Kumbuka, the silverback gorilla who leads the troop at London Zoo © Getty
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Welcome to the FT Business school newsletter, a weekly serving of management wisdom, reading recommendations and business-related challenges. FT subscribers can sign up here to receive the newsletter by email every Monday. If you have feedback about FT Business school, please email bschool@ft.com.

How to Lead

Carl-Henric Svanberg chairman of BP features in our weekly series How to Lead. Find out how he steered the group to recovery after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 and rebuilt trust.

Andrew Hill's challenge

The FT's management editor sets a weekly test of your business, strategy and management skills.

Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron were compared to apes last week after they indulged in some bizarre hand-holding and grooming during the French president's state visit to Washington DC. I visited London Zoo last week to canvas the opinion of Kumbuka, the alpha male silverback who leads the zoo's troop of gorillas.

According to Kumbuka's keeper, the parallels between presidential primates and gorillas aren't that accurate. Mr Macron and Mr Trump were behaving oddly for apes. True gorilla-leadership involves using more subtle hints — a mere sidelong glance to assert control, for example. 

For this week's management challenge, I'd like to hear your negotiating tactic for world leaders when they meet President Trump: is it caresses followed by criticism (à la Macron), aggressive handshaking, or other body language or rhetorical techniques? Your ideas in one line to bschool@ft.com.

In my last challenge — based on my column linking Fleetwood Mac's break-ups to law firm ructions — I asked for a one-line mission statement, based, if possible, on a song lyric. Michelle Lim goes with: "Just the two of us, we can make it if we try" from the hit by Grover Washington Jr and Bill Withers.

In further reading this week, David Costanza offers a useful round-up of the research on generational differences for Slate.com and concludes that "the science shows that generations are not a thing". I've expressed scepticism about the notion in the past. Costanza, a professor of organisational sciences, takes it further, pointing out how easy it is to assign generational causes to what are actually age effects. "The core scientific problem," he writes, "is that the pop press, consultants, and even some academics who are committed to generations don’t focus on the whys. They have a vested interest in selling the whats … but without the science behind them, any prescriptions are worthless or even harmful".

Professor's picks

Every week a business school professor or academic recommends useful FT articles.

Alexandra Gerbasi, professor of leadership, University of Exeter Business School

WPP shares tumble after Martin Sorrell’s departure Sir Martin Sorrell has left WPP, the company he formed over 30 years ago. Much has been of his influence; the company was not often talked about without reference to him. His brand and that of WPP are indelibly linked.

The article is not only a good illustration of how markets react to uncertainty but highlights the advantages and disadvantages of the ‘heroic leadership model’. While Sir Martin has been a driving force behind WPP’s success, it is instructive that much of the coverage now concerns its possible break up, following the departure of one individual — the CEO.

Jonathan Moules's business school news

Most business schools are well versed in the merits of greater diversity. London Business School is one of the few schools to go as far as highlighting gender pay imbalance due to a requirement by the UK government for all institutions of a certain size to publish their mean and median gender pay gaps. The top-line figure of a 23 per cent pay gap, was not good enough, dean François Ortalo-Magné admitted.

One of the complaints of school deans is that they can only do so much as one school because management professors compete in a global marketplace where the most published academics can set their own price.

The problem of gender pay differences start with the lack of female professors in key subjects, notably banking and insurance. The reason for this goes back to gender biases that discourage women from applying for finance PhDs or prevent those that do from getting their work published in key journals.

So should the FT do something about this? Our annual MBA ranking list includes diversity measures such as the percentage of female faculty and students on MBA programmes. But perhaps we should go further and make gender pay disparities another indicator of course quality.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the subject — Jonathan.Moules@ft.com

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Edited by Wai Kwen Chan — bschool@ft.com

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