Prof. Brion Speaks at Thinkers 50 First US Event at IESE NYC

IESE and Tuck faculty explored latest trends in management


Sebastien Brion

London based Thinkers50, an organization which scans, ranks, and shares the best management ideas in the world, held its first ever U.S. event at IESE’s New York Center on December 12, 2013. Entitled "An Evening With Three Thought Leaders In Management", the event featured IESE’s Assistant Prof. Sebastien Brion, along with Tuck School of Business faculty Profs. Ron Adner and Sydney Finkelstein.

Over 50 executives attended the evening event, which was moderated by Des Dearlove, founder of Thinkers 50 McGraw-Hill Publishing and Tuck School of Business were co-sponsors. IESE Prof. Sebastien Brion led a highly interactive and engaging session on his research around the acquisition and loss of power among high level executives. He summed up the main problem regarding how executives tend to lose the confidence of their colleagues: overconfidence. He shared research that shows how people often systematically overestimate their abilities relative to others.

Prof. Brion explained that people who achieve higher levels of power within organizations can sometimes lack empathy and thus are less able to discern when their colleagues and direct reports are not having genuine, trusting interactions with them, which overtime makes them less effective in the firm.

Prof. Brion surprised the audience positively with a self-test showing how difficult it can be for some people to discern when another person is genuinely smiling versus when they are faking a smile.

Author of the book Why Smart Executives Fail, Tuck Prof. Finkelstein focused his session on his annual list of the worst and best CEOs of 2013. The former list included Eika Batista, the Brazilian billionaire who lost 99 percent of his wealth last year, and Ron Johnson, who led JC Penny’s stock value and store sales to all-time lows. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos topped his list of best CEOs for 2013, followed by Toyota’s CEO, Akio Toyoda.

Tuck’s Prof. Ron Adner spoke about how too many companies obsess over their own efforts, while neglecting the innovation ecosystem on which their success depends. Author of The Wide Lens: What Successful Innovators See that Others Miss, he explained that this is how great innovations fail and that, in our increasingly interdependent world, winning requires more than 'just' great execution.