CORPU - Blogs

A Thousand Leaders, One Process

In a recent meeting with a group of managers at a large telecommunications organization, one employee commented that he always felt like he knew good leadership when he saw it and tried to emulate it. However, it wasn’t until taking the Positive Leadership course I teach that he realized he had a hard time defining those positive practices, because he did not have the vocabulary to describe good leadership.

His problem is not unique.

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Will Your Stress Help or Harm You? You Decide

Stress is bad for you. Everyone from executive coaches, to doctors, to writers of popular magazine articles, and from the American Psychological Association to the World Health Organization, can tell you that. And if you don’t reduce your stress, it will eventually kill you.

Right? Well… it’s not the whole story.

Shawn Achor studies happiness for a living. He also studies stress. (He’s a former Harvard lecturer on positive psychology, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Advantage.) While Achor agrees that stress has been proven to be damaging to both mind and body,

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Supply Chain Leaders Must Negotiate Mutual Gains To Safeguard Long-Term Value

The challenges facing supply chain leaders in today’s highly connected and networked global economy have never been greater.  Companies rely increasingly on raw materials that are in short supply, and work with suppliers in locations where stakeholders have a major impact on access and production.

There are potential pitfalls for supply chain leaders at every turn: community protests in one country may cause project delays, creating costly cascade effects on the supply chain overall. 

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Like Plants to the Sun, People are Drawn to Positive Leaders

Research has shown that our negative experiences tend to overwhelm the positive ones, leading us to over-focus on problems. How can you fight this bias toward negativity to become a better leader and build a stronger organization?

Kim Cameron, a professor of management and organizations in the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, and the author of Positive Leadership and Practicing Positive Leadership, identifies some practical steps executives can take to foster positive energy among their people.

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Manage Change? ROFLOL (Rolling on Floor Laughing Out Loud)

Successfully managing business change can sometimes seem as unattainable as managing a teenager, says Sue Todd, Chief Strategy Officer for CorpU. As with your teenage son or daughter, you can try to teach, or lead by example; find out who’s influencing behavior; adapt to the unexpected; and keep an open mind. But good luck feeling like you’re actually in control.

Back when the world moved more slowly, says Todd, we had at least the illusion of managing change.

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Mattress Firm’s King-Sized Acquisition: How CEO Steve Stagner is managing massive organizational change

CorpU recently talked with Steve Stagner, the CEO of Mattress Firm, the leading specialty retailer of mattresses and related products in the US. In September 2014, Mattress Firm went through an eye-opening transformation when it acquired Sleep Train, increasing its business size dramatically by 20%. 

But Stagner isn’t losing sleep over it. He reports that one of the tools he’s using to successfully manage the process is CorpU’s course Leading Breakthrough Change,

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Can Brand Activation Inform Strategy Activation?

One evening I happened to catch a few minutes of The Daily Show with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz as a guest. He talked about the company’s new initiative to offer Starbucks employees free college tuition through Arizona State University’s online program. (Apparently about 70% of the company’s employees don’t have a college degree.) The workers who enrolled would not be required to repay or even to stay with the company upon graduation.  

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Shawn Achor’s 5 Practices to Fuel Success & Performance at Work


“Our most commonly-held formula for success is broken,” says Shawn Achor, former Harvard instructor and New York Times-bestselling author of The Happiness Advantage. Achor explains that success doesn’t fuel happiness. It’s the other way around: being happy leads to success. And you can actually train your brain to be happy.

Download the infographic to find out more. Achor provides many simple techniques that you and your employees can apply immediately to raise happiness levels and significantly boost organizational performance.

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The Real Numbers Around Employee Engagement

Studies show employee engagement isn’t just “nice to have”, but yields measurable outcomes 

If you’re like most executives you’ve heard plenty of talk about how to get your employees to feel happy and engaged in their work. While it sounds like a nice thing to do, you may be thinking, “Hey, I’m not a mean person or anything, but spending time and effort on things like employee engagement and positive leadership is a luxury my division can’t afford.

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Why the Inertia Around Business Change?

Why do some people, when faced with a mandatory hurricane evacuation, refuse to leave their homes?

They might simply be, well, nuts. Or, according to Dr. Keith Ablow—a psychiatrist and frequent contributor to the New York Times— they may be experiencing something called “reflex denial”: they have trouble believing that a rare, highly dramatic event could actually be happening to them.

Sue Todd finds the reflex denial phenomenon an apt metaphor for the way leaders shut their eyes to the increasingly breakneck speed of business change.

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What Happened to Gary Hamel’s Moon Shots?

When Gary Hamel wrote “Moon Shots for Management” for the February 2009 Harvard Business Review, it seemed like it would be a “shot heard ‘round the world” for business, according to Sue Todd, Chief Strategy Officer for CorpU. But why, Todd wonders, hasn’t it had more effect?

According to Todd, Hamel (who was recently ranked by The Wall Street Journal as the world’s most influential business thinker) outlined work by a team of business leaders and academicians in which they “created a roster of make-or-break challenges—management moon shots—that would focus the energies of management innovators everywhere.”

One imagines,

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Supply Chain Costs: Does Your Boss “Get It”?

Transportation costs represent a huge chunk of total supply chain costs. In fact, 60% of every supply chain dollar is spent on transportation. And expenses can increase even in a sluggish economy because of market and regulatory pressures. As a supply chain professional you’re probably all too familiar with this type of situation. But how do you successfully explain it to your boss?

Communicating strategically about supply chain issues with higher-ups—whether a direct supervisor,

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The Approaching Crisis in Corporate Leadership

As companies prepare the top, middle and bottom layers of managers to face a VUCA world—a world that is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous—there’s a crisis brewing in corporate leadership development. So says Sue Todd, Chief Strategy Officer for CorpU and an expert on leadership best practices.

Todd outlines some challenges faced by senior executives, HR officers, and talent management leaders as they try to build “ready now” leaders to steer 21st-century organizations.

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Splitting the Brain of the HR Professional

Business and management guru Ram Charan commented in a recent HBR article that it’s time for companies to split the HR function in two. One HR leader would focus on leadership and organization—and report directly to the CEO—and the other would manage things like compensation and benefits.

This trend is arising in response to widespread CEO frustration over what the HR function actually constitutes. Many CEOs want their Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) to serve as a trusted advisor and a link to the organization’s numbers,

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Do Vacations Make Us Happier?

Need a vacation? Before you email your boss, breathe a sigh of relief, and start packing your skis, passport, tennis shoes, binoculars, or sun block…make sure it’s the right kind of vacation.

Workplace happiness guru Shawn Achor—Harvard researcher and the New York Times-bestselling author of The Happiness Advantage—did a study that showed that some vacations are more effective than others in lowering stress,

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Ed Skonecki on Connected Learning

Ed Skonecki, CorpU’s Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, recently sat down with Luke Kempski of JPL Learning Solutions to talk about virtual learning and why it leads to better retention than face-to-face workshops. He also discussed the challenges of getting a whole company on the same page.

What we’re focused on is not only the individual learning, but how do you get the organization to learn? It’s not enough just to have you get better,

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Holiday Cookies and the Art of Negotiation

When I was little, my mom would make these awesome sugar cookies for Christmas.  The ingredients were pretty basic—the usual flour, sugar, butter—but she’d add a hint of orange peel so they had a wonderful scent of fresh citrus. Then my sister and I would have a blast decorating them, slathering on so much frosting that only a kid would consider them fit to eat. (Yes, my dad ate them anyway.)

But then came the year that,

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Are You Forging Your Supply Chain with Forgeries?

Recent headlines about counterfeit goods would alarm any supply chain manager (and for that matter, anyone on the planet). Stories involving tainted supply chains are popping up everywhere from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal to industry-specific publications. Instances of fakes range from the more familiar (phony designer handbags and smartphones) to the terrifying (counterfeit, potentially deadly flu medications and cancer drugs).

How great is the threat?

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Big Data: Catch the 40-Foot Wave

Half a century before Facebook and a quarter century before the Internet, a social anthropologist named John Barnes was the first to identify the concept of social networks. He spent time with the residents of a remote Norwegian fishing village, tracing their family trees and interrelationships. (“Net” was an apt usage—after all, they were fishermen.)

Today we don’t need to go knocking on rugged, windswept doors and inquiring who someone’s cousin,

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Happiness is a Bigger Ping-Pong Paddle

Do you feel sometimes that life is coming at you too fast, like a bunch of speeding Ping-Pong balls? The solution: build a bigger paddle. So says Shawn Achor, former Harvard instructor and New York Times-bestselling author of The Happiness Advantage. 

Achor describes a fascinating study in which players of Pong—one of the earliest video games—were unknowingly given bigger or smaller paddles. Those with the larger paddles actually perceived the ball to be moving more slowly even though it wasn’t—so they felt more confident of success.

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