Leadership

Leadership is a featured research topic and an initiative at Harvard Business School.
 
As our world grows increasingly global, intricate, and ever-changing, the role of leaders is becoming more and more complex and critical to business success. In the 1950s and 1960s, Fritz Roethlisberger and Elton Mayo's contributions to the "Hawthorne effect," and work by Paul Lawrence and Jay Lorsch on organizational integration, sparked the field of Organizational Behavior. Early work by Michael Beer on leading organizational change, Rosabeth Kanter on innovation for productivity, John Kotter on power and influence, and Michael Tushman on innovation management helped shape today's understanding of organizational transformation. With an interest in Leadership that spans our academic units, our approach to research is collaborative and multi-disciplinary. We leverage a wide range of research methodologies – from onsite field research to surveys, experiments, and extensive longitudinal studies. 
  1. Opening the Valve: From Software to Hardware (A)

    Valve, one of the world's top video game software companies, has also become an iconic example of an organization with virtually no hierarchy. A 400-person organization, Valve's unique organizational form (described in detail in the case and accompanying employee handbook) includes 100% self-allocated time, no managers (and therefore no managerial oversight), a structure so fluid that all desks have wheels to allow free movement between "cabals" (teams) on a regular basis (which happens frequently enough that Valve created a homegrown tracking app to allow peers to find each other), a unique hiring apparatus that supports recruitment of T-shaped individuals, and a purely peer-based performance review and stack ranking. As customer demand and market forces draw Valve into hardware in 2013, Valve questions whether their organizational model will need to change as it expands from software into hardware—and, if so, whether they should prioritize strategy over structure or structure over strategy. The case, therefore, presents students with a strategic and organizational challenge that tests students' understanding, and Valve's resolve, with regard to the congruence between their organizational model and strategic direction.

    Keywords: Valve; Self-Managed Organizations; organization design; strategy; Flat Organization; Video Games; organization alignment; Organizational Change and Adaptation; software; Hardwre; family business; Steam; Steam Machine; Design; Games, Gaming, and Gambling; Human Resources; Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Technological Innovation; Leadership Style; Management Practices and Processes; Organizational Design; Organizational Structure; Organizational Culture; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Groups and Teams; Alignment; Software; Hardware; Video Game Industry; Seattle;

    Citation:

    Bernstein, Ethan, Francesca Gino, and Bradley Staats. "Opening the Valve: From Software to Hardware (A)." Harvard Business School Case 415-015, August 2014. View Details
  2. Chief Sustainability Officers: Who Are They and What Do They Do?

    While a number of studies document that organizations go through numerous stages as they increase their commitment to sustainability over time, we know little about the role of the Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) in this process. Using survey and interview data we analyze how a CSO's authority and responsibilities differ across organizations that are in different stages of sustainability commitment. We document increasing organizational authority of the CSO as organizations increase their commitment to sustainability moving from the Compliance to the Efficiency and then to the Innovation stage. However, we also document a decentralization of decision rights from the CSO to different functions, largely driven by sustainability strategies becoming more idiosyncratic at the Innovation stage. The study concludes with a discussion of practices that CSOs argue to accelerate the commitment of organizations to sustainability.

    Keywords: sustainability; Change; change management; Organizational change; organizational culture; innovation; Performance; leadership; Leadership & Corporate Accountability; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Leadership; Change Management; Environmental Sustainability; Innovation and Invention;

    Citation:

    Miller, Kathleen, and George Serafeim. "Chief Sustainability Officers: Who Are They and What Do They Do?" Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 15-011, August 2014. View Details
  3. Husk Power

    In late 2013, Husk Power Systems found itself falling further and further behind plan. The founding CEO had decided to resign. His co-founder is faced with the decision of quitting his corporate job in the US to head to India and help form a new management team. Husk is an Indian startup founded in 2007 with the goal of global rural electrification. The company has decided to pivot from operating biomass gasification plants towards developing solar microgrids in India and East Africa.

    Keywords: Plant-Based Agribusiness; Business Model; Business Startups; Energy Generation; Renewable Energy; Social Entrepreneurship; Foreign Direct Investment; International Finance; Globalized Markets and Industries; Crime and Corruption; Employee Relationship Management; Independent Innovation and Invention; Employment; Leadership Style; Leading Change; Management Practices and Processes; Management Style; Management Succession; Management Skills; Emerging Markets; Social Psychology; Culture; Business Strategy; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Energy Industry; Green Technology Industry; Utilities Industry; Africa; India; United States;

    Citation:

    Lassiter, Joseph B., III, and Sid Misra. "Husk Power." Harvard Business School Case 815-023, August 2014. (Revised October 2014.) View Details
  4. Kathy Giusti and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation

    What do you do when your rising professional career is cut short by an unexpected cancer diagnosis? Kathy Giusti shifted careers, built a new organization that transformed how cancer research is done, and now faces the challenge of sustaining the organization and its funding for its newest venture.

    Since she was first diagnosed with multiple myeloma (MM) in 1996, Giusti had led an effort to better understand and treat the disease. She had co-founded the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), helped form the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC), and brought together a diverse body of academics, researchers, pharmaceutical and biotech companies, physicians, and patients to combine their efforts around the disease. The MMRF had helped facilitate clinical trials for promising drugs, sponsored research, and raised a substantial amount of money for these purposes.

    In 2014, the MMRF was in the midst of its CoMMpass program; a multi-year effort to collect tissue samples from 1,000 patients at key junctures in their disease, sequence these samples to better understand the genetic underpinnings of MM and its many sub-types, and thus enable researchers to study a comprehensive sampling of patients. CoMMpass also had a patient-facing element which allowed the patient community to communicate with one another and with professional moderators. By mid-2014, some 550 patients were enrolled and 85 hospitals were participating.

    As a non-profit, the MMRF had historically relied on donations to fund its research operations. Giusti wanted to find a way to ensure a reliable revenue stream for the organization and give it greater financial stability. The MMRF had historically given away its resources and knowledge for free in order to speed research; Giusti worried if charging for some of its functions would be at odds with its mission and historical practices. She worked with her executive team to examine potential sources of revenue, and to decide if this was the right thing to do.

    Keywords: leadership; philanthropy; philanthropy funding; entrepreneurship; health care; management styles; management skills; personalized medicine; health care outcomes; cancer; Cancer care in the U.S.; personal care; Leading Change; Social Entrepreneurship; Giving and Philanthropy; Health Care and Treatment; Leadership Style; Management Style; Growth and Development Strategy; Business Strategy; Health; Health Industry; United States; Canada; Spain;

    Citation:

    Hamermesh, Richard G., Joshua D. Margolis, and Matthew G. Preble. "Kathy Giusti and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation." Harvard Business School Case 814-026, June 2014. View Details
  5. Johnson & Johnson: The Promotion of Wellness

    To create the world's healthiest workforce, diversified health care giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) mandated participation in its "Culture of Health" program globally, customized by location, culture, and specific health needs to offer prevention-focused education, rewards for healthy behavior, and workplace environments that encouraged healthy employee behavior. By 2015, 90% of J&J's 128,000 employees would participate in Culture of Health programs; 80% would know their key health indicators (e.g., blood pressure, body-mass index, blood sugar, cholesterol); and 80% would have a "low risk" health profile. To hit these goals, J&J managers in 2014 sought to: 1) reduce national variation in program adoption and popularity, 2) do more to help employees ensure their overall—physical, mental, and spiritual—health, and 3) accurately measure the investments in and return on the program.

    Keywords: healthcare; human resources; employee motivation; Transformation; Ethics; Health; Human Resources; Leadership; Management; Personal Development and Career; Problems and Challenges; Strategy; Health Industry; Medical Devices and Supplies Industry; Pharmaceutical Industry; North and Central America; Middle East; Latin America; Europe; Asia;

    Citation:

    Quelch, John A., and Carin-Isabel Knoop. "Johnson & Johnson: The Promotion of Wellness." Harvard Business School Case 514-112, June 2014. (Revised September 2014.) View Details
  6. Starbucks Coffee Company: Transformation and Renewal

    Starbucks Coffee Company: Transformation and Renewal analyzes the turnaround and reconstruction of Starbucks Coffee Company from 2008 to 2014 as led by CEO and co-founder Howard Schultz. The case offers executives and students an opportunity to examine in depth how Schultz and his team saved Starbucks from near-collapse, by both executing a deep, comprehensive return to its core values and, at the same time, investing in a range of new products, customer experiences and organizational capabilities designed to make the company fit for enduring success in a turbulent global economy. Set against the backdrop of the Great Recession, the case also considers the impact of unprecedented important shifts in consumer spending and confidence as well as new competitive forces on Starbucks' transformation. The case concludes by examining Schultz's own leadership journey, the lessons he learned personally during Starbucks transformation, and how he is using these lessons—within Starbucks and on the national stage—to redefine the roles and responsibilities of a public corporation in the 21st century.

    Based on extensive interviews conducted with Schultz and other Starbucks executives from 2011 to 2014, the case offers a range of vital lessons on leadership, organizational transformation, restructuring, strategy, innovation, entrepreneurial vision, and customer service.

    Keywords: Howard Schultz; Starbucks; transformation; turnaround; Change; Decision Making; Entrepreneurship; Growth and Development; Leadership; Organizations; Problems and Challenges; Risk and Uncertainty; Strategy; Value; Consumer Products Industry; Food and Beverage Industry; Retail Industry; North and Central America; Europe; Asia; South America; Middle East; Latin America;

    Citation:

    Koehn, Nancy F., Kelly McNamara, Nora N. Khan, and Elizabeth Legris. "Starbucks Coffee Company: Transformation and Renewal." Harvard Business School Case 314-068, June 2014. View Details
  7. Collective Genius

    Competitiveness depends in great part on the ability to innovate. The perennial challenge, then, is to build an organization capable of innovating again and again. Traditional, direction-setting leadership can work well when the solution to a problem is known and straightforward. But if the problem calls for a truly original response, no one can decide in advance what that response should be. So the role of a leader of innovation is not to set a vision and motivate others to follow it. It's to create a community that is willing and able to innovate.

    Keywords: innovation; leadership; Innovation Leadership; Innovation Leadership;

    Citation:

    Hill, Linda A., Greg Brandeau, Emily Truelove, and Kent Lineback. "Collective Genius." Harvard Business Review 92, no. 6 (June 2014): 94–102. View Details
  8. Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation

    Why can some organizations innovate time and again, while most cannot? You might think the key to innovation is attracting exceptional creative talent. Or making the right investments. Or breaking down organizational silos. All of these things may help—but there's only one way to ensure sustained innovation: you need to lead it—and with a special kind of leadership. Collective Genius shows you how. Preeminent leadership scholar Linda Hill, along with former Pixar tech wizard Greg Brandeau, MIT researcher Emily Truelove, and Being the Boss coauthor Kent Lineback, found among leaders a widely shared, and mistaken, assumption: that a "good" leader in all other respects would also be an effective leader of innovation. The truth is, leading innovation takes a distinctive kind of leadership, one that unleashes and harnesses the "collective genius" of the people in the organization. Using vivid stories of individual leaders at companies like Volkswagen, Google, eBay, and Pfizer, as well as nonprofits and international government agencies, the authors show how successful leaders of innovation don't create a vision and try to make innovation happen themselves. Rather, they create and sustain a culture where innovation is allowed to happen again and again—an environment where people are both willing and able to do the hard work that innovative problem solving requires. Collective Genius will not only inspire you; it will give you the concrete, practical guidance you need to build innovation into the fabric of your business.

    Keywords: innovation; leadership; Innovation Leadership;

    Citation:

    Hill, Linda A., Greg Brandeau, Emily Truelove, and Kent Lineback. Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2014. View Details
  9. Gunfire at Sea (multi-media case)

    This short video illustrates the challenges of leading innovation and change. This classic case (one of the oldest in the HBS system) retains its timeliness. The case describes how Lt. Sims develops a new form of gunfire at sea—continuous aim gunfire. While 3,000% more accurate than existing guns, the video case describes how the Navy, as a successful social system, systematically rejected Sims' innovation. The case gets at multiple sources of inertia including culture, capabilities, personality, power, structure, Navy processes, and the fact that the U.S. Navy was one of the most successful Navies at the time. The case's extraordinary outcome illustrates the randomness of innovation and the importance of strong executive leadership in leading change associated with seemingly minor (in this case architectural) innovation.

    Keywords: Organization Behavior; Change; innovation; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Leading Change; Innovation Leadership; United States;

    Citation:

    Tushman, Michael, and Tom Ryder. "Gunfire at Sea (multi-media case)." Harvard Business School Video Case 414-707, May 2014. View Details
  10.  
See all faculty publications on Leadership »
​​

Executive Education

Authentic Leadership Development

In this program, you will explore your values and passions to find your own True North—an inner compass to guide you when nothing else can—and lay a firm foundation for leadership that will inspire new levels of success.

Apply Now

Executive Education

Real Estate Programs

Learn More

​​
 
​​