Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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From the Editor

Secrets of the Best Leaders, Fall 2019

Karen ChristensenTHE STATE OF LEADERSHIP has been in the spotlight in recent years, for good reason. With employee engagement at an all-time low, the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer once again demonstrated a serious crisis of confidence in institutional leaders to help us navigate our turbulent world.

However, this year there was a surprising bright side for organizational leaders: Globally, 76 per cent of people trust ‘My Employer’ to do what is right — significantly more than business in general (56 per cent), government (48 per cent), the media (47 per cent) and NGOs (57 per cent). And where trust grows, engagement and value creation are never far behind.

What exactly is driving increasing trust in employers? It’s not simply operational excellence or decisions that impact jobs. An organization’s contributions to society, its values and its vision for the future all outweighed operational decisions in terms of earning trust. Senior leaders, in particular, should take note: 76 per cent of survey respondents expect CEOs to take a stand on challenging issues like immigration, diversity and inclusion.

In this issue of Rotman Management we will highlight some of the mindsets and approaches that the very best leaders are embracing to create value for both their stakeholders and for society. We kick the issue off on page 6 with Does Innovation Cause Inequality?, an excerpt from Rotman Professor Joshua Gans and Andrew Leigh’s new book, where they show that innovation is playing a role in increasing societal inequality — and that leaders have a critical role to play in stemming the effects.

It is increasingly clear that there are plenty of upsides to creating a culture of equality — both in society and in organizations. On page 48, Accenture’s Ellyn Shook and Julie Sweet provide evidence that a culture of equality makes an organization more innovative.

On page 60, Rotman Professor Claire Tsai shares findings from her latest research, which indicates that the smartest consumer-facing companies are learning how to anticipate 12 particular ‘shopper journeys’ — and engineering their customer experiences accordingly.

Elsewhere in this issue, we feature Thought Leader Interviews with renowned innovation expert Clayton Christensen (page 12) and Google Chairman John Hennessy (page 34). In our Idea Exchange, Facebook executive Julie Zhuo shares her definition of strategic leadership on page 88; London Business School’s Lynda Gratton looks at how the new 100-year life is affecting organizations on page 100; and Gallup’s Jim Harter describes some of the differences between great jobs and lousy ones on page 124. We also feature the research findings of Rotman faculty members Tiziana Casciaro (page 91), Jacob Hirsch (page 97) and Aida Wahid (page 109).

The late great Peter F. Drucker once said that “Leadership is an achievement of trust.” As indicated in this issue, a new employee-employer contract is emerging that is predicated on leading change, empowering employees and caring for the communities in which you operate. The latest report from Edelman proves that the critical work of building a better future for all begins in a place that we are all very familiar with: the workplace. 

Karen Christensen



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