The Lead: New Strains of Flu, Finalists for Amazon’s Second HQ

The Lead, AchieveForum’s weekly brief of leadership news and insights, provides quick clarity into relevant headlines and straight-forward analysis for applying effective leadership tools and techniques.

New Strains of Flu

Flu season is upon us, and for the first time in history, the entire continental U.S. is the same color on the graph which means there is widespread activity across all of the continental U.S. at this point. The influenza virus is already at the most widespread outbreak since public health authorities began keeping track more than a dozen years ago. It could even get worse with the threat of new strains of flu developing.

Our View: Each year, sick leave costs companies around the world billions of dollars. While sick leave issues are varied and complex, leaders should be willing negotiators and develop an understanding with their team members regarding sick leave. Creating strict rules or rewards is not effective because it can prompt workers to call in sick too often or create an environment where sick people don’t stay at home and spread illness to other workers. Leaders should determine and address the root cause of sick leave issues and consider individual needs on a case by case basis. Further Reading

Finalists for Amazon’s Second Headquarters

The cities Boston, Denver, Dallas, Nashville, Miami, Austin, Los Angeles, and New York are just some of the 20 finalists for Amazon’s second headquarters. In total, 238 cities and regions applied to this competition that has the winning city getting up to $5 billion in investment and up to 50,000 high-paying jobs with the e-commerce giant.

Our View: Leading through company expansions involves critical problem-solving and decision making skills. While you may already have a well-defined mission, it’s a good exercise to define your purpose again whenever your company is developing a second headquarters. Most importantly, remember that company leaders lead people not tasks, and these leaders must foster a culture that cultivates awareness by thoughtfully engaging stakeholders. Further Reading

Apple’s New Campus

Apple is planning to build a new corporate campus and hire 20,000 U.S. workers with the aspiration of bringing an estimated $245 billion back to its home country. Unlike Amazon, Apple isn’t openly requesting bids from cities interested in holding its new campus, though cities across the U.S. will likely be offering Apple tax breaks and other incentives to attain its second campus.

Our View: Company leaders are tasked with developing strategic locations for their business, and establishing new locations is resource intensive. Furthermore, success in one geographic location doesn’t necessarily repeat itself in a new location, so it’s important for leaders to adopt a long-term strategic view. “The strategic value of a new location depends on three things: the strength of available resources, such as nearby supporting industries; the company’s ability to seek and retrieve knowledge in this setting; and its capability to do something better than competitors,” says Harvard Business School Associate Professor Juan Alcácer. Two of those three factors depend on an organization’s ability to collaborate cross-functionally and cross-geographically. Further Reading

Autonomous Cars to Increase Employee Productivity (WBAC) surveyed 2,000 UK motorists who currently drive to and from work and asked what they would do during the same commute but in a fully autonomous car. The outcome showed that 27% of those surveyed would work and read emails, with millennials being the most likely to do so. WBAC’s head of technical services Richard Evans said “driverless cars may not just have a positive impact on rush hour traffic, but also employee productivity.”

Our View: Many organizations are finding that an expectation that its employees are always on can lead to burnout and decreased productivity. Autonomous cars may increase the number of hours an employee works, but they are obviously not the best way to increase employees’ discretionary effort. Impactful leaders find ways to increase employee productivity and job satisfaction simultaneously. Build trust and relationships with your direct reports and always implement a strategic outlook. You can inspire and motivate others simply by being a good role model. Further Reading

Fitness Club with Virtual Workout for Golfers

Members of the new Lynx Fitness Club in Boston can pay for a basic monthly gym rate or pay extra for use of both the fitness club and indoor golf simulators. The virtual golf facilities, which let users virtually play dozens of exclusive courses around the world, are a great way for golfers to keep their swing sharp in cold winter months.

Our View: Virtual reality can revolutionize more than just your golf swing. Virtual reality can be used to develop leadership skills through a variety of simulations from role-playing to crisis management training at a lower cost than face-to-face training. Further Reading

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