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How to Lead
Calling all readers: Dear Jonathan
Do you have workplace issues or questions about your career? Send these to Jonathan Black, our careers expert, at email@example.com. You can also read his latest answer about how to boost self-confidence at work — and add your own comments.
Andrew Hill's challenge
The FT's management editor sets a weekly test of your business, strategy and management skills.
The short-term memory loss of bankers is a systemic threat — of which James Gorman, chief executive of Morgan Stanley, seems well aware. He said at a conference last week that bankers needed to be "a little paranoid and a little scarred" by the last crisis to prevent a "tyranny of success" overtaking newly resurgent financial institutions.
As I point out in my latest column, banks need to be reminded of the errors of the past if they are not to repeat them. My challenge this week is for you to suggest ways such historical nudges could be administered, without cramping the animal spirits of bankers — or indeed any business person. Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org, please.
Three weeks ago, I asked for ideas about how to build resilience. Alex Sheen recalls how Muhammad Ali trained to beat George Foreman by subjecting himself to a regime of being repeatedly punched in the face. He has explored less extreme alternatives that still involve "pushing yourself when you don't need to", such as "getting out of the office where you may have a track record of excelling and placing yourself in more demanding situations such as volunteering in children’s work, taking on physical challenges or learning a new skill".
Last week, I asked you to identify circumstances where stretching the truth could be justified. Burak M said that saying you have achieved something when you have not is "an absolute red line". But he suggested that saying you have done something regularly when you may have achieved your expertise from doing it only a handful of times is not as much of an issue, provided you can back up your assertion with knowledge achieved through study. I'm not so sure about that analysis: it sounds like the top of a slippery slope.
In further reading this week, Strategy+Business resurfaced a recent article about chief digital officers and how their jobs go far beyond the narrow remit boards sometimes imagine when they appoint them. When I chaired a roundtable of CDOs I was amazed how they complained about their roles. One suggested that they should be renamed "chief transformation officers" because of the strategic challenges that any digital transformation highlights. The S+B article backs that up. "True digital leadership is the ability to guide a company through …changes, all while keeping an eye on the big picture," the authors write.
Every week a business school professor or academic recommends useful FT articles.
A German solution to the UK’s productivity puzzle This article is a timely reminder on the importance of collaborative supply chain relationships. There is quite a lot of evidence on how collaborating with suppliers can help operational excellence, in terms of improved product, service, process quality, greater flexibility and lower costs. The same is true for productivity.
Here is the caveat; as the article mentions for the Germany example, companies that get such advantages from their supply chain partners “are simultaneously more demanding but more collaborative”. Tough but fair is a difficult balance that requires selecting the right suppliers, effective relationship management and good feedback.
Dark factories: labour exploitation in Britain’s garment industry A few years ago, I watched a documentary called "Blood, Sweatshops and T-shirts" on BBC that showed British teenagers being sent to India to see how clothes were made. It was heart-breaking to watch the teenagers’ reactions when they realised the harsh conditions workers endured. This article is an uncomfortable reminder that such practices can be closer to home than we realise.
As we request more supply chain transparency from our favourite brands, we will make better informed choices. Through the effective use of technologies in clothing supply chains, we can enjoy the latest fashion at affordable prices and with a clear conscience.
Jonathan Moules's business school news
Read the latest articles from Jonathan Moules. 'Western business schools push into Iran' looks at the benefits for Iranian students from a European business education, but US policy could jeopardise its expansion. Currently, France’s Neoma Business School is among the institutions offering MBAs in Tehran.
In 'US employers turn their backs on overseas MBA graduates', the proportion of US employers that mention they were planning to hire overseas MBA graduates has dropped in a year. For European companies, the picture is different.
Finally, in 'Levy scheme turns executives into apprentices', companies are under criticism for spending UK apprenticeship levy cash on their most senior executives rather than on young people.
Ask the academics
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Test your knowledge
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Edited by Wai Kwen Chan — firstname.lastname@example.org