of clear patterns of behavior that cause repeated failures and breakdowns over time. They also share and how IBM—one of the companies they worked with—cured these behaviors to create a leadership program that achieves results.

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System dynamics, sustainability, and Earth Day

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 14 days ago

Earth Day--which will celebrate its 45th anniversary on April 22--has come a long way since its inaugural kick off back in 1970. Capitalizing on the energy of the sometimes turbulent 70s, today's Earth Day is much broader in scope than the original event.

This year's theme focuses on bringing together the different communities of climate, sustainability, poverty, and development to build a more inclusive global movement, according to Kathleen Rogers, President and CEO of Earth Day Network (EDN), an international nonprofit organization that coordinates Earth Day actions globally.

Launching the field of sustainability at MIT Sloan

In that watershed year when Earth Day was first celebrated, then-MIT Sloan Professor Jay Forrester—known by many as the father of system dynamics—initiated MIT's involvement with sustainability. Forrester created a system dynamics model of the world's socioeconomic system, which he published in a book titled World DynamicsThrough novel computer simulations (his World2 model), Forrester showed the dangers of continued, unrestrained resource usage and population growth. This project led to an extended study (World3) by one of Forrester's former Ph.D students, Dennis Meadows, and the publication of Limits to Growth, which sold 12 million copies, was translated into 37 languages, and has been credited as launching the environmental movement globally. The book was updated on it's 20th and 30th anniversary.

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Can data analysis help change behaviors?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 21 days ago

Can scientists prove whether individual behaviors, such as eating or exercise habits, are contagious? Research from Alex 'Sandy' Pentland, Professor of Media Arts and Sciences and the Director of the Human Dynamics Lab at MIT, shows that may be possible.

"If individual behavior is contagious, then we can change this behavior either by changing the behavior of several influential elements in the social network, or by changing the social network itself," concludes Pentland.

Pentland and his research team studied 70 college students living in a residence dormitory at a North American university, with the student subjects spread evenly across the freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior grade levels. Participants were given a Windows mobile phone, through which scientists collected data from self-reported surveys designed by experts in political sciences and medicine. Cell phone sensors recorded proximity and location every six minutes and documented communication.


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Stress: It's a mind-body connection that affects us all

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 22 days ago

No matter what we do in life, we all deal with some level of stress. As an executive leadership coach, medical doctor, neuroscientist, frequent keynote speaker and MIT Sloan Senior lecturer, Tara Swart certainly must know about stress.

Yet Swart, CEO of The Unlimited Mind, understands the connection between brain and body better than most—as well as how stress can affect both and manifest itself in different ways. For example, Swart says stress is "essentially a brain and body chemistry problem" that can affect a variety of different things, such as our ability to make decisions, concentration levels, how we express emotions, and the well being of our physical selves. Common symptoms of stress that manifest physically include back pain, headaches, clenched jaws, or nail biting.

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MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker Receives Top Marketing Award

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 27 days ago

In recognition of her accomplishments as an emerging female marketing scholar and mentor, MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker recently received the 2015 Erin Anderson Award, presented each year by the American Marketing Association Foundation (AMAF). 

The award recognizes the life of Erin Anderson--a widely respected mentor and marketing scholar from INSEAD whose research made significant contributions to marketing. It was presented in February at the AMA (American Marketing Association) Winter Marketing Educators' Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

As an Associate Professor of Management Science and the Mark Hyman Jr. Career Development Professor at MIT Sloan, Tucker has expertise in online advertising, digital health, social media, and electronic privacy. Tucker says she "is interested in how technology allows firms to use digital data to improve their operations and marketing and in the challenges this poses for regulations designed to promote innovation."

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High tech's shifting glass ceiling

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 29 days ago

The current lawsuit in Silicon Valley by Ellen Pao against the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins is drawing more attention to hot button issues in high tech, namely the very real and varied gender gap that continues to plague the industry.

According to the Forbes article, "Women in tech are losing, from top to bottom," only 9% of all CIOs are women. Why is the technology career path a tough road for women, and why do their numbers dwindle as they climb up the ranks? A recent study from MIT shows that women already inside the technology industry are experiencing what is known as a shifting glass ceiling, and it starts with the recruitment process.

Internal promotion vs external recruitment

In his paper, "Gender Sorting and the Glass Ceiling in High Tech," Roberto Fernandez, Professor of Organizational Studies at MIT Sloan, challenges the popular assumption that the prominent glass ceiling in the high tech industry is the result of disparities in the internal promotion processes. Instead, Fernandez claims that glass ceilings can also be the result of external recruitment.

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