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December 18, 2012
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Leading Edge 
 
  • How Mary Barra broke GM's glass ceiling
    As General Motors' global product-development exec, Mary Barra is a "certified glass-ceiling breaker" who's reached the top of GM's most testosterone-fueled business division, writes Fortune magazine. Barra manages thousands of engineers, makes billion-dollar decisions and also puts in time driving at high speeds around GM's test tracks -- all after starting out as an engineer in a Pontiac plant. "I knew early on that she would do well. She was determined, confident and passionate, and these traits continue to define her and drive her," says former plant manager Tim Lee. CNNMoney/Fortune (12/24) LinkedInFacebookTwitterGoogle+Email this Story
  • The best bosses show no fear
    There are five key traits of world-class leaders, says Adam Bryant, who writes the New York Times' "Corner Office" column. Bosses need passion, confidence, a clear vision, a sense of how to manage groups of people, and an utter fearlessness that allows them to take calculated risks without blinking. "The CEOs that I've interviewed had reverence in their voices when they talk about this quality of fearlessness," Bryant says. Knowledge@Wharton (12/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterGoogle+Email this Story
7 Helpful Tips to Get Your Business in Shape
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Strategic Management 
 
  • Report: Wal-Mart bribed Mexican officials to spur expansion
    Wal-Mart Stores was guilty of systemic corruption as it expanded in Mexico, according to a New York Times report, with executives paying big bribes to sidestep planning regulations. American executives were reportedly aware of many incidents of corruption thanks to a Wal-Mart de Mexico whistle-blower, but shut down an internal investigation into the incidents. Company officials said Wal-Mart today operates a "strong and effective global anticorruption program" at a cost of more than $100 million this year. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (12/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterGoogle+Email this Story
  • Immelt: Fiscal jitters leave CEOs facing "investment pause"
    Jitters over the "fiscal cliff" are causing U.S. corporate bosses to hang back on investment, says General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt. That's eating into GE's revenues, he said, and has led to a slight weakening of the company's growth forecast. "Clearly, there has been an investment pause in certain industries," Immelt said. "We've definitely seen a slowdown in the fourth quarter." The Wall Street Journal (12/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterGoogle+Email this Story
The Greatness Gap
Achievers surveyed North American employees about their level of connection with core engagement factors, such as their company's mission, their perceptions and experience of recognition at work, and their workplace culture. The data shows us that there are a few things missing. Read the results
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Innovation and Creativity 
  • What defines highly innovative businesses?
    There are many things that come together to create a culture of innovation, but strategic vision is arguably the most important, Jeffrey Baumgartner writes. Companies such as Apple and Google thrive because they have a strategic direction to guide their creative work to clear ends, Baumgartner explains. "If a business does not have definable, unique strategy, it will not be innovative," he writes. InnovationManagement.se (Sweden) (12/18) LinkedInFacebookTwitterGoogle+Email this Story
  • Coca-Cola's open-innovation project could go flat
    Coca-Cola is touting an open-innovation strategy, but is the beverage giant nothing but talk? Stefan Lindegaard argues that Coke would do better to hunker down and forge meaningful innovation partnerships before bragging about a change in direction. "I wonder if they should stop mentioning their open innovation ambitions until they can offer more to potential partners and consumers," Lindegaard writes. 15Inno.com (Denmark) (12/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterGoogle+Email this Story
SmartPulse 
  • As 2012 ends and 2013 takes form, how are things shaping up?
    Next year will be better than this year  36.44%
    Next year will be about the same as this year  26.14%
    Next year will be worse than this year  18.91%
    Next year is going to be fantastic  12.09%
    Next year is going to be horrible  6.41%
  • Signs of optimism: Sure -- more than half of you see next year as the same as or worse than this year, but it's pretty encouraging, if not fantastic, to see 48% of you saying next year will be better than this year. The most important task I encourage leaders to take on is ensuring your team is prepared for what's coming. Manage expectations. Set appropriate goals. Get them the resources they need. Next year's results depend a great deal on how well you as a leader prepare your teams. The clock is ticking ... better get started. -- Mike Figliuolo is managing director of ThoughtLeaders and author of "One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership."

    Discuss the results.
  • As you've delivered year-end reviews, how are your people reacting?
They're not at all surprised with their ratings
They received the rating they expected with one or two surprises
Their rating didn't closely match their expectations but it was close
Their rating varied dramatically from what they expected to receive

The Global Perspective 
  • Times are tough for Afghanistan's factory owners
    Creating companies in Afghanistan is tough for several reasons, one being that Afghan consumers don't trust the quality of homegrown products, says Fatima Jafari, owner of Bamboo Wood Industries in Kabul. Shoppers will happily spend hundreds of dollars on furniture imported from Turkey, but won't take a chance on Afghan-made items, Jafari complains. "We don't have any problem with the quality of our products. But the problem we are facing is we don't have any customers," she says. National Public Radio (text and audio) (12/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterGoogle+Email this Story
Engage. Innovate. Discuss. 
  • Want good ideas? Don't tell your workers they're dumb
    It's never smart to tell your workers how stupid their ideas are, Joel Garfinkle writes. You often have to trawl through many bad ideas to find a good one, and being overly critical can lead employees to give up. "Strong negativity crushes future good ideas. It stops risk-taking and leaves you with too much of the burden to carry," Garfinkle warns. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Leadership (12/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterGoogle+Email this Story
Daily Diversion 
  • When statues attack
    Forget "planking" -- the latest viral craze is to post photos of yourself posing next to a statue as though you're being attacked. This article includes photos of a man being punched by Cupid, a woman grappling with a bear and a youngster being slapped by a smiling Ronald McDonald. The Daily Mail (London) (12/14) LinkedInFacebookTwitterGoogle+Email this Story
 
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Editor's Note 
  • Best of 2012: 18 SmartBrief interviews with industry thought leaders
      
    SmartBrief's SmartBlogs network interviewed 18 industry thought leaders this month. Find out what these leaders are projecting for their industries in 2013, and see what other free SmartBrief newsletters you may be missing out on. Learn more. LinkedInFacebookTwitterGoogle+Email this Story

SmartQuote 
If you give enough people enough time, some people are going to do questionable things."
--Adam Bryant, "Corner Office" columnist at the New York Times, as quoted at Knowledge@Wharton
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