A weekly podcast featuring the leading thinkers in business and management.
How CEOs Can Drive Sales — or Kill Deals
Christoph Senn, marketing professor at INSEAD, has spent years studying how top executives involve themselves in B2B sales. Some are very hands-off. Others make only social calls. Still others sit at the negotiating table. Outcomes vary widely. Senn explains the best combination of approaches for top executives engaging with core customers. And he shares how account managers and other employees can benefit from knowing their leader’s style. Senn is the coauthor, with Columbia Business School's Noel Capon, of the HBR article "When CEOs Make Sales Calls."
Bill Gates on How Business Leaders Can Fight Climate Change
Bill Gates, philanthropist and founder of Microsoft, argues that, even as we work to end the global pandemic, we can't lose sight of another existential threat: climate change. He says that we need to take aggressive action to get to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and insists that regulation isn't enough. Businesses need to pave the way forward by investing much more heavily in climate-friendly innovation. Gates speaks with HBR editor in chief Adi Ignatius about his new book, "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need."
Taking on a Senior Leadership Role Remotely
Muriel Wilkins, cofounder of the executive coaching firm Paravis Partners, says that starting a leadership role at a new company or via internal promotion is demanding. Doing so remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic is even more challenging. She says that new senior leaders must focus on two things: connectivity and credibility. And she explains how to build those attributes when much of the job is performed virtually. Wilkins is the host of the new HBR Presents podcast “Coaching Real Leaders.”
How Many Managers Does It Take to Change a Lightbulb?
Jennifer Aaker, a Stanford professor, and Naomi Bagdonas, an executive coach, say that, even in times of stress and crisis, leaders should use and encourage good humor and levity at work as a way of building employee morale and engagement. That doesn't mean you have to tell jokes all the time. Instead, figure out what kind of humor works best for you and learn to pinpoint the opportunities for using it to best effect. They explain what makes things funny (hint: surprise) and the pitfalls managers should avoid. Aaker and Bagdonas are the authors of the book “Humor, Seriously: Why Humor is a Secret Weapon in Business and Life.”
What Sets Family Businesses Apart
Josh Baron and Rob Lachenauer, cofounders of BanyanGlobal Family Business Advisors, say that a family-run company has more flexibility than its publicly-traded counterpart to build a legacy and grow sustainably for the long term. But making critical decisions when there are family dynamics can be extremely challenging. They offer approaches to understand the real impact of ownership and effectively manage conflict. Lachenauer and Baron wrote “The Harvard Business Review Family Business Handbook: How to Build and Sustain a Successful, Enduring Enterprise.”
Goodbye Bureaucracy, Hello Common Sense
Martin Lindstrom, founder and chairman of Lindstrom Company, says that many companies are still held back by doing things the way they've always done them, or failing to break down bureaucracy. For Lindstrom, it's not just about getting away from bureaucratic norms for the sake of innovation, but because so many things workers do each and every day don't actually make much sense. He suggests workers, leaders, and organizations consider ways in which processes can be improved - and the ways these new processes can improve life for everyone. And he argues that companies should actually devote a team or department to making sure common sense is used throughout the organization. Lindstrom is the author of the book "The Ministry of Common Sense: How to Eliminate Bureaucratic Red Tape, Bad Excuses, and Corporate BS."