Blogs

In a world of disruption and constant change, where ambiguity is the norm, we actively drive
conversations as thought leaders across multiple industries to generate insights that lead to
pragmatic outcomes.

Leaders of the future – what do they look like?

The word ‘unprecedented’ has probably been used, well, an unprecedented number of times over the past 18 months. But no other word can truly capture the unique, global and all-consuming impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on every aspect of our lives.

And although many of us are getting back into the office and a ‘new normal’, there is no denying that the pandemic will have lasting impacts on how businesses are managed and their leadership priorities. Our recent white paper identified a significant acceleration towards a more human leadership style and a greater focus on the wellbeing of staff. However, it also recognised that the biggest leadership challenges are still on the horizon, as we reimagine work rather than a return to normal.

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Prioritising Wellbeing in the ‘New Normal’

“It’s not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between 9 and 5. It’s whether or not our work fulfils us.” So says author Malcolm Gladwell.  And post-pandemic, this rings truer than ever.

Wellbeing was one of the key priorities for leaders identified in our recent Leadership in the Pandemic white paper, with respondents recognising that the greater focus on employees’ mental and physical health due to COVID-19, was a long-lasting trend. The pandemic meant it was easier to become familiar with staff’s wellbeing needs, with one respondent noting, “our leadership team have also needed to be far more tuned into the wellbeing of our people than ever before.”

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Leading a Hybrid Workforce

Leading a hybrid workforce is going to be very difficult. We need to think about how to communicate, engage, motivate – all will be different going forward.”  That was a salient quote from one of the HR leaders we spoke to for our report Leadership in the Pandemic.

From March 2020, business leaders across the world adapted quickly to ensure that entire workforces could fulfil their job role safely at home – with great success. Now, with many offices reopening, the playing field has changed. Our whitepaper discusses the new challenges facing leaders when navigating the world of hybrid work; building and maintaining the bridges between homeworking and office-based staff.

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The irony of modern leadership – a human touch in a virtual world

The pandemic created an irony which felt particularly cruel – at a stressful and uncertain time you were prevented from physically seeing many of the people you loved most. From a business perspective this meant that when employees needed more empathetic and human leaders, this had to be delivered through a computer screen.

Thankfully, with restrictions lifting more and more people are getting back into the office and able to meet colleagues in person. However, we’re re-entering a world of work that looks very different. Our recent Leadership in the Pandemic white paper highlighted two key trends; the importance of a more ‘human’ touch when it comes to leading teams post-pandemic and that we’re not all returning to normality, rather a reimagined world of work.

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Post-pandemic exhaustion – how leaders deal with what’s next

As a result of the challenges brought about by working from home and various lockdowns, wellbeing became a mainstream management issue during the pandemic and this was one of the key trends identified in our recent white paper, Leadership in the Pandemic. Whilst a focus on wellbeing was certainly key for many leaders already, the pandemic really shone a light on the need for a wide-ranging approach to this issue.

This was important as everyone navigated unchartered waters throughout the pandemic and the accompanying emotions this created, including fear and anxiety. This increased focus on wellbeing will also be absolutely essential for businesses to navigate what we believe is coming next: a motivational crisis. As we explore in our report, after 18 months of lockdowns and personal freedoms stripped away it will be difficult for many to have the energy to beat the ‘blah’ and leaders need to think about how to re-engage and re-motivate burnt out workforces, not to mention the risk of burnt-out leaders and their need for support from their mentors.

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Leadership in the Pandemic

What has changed and what matters most in the post-pandemic world? The pandemic has changed leadership priorities – with a significant acceleration towards a more human leadership style and greater focus on the wellbeing of staff.

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Merryck & Co. announces new ownership and partnership

Earlier this year, Merryck & Co conducted a strategic review of its business and the growth opportunities going forward. It concluded its review with a decision to partner with MW&L Capital Partners (“MW&L”) and funds controlled and advised by MW&L have acquired the share capital of Merryck & Co.

As part of the partnership, Matthew Westerman, a Director of MW&L, will become Chair of Merryck & Co. and will work with Chris Beer, Operating Partner, Marjorie Kaplan, Head of Faculty and Sam Howes, Head of Operations.

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NHS: Leadership In A Crisis

A year ago today, the first period of national lockdown began in the UK which heralded the biggest challenge the NHS has faced in its history.

Merryck & Co was very proud to design and deliver a pro bono mentoring programme for a group of 40 NHS and Emergency Services leaders from Hampshire & Isle of Wight and Frimley Integrated Care Services. The goal was to support them under extremely high-pressure conditions and to provide space to reflect on key learnings and opportunities for positive change arising from the crisis caused by the pandemic.

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Merryck & Co. announces that mentor Dame Louise Makin has been appointed as the next Chair of Halma plc

LONDON – Merryck & Co., the global leadership firm are delighted to announce that Merryck mentor Dame Louise Makin has been appointed as the next Chair of Halma, the FTSE 100 global group of life-saving technology companies. Louise has joined the Halma Board as an Independent Non-Executive Director and will replace Paul Walker as Chair in July 2021, when he steps down from the Board after eight years.

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Adaptive Leadership Teams – Focus For 2021 and Beyond

The end of the year traditionally marks a time of reflection for leadership teams. Given the dramatic events of this year, it is even more important for teams to take forward what has worked and question – what do we stop, start, or would be even better if we did in 2021?

During such a demanding 12 months, which often directed focus onto the short-term and immediate challenges, it is a good time for leadership teams to strategically take stock, reflect, consider and set a plan for the future.

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Adaptive Leadership Teams – Fostering Agility and Innovation

Few leaders would dispute that, if businesses are to withstand disruption, it is imperative to harness innovation and agility. The events of 2020 have certainly demonstrated this with the organisations that adapted at a speed previously unthought of surviving or thriving at the expense of those who paused.

The disruption prompted different approaches to both leading and running a business. Merryck Mentor, Peter Hutchinson, found that many leaders were pleasantly surprised at how well their teams responded and adapted – “The crisis pulled people together. It led to a lot of multi-level team working and a significant move to non-hierarchical activity. People have now seen that this can deliver remarkable results fast.”

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Adaptive Leadership Teams – The Benefit of Cohesion and Engagement Within Leadership Teams

Many leaders would agree there’s nothing as good as a crisis to bring people together. Merryck have found that the teams we’ve spoken to have organically created a level of cohesion and engagement in 2020 but now need to build on this foundation with a renewed energy to enable them to adapt as a team with a future focus.

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Adaptive Leadership Teams – Renewed Clarity and Future Focus

Throughout 2020 we’ve seen leadership teams pull together decisively, at speed and with great focus. They have successfully implemented unprecedented levels of change and demonstrated immense agility.

From our discussions with leadership teams many feel the adrenaline-fuelled drive they unleashed at the start of the pandemic isn’t sustainable long-term. Merryck mentor, Peter Hutchinson, has observed that many leaders still have a huge number of commitments but are exhausted. “The breathless pace they face really shuts them off from doing the kind of deep thinking that opens up other possibilities. They’re [still] in this urgency and busyness addiction.”

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Adaptive Leadership Teams – Re-energising and Focusing Your Leadership Team For Greater Impact

In the current environment, leadership teams are using different tactics, some are waiting and others are creatively embracing the ‘new normal.’ And as Sharon Daniels, CEO of Arria NLG recently said, “Let’s focus on where the opportunities are, and let’s envision coming out of this almost like it accelerated us forward… This crisis is like a reset if you take the opportunity.”

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Leading in an Age of Ambiguity

As countries begin to ease their Coronavirus lock-down measures, it is clear organisations will not be returning to a normal landscape.  Stark forecasts from the likes of the Bank of England suggest the brand-new world will be one of deep recession with further challenging times ahead.

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Learning and Adapting the Organisation Out of the Crisis

With many countries now reporting passing the peak of the coronavirus, organisations are beginning to evaluate their response to the unprecedented challenges of recent months.  For some of the leaders the Merryck & Co team have spoken with, there is now a definite lens adjustment from the immediate urgent response to focusing on what happens next.

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Managing the Impact of Threat Arousal During the Crisis

The pandemic has required leaders to react in the right way to protect their organisations and maximise the chances of organisational survival.  Pressure and change have come in a form and at a pace rarely imagined and most have had to act with great speed and agility.

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Creating a Strong Thinking Framework for Leadership Through the Crisis

In our white paper Navigating the Leadership Landscape Out of the Crisis, we discussed leaders’ need for a thinking framework. We described it as the roots of a tree – strengthening the leader (the trunk of the tree) to support the branches (different aspects of the organisation) with whatever the weather (the crisis) throws at them.

This framework creates a vital support environment for leaders to reflect and find clarity of thinking, take a breath to gain insights and strengthen their resilience. It helps them lead their organisations more effectively in the unfamiliar landscape.

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Navigating the Leadership Landscape Out of the Crisis

The Merryck team continues to keep busy supporting executives across the world as they seek to lead their organisations response to the pandemic.

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Merryck & Co. announces the appointment of the new Head of Faculty, EMEA

LONDON — Merryck & Co., the global leadership firm is pleased to announce that Marjorie Kaplan has been appointed Head of Faculty, and has joined the Executive Committee, with effect from 1 October 2019.

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Merryck & Co. announces the appointment of a new Chair, EMEA

LONDON — Merryck & Co., the global leadership firm is pleased to announce that Annemarie Durbin has been appointed Chair of the Company, and has joined the Board as a Director, with effect from 1 October 2019.

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Who will be the Global Leaders of Tomorrow? Expert in Leadership Development Joins Merryck & Co as a Mentor to CEOs and Future Business Leaders.

LONDON — Merryck & Co, the global leadership development firm, announces that Martina Muttke, a Swiss-based executive with a passion for and expertise in developing the global leaders of tomorrow, has joined its group of mentors.

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MERRYCK & CO ACQUIRES A MAJORITY STAKE IN BERNOTAT & CIE

LONDON — Merryck & Co, the global leadership development firm, announces that it has acquired a majority interest in Bernotat & Cie, a top-tier leadership development company based in Hamburg, Germany. The company is one that Merryck has long admired and respected; and both companies share common values and practises.

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Innovation in 2018: Think Like a Surfer

Dion Weisler, the CEO of HP Inc., was born in Melbourne, Australia, and — not surprisingly — spent some time on the waves as he was growing up. “It’s a bit like asking an Austrian if they ski,” he deadpanned during my interview with him last year for The New York Times.

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This 60-Second Conversation Will Send a Powerful Message to Your Employees

For managers, the best staff members can operate at two different altitudes — they take care of their work but also help drive the broader goals of their company. Call them “dual citizens.” That’s how Helene D. Gayle, CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, described such employees in my interview with her when she was […]

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Great Mentors Share These 3 Qualities

There are the obvious table-stakes for being a good mentor: You need a certain amount of life experience to develop insights and wisdom. But what are the X-factors that make someone a best-in-class mentor, the kind of person who can provide transformational guidance to help others succeed? It’s a question that has always intrigued me, […]

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This One Skill Can Make or Break You When You Start a Job in a New Company

Chances are you’ve seen this dynamic play out in your workplace: Your company hires an outsider into a leadership role to bring a fresh perspective and inject some new energy into the department or division. Maybe that new manager brings along a couple of trusted lieutenants from previous jobs to help them. But then the […]

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This Simple Rule Will Change the Way You Write Emails

Email can be a troublesome communication tool, because it’s easy for people to misread tone and intent. People are quick to get their backs up and take things the wrong way. The hazards of email is a topic that came up often during my conversations with more than 500 CEOs over the last decade. Many […]

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I’ve Interviewed Hundreds of CEOs. They All Share This One Habit of Mind.

Over the past decade, I interviewed 525 chief executives and other leaders for The New York Times’ “Corner Office” column. The simple idea for the feature was to set aside the usual questions about the CEOs’ companies and ask them instead about the most important leadership lessons they had learned, how they lead their employees, […]

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Reinventing Leadership. Yes, Really.

The fundamentals may remain the same, but the practice of leadership is undergoing a transformation. Stuart Crainer investigates the rise of leadership for the twenty-first century. Our understanding of what constitutes leadership and the practice of leadership is being transformed. There has been talk of the changing nature of leadership for the last two decades, […]

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Strategic Talent Management in a VUCA world

Locating reference material via an online search engine which allows users to look for both physical and digital copies of articles has helped, and given her access to material such as Greenberg’s paper in 1987, which even then explored employees’ trust as a reaction to the management of change using the constructs of organisational justice. […]

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Perceived Weirdness Index

How weird are you? Continuing my interest in the topic of cultural change I was reminded the other day of a concept called the Perceived Weirdness Index. It was back in 1976 that Jonno Hanafin first described this as a way of highlighting the need for an agent of change to be sufficiently different [weird] […]

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Culture Change

Why do culture change programmes so often fail? And what can we do differently? A recent workshop in London with a group of senior HR professionals revealed that cultural change was very much top of the agenda for many of the organisations represented. Why? Because everyone present worked in a company that was being challenged […]

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Margaret Heffernan contributes to the Radio 4 programme ‘The Joy of 9 to 5’

Lucy Kellaway looks at the UK’s long hours office culture and asks what happened to the 9 to 5? Almost half of us in the UK put in over a 40 hour week and most of those who work over 48 hours say they’re unhappy. Lucy finds out what people are actually up to when […]

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Coaching cross-culturally

As a client-centred coach, I believe that the key to an effective coaching relationship is to have a deep level of trust and rapport. The client must believe that I really understand their world. At its most pure, this means being able to sense my client’s meaning as if I were the client. People refer […]

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The fears of a CEO post-acquisition

The trouble with acquisitions is that not enough of the people leading them have any fears. There is very little time to think in the process and, beyond the mechanics of what price everyone will pay and the terms of the deal, no-one does much thinking beyond the deal room. I’ve spent years doing deals […]

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Growing your own hacker

There is a lesson in here for every business leader, of companies large and small. While you may think you have the most secure firewalls and software protecting their company, young people are instinctively spotting and working their way through its ‘holes’ and hacking money, information and contacts. What can you do to protect your […]

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Diversity and Inclusion – It’s Personal

Why a white male CEO over 50 cares about diversity and inclusion Context I am white, middle aged (although perhaps a bit north of the middle) and there is no mistaking that my hair has long ago left the premises. By all the data available, that profiles me as the average CEO or senior leader […]

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The March of the Robots

I have been concerned for a while that boards are not looking at the impact of technology in their business – something I call Intelligent Automation. I have carried out research and the results are worse than I feared – nearly half of business leaders have not looked at the impact of automation on jobs […]

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How to Move on After Getting Passed Up for a Promotion

Anyone who’s been passed over for a major promotion can attest: it hurts. You’re angry, frustrated, embarrassed, and it’s tempting to compose a resignation email starting with a capital ‘F.’ Further, a cadre of sympathizers will materialize at your door, phone and inbox with solicitations for you to vent. But instead of reacting, hit pause. […]

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CEO Succession: The Real-Life Game of Thrones

With its dragons and ice zombies, the HBO series Game of Thrones seems better suited to cult hit than cultural phenomenon. GoT’s success at crossing into the mainstream hinges in part on its deft dramatization of a historically consistent theme: transitions of power are messy. Few leadership transitions trigger a more immediate sense of uncertainty […]

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Margaret Heffernan: Small Steps to Huge Change

Social Capital Running a software company in Boston, I recognized — and my board told me — that we needed to reposition the business. Our product was too bland, too generic to stimulate excitement or loyalty. I needed a team to help me and ended up working through the problem with a motley crew: a young web developer, a […]

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Percy Harvin and the Three Questions Every Business Leader Must Ask

As football fans know, Percy Harvin is a player with tremendous talent for whom the Seattle Seahawks traded multiple high-level draft picks. On a pure talent level, he is a game-changer. But on October 18, less than halfway into his second full season with the ‘Hawks, he was traded to the lowly Jets for a […]

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Decision Making Amidst Complexity

Decisiveness has always been seen as one of the key attributes of a successful leader.  Boards and organizations expect the ability to process information, see the forest for the trees, and set a clear course of action. Everything the CEO does affects the entire business. But in a world that is changing faster than ever, […]

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Why Your Merger Failed

The failure rate for mergers and acquisitions, or M&As, is anywhere from 40 percent to 80 percent. That means that most deals fail to achieve the strategic aims for which they were initiated. They make money only for the lawyers who conclude them. The major reasons for failure are simple: Deal fever. Momentum, personal ambition, […]

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How Empathy Leads to Excellence

Are you sensitive enough? MIT’s Center for Collective Intelligence found that the teams that are best at problem solving are distinguished not by IQ but by social sensitivity. This is measured by the “Reading the Mind in the Eye” test, which is also a test for empathy. The researchers’ findings conclude that highly effective teams […]

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The Willingness to Recognize What He Still Needed to Learn

As the leader of a highly complex global business unit with general management responsibilities spanning R&D, business development, and new product marketing, Juan Ramón Alaix proved he could effectively run a business. But was he ready to be a CEO? After rising through the leadership ranks, with years of progressively more demanding and broader-in-scale responsibilities […]

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What Can Mindfulness Do For You?

Meditation and mindfulness have become all the rage. I recently met with a group of entrepreneurs all of whom swore by Headspace and other meditation apps, claiming that it helped them to keep calm and to think more clearly. In her new book, Thrive, Arianna Huffington enthuses at length about the degree to which meditation […]

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Four Surprisingly Simple Ways to Maximize Productivity

Too much work; too little time. We all struggle with this issue. Downloading a hundred time-management apps won’t help. True productivity requires discipline and having a robust mental routine. Here’s what helps me. 1. Triage You can divide your work into three categories: the big stuff that counts, makes a difference, and makes money; the […]

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The Three Obstacles Breakthrough Leadership Teams Avoid

Last year within a Fortune 50 company—the top global player in its industry—one of the highest-performing teams was at a crossroads.The group ran an $18B business segment and had been instrumental in contributing to the company’s performance through a time of both organizational and industry transition.As a team, they consistently hit or slightly beat their […]

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The Perils of Perfectionism

The pursuit of perfection can be startlingly bad for companies. But what about individuals? Doesn’t a passionate drive to self-improvement yield benefits? Yes and no. In a recent academic study, perfectionism was associated with feeling better and being more healthy–but only when the need to achieve was self-motivated. People who are highly self-motivated to keep […]

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The Business Model of The Future

The dominant myth in business is that competition drives excellence. If everyone’s competing, they will work harder and produce more. But there’s a problem with this argument: it is wrong. Working against others — either individually or corporately — doesn’t produce anything except noise, friction and waste. It’s working together that proves productive and creative. […]

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Performance-Related Pay Doesn’t Work

Like poor managers the world over, Michael Gove believes in performance-related pay. Although not subject to this regime himself, he imagines that teachers will care about students more, be yet more passionate, focused, organized, energetic and committed if there’s more money in it for them. Why would he imagine such a thing? In the business […]

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The Completely Nonstrategic Networking Strategy That Works Every Time

Last year, despite the gloom of a continuing U.S. economic crisis, ongoing political crises, and hideous weather events, was my best business year ever. A number of friends and colleagues said the same. We were all mildly amazed, deeply relieved – and puzzled. Being analytical, strategic types, we fell to discussing why. What had we […]

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Are Men Really More Competitive Than Women?

According to Caroline Spelman, ten times as many men as women apply to be a Conservative MP. Women comedians say they dislike the competitive one-upmanship of panel games and that that is one reason they’re so unrepresented on British TV that Controller Danny Cohen has had to lay down the law forbidding all male shows. […]

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Why Leadership Is More Art Than Science

Business schools mostly grew out of engineering schools. As a result, much of the language around management and leadership has – or aspires to – a technical, scientific tone. We talk about business models as though they really were engines that, with the right precise tinkering, could be persuaded to work. We avidly search for […]

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Maker Movement Still Needs to Make Its Market

Between the promise of a new technology and the reality of its achievement lies time. That’s the lesson I learned when, in 1999, I launched a business which was, fundamentally, a precursor of YouTube. We hosted one of the first online film competitions. We live-streamed 24-hour events. We had the technology; it was a bear […]

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What’s in Store for Business Owners in 2014

Whenever I talk to people about the future, I’m struck by their belief that it is knowable. The impression I get is that most people imagine the future like a book ending: already written and readable if you can just steal a quick look at the last few pages. What they find difficult is accepting […]

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Value Creation and the Strategic CFO

One of the easiest ways to identify a strategic CFO is simply by listening to the way peers and business unit leaders speak of him or her. Is the comment, “I need to get something past my CFO?” Or is it: “Let’s bring in our CFO to get perspective on how we best solve this […]

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Sticking to Values

Twice a week, Adam Bryant talks with top executives about the challenges of leading and managing. He publishes excerpts from these interviews in his New York Times column, Corner Office: Conversations about Leadership and Management. His July 14th column features an interview with David Reimer, Merryck & Co. Americas CEO, on Sticking to Values. See […]

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Leading within a C-Suite of Rivals

Speaking recently in Chicago, Heidrick & Struggles CEO Kevin Kelly reminded us, “Forty percent of new leaders fail in their first 18 months.” For external hires, this failure rate is especially costly.

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CEOs: If You Don’t Go Looking for Greatness, It Just Might Find You

Who among us has not dreamed of greatness at some point? When I was a boy, I would head out after dinner to the doctor’s office parking lot behind my house. For hours at a time in the summer twilight, I would “pitch” a golf ball against a brick wall and field the “hits” with […]

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