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HBR IdeaCast

A weekly podcast featuring the leading thinkers in business and management.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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The best episodes ranked using user listens.

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Become a Better Listener

Mark Goulston, psychiatrist and author of "Just Listen," explains how.

20mins

13 Aug 2015

Rank #1

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Networking Myths Dispelled

David Burkus, a professor at Oral Roberts University and author of the book “Friend of a Friend,” explains common misconceptions about networking. First, trading business cards at a networking event doesn’t mean you’re a phony. Second, your most valuable contacts are actually the people you already know. Burkus says some of the most useful networking you can do involves strengthening your ties with old friends and current coworkers.

18mins

14 Aug 2018

Rank #2

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Why Work-From-Anywhere Is Here to Stay

Prithwiraj (Raj) Choudhury, associate professor at Harvard Business School, was studying the growing work-from-anywhere movement long before the Covid-19 pandemic forced many more of us into virtual work. He says that more and more organizations are adopting WFA as a business strategy, one that not only reduces real estate costs but also boosts employee engagement and productivity. He acknowledges that there are challenges to creating and maintaining all-remote workforces but outlines research-based best practices for overcoming them. Choudhury is the author of the HBR article "Our Work from Anywhere Future."

26mins

20 Oct 2020

Rank #3

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When Efficiency Goes Too Far

Roger Martin, professor emeritus at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, says that for decades the U.S. corporate system has been obsessed with eliminating inefficiencies. There's a point, his research shows, when these efficiency gains come with even greater social and economic costs. And he believes that the Covid-19 pandemic is increasingly exposing those weaknesses. He argues that leaders and CEOs should reassess and, in some ways, reverse course in their perpetual drive for efficiency. Martin is the author of the new book "When More Is Not Better: Overcoming America's Obsession with Economic Efficiency."

23mins

29 Sep 2020

Rank #4

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Understand How People See You

Heidi Grant Halvorson, author of "No One Understands You and What to Do About It," explains the science of perception.

23mins

16 Apr 2015

Rank #5

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Stop Micromanaging and Give People the Help They Really Need

Colin Fisher, associate professor at University College London's School of Management, conducted in-depth studies at several companies to determine how managers can effectively help employees who need assistance without demoralizing them. He found that the most effective helpers were the ones who clearly communicated their intentions, timed their interventions at points when people were most receptive, and figured out a rhythm of involvement that best suited their needs. He shares examples from different firms to illustrate what works and what doesn't, in person and online. Fisher is the coauthor of the HBR article "How to Help (Without Micromanaging)."

23mins

29 Dec 2020

Rank #6

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Bill Gates on How Business Leaders Can Fight Climate Change

Bill Gates, philanthropist and founder of Microsoft, argues that, even as we work to end the global pandemic, we can't lose sight of another existential threat: climate change. He says that we need to take aggressive action to get to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and insists that regulation isn't enough. Businesses need to pave the way forward by investing much more heavily in climate-friendly innovation. Gates speaks with HBR editor in chief Adi Ignatius about his new book, "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need."

25mins

16 Feb 2021

Rank #7

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Real Leaders: Ernest Shackleton Leads a Harrowing Expedition

In 1915, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton’s ship became trapped in ice, north of Antarctica. For the next two years, he kept his crew of 27 men alive on a drifting ice cap, then led them in their escape. How Shackleton did that has become one of the most famous leadership case studies. In the first episode of a four-part special series on leadership, HBR Editor in Chief Adi Ignatius and Harvard Business School professor and historian Nancy Koehn analyze Shackleton’s leadership during the struggle to survive. They discover lessons in building a team, learning from bad bosses, and cultivating empathy.

30mins

5 Mar 2020

Rank #8

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Managing Someone Who’s Too Collaborative

Rebecca Shambaugh, a leadership coach, says being too collaborative can actually hold you back at work. Instead of showing how well you build consensus and work with others, it can look like indecision or failure to prioritize. She explains what to do if you over-collaborate, how to manage someone who does, and offers some advice for women — whose bosses are more likely to see them as overly consensus-driven. Shambaugh is the author of the books "It's Not a Glass Ceiling, It's a Sticky Floor" and "Make Room For Her."

23mins

21 Aug 2018

Rank #9

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Corporate America’s Work in Fighting Racism is Just Beginning

Ella Washington, an organizational psychologist at Georgetown University, argues that private sector American organizations have a big role to play in sustaining the fight for racial justice that has gained such momentum in recent weeks. She says that widespread protests should mark a shift in how companies and their leaders push for government policy change, think about diversity and inclusion in their own workplaces, and strive to combat bias and inequality in U.S. society. It not enough for CEOs to release statements and continue on with business as usual. To promote real change, they need to work on these issues each and every day. Washington is the coauthor of the HBR article "U.S. Businesses Must Take Meaningful Action Against Racism."

27mins

9 Jun 2020

Rank #10

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Making Good Decisions

Stanford's Ron Howard, one of the fathers of decision analysis, explains how it's done.

17mins

20 Nov 2014

Rank #11

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What the Best Decision Makers Do

Ram Charan, coauthor of "Boards that Lead," talks about what he's learned in three decades of helping executives make tough decisions.

13mins

24 Oct 2013

Rank #12

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Simple Rules for Creating Great Places to Work

Gareth Jones, author of "Why Should Anyone Work Here?", explains the things managers know, but struggle to do.

14mins

5 Nov 2015

Rank #13

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Marc Andreessen and Jim Barksdale on How to Make Money

The tech luminaries on bundling and unbundling in the digital age.

15mins

10 Jul 2014

Rank #14

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How CEOs Can Drive Sales — or Kill Deals

Christoph Senn, marketing professor at INSEAD, has spent years studying how top executives involve themselves in B2B sales. Some are very hands-off. Others make only social calls. Still others sit at the negotiating table. Outcomes vary widely. Senn explains the best combination of approaches for top executives engaging with core customers. And he shares how account managers and other employees can benefit from knowing their leader’s style. Senn is the coauthor, with Columbia Business School's Noel Capon, of the HBR article "When CEOs Make Sales Calls."

25mins

23 Feb 2021

Rank #15

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Build Your Character (at Least for a Day)

Tiffany Shlain, filmmaker, on why we need more time to develop our inner selves.

14mins

17 Sep 2015

Rank #16

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Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace

Amy Edmondson, professor at Harvard Business School, first identified the concept of psychological safety in work teams in 1999. Since then, she has observed how companies with a trusting workplace perform better. Psychological safety isn't about being nice, she says. It’s about giving candid feedback, openly admitting mistakes, and learning from each other. And she argues that kind of organizational culture is increasingly important in the modern economy. Edmondson is the author of the new book "The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth.”

26mins

22 Jan 2019

Rank #17

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Understanding Agile Management

Darrell Rigby of Bain and Jeff Sutherland of Scrum explain the rise of lean, iterative management tactics, and how to implement them yourself.

26mins

15 Apr 2016

Rank #18

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Why Technical Experts Make Great Leaders

Amanda Goodall, a senior lecturer at Cass Business School in London, argues that the best leaders are technical experts, not general managers. She discusses her research findings about doctors who head up hospitals, scholars who lead universities, and all-star basketball players who go on to manage teams. She also gives advice for what to do if you’re a generalist managing experts or an expert managed by a generalist. Goodall is the co-author of the HBR articles “If Your Boss Could Do Your Job, You’re More Likely to Be Happy at Work” and “Why the Best Hospitals Are Managed by Doctors.”

20mins

24 Apr 2018

Rank #19

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How to Be Less Distracted at Work — and in Life

Nir Eyal, an expert on technology and psychology, says that we all need to learn to be less distracted into activities that don't help us achieve what we want to each day. Unwelcome behaviors can range from social media scrolling and bingeing on YouTube videos to chatting with colleagues or answering non-urgent emails. To break these habits, we start by recognizing that it is often our own emotions, not our devices, that distract us. We must then recognize the difference between traction (values-aligned work or leisure) and distraction (not) and make time in our schedules for more of the former. Eyal also has tips for protecting ourselves from the external distractions that do come at us and tools to force us to focus on bigger-picture goals. He is the author of the book "Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life."

27mins

24 Sep 2019

Rank #20