Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Studying Leadership


In their newly-released third edition of A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book About Studying Leadership, Brad Jackson and Ken Parry provide a clear, concise, and comprehensive overview of leadership research. Writing in a nonacademic style, they explain the many leadership models and perspectives scholars are exploring. The authors highlight the strengths and limitations of the various models. An appendix to the book identifies a wealth of useful resources. Though written for those contemplating entering the leadership research field, this book holds value for practitioners and anyone else interested in leadership.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Coaching Conversations

Though specifically targeted to school leaders, other leaders may also benefit from reading Coaching Conversations by Linda M. Gross Cheliotes and Marcia F. Reilly. The book provides basic instruction on how school leaders may facilitate the development and learning of teachers and students through formal and informal coaching conversations. Some of the skills the authors address include listening, asking powerful questions, and providing helpful feedback. Examples to illustrate the application of the skills are provided throughout the book. Appendices list sample questions that can be used in coaching conversations. The writing of the authors is precise, perhaps too much so. Cheliotes and Reilly provide basic explanations but a more detailed treatment might prove more instructive. While the book’s intended audience is school leaders, others inside and outside school settings may find this book useful. Anyone with responsibility for facilitating learning and skill development in others could benefit from the recommendations the authors put forth.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

This Is Day One


In his new book This Is Day One, Drew Dudley focuses on one day of being a leader—the first one. He advocates approaching each day as though it is your first in your journey to be a leader. In a relaxed writing style he imparts insights into what it means to lead self and others. He then provides specifics practices to facilitate the ability to be someone who has a positive impact on people. Dudley is writing for everyone. Each person, according to Dudley, has the potential and the responsibility to lead. And it starts with day one. And that day is now. There is no need to wait and no time to waste. Dudley’s processes are not complex, but they are challenging. But he cheers his readers on to take it just one day at a time. For those who persevere, positive changes will emerge for them and for those they interact with. This is a book for anyone who wants to live a life that matters.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

The Meaning Revolution


The Meaning Revolution by Fred Kofman is about how to become a transcendent leader, a leader who creates the opportunity for people to find meaning through their work. Kofman not only describes what it takes to be a transcendent leader but also explains how to develop the capacity to be such a leader. Kofman provides examples of transcendent leaders and the lessons to be learned from them. He also shares his own journey that brought him to the insights he includes in the book. This is an informative and insightful read. It can also be challenging, especially the final part of the book. Here Kofman gets into the spiritual (not religious) aspects of transcendent leadership. He effectively integrates spirituality and business. More controversial for some may be his passionate case for the superiority of capitalism over any other economic system. He is not blind to the abuses that occur within capitalist economies, but he argues that these negative consequences are due to the unethical and ego-centered actions of some of the players in business and government and not due to a systemic flaw in capitalism itself. There are many who would dispute this claim. Nonetheless, this book is worth reading for the positive vision Kofman holds up for business and work. If business did operate in alignment with his vision, the results would be the opportunity for individuals to live meaningful lives within communities of purpose that contribute to the wellbeing of the entire planet.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The New Science of Radical Innovation


In her book The New Science of Radical Innovation, Sunnie Giles draws from quantum mechanics, complexity science, systems theory, neuroscience, psychology, and business to identify six leadership competencies required to catalyze radical innovation in organizations. Giles admits she limited the book’s focus to what and why to the exclusion of a detailed discussion of how because of the volume of content she wanted to convey. Nonetheless, this is a fascinating and useful read. Giles explains the new ways leaders must think in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world. She draws from research conducted in multiple disciplines to make a convincing case of why common business practices have become obsolete. She then explains what leaders need to do to deal with the realities of today’s business environment in order to propel their organizations forward. This book is not for those seeking explanations for how to implement incremental changes. Giles has written  for those who are prepared to take their organizations to the cutting edge of their fields. If you are not one of those individuals, then read this book to discover why you need to be if you and your organization are to remain relevant in a rapidly changing world.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Leader Habit


The Leader Habit by Martin Lanik provides a leader development process that is supported by extensive research. Lanik identifies twenty-two leadership skills and the seventy-nine micro-behaviors that constitute those skills. He then provides a process for mastering those skills until they become habitual. The outline of the leader skills, their micro-behaviors, and the development exercises will be valuable to anyone interested in leader development. Lanik’s explanation of how habits are formed, however, will be of interest to anyone seeking to initiate change in the behavior of oneself or others. Also of value are the discussions of how to motivate change in self and others and how to effectively coach individuals to create new habits. This is a must read for anyone wanting to be a leader, responsible for helping others to lead, or in the role of initiating change.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Purpose Revolution


The first part of the book The Purpose Revolution by John Izzo and Jeff Vanderwielen makes the case for the importance to businesses of operating from a strong sense of purpose. The information provided should prove helpful for those leading organizations or teams. The compelling part of the book, however, is part two. Here the authors provide specific actions for creating a purpose-driven organization. Practices and exercises are included throughout the book that leaders can use to guide their own efforts to create organizations led by a sense of purpose. Inclusion of these practical processes takes the book beyond a mere exposition to being a useful guidebook. This is a worthwhile book for those who want to do business in the twenty-first century.