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Traditionally, private equity companies have created value at the companies they own by taking on debt, restructuring, and exploiting underserved opportunities. But surging interest rates and increased competition have made it much harder to deliver strong returns. Ted Bililies, a partner and managing director of AlixPartners, says private equity leaders can no longer count on financial engineering to drive performance. Instead, they need to invest in the human capital at their portfolio companies. Bililies wrote the HBR article “Private Equity Needs a New Talent Strategy.”
The future of AI goes far beyond individuals using ChatGPT. Companies are now integrating artificial intelligence into all aspects of their businesses. One key player in this transition is Nvidia, the AI-driven computing company, which makes both hardware and software for a range of industries. In this episode, HBR editor in chief Adi Ignatius speaks with Nvidia’s CEO and cofounder Jensen Huang at HBR’s Future of Business conference about how he keeps his company agile in the face of accelerating change and where he sees AI going next.
What holds many people back from attaining the success they want - whether it's winning an Olympic medal or a seat in the C-suite - isn’t a lack of effort or talent. It’s the fear of other people’s opinions. That’s according to Michael Gervais, a performance expert and founder of the consultancy Finding Mastery. He works with top athletes and executives around the world to help them overcome FOPO and improve their performance and well-being. Gervais is the author of the book The First Rule of Mastery: Stop Worrying about What People Think of You.
The rapid expansion of artificial intelligence technology is creating, destroying, and changing jobs. And Harvard Business School professor Raffaella Sadun has been studying how leading companies are training and reskilling employees for this new paradigm. She says many firms underestimate how quickly and significantly workers will need to be reskilled and leave this effort to the HR department. Instead, she explains leaders and middle managers across the company are essential to manage this change. With Jorge Tamayo and Leila Doumi of HBS and Sagar Goel and Orsolya Kovács-Ondrejkovic of the BCG Henderson Institute, Sadun wrote the HBR article “Reskilling in the Age of AI.”
We know that teams mixing people of different generations, genders, and cultures yield better outcomes, and that frank, constructive feedback is key to improving individual, group, and organizational performance. But these two attributes -- diversity and candor -- often clash, says Erin Meyer, a professor at INSEAD. She's studied the challenges that arise when teammates with different backgrounds try to give one another advice and offers recommendations for overcoming them, including establishing norms around regular feedback and ensuring that it is asked for, designed to assist, and actionable. She’s the author of the HBR article “When Diversity Meets Feedback.”
It’s a reality that more employees are discussing their mental health in the workplace. And proactive leaders can serve their teams better by listening and responding. At the same time, managers can’t play the role of a therapist or the HR department. Counseling psychologist Kiran Bhatti and University of Cambridge leadership professor Thomas Roulet argue that following the basic practice of cognitive behavioral therapy can serve managers well. The researchers explain the mental-health first-aid tool, how managers can help employees address emotional distress and negative behavioral patterns, and how that can strengthen the work culture and ultimately the business. Bhatti and Roulet wrote the HBR article, “Helping an Employee in Distress.”
How does someone who's been told he will die much sooner than expected find contentment in the time he has left? As a former therapist, cofounder of the Deeper Coaching Institute, and business book author, Mark Goulston has spent his entire career trying to help others manage their emotions, improve their communication, and find the right balance between the personal and the professional. Faced with his own cancer diagnosis, he's been reflecting on lessons learned in his own life, things he and clients wish they'd done differently, and how to both prepare for a "good" death and leave a meaningful legacy. He shares his newfound perspective and his advice for early, mid- and late-career leaders.
When it comes to solving complicated problems, the default for many organizational leaders is to take their time to work through the issues at hand. Unfortunately, that often leads to patchwork solutions or problems not truly getting resolved. Instead, Anne Morriss offers a different framework: to increase trust and transparency and the speed of execution to truly tackle big problems. Morriss is an entrepreneur, leadership coach, and founder of the Leadership Consortium. With Harvard Business School professor Frances Frei, she wrote the new book, Move Fast and Fix Things: The Trusted Leader’s Guide to Solving Hard Problems.
We all know that leaders need to captivate audiences and effectively convey their ideas. But not every speaking opportunity can be prepared and practiced. That's why it's so important to learn the skill of speaking off-the-cuff, and Matt Abrahams, lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and host of the podcast Think Fast, Talk Smart, has advice to help. He explains how to stay calm in these situations, craft a compelling message, and ensure you've made a good impression. Abrahams is author of the book Think Faster, Talk Smarter: How to Speak Successfully When You’re Put on the Spot as well as the HBR article “How to Shine When You’re Put on the Spot.”
After the summer of 2020 in the United States, many organizations made a big push to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in their ranks and operations. But now, many fear that that momentum is slipping, especially in the face of economic headwinds. Laura Morgan Roberts, organizational psychologist and professor at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, says it is time to recommit to these efforts by creating the conditions for all workers to flourish. She explains four freedoms that organizations can foster to allow employees to become their best selves — and even be able to fade into the background when they choose. Roberts wrote the HBR Big Idea article “Where Does DEI Go From Here?”
It is now accepted wisdom that increasing the diversity of your workforce in any dimension can improve both organizational culture and performance. But one group — people living with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities — continues to be overlooked by many companies. Luisa Alemany, associate professor at London Business School, has studied workplaces that do recruit and hire employees with disabilities and found that it can be a true source of competitive advantage. She explains four main ways this talent strategy benefits the firm. She’s the coauthor, along with Freek Vermeulen, of the HBR article “Disability as a Source of Competitive Advantage.”
Many leaders realize they need to change their organization’s culture to save the business. But employees usually resist change and stick to past norms. Jay Barney, professor at the University of Utah’s Eccles School of Business, studied leaders who successfully led culture change and found one thing in common: they created and spread stories. He says it's not about making up stories but taking action — in authentic, yet theatrical and memorable ways. The new stories then emanate throughout the workforce and rewrite the old narrative. Barney explains the six rules of this practice that leaders need to follow. He’s a coauthor, with Manoel Amorim and Carlos Júlio, of The Secret of Culture Change: How to Build Authentic Stories That Transform Your Organization and the HBR article “Create Stories That Change Your Company’s Culture.”
New AI technology enables anyone to become a programmer — opening doors to faster analytics and automation but also presenting big challenges. Organizations need policies and strategies to manage the chaos created by what Tom Davenport calls “citizen developers.” Davenport is a professor of management and information technology at Babson College, and he’s been studying how employees are using new AI tools and how companies can both encourage and benefit from this work. He suggests practical ways for team and organizational leaders and IT departments to best oversee these efforts. Davenport is coauthor of the HBR article “We’re All Programmers Now” and the book All-in On AI: How Smart Companies Win Big with Artificial Intelligence.
Companies plan for crises and aim to be resilient and adaptive in the face of all kinds of risks, but it’s always easier said than done. And perhaps none of these threats is as serious as war. That’s what Roman Rodomansky had to prepare his company for. He’s the cofounder and COO at Ralabs, a Ukrainian software development company. As Russia prepared to invade his home country, Rodomansky and his leadership team crafted a plan to survive and keep serving clients. He shares how his firm put people first, communicated with customers, and managed to become resilient. Rodomansky wrote the HBR article “A Cofounder of Ralabs on Leading a Ukrainian Start-Up Through a Year of War.”
How does a brand or product that's been around for decades suddenly become popular with a whole new segment of consumers? Terence Reilly has some pointers. As CMO of Crocs, he used social media and celebrity collaborations to drive sales of its signature boat shoes. Now, as president at Stanley, he has made the company's durable mugs TikTok famous and bestsellers across numerous retail outlets. He explains how listening to employees and customers and acting quickly on their insights can help any organization spur growth.
Much of the business world has bought into the idea of stakeholder capitalism. But Freada Kapor Klein and Mitch Kapor say that doing some good by doing well isn’t enough when the business impact still creates negative effects and broader disparities overall. Freada, with a background in social justice and empirical research, and Mitch, an entrepreneur and investor who got his start making early spreadsheet software, strive to invest in ventures that close the distance between those with wealth and privilege and those without. The founders explain their metrics and decision-making process at Kapor Capital. The profitable firm explicitly invests in tech startups serving low-income and underrepresented communities. Freada and Mitch wrote the book Closing the Equity Gap: Creating Wealth and Fostering Justice in Startup Investing.
After decades of industrial policy that favored globalization and free trade, we are entering a new era. Prompted by the pandemic, climate change, rising geopolitical tensions and economic concerns, countries and groups of countries are once again using the power they have to intervene in the private sector, whether it's investing in drug development, offering clean energy tax breaks, or incentivizing domestic manufacturing. Harvard Business School professor Willy Shih wants to help corporate leaders navigate these changes in a way that protects their businesses, workers, and customers. He explains the new challenges - as well as opportunities. Shih wrote the HBR article, "The New Era of Industrial Policy is Here."
There are few jobs that demand decisive, clear thinking under pressure more than that of a fighter jet pilot. But the best combat pilots don't act on gut and muscle memory alone. They train to use proven mental models for making tough, fast decisions with extremely high stakes. Hasard Lee is a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and instructor who has learned, practiced, and taught these techniques. He breaks down the tools that individuals and organizational leaders alike can apply to some of their biggest problems and most difficult situations. Lee wrote the new book The Art of Clear Thinking: A Stealth Fighter Pilot’s Timeless Rules for Making Tough Decisions.
Middle managers are meant to serve as a go-between for leadership teams and individual contributors. But in large organizations, with many layers of hierarchy, some of these roles feel like bureaucratic bloat, which, in tighter economic times, makes them a target for elimination. Emily Field, a partner at McKinsey & Company, thinks in many cases that's a mistake. She argues that most middle managers are critical to corporate performance and productivity, executive team insight, and employee well-being. The key is making sure their roles adapt to the times. Field is the coauthor, along with Bryan Hancock and Bill Schaninger, of the HBR article "Don’t Eliminate Your Middle Managers," as well as the book Power to the Middle: Why Managers Hold the Keys to the Future of Work.
If you had the chance to talk to hundreds of business leaders at the top of their game, what habits and patterns would you learn? Adam Bryant has done just that. He's the senior managing director of the ExCo Group and founded the “Corner Office” interview series at The New York Times. Along the way, he has identified the mindset and attributes that the world's best leaders have acquired to truly influence and change their organizations. He shares what they are and how to develop them in your own career. Bryant wrote the HBR article “The Leap to Leader” as well as the book The Leap to Leader: How Ambitious Managers Make the Jump to Leadership.