12 Essential Leadership Insights

For a publication centered on the unique challenges of management, it’s no surprise that leadership has become a perennially popular topic for our readers. Leading teams and organizations today requires honing strategic and digital skills, hiring and mentoring diverse employees, and being agile and adaptive in the face of constant change.

We’ve collected a dozen of our most popular leadership articles from our archives, and for a limited time, every article is open access. With this collection, you’ll benefit from decades of research from academics and practitioners on the skills, processes, and frameworks that can help managers lead through times of uncertainty and disruption.

1. The Most Underrated Skill in Management

Nelson P. Repenning, Don Kieffer, and Todd Astor

Few questions in business are more powerful than “What problem are you trying to solve?” Leaders who can formulate clear problem statements get more done with less effort and move more rapidly than their less-focused counterparts. But stopping to ask this question doesn’t come naturally — managers must put conscious effort into learning a structured approach.

2. The Smart Way to Respond to Negative Emotions at Work

Christine M. Pearson

Many executives try to ignore negative emotions in their workplaces — a tactic that can be counterproductive and costly. If managers respond to employees’ negative feelings wisely, employees may provide them with important feedback.

3. The Five Steps All Leaders Must Take in the Age of Uncertainty

Martin Reeves, Simon Levin, Johann D. Harnoss, and Daichi Ueda

Leaders need a new mental model to better understand the complex interplay between companies, economies, and societies. To do so, they must shift their focus to the broader business and social ecosystems in which their companies are embedded.

4. Don’t Confuse Digital With Digitization

Jeanne Ross

“Becoming digital” is a totally different exercise from digitizing. Digitization involves standardizing business processes and is an important enabler of becoming digital, but digitization on its own won’t make a business a digital company.

5. What Makes Work Meaningful — Or Meaningless

Catherine Bailey and Adrian Madden

When employees find their work meaningful, there are myriad benefits for their productivity — and for their employers. Managers who support meaningful work are more likely to attract, retain, and motivate the talent they need to ensure future growth.

6. The Lost Art of Thinking in Large Organizations

Duncan Simester

Making the transition from management to leadership requires that managers exercise skills in strategic thinking — skills they don’t often get to practice in the action-oriented environment they know best. Managers moving into senior leadership must learn to embrace ambiguity and uncertainty and learn the importance of taking time to think things through.

7. What High-Potential Young Managers Want

Monika Hamori, Burak Koyuncu, Jie Cao, and Thomas Graf

Today’s talented young professionals have a different approach to their careers — and a very different attitude toward organizational loyalty — than earlier generations. This article looks at what leaders need to know to retain and develop this generation of young managers.

8. Six Principles of Effective Global Talent Management

Günter K. Stahl, Ingmar Björkman, Elaine Farndale, Shad S. Morris, Jaap Paauwe, Philip Stiles, Jonathan Trevor, and Patrick Wright

Although organizations must pay attention to things like recruiting and performance management, competitive advantage in talent management doesn’t just come from identifying key activities and then implementing best practices. Top-performing companies and leaders subscribe to a set of principles that are consistent with their strategy and culture.

9. How to Manage Virtual Teams

Frank Siebdrat, Martin Hoegl and Holger Ernst

Virtual teams offer tremendous opportunities despite their greater managerial challenge, and, in fact, dispersed teams can actually outperform groups that are colocated. To succeed, however, virtual collaboration must be managed in specific ways.

10. Are Your Subordinates Setting You Up to Fail?

Jean-François Manzoni and Jean-Louis Barsoux

For manager-subordinate relationships to work, managers have to mind not only their own mental processes but also those of their subordinates. To avoid acquiring an undeserved negative label, individual managers must take four important steps.

11. The Processes of Organization and Management

David A. Garvin

This article offers a unifying framework for thinking about processes — or sequences of tasks and activities — that provides an integrated, dynamic picture of organizations and managerial behavior. Used wisely, these processes will help improve managers’ ability to get things done.

12. The Control Function of Management

Kenneth A. Merchant

The control function of management can be a critical determinant of organizational success. After strategies are set and plans are made, management’s primary task is to ensure that these plans are carried out.

* This article was originally published here

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