9 leadership books worth reading now

Leaders are finding new meaning in some books on their shelves. CIOs and IT leaders share  their picks for what you should read or re-read now, for wisdom on adaptability, negotiations, inclusion, and more.

Yes, these are unprecedented times (Maybe you’re tired of hearing that phrase.) But solutions to some of the problems leaders are facing right now are already out there: They might even be in a book sitting on your bookshelf in your home office.

Much classic leadership wisdom still rings true, and leaders are finding new meaning and relevance in their favorite books. Consider these recommendations from our community for nine books that can help guide you through the challenges you are facing right now.

Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

By: Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan, and Charles Burck

Book description (from Amazon): The book that shows how to get the job done and deliver results … whether you’re running an entire company or in your first management job. Larry Bossidy is one of the world’s most acclaimed CEOs, a man with few peers who has a track record for delivering results. Ram Charan is a legendary advisor to senior executives and boards of directors, a man with unparalleled insight into why some companies are successful and others are not. Together they’ve pooled their knowledge and experience into the one book on how to close the gap between results promised and results delivered that people in business need today.

Why you should read it: “This book was very influential to me as a newly minted leader,” says Jay Ferro, CIO of Quikrete. “Disciplines like strategy and innovation are critical, and admittedly ‘sexier,’ aspects of leading an organization, but a key differentiator between an ordinary team and an exceptional team is the ability to execute.”

“During this time of great change, especially, we have to be adaptable, focus on priorities, and then deliver. People must always come first, but they must be set up for success in a culture that rewards positivity, collaboration, and execution. This book provides a framework focused on getting things done rather than just the theory of planning. I’ve read this book three times and while it’s probably not as politically correct today as it was 18 years ago, many of its principles are timeless. Strategy without execution is hallucination!” says Ferro.

Act Like A Leader, Think Like A Leader

By: Herminia Ibarra

Book description (from Amazon): You aspire to lead with greater impact. The problem is you’re busy executing on today’s demands. You know you have to carve out time from your day job to build your leadership skills, but it’s easy to let immediate problems and old mind-sets get in the way. Herminia Ibarra – an expert on professional leadership and development and a renowned professor at INSEAD, a leading international business school – shows how managers and executives at all levels can step up to leadership by making small but crucial changes in their jobs, their networks, and themselves.

Why you should read it: “I picked up this book because it came highly recommended for leaders who are looking to have a greater impact,” says Cedric Wells, veteran director of IT business solutions. “I have a growth mindset, and I learn through action and experimentation, so I enjoy the direct experiences and perspectives the author covers in the book. It’s particularly relevant now because so much has changed – the old-school ways of thinking and leading have to evolve with the future of work and managing people. So if you are looking to become a better leader and take your career to the next level, this may be one to add to your reading list.”

Ask for More

By: Alexandra Carter

Book description (from Amazon): Negotiation is not a zero-sum game. It’s an essential skill for your career that can also improve your closest relationships and your everyday life, but often people shy away from it, feeling defeated before they’ve even started. In this groundbreaking new book on negotiation, Ask for More, Alexandra Carter – Columbia law professor and mediation expert who has helped students, business professionals, the United Nations, and more – offers a straightforward, accessible approach anyone can use to ask for and get more.

Why you should read it: “All too often, parties go into negotiations without really knowing what they want to achieve and why,” says Dave Egts, chief technologist of Red Hat’s North America Public Sector. “The book is broken down into ten questions. The first five questions help you flesh out what you want out of the negotiation and why. The remaining five questions help you tease out what the other party wants. Leading with transparency encourages the other party to be more transparent, as well. The end result is everyone playing their cards face up, so both parties win.”

The Power of a Positive No

By: William Ury

Book description (from Amazon): The secret to saying No without destroying relationships lies in the art of the Positive No, a proven technique that anyone can learn. This indispensable book gives you a simple three-step method for saying a Positive No. It will show you how to assert and defend your key interests; how to make your No firm and strong; how to resist the other side’s aggression and manipulation; and how to do all this while still getting to Yes. In the end, the Positive No will help you get not just to any Yes but to the right Yes, the one that truly serves your interests.

Why you should read it: “I frequently recommend this book to my coaching and consulting clients,” says Bob Kantor, founder of Kantor Consulting Group. “In order for our ‘Yes’es’ to have an impact, we need to also be able to say ‘No’ in such a way as to continue to strengthen our relationships. Ury’s framework enables us to say yes to our relationship while saying no to a specific request or behavior.”

“This has always been a critical skill for IT leaders, given how often we’re seen as the ‘masters of No.’ And it’s even more critical now as our organizations deal with radical ambiguity and the need for rapid digital transformation. His technique is effective when working down, across, and upward in our organizations,” says Kantor.

The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness

By: Todd Rose

Book description (from Amazon): Rose, a rising star in the new field of the science of the individual, shows that no one is average. Not you. Not your kids. Not your employees. This isn’t hollow sloganeering—it’s a mathematical fact with enormous practical consequences. But while we know people learn and develop in distinctive ways, these unique patterns of behaviors are lost in our schools and businesses which have been designed around the mythical “average person.” This average-size-fits-all model ignores our differences and fails at recognizing talent. It’s time to change it.

Why you should read it: “In this book, Rose, a developmental psychologist and faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, talks about how classification systems (for example MBTI) are just a shortcut for trying to understand the world,” says Drew Bird, founder of The EQ Development Group. “While we think we gain an advantage by using such measures, Rose argues that we actually lose a great deal as we fail to understand the individual complexity that makes each of us who we are.”

“As leaders, while these classification systems help us understand individuals better, they are not the end of the learning. We must accept that while every team member may have specific preferences, the strength of that preference, and the way in which it is situationally variable, is what a leader really needs to understand. An easy example of how these categorization systems can be misused or misunderstood can be heard in statements like, ‘Introverts will like working from home (not true), and extroverts will miss being around others (also not true).’ It’s been a while since I read this book, but the fundamental message has proven to be very valuable to me in my work in recent months.”

A Stone of Hope: A Memoir

By: Jim St. Germain and Jon Sternfeld

Book description (from Amazon): A searing memoir and clarion call to save our at-risk youth by a young black man who himself was a lost cause – until he landed in a rehabilitation program that saved his life and gave him purpose. A Stone of Hope is more than an incredible coming-of-age story; told with a degree of candor that requires the deepest courage, it is also a rallying cry. No one is who they are going to be – or capable of being – at sixteen. St. Germain is living proof of this. He contends that we must work to build a world in which we do not give up on a swath of the next generation.

Why you should read it: “A Stone of Hope is a moving memoir that demonstrates why black lives matter, and shows how small, experimental changes in our criminal justice system can result in amazing and uplifting outcomes,” says Mike Walker, senior director and global lead for Red Hat’s Open Innovation Labs. “Jim St. Germain is a Haitian immigrant, who relocated to Brooklyn, where economic and environmental conditions sent him to the streets, and made a life of incarceration a near certainty for him. Through an experimental program designed to rehabilitate troubled youth through mentoring and structure, he found a way to overcome his challenges, and found a way to help others do the same. Looking back at this book, it provides a shining example of how relatively small but powerful changes can help erode systemic racism in the United States, and provide opportunity for those most in need.”

Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs

By: John Doerr

Book description (from Amazon): In Measure What Matters, Doerr shares a broad range of first-person, behind-the-scenes case studies, with narrators including Bono and Bill Gates, to demonstrate the focus, agility, and explosive growth that OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) have spurred at so many great organizations. This book will help a new generation of leaders capture the same magic.

Why you should read it: “At a time when the majority of companies are in a state of transition, it is more important than ever to ensure your business is aligned on goals, OKRs, and resources to continue to drive growth,” says Alison Durant, SVP of marketing for LogMeIn. “This book provides a simple and effective framework for settings goals and communicating them throughout your organization. It also emphasizes the importance of keeping those goals top of mind during times of change to ensure every employee understands how their contributions are connected to the success of the business.”

Wolfpack: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game

By: Abby Wambach

Book description (from Amazon): Abby Wambach became a champion because of her incredible talent as a soccer player. She became an icon because of her remarkable wisdom as a leader. As the co-captain of the 2015 Women’s World Cup Champion Team, she created a culture not just of excellence, but of honor, commitment, resilience, and sisterhood. She helped transform a group of individual women into one of the most successful, powerful and united Wolfpacks of all time. In her retirement, Abby’s ready to do the same for her new team: All Women Everywhere.

Why you should read it: “Wambach is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, a FIFA Women’s World Cup champion, member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame, and an activist for equality and inclusion. She also possesses remarkable wisdom that she shares with organizational leaders. Wolfpack is especially relevant during this time of tremendous volatility and uncertainty because it lays out a clear and inspirational strategy – for everyone from children to Fortune 500 leaders – on leading in your community or your company,” says Bob Pryor, CEO of NTT DATA Services.

“As someone who learned a hard lesson on leading from the sidelines after she had to bench herself as co-captain, Wambach advises on leading from wherever you are. One bit of Abby’s counsel I really love is to ‘demand the ball,’ rather than wait for someone to hand you an opportunity. Finally, her message to ‘make failure your fuel’ really resonates with me as a reminder that we all experience failure, but we can learn to be powered by it instead of live in fear of it,” says Pryor.

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How.

By: Daniel Coyle

Book description (from Amazon): What is the secret of talent? How do we unlock it? In this groundbreaking work, journalist and New York Times bestselling author Daniel Coyle provides parents, teachers, coaches, businesspeople – and everyone else – with tools they can use to maximize potential in themselves and others. Whether you’re coaching soccer or teaching a child to play the piano, writing a novel or trying to improve your golf swing, this revolutionary book shows you how to grow talent by tapping into a newly discovered brain mechanism.

Why you should read it: “Like most companies, our team has been working from home, and it is part of my job to work with our team to maximize customer success with our solutions. I am constantly looking for ways to both find the best people for our teams and make sure our team is providing their best game,” says Paula Gettman, head of customer success for RealEyes. “This book inspired me to understand the science of the brain’s myelin production and its connection to greatness. Both in myself and in our teams, I am now looking for ways to help us to cultivate and nourish this untapped strength.”

“Leaders who want to perform at the top level of excellence, especially with so much disruption to our normal ways of working, need to dip into the power of this idea to find the energy that can easily be depleted in daily work,” says Gettman. “When each person finds their purpose and learns to drive it by understanding the biology of the way our brains work, we can do great work under any circumstance.”

Source : https://enterprisersproject.com/article/2020/7/9-must-read-books-leadership

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