One of the ways that I "Help Leaders Blossom" is to read. I love books that are well researched, well presented and have a practical orientation. This section of my website is designed to support your leadership journey by helping to choose your next good read, and grow your leadership capacity.
I read (and listen to) books on leadership, organization development, strategy formation, change ... the list goes on, so I've organized the books into categories that make sense to me, and I have added brief comments with some of my thoughts. I've also added links to short video clips that may peak your interest. A book may show up in more than one category, with different comments. I promise to include the books that didn't quite thrill me. Who knows? Maybe you will have a completely different take than I have.
This is a work in progress. My goal is to add one resource each week (starting October 2018) so this section will grow over time. Feel free to suggest a book to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may influence me on what comes next. I have inherited almost 300 books from Peter's library so I may already have it in mind.
Leading out of Drama!
Toxic Workplace! Managing Toxic Personalities and Their systems of Power.
2009. Mitchell Kusy and Elizabeth Holloway.
I use this book extensively when supporting leaders who are faced with the challenge of toxic behavior in the workplace. Kusy and Holloway's research builds an understanding that toxicity operates in a fundamentally different way than healthy teams. I found that the book was filled with lots of data and charts which build my confidence in the rigour. On the other hand, it was a bit discouraging since the effectiveness rates were so low. If you can push past that, there are some really helpful aspects if you need to lead in a toxic contenxt. On page 24, there is a list of toxic behaviors that I use to help differentiate between staff members with strong personalities compared with truly toxic behaviors. Many clients experience this awareness as a breakthrough when they realize that they've been applying mindsets and strategies that are misaligned with the individuals and culture they are actually faced with. My observation is that dealing with toxicity requires clarity, organizational support and strong leadership and advises that managers don't go it alone.
Leading and Mindsets
Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 7 Powerful Tools for Life and Work.
2009. Marilee Adams.
This book is for leaders who want to learn how to reframe their mindset. Marilee Adams suggests that any of us can change our lives simply by changing the questions we ask, especially those we ask ourselves. We can ask learner-centered questions that open us to learning, connection, satisfaction, and success. Or we can ask judger-centered questions that impede progress and keep us from getting the results we want. Reframing is essential for getting past self-imposed barriers, and what I describe as "voluntary stress". You know, the stress that you create within yourself that actually makes your situation worse. Marilee's model is extremely effective in helping leaders know how to help other be more productive in their thinking. Leaders reframe conversations with their staff by asking learner based questions and indoing so refocus people's attention on creativity, responsibilty and solutions. If you'd like a copy of the choice map, order it on Marilee's website.
Here is a short video of Marilee explaining her Choice Map:
The Power of TED: The Empowerment Dynamic.
2009. David Emerald.
This book is about shifting awareness and mindsets in an interpersonal dynamic. David Emerald provides a model that shows us how we engage in The Drama Triangle which creates toxicity in our interpersonal relationships. When applied to the workplace, it can provide a way of depersonalizing conflict and provide an alternative by shifting to the Empowerment Triangle. When we consciously choose how we engage we increase the potential of experiencing a healthy workplace. As a leader, you can develop the ability to guide others to focus on empowerment and responsibility rather than victim-hood and blame. For more information check out David Emerald's website.
This video is the most cogent explanation of this model that I have found, and I use it regularly with individuals and teams.
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard.
2010. Chip and Dan Heath
This book is for leaders who need to lead change when the existing approach is not enough. The Heath brothers have integrated change theory, the neuoscience of change, and effective implementation strategies. They focus on practical applications and case studies that make the theory come alive and close the gap between a great idea and how to make it actionable. They emphasize the need to motivate both the head and the heart of followers. They suggest leadership mindsets, communication approaches, development of followers, alignment of organizational systems, as well as building cultural habits that support and hardwire the change. This is an insightful book for anyone who is leading change and I recommend it highly.
If you'd like a video summary (7:55), click here.