Summary: A weekly podcast featuring the leading thinkers in business and management.
Joan Williams, professor and the founding director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, says that it's extremely difficult for organizations to rid their workforces of the unconscious biases that can prevent women and minorities from advancing. But it's not so hard for individual managers to interrupt bias within their own teams. She offers specific suggestions for how bosses can shift their approach in four areas: hiring, meetings, assignments, and reviews/promotions. Leaders who employ these practices, she argues, are able to embrace and reap the advantages of diversity, even in the absence of larger organizational directives. Williams is the author of the HBR article "How the Best Bosses Interrupt Bias on Their Teams."
Horst Schulze, cofounder of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, started out cleaning ashtrays as a busboy before working his way up through some of the world's best hotels and becoming COO of Ritz-Carlton and later CEO of Capella Hotel Group. He shares the principles of stellar customer service to which he credits his success — and explains how they apply to every business. Schulze is the author of the book "Excellence Wins: A No-Nonsense Guide to Becoming the Best in a World of Compromise.”
James Clear, entrepreneur and author, says that the way we go about trying to form new habits and break bad ones — at work or home — is all wrong. Many people, he says, focus on big goals without thinking about the small steps they need to take along the way. Just like saving money, habits accrue compound interest: when you do 1% more or different each day or week, it eventually leads to meaningful improvement. So if you’ve made a resolution for the new year or have an idea for how to propel your career forward at any time, these strategies will help. Clear is the author of the book "Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results."
Nancy McKinstry, CEO of Wolters Kluwer, has successfully shifted her company’s business to digital products over 15 years. The Dutch multinational started in the 1830s as a publishing house and now earns more than 90% of its revenue from digital. McKinstry explains how her firm kept investing in product innovation – and how she learned to be patient as consumers slowly adopted new products and services. She also credits the role of increased diversity in her organization. McKinstry is the top woman in HBR’s 2019 list of the world’s best-performing chief executives.
Wayne Baker, professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, has spent much of his career researching the best way to effectively ask for help at work. Whether you're soliciting support on a tricky assignment or more resources for your team, it can feel uncomfortable to approach bosses and colleagues with hat in hand. But we rarely get what we need or want without asking for it. Baker highlights some of the most effective strategies for defining your goal, figuring out who to ask, and crafting your message so it will be positively received. He is also the author of the book “All You Have to Do Is Ask: How to Master the Most Important Skill for Success.”
Dashun Wang, associate professor at Kellogg School of Management, crunched big datasets of entrepreneurs, scientists, and even terrorist organizations to better understand the fine line between failure and success. One surprising finding is that people who experience early failures often become more accomplished than counterparts who achieve early successes. Another insight is that the pace of failure is an indicator of the tipping point between stagnation and eventual success. Wang is a coauthor of the study in the journal Nature: “Quantifying the dynamics of failure across science, startups and security.”
Thomas Parenty and Jack Domet, cofounders of the cybersecurity firm Archefact Group, say that most organizations are approaching cybersecurity all wrong. Whether they're running small companies or working in multinational corporations, leaders have to think beyond their IT department and technology systems to instead focus on protecting their businesses' most important assets from attack. They need to work across functions and geographies to identify key risks, imagine potential threats and adversaries, and develop a plan for combating them. Parenty and Domet are the authors of the HBR article “Sizing up your Cyber Risks,” as well as the HBR Press book "A Leader’s Guide to Cybersecurity."
Esther Duflo, an MIT economist, won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for her experimental approach to alleviating global poverty. Duflo’s early life working at a non-governmental organization in Madagascar and volunteering in soup kitchens in her native France inspired her to study economics and research the root causes of poverty. With her fellow Nobel winners Abhijit Banerjee of MIT and Michael Kremer of Harvard, Duflo showed that effective policies often go against conventional wisdom and popular economic models. The only way to find out what works, she argues, is to rigorously test solutions on the ground, and she encourages businesses to do the same. With Banerjee, Duflo also wrote the new book "Good Economics for Hard Times."
Pauline Brown, former chairman of North America for the luxury goods company LVMH, argues that in additional to traditional and emotional intelligence, great leaders also need to develop what she calls aesthetic intelligence. This means knowing what good taste is and thinking about how your services and products stimulate all five senses to create delight. Brown argues that in today's crowded marketplace, this kind of AI is what will set companies apart -- and not just in the consumer products and luxury sectors. B2B or B2C, small or large, digital or bricks-and-mortar, all organizations need to hire and train people to think this way. Brown is the author of the book "Aesthetic Intelligence: How to Boost It and Use It in Business and Beyond."
Sari Wilde, a managing vice president at Gartner, studied 5,000 managers and identified four different types of leaders. The surprising result is that the “always on” manager is less effective at developing employees, even though many companies encourage supervisors to give constant feedback. Instead, the “connector” manager is the most effective, because they facilitate productive interactions across the organization. Wilde explains what the best connector managers do, how to be one, and how to work for one. With Jaime Roca, Wilde wrote the book “The Connector Manager: Why Some Leaders Build Exceptional Talent -- and Others Don’t.”
Steven Rogelberg, a professor at UNC Charlotte, has spent decades researching workplace meetings and reports that many of them are a waste of time. Why? Because the vast majority of managers aren't trained in or reviewed on effective meeting management. He explains how leaders can improve meetings -- for example, by welcoming attendees as if they were party guests or banning use of the mute button on conference calls -- and how organizations can support these efforts with better practices and policies, from creating meeting-free days to appointing a Chief Meeting Officer. Rogelberg is the author of the book "The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance" and the HBR article "Why Your Meetings Stink -- And What To Do About It."
Ethan Bernstein, associate professor at Harvard Business School, studied how coworkers interacted before and after their company moved to an open office plan. The research shows why open workspaces often fail to foster the collaboration they’re designed for. Workers get good at shutting others out and their interactions can even decline. Bernstein explains how companies can conduct experiments to learn how to achieve the productive interactions they want. With Ben Waber of Humanyze, Bernstein wrote the HBR article "The Truth About Open Offices."
Scott Young, who gained fame for teaching himself the four-year MIT computer science curriculum in just 12 months, says that the type of fast, focused learning he employed is possible for all of us -- whether we want to master coding, become fluent in a foreign language, or excel at public speaking. And, in a dynamic, fast-paced business environment that leaves so many of us strapped for time and struggling to keep up, he believes that the ability to quickly develop new knowledge and skills will be a tremendous asset. After researching best practices and experimenting on his own, he has developed a set of principles that any of us can follow to become "ultralearners." Young is the author of the book "Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career."
On The Anxious Achiever, Morra Aarons-Mele explores the way anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues affect people at work – for better or worse. In this episode, she speaks with clinical psychologist Ellen Hendriksen and Arvind Rajan, the CEO of Cricket Health, about the tension between work and social anxiety. "The Anxious Achiever with Morra Aarons-Mele" is part of HBR Presents, a new network of business podcasts curated by HBR editors. For our full lineup of shows, search “HBR” on your favorite podcast app or visit hbr.org/podcasts.
Jennifer Petriglieri, associate professor at INSEAD, studied more than 100 couples where both partners have big professional goals. She finds that being successful in your careers and your relationship involves planning, mapping, and ongoing communication. She also identifies different models for managing dual-career relationships and explains the traps that couples typically encounter. Petriglieri is the author of the book “Couples That Work: How Dual-Career Couples Can Thrive in Love and Work.”