MIT Sloan Executive Education innovation@work Blog

Category: Principled Leadership

A carbon commitment worth keeping

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 months and 2 days ago

Advocate for Carbon Tax

It’s Earth Day. Like New Year’s Eve, it’s an occasion that often results in resolutions, some harder to keep than others. Maybe you resolved to eat less meat, recycle more, bike to work, or install solar energy. However, it’s easy to feel that your actions aren’t enough. And you’re right—they are necessary but not sufficient. “Our fight against climate change depends on both personal and collective action,” says Jason Jay, Senior Lecturer and Director of the Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan. “To make a measurable difference, we need to catalyze change at the level of companies, cities, states, and nations.”

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Blue Nile COO Ruth Sommers says self-reflection and self-care can land you in the job where you do your best work

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 2 months and 22 days ago

Ruth Sommers at MIT

In the Innovative Leadership (iLead) Series by MIT Sloan and the MIT Leadership Center, top thought leaders share their views on business challenges and achievements. As part of this series, Ruth Sommers, COO of Blue Nile, recently shared some leadership lessons learned during her 25-year career as an executive in the retail industry.

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Leading with integrity, part 2: Doing the right thing is a shared success

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 3 months and 30 days ago

Principled leadership

Leadership can take many forms. Leaders can be humble or egotistic, measured or impulsive, inclusive listeners or single-minded dictators. I believe that it’s important to distinguish between personal qualities that may appear harsh as opposed to truly unethical behavior. Sometimes obliviousness to the effects of one’s words and actions can be mistaken for deliberate disregard for people’s feelings and possibly even for rules and laws. The opposite can be true, also ...

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Leading with integrity, part 1: Does a hard line lead to a slippery slope?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 4 months and 14 days ago

Leading with Integrity by Peter Hirst

When prominent CEOs resigned from White House advisory councils a while ago, their action sent a message—sincerely held personal beliefs and espoused corporate values trumped potential business benefits of remaining close to political power. The names of these CEOs reverberated through the public discourse attracting considerable praise of their personal integrity. Yet, far too often, business leaders are cast in less flattering light.

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Is pride holding you back in your negotiations?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 5 months and 15 days ago

Is pride getting in the way at the negotiating table?

If you’re someone who conducts repeated negotiations with the same counterparts, then you may have experienced that your “subjective assessment”—the feeling you have after one negotiation—affects the success of the next. But what about “sequential negotiations”—multiple back-to-back negotiations with different parties. Does the same hold true?

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Are merit-based decisions in the workplace making us more biased?

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 9 months and 27 days ago

Are merit-based decisions in the workplace making us more biased?

Earlier this month, a memo written by (former) Google employee James Damore went viral. The controversial, ten-page letter suggested the company has fewer female engineers because men are better suited for the job. Damore argued that Google’s initiatives to increase diversity is actually a discriminatory policy, and that a liberal bias throughout management makes it difficult to discuss the issue internally. The debates kicked up by this event continue to rage on.

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Coaching millennials has its hurdles—and it's time to get over them

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 10 months and 12 days ago

Leadership programs for millennials, management, and senior executives at MIT Sloan Executive Education

Today's workforce is a mix of four generations—Veterans, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y—sometimes collaborating, other times colliding. Stereotypes for how these different age groups act, interact, and conduct themselves in the workplace are plentiful, but most would agree that Gen Y—the millennials—are currently, for better or worse, the center of attention. Why all the commotion?

For starters, millennials have officially surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, according to population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Millennials, typically defined as those ages 19-35 in 2016 (born 1981-1997), are now 75 million strong.

But most importantly, Millennials will soon lead the world of business, and after them their successors, Gen Z. They will be leading in a world that has grown increasingly global, complex, and even tumultuous. Today’s business world requires more of leaders than ever before. MIT Sloan Professor John Van Maanen, an organizational theorist, uses an acronym to describe this world of which millennials will be at the helm: VUCCA. It stands for volatile, uncertain, complex, chaotic and ambiguous (with one more C than the more common VUCA), and it's a big part of why today's leaders need to teach tomorrow's.

"We don't know where big data is taking us. We don't know what's happening with climate change, political instability. It is an unknown world," Van Maanen said during a panel discussion on leadership at the MIT Sloan CFO Summit last fall. It’s evident that teaching leadership skills is critical in a changing world, but coaching Millennials comes with a set of unique challenges.

  1. Millennials are moving targets for training. “Millennials expect to work for 12 to 15 organizations over their careers, versus three or four 20 years ago,” Van Maanen said (see Gallup for more).
  2. Leadership is becoming more and more distributed. Many organizations’ hierarchical structures are flattening. Companies are becoming more flexible and diverse, with employees working from around the world. When there are technically no titles and no bosses, everyone needs to step up and be the leader. Also, leadership lessons that work in the U.S. or Europe might not apply as easily in countries that have been through political or cultural upheaval, have different cultural norms, or use technology to a different or lesser extent.

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Industry leaders share wisdom on leading, innovating, and disrupting

Posted by MIT Sloan Executive Education - 1 year and 15 days ago

Ray Wang speaking at MIT

What defines the path to success in today's business world? From lessons about embracing failure and passion to the importance of mentorship, top executives share their views on success and more as part of the Innovative Leadership (iLead) Series, presented by the MIT Leadership Center and MIT Sloan. The iLead Series was developed to give a platform to a diverse set of thought leaders in problem-focused leadership. The series celebrates innovators who make a difference by finding solutions to tough, edgy problems in a complex, fast-moving world.

The following talks from the 2016 and 2017 iLead Series can be viewed on the iLead website and on the MIT Leadership Center's YouTube channel.

Embracing digitization and mentors: When John Chambers, former CEO of Cisco Systems Inc., was recovering from tumultuous times at his company in 2011, he looked for a mentor and found former General Electric Company chief Jack Welch, who told him that those tough times could be the best years of leadership. Today, he is an enthusiastic supporter of digitization, cautioning that the U.S. is the only major country without a strong digitization plan and is at risk of losing its economic power. "Either you disrupt or you get left behind. There’s no entitlement just because we led before." Watch the video.

Learning from failure: Andy Plump, Chief Medical and Scientific Officer at Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A. Inc., says whether you lead or follow it helps to embrace failure, and that partnerships with outside companies will make it easier to fail fruitfully. He calls it "honorable failure" and adds, "When we have a failure now, we bring it to a public setting and we learn from it." Watch the video.

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