The Lead: Upgrading Wireless Networks, Sustainability Investments, 300 Miles in Under 30 Minutes

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.

Upgrading U.S. Wireless Networks

The next generation wireless network 5G is being built for capacity and speed with the potential to create millions of jobs and enable a variety of new technologies. The CEO of Sprint Marcelo Claure explains that “5G can perform up to ten times faster than the current 4G networks and enable a tremendous boost in data speed, meaning content that takes minutes to download now will be available in a matter of seconds.”

Our View: Proactive leaders help keep their employees ahead of technological changes. As technology advances and eliminates jobs with processes like automation, other technologies such as 5G emerge to create new types of jobs. Leaders who successfully navigate the shifting job market not only continuously seek new educational opportunities for themselves, but also provide flexible, affordable training for their employees. Further Reading

Sustainability Investments Make Business Sense

Idealists and realists and everyone in between are increasingly understanding the array of benefits from sustainability investments. In a United Nations initiative launched in 2006, the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) includes six principles that commit investors to using environmental, social, and governance criteria in their processes as far as possible. The PRI has grown to include 1,800 signatories today. Sustainability investments can lift the standard of living for everyone with smarter ways of making money that create healthier products, fairer prices for essential medicine, and higher ethical standards to avoid financial crises.

Our View: It is possible to lead companies that both do good and make money, but that’s not a common perception. A study conducted by Harvard Business Review of people’s perceptions of profit in 40 Fortune 500 firms showed a strong negative association between profit and perceived overall societal contribution. Leaders with businesses that both do good and make money must also address the PR problems where people view profit as the result of a zero-sum game. Leaders can address this with greater transparency about their operations, earnings, and cost structures. Further Reading

300 Miles in Under 30 Minutes

California-based Hyperloop Transportation Technologies reached an agreement with the North Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency and the Illinois Department of Transportation to study the feasibility of a plan to connect Chicago and Cleveland via Hyperloop, which is an experimental high-speed transportation system. If accomplished, the 313-mile trip from Cleveland to Chicago could be made in 28 minutes and become part of a larger system that connects major cities throughout the United States.

Our View: When leaders aim to create infrastructure progress, they need to work well across departments, agencies, and entire industries. A report that analyzed transportation developments in New York City, Portland, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Denver, and Charlotte found that local advocacy and civic engagement were a necessary prerequisite for achieving reform. These citizen-led efforts provide leadership lessons that transcend the transportation industry and demonstrate how grassroots efforts can make an impact. Leaders at all levels, even those without an official title can still emerge as effective agents of change. Further Reading

Sharing Courses and Google

Small liberal arts colleges have found it challenging to combine online course collaboration opportunities with the small-classroom characteristics of a liberal arts education. Three liberal arts colleges (Alma, Albion, and Calvin Colleges) in Michigan are addressing this challenge with a pilot course-sharing program that used Google’s interactive videoconferencing and other collaborative hardware. The early results show that the courses are having positive effects on students, and the program is giving Google the opportunity to test brand-new products.

Our View: Seeking win-win partnerships is a great way to nurture a learning organization, because mutually beneficial collaborations create additional opportunities to focus on continuous learning. Understanding the “three Ms,” the meaning, management, and measurement of learning paired with a subtle shift in focus from a continuous improvement culture to a learning culture builds a solid foundation for not only a learning organization but learning collaborations as well. Further Reading

Customer Service Kindness

Customer service calls can leave both parties involved feeling distressed and dismayed, but that’s not how Kelly Kinkel felt when she hung up with a customer service representative at Zulily. Kinkel ordered a winter coat online, and upon its delivery, she realized the material wasn’t what she expected and wouldn’t work well with the two breeds of dogs she had. She promptly called and asked to return the coat. She was reimbursed and requested the details to send back the item. The customer service representative replied, “please don’t send it back. If you know someone who needs a winter coat or if you would like to donate it to a charity, that would make us very happy.”

Our View: Put simply, kindness is a virtue. More elaborately, “there is no act of kindliness, however small, which may not help us in life; and there is no act of unkindness, however trivial, which may not hurt us.” Charles Dawes, the 30th Vice President of the United States said this and also expounded, saying “we never know what determines one’s career in life. Indeed, it may be these little forgotten deeds, accumulated, are the more important factors; for it is they which must, in many cases, provide us with the opportunity to do the greater deeds, and we unconscious of it.” Further Reading

 

 

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