Exploring the issues that shape today's business world.

Seen / Heard

Best Bosses / Bye-Bye Skinny Tie / Governor $$ / Top Harvard Reads / and more. Winter 2016/17

“Accept that some days you are the pigeon,
and some days you are the statue.”




What is it that the best bosses have in common that the rest don’t? Corporate HR leader and consultant Duncan Ferguson and his Lead Well LLC partners, Dr. Toni Pristo and Dr. John Furcon, conducted a Best Boss survey to discern exactly that. Here are the five behavioral traits they found repeatedly highlighted by survey respondents:

1. Leads from a higher purpose: That means acting on behalf of the individual versus out of self-interest.
2. Activates potential: “Can you help someone see something in themselves that they don’t see?” asks Ferguson. The best bosses observe, value and take steps to activate present capabilities and future potential.
3. Grants autonomy: Great bosses impart knowledge, business acumen and big picture thinking, and they
establish an autonomous space for individuals to perform and make their own decisions.
4. Gives continual and pervasive feedback: These leaders also use frequent and diverse feedback to constructively shape, reinforce and/or modify behavior.
5. Encourages risk-taking to drive learning: They fuel reasonable risk-taking to ensure learning, while realizing that mistakes are a natural part of the growth process.

ShtieThe End of the Skinny Tie?

Ok all you fashion-focused business execs, Bloomberg reports that it’s time for a wardrobe makeover. The skinny tie is out! Why? Because today’s fashion houses are moving away from the clipped, hepcat silhouettes popularized in the early 2000s and towards the softened shoulders and more relaxed aesthetic Italian tailoring is famous for. Neckties, therefore, are following suit (no pun intended). As Bloomberg writer Troy Patterson wittily puts it, “With suit lapels no longer resembling boning knives, it is only natural that neckties should move further away from the Reservoir Dogs collection.”


Ever wonder why more individuals aren’t pursuing public office? Perhaps it’s because it doesn’t pay—at least not compared to the $16.3M in total compensation averaged by the CEOs of our nation’s largest companies. Public payroll data from all 50 states indicates that the average U.S. governor earns $137,415 a year. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who forgoes his state salary, would earn nearly $178k, or 129 percent of the national average, ranking him fifth among the 50 state governors. Chicago Business Journal reports that pay grades appear to have little correlation to the scope of a governor's financial responsibilities.


5 Required Reads for Harvard Business Students

An MBA from Harvard will cost you upwards of $150K, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn a thing or two on the cheap. Just pick up some of the books that Harvard MBA students are required to read.

1. True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership.
Former Medtronic CEO Bill George collects the wisdom of 125 of the best leadership minds to discover five steps to authentic leadership.                               
2. The Money of Invention: How Venture Capital Creates New Wealth. Paul A. Gompers and Josh Lerner write about the struggles of securing financing, and how venture capital can help business people overcome those challenges.
3. Many Unhappy Returns: One Man's Quest to Turn Around the Most Unpopular Organization in America. Here, former IRS commissioner Charles O. Rossotti chronicles his efforts to turn around the public’s perceptions of the agency, as well as its performance.
4. Unleashing Innovation: How Whirlpool Transformed an Industry. Whirlpool VP Nancy Tennant Snyder details how the company improved margins,
expanded internationally and became more innovative.
5. Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less. Stanford’s Robert Sutton and Huggy Rao distill 10 years of research and case studies into how organizations can scale successfully. 

“The key to being a good manager is keeping the people
who hate you away from those who are still undecided.”
Casey Stengel

IRS’ Offshore Crackdown Pays Off

The IRS’ Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program—intended to prod taxpayers into disclosing their offshore bank accounts and pay taxes on their holdings—is seeing results in a big way. The latest figures indicate 55,800 taxpayers have entered the Program to resolve their tax obligations, paying more than $9.9B in taxes, interest and penalties since 2009. On top of that, an additional 48,000 taxpayers have used separate streamlined procedures to correct their previous omissions and meet their federal tax obligations, paying approximately $450M in taxes, interest and penalties. That’s good news for U.S. coffers.

Smartphone vs. Pen & Paper

The average person checks his or her phone 50 to 150 times daily. Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, says you’d be far more productive writing in a notebook instead. Here’s why.
You’ll be proactive. Writing “gives you the chance to craft your reply instead of shooting it off reactively, and respond on your schedule, not someone else’s,” says McKeown.
You’ll be more grounded. Obsessing over your phone creates a “compulsive feeling that you might be missing out,” McKeown contends, but writing in your notebook has a calming effect.   
You’ll be ‘in the moment.’ Constantly checking your phone distracts you from what’s right in front of you, while writing in your notebook gives you pause to think of what's important in the here and now.
You’ll have more time. Smartphones can be time-wasting distractions. Writing, on the other hand, provides you with time to think and reflect.