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.

Friday, March 16, 2018

First-Class Leadership

First-Class Leadership by Hamid Safaei provides practical advice on a wide range of topics relevant to leading. This book is about action rather than concepts. Safaei goes into detail about what leaders need to do. The deeper details of how to do all that needs to be done is lacking. Safaei backs his advice with quotes from many leaders, but do not expect a conceptual foundation for what is recommended. But this book is not meant to be an academic treatise on leadership. This is a book for those who want to know what is required of a leader. The reasons for the title and subtitle of the book are unclear, though. The author explains what first-class leadership entails but not what makes his conception of leadership first class. The subtitle is misleading, “How Highly Effective Teams Can Achieve Breakthrough Results.” The implication is that the book’s focus is on building effective teams. That is certainly part of what Safaei addresses, but the book is far more comprehensive in its explanation of the leader’s role. Safaei writes in a simple, straightforward, sincere style, though choppy due to a lack of smooth transitions. He is a native of Iran and moved to the Netherlands in 2001, where he continues to live. His perspective is more international than many American authors, which is evident from the people Safaei interviewed and sources he quotes. This broader viewpoint is refreshing. Also pleasing is how illustrations are used throughout the book to support themes within the text and provide visual relief from the printed word. First-Class Leadership is an informative read for those seeking an introduction and overview of what it takes to lead.

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.