Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Good People

Anthony Tjan has written an inspirational and informative book about goodness. Good People is a practical book. Tjan has developed a framework that identifies the elements of what makes for a good person. He then describes in depth the practices that will allow an individual to deepen goodness within self and facilitate its development in others. He also makes the case for why goodness is critical to the health and success of society, businesses, organizations, teams, families, and individuals. He argues that the key focus of leaders is to help self and others become the fullest and truest versions of themselves. This is a book for anyone committed to being a good person. The volume will especially be useful to leaders and those responsible for the development of others, such as managers, mentors, teachers, counselors, parents, etc. Tjan makes the case, with real-life examples to support his argument, for why making the choice to be a good person is the key to transformative leadership.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Lead Yourself First

Lead Yourself First by Raymond M. Kethledge and Michael S. Erwin is a series of stories illustrating how contemporary and historical leaders have used solitude to achieve clarity of thought, tap into intuitive insights, spark creativity, achieve emotional balance, bolster moral courage, and more. The leader profiles make for interesting reading. This is not a “how-to” book, though. Only in the last few pages are specific recommendations given for how to carve out alone time for focused thinking. Rather, the book’s focus is to make a case for the importance of solitude to leadership by illustrating the role of solitude in key decisions and actions taken by leaders in politics, business, the military, academia, not-for-profits, religion, activism, and other arenas. The writing is engaging, the stories illustrative, and the lessons informative.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Journey of Not Knowing

The Journey of Not Knowing by Julie Benezet focuses on a critical characteristic of effective leaders, the ability to deal with ambiguity. This is an aspect of leading that has not been given enough attention. Benezet draws from her own experiences as a former executive at Amazon. The book begins with Benezet sharing her own perspectives on leadership. She outlines the unknowns—internal and external—that leaders need to confront. The middle portion of the volume is a fable about a pivotal day in the work lives of executives in a fictional company. The story is absorbing, though it is easy to lose focus on the points the story is attempting to illustrate. Benezet does provide introductory notes to sections of the story to help the reader keep attention on the lessons being illustrated. In the last section of the book she provides a helpful summary of what is to be gleaned from the story. She also provides useful charts that condense the information. The book provides a readable introduction to the subject of dealing with the unknown. The book’s main weakness is a lack of depth. Nonetheless, Benezet does an important service in making would-be leaders aware of the need to develop an ability to navigate the unknown.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Draw to Win

Leaders interested in more effectively communicating will want to read Draw to Win by Dan Roam. Using clear, straightforward language and lots of simple drawings, Roam provides easy to follow instructions on how to illustrate your thoughts. This is not a book about art; it is about thinking and communicating that thinking to others. Can’t draw? Roam will prove you wrong. He even includes instructions on how to draw the ideal stick figure. But Roam provides more than drawing lessons. He shares practical models on how to lead, sell, and innovate. This is an enjoyable and informative read that will prove useful for those wanting to improve how to share ideas in their personal and professional roles.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Start With Why

The concepts, and even the model, that Simon Sinek shares in his book Start with Why are not new. Nonetheless, he has written an inspiring book. The reason Sinek inspires is because he integrates those concepts and clarifies their WHY—the purpose those concepts serve. Sinek effectively explains the source of inspiration at the individual and organizational levels and how to tap into that source for ourselves and those we would lead. Sinek provides practical advice as to how to inspire self and others. Anyone aspiring to lead will find this book a worthwhile read.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Christian Leader

The Christian Leader by Bill Hull explains how Christians are to lead. This book is aimed at all Christians, not just those in formal church leadership roles. Hull believes all Christians are called to lead others to Christ. But this is not a book about discipleship, not directly. Hull challenges the appropriateness of secular leadership models for Christians who would lead in any sector of society. Hull holds up Jesus as the model leader and outlines in the book the leadership lessons Jesus teaches us. For Hull, being a leader is about character. To be a Christian leader means to allow ourselves to be shaped and led by God. Hull’s description of the Christian leader goes contrary to the usual secular model of a leader. Hull identifies as an evangelist but has little patience for the holier-than-thou variety. But Hull’s strong Christian language leaves no doubt about his faith commitment to Jesus Christ. There are lessons to be learned about authentic leadership from the book even for those who do not share Hull’s faith perspective. It may be difficult, though, for such readers to get past the Christian language to glean the universal lessons for leaders. But Hull is clearly writing for Christians and based on that premise, he has written a useful book for those who would lead following Jesus Christ as their model.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

That's Not How We Do It Here!

The latest book from John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber entitled That's Not How We Do It Here! is a quick, inspiring, entertaining read. Written as a fable about a clan of meerkats, the book addresses how entrepreneurial startups and mature organizations alike can thrive in an ever-changing business environment. The story highlights such issues as dealing with change, handling increasing organizational complexities that come with growth, fostering teamwork across departmental silos, encouraging innovation, and becoming a learning organization. The key lesson of the book is the difference between leading and managing and the need for both if an organization is to thrive. There is a short section at the end of the book that outlines the concepts illustrated in the fable. This is not a how-to book, however. Readers will need to refer to Kotter’s more detailed works for guidance on how to implement the approach described in this book’s storyline. The value of this book is as a tool to introduce readers to the need to consider the premises introduced through the fable. Having managers at all levels read this book and discuss as a group can initiate stimulating conversations, innovative ideas, and a desire to act.