According to BusinessWeek‘s Leadership trends for 2010 (February, 2010) best-in-class organizations “maintained their commitment to preparing and retaining present and future leaders.” We’ll probably hear more of the same at the start of 2011 though in 2011, I bet we’re in for something bigger: more people taking control of their own development.

We’ve already started to see a shift, with more people than ever bringing helpful tools to work – and using them without approval and without suffering big corporate-wide roll-outs. In 2011, we’ll hear less about what corporations are doing “for their people” and more about what “people are doing for themselves and to help the teams they’re part of.” Until recently, we haven’t had the tools or corporate open-mindedness to easily shake things up. Now we do.

As we end the first decade of this century, here are 10 articles on leadership, managing, motivation and performance that will help you take control and make a difference next year.

1. The rise of the networked enterprise (McKinsey Quarterly)

“A new class of company is emerging—one that uses collaborative Web 2.0 technologies intensively to connect the internal efforts of employees and to extend the organization’s reach to customers, partners, and suppliers. We call this new kind of company the networked enterprise. Results from our analysis of proprietary survey data show that the Web 2.0 use of these companies is significantly improving their reported performance. In fact, our data show that fully networked enterprises are not only more likely to be market leaders or to be gaining market share but also use management practices that lead to margins higher than those of companies using the Web in more limited ways.”

Read the analysis and results of McKinsey’s study.

2. The mark of a great leader (HBR Blogs)

Top executive coach, Marshall Goldsmith, shares some great advice on getting ahead as a leader in today’s world of work:

“Years ago, when most organizations were based on the hierarchical business model of the Industrial Age, great leaders were those who were unemotional, rational, even mechanistic. Those days are gone. Today’s leader, especially one who is in charge of a dynamic, global organization, finds himself or herself in desperate need of one key trait — self-awareness.”

For a couple of ways to raise self-awareness, check out Marshall’s advice about changing yourself and Stan Slap’s story about the power of revealing your moment of truth.

3. How the corporate ladder became the corporate lattice (HBR Blogs)

Cathy Benko, Vice Chairman and Chief Talent Officer at Deloitte, describes how organizations are becoming flatter and more connected:

“The workplace isn’t what it used to be — and neither are the people working in it. Economic, demographic, and technological changes are all contributing to a transformation that is making the corporate ladder — a metaphor well suited for the industrial world of the last century — obsolete.”

4. Yes, everyone really does hate performance reviews (Wall Street Journal)

An awesome article by Samuel Culbert about how organizations need to seriously rethink their performance review strategy. We’re just not built to work in a performance review world:

“Asking and listening. Imagine that. It’s called a conversation, and it’s a rarity in workplaces today. Only by hearing what the other person thinks, and putting that person’s actions in the appropriate context, can you actually see what the person is saying and doing — and how together you can get where the company needs you to go. Performance reviews won’t get you there…”

5. Empowering natural leaders in ‘Facebook Generation’ ways (Management Innovation Exchange)

According to global leadership expert, Gary Hamel, the internet, social media and a new leadership mindset will create tons of opportunity for everyone – at any level of the organization – to stand out and take charge:

“Natural leaders today have the means to challenge ossified and change-resistant power structures. Thanks to the reach of the Web, a lowly but brilliantly effective leader can mobilize followers across a global organization and beyond—by writing an influential blog, by using that notoriety to get a platform at industry events, by hosting a Web-based discussion on a hot topic, by building an online coalition of similarly-minded individuals, by disseminating a provocative position paper to hundreds or thousands of fellow employees, and by using email to ensure that supporters show up at key meetings. The same technology that allowed Barack Obama to challenge the old guard in the Democratic party can help natural leaders in your organization outflank the bunglers and the obstructionists.”

6. Mentoring Millennials (Harvard Business Review)

In just a few years, Millennials will make up nearly half of the workforce. Karie Willyerd and Jeanne Meister share practical tips on how to efficiently coach Millennials:

“[Millennials] want a road map to success, and they expect their companies to provide it. If you’re not careful, grooming them for leadership roles could drain your managers’ energy. To help you, we’ve identified three kinds of mentoring that will prepare Millennials for success without requiring your experienced staffers to spend all their time coaching.”

Millennials got a lot of attention this year. Where do you stand on the Millennial debate?

7. Making work meaningful (Gautam Blogs)

Gautam Ghosh wrote an inspiring post about how a sense of meaning can be a major source of motivation at work:

“I think every human being wants to be part of something larger than himself or herself. An organization should look at goals that excite even the most world weary cynic and say “I am part of something meaningful. Something larger. Something beautiful”

8. Blowing off employee check-ups? Prepare for disaster ahead (BNET)

Wayne Turmel (BNET’s Connected Manager) advises that one-on-one meetings are easy to ignore and if you don’t have one-on-ones regularly you’re heading for disaster:

“By regularly checking in with your people, you find out all the little things going on with your team. Some of them are minor and you can take care of them simply, some you only want to keep an eye on for now, and some could become big problems if you let them go, so you’d best handle it. Wouldn’t you rather know what’s going on than run on assumptions?”

9. 10 key challenges for CEOs in 2011 (MSN)

“Leading a company now demands that the chief executive officer take on the mantle of Chief Diplomat, Chief Talent Officer, and Chief Image Manager, in addition to his or her more traditional responsibilities.”

See the full list of CEO challenges from Stephen Miles.

10. Where did our productivity go? (BNET)

Margaret Heffernan, BNET’s Serial CEO, explores why organizations are becoming less productive. With the pace of work increasing thanks to new technology, a big leadership challenge in 2011 will be to keep burn-out under water:

“What has gone wrong?  One explanation is that the way we manage our organizations is, frankly, terrible. We work people too hard and too long. We put huge effort and resources into hiring talent –- and once we’ve got it, we just burn it out.”

As you start 2011, bear this in mind: enough talk, more action. You actually can do something about your workplace and the way you work – now more than ever. Software CAN change cultures and it’s time to look closely at how you can use new tools and new team structures to make a difference.

So, what’s your resolution?


Jesse is responsible for marketing at Rypple. Jesse was one of the early team members at Endeca where he contributed to its growth in a variety of ways, including as co-founder of the EMEA operation and head of retail industry marketing. Jesse plays piano, is an aspiring golfer, and used to play lots of baseball, including for the Canadian Junior champions. Jesse holds a BA from Harvard.