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A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

To Be a Good Manager, You First Need to Manage Your Ego

Sitting across from Carlos Tavares, the chief executive officer of PSA Peugeot Citroen, he explained how he uses his love of race car driving to keep his ego in check.

I’d worked with Mr. Tavares for more than a year when he left his position as chief operating officer of the Renault Group to become the CEO of PSA, Europe’s second largest automaker. Although it had been nearly two years since I’d seen him, I felt at ease with him sitting in his new office just footsteps from Paris’s iconic Arc de Triomphe. 

Born in Portugal and educated in France, Mr. Tavares communicated a genuine curiosity and quiet confidence that I admired. At Renault, he was always eager to hear my ideas and I was flattered and bolstered by his confidence in me. 

My new book, Leader Designed: Become the Leader You Were Made to Be, was due out in the next few months, and I’d returned to Paris to see some key people and get their thoughts on what seems to be a global deficit of good leaders and what can be done to meet this growing need.

“I race cars,” said the long...

The Single Best Tool to Make You a Better Leader

There are seemingly endless opportunities to waste our time in search of improved productivity, increased creativity and higher quality in our personal and working lives. The buffet of apps for our devices and ubiquitous articles offering tips to help us conquer our personal drift toward entropy are everywhere. It feels as if everyone is looking for help and no one is finding what they need.

In my informal polling of people I encounter, most are not feeling better organized and prioritized and on-task as a result. Most people tend to look and act like their hair is perpetually on fire.

Perhaps we’re looking for technology to solve a distinctly analog (human) challenge.

The other day I observed a pilot at a small regional airport prepare to fly his private plane on a cross-country journey carrying his wife and infant child. Precious cargo.

He walked slowly around the plane looking it over and testing the various moveable parts. He made certain the gas caps were secure, ran his hands over the plane’s surface and then satisfied that all was good, he climbed into a cockpit filled with technology and proceeded to pull out the most fundamental of all personal...

What Dads Can Do at Home to Help Daughters Grow Into Successful Leaders

My dad loves to argue—and growing up, he’d do it with me any chance he got. As a kid, he offered me a pound in exchange for a five-minute fight (a reference to a Monty Python skit at an “argument clinic”). We debated about everything, from politics to my piano performances.

As an adult, I can’t say I’m the best at confrontation. But the tradition (still ongoing) did teach me to have confidence in the value of my opinion and how to articulate my beliefs in a debate. That came in handy when I began my career in journalism–and it’s just one example of the ways in which fathers can prepare their daughters to succeed in the modern workplace.

As society’s ideas about gender roles evolve, “fathers seem to be having considerably more impact on their daughters than ever before” with regard to their careers, writes Linda Nielsen, a professor of psychology at Wake Forest University and the author of two books on father-daughter relationships. Nielsen cites research suggesting daughters’ academic and career achievements were closely related to the quality of their childhood relationships with their fathers.

“This may help explain why first-born...

Ancient Egyptians’ 4,000-year-old Strategy for Dealing With an 'Argumentative Superior'

Patience is a virtue. Don’t bug your partner about their weight. Try not to vex your boss. As a new translation of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs reveals, the fundamental rules of human behavior have changed little in the last 4,000 years—and wisdom from the times of the pharaohs still rings wry and insightful today.

Writings from Ancient Egypt (Penguin Classics) is an anthology of millennia-old papyrus, letters, and stone carvings, selected and translated into sparkling contemporary English by Cambridge University Egyptologist Toby Wilkinson. Released in the UK on Aug. 24, the book aims to cast new light on writing from the ancient civilization. Egyptian art and artifacts are full of hieroglyphs, points out Wilkinson in his introduction, yet museum visitors rarely get to read the stories they tell.

This book offers a taste of the vast body of ancient Egyptian literature. In addition to glamorous accounts of war and royalty, it’s packed with extraordinarily personal tales of life and the social anxieties of the time.

The 1147 BCE will of a twice-married mother dictates leaving three adult children out of her inheritance because they took her for granted. A 2300 BCE memoir by a desert scout recounts...

Here’s What Coworkers Think When You Kiss Up to your Boss

Few employees would deny that ingratiation is ubiquitous in the workplace.

This behavior goes by many names – kissing up, sucking up, brown-nosing and ass-kissing. Indeed, the fact that there are so many names that describe this behavior suggests that it’s something that goes on all the time at work.

Ingratiation is defined as the use of certain positive behaviors such as flattery, doing favors or conforming to another’s opinions to get someone else to like you. This behavior is especially common when employees interact with a supervisor because of the latter’s status and control over important work resources, including job assignments, responsibilities, pay and promotions.

So we all know that this goes on all the time, but what do we really understand about how these behaviors operate at work?

While social influence behaviors like ingratiation are typically thought of as a dyadic phenomenon (that is, involving two people – the ingratiator and the ingratiated), these behaviors are actually embedded in a much more complex and dynamic work environment, which includes many other people.

To get a clearer picture of how these behaviors operate, my colleague and I examined how they work from a third party’s point of...

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