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11.01.14

First Look: Leadership Books for November 2014

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in November.

  Fail Better: Design Smart Mistakes and Succeed Sooner by Anjali Sastry and Kara Penn
  Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts
  The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership: Classical Wisdom for Modern Leaders by M. A. Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas
  Seven Disciplines of A Leader by Jeff Wolf
  Finish Big: How Great Entrepreneurs Exit Their Companies on Top by Bo Burlingham

Fail Better Napoleon Golden Rules Seven Disciplines Finish Big

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


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Build your leadership library with these specials on over 100 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


* * *

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”
— Groucho Marx


Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:33 AM
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10.01.14

First Look: Leadership Books for October 2014

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in October.

  The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson
  MOXIE: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership by John Baldoni
  The Moment You Can't Ignore: When Big Trouble Leads to a Great Future by Malachi O'Connor and Barry Dornfeld
  Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative by Scott Eblin
  Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work by Liz Wiseman

Innovators MOXIE Moment You Cant Ignore Overworked and Overwhelmed Rookie Smarts

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


discounted books


Build your leadership library with these specials on over 100 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


* * *

“No two persons ever read the same book.”
— Edmund Wilson


Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:25 PM
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09.01.14

First Look: Leadership Books for September 2014

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in September.

  The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership by Richard Branson
  The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization by Jacob Morgan
  Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success by Shane Snow
  Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization by Edward D. Hess
  Hard Times: Leadership in America by Barbara Kellerman

The Virgin Way Future of Work Smartcuts Learn or Die Hard Times

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


discounted books


Build your leadership library with these specials on over 100 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


* * *

“No two persons ever read the same book.”
— Edmund Wilson


Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:19 AM
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08.01.14

First Look: Leadership Books for August 2014

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in August.

  How Great Leaders Think: The Art of Reframing by Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal
  The Power of Noticing: What the Best Leaders See by Max Bazerman
  The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin
  Destined to Lead: Executive Coaching and Lessons for Leadership Development by Karol M. Wasylyshyn
  The Leadership Shadow: How to Recognise and Avoid Derailment, Hubris and Overdrive by Erik de Haan and Anthony Kasozi

How Great Leaders Think Power of Noticing Organized Mind Destined to Lead Leadership Shadow

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


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Build your leadership library with these specials on over 118 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:33 AM
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07.01.14

First Look: Leadership Books for July 2014

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in July.

  How the World Sees You: Discover Your Highest Value Through the Science of Fascination by Sally Hogshead
  Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman by Robert L. O'Connell
  The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh
  The Curve Ahead: Discovering the Path to Unlimited Growth by Dave Power
  The Leadership Playbook: Creating a Coaching Culture to Build Winning Business Teams by Nathan Jamail

How the World Sees You Fierce Patriot The Alliance Curve Ahead Leadership Playbook

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


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Build your leadership library with these specials on over 118 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:56 AM
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06.01.14

First Look: Leadership Books for June 2014

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in June.

  How to Be a Positive Leader: Small Actions, Big Impact by Jane E Dutton and Gretchen Spreitzer
  Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success by Sylvia Ann Hewlett
  It's Not the How or the What but the Who: Succeed by Surrounding Yourself with the Best by Claudio Fernández-Aráoz
  Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation by Linda A. Hill, Greg Brandeau, Emily Truelove, and Kent L. Lineback
  Uplifting Leadership: Your Performance, Your People, and Yourself by Andy Hargreaves, Alan Boyle and Alma Harris

Obstacle Is the Way Executive Presence Its Not the How Collective Genius Uplifting Leadership

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


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Build your leadership library with these specials on over 118 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


* * *

“If we find a man of rare intellect,we should ask him what books he reads.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson


Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:29 PM
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05.01.14

First Look: Leadership Books for May 2014

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in May.

  The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday
  The Carpenter: A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All by Jon Gordon
  Kidding Ourselves: The Hidden Power of Self-Deception by Joseph T. Hallinan
  Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact by Nick Morgan
  Turning Adversity Into Opportunity by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

Obstacle Is the Way Carpenter Kidding Ourselves Power Cues Turning Adversity

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


discounted books


Build your leadership library with these specials on over 118 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


* * *

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
— Cicero


Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:17 PM
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04.01.14

First Look: Leadership Books for April 2014

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in April.

  Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World by John P. Kotter
  Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
  The Unfinished Leader: Balancing Contradictory Answers to Unsolvable Problems by David L. Dotlich, Peter C. Cairo and Cade Cowan
  Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
  Leadership Blindspots: How Successful Leaders Identify and Overcome the Weaknesses That Matter by Robert B. Shaw

Accelerate Creativity Unfinished Leader Essentialism Blindspots

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


discounted books


Build your leadership library with these specials on over 120 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:01 AM
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03.01.14

First Look: Leadership Books for March 2014

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in March.

  Low-Hanging Fruit: 77 Eye-Opening Ways to Improve Productivity and Profits by Jeremy Eden and Terri Long
  A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger
  Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen
  Centered Leadership: Leading with Purpose, Clarity, and Impact by Joanna Barsh and Johanne Lavoie
  The Idea-Driven Organization: Unlocking the Power in Bottom-Up Ideas by Alan G Robinson and Dean M Schroeder

Low-Hanging Fruit Beautiful Question Feedback Centered Leadership Idea-Driven Organization

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


discounted books


Build your leadership library with these specials on over 120 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


* * *

“The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of the past centuries.”
— Descartes


Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:23 AM
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02.01.14

First Look: Leadership Books for February 2014

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in February.

  Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less by Robert I. Sutton and Huggy Rao
  Impact: Great Leadership Changes Everything by Tim Irwin
  The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success by Megan McArdle
  The Decoded Company: Know Your Talent Better Than You Know Your Customers by Leerom Segal, Aaron Goldstein, Jay Goldman and Rahaf Harfoush
  Everything Connects: How to Transform and Lead in the Age of Creativity, Innovation, and Sustainability by Faisal Hoque with Drake Baer

Scaling Up Excellence Impact Up Side of Down Space to Lead Everything Connects

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


discounted books


Build your leadership library with these specials on over 120 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


* * *

“Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say infinitely when you mean very; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.”
— C.S. Lewis


Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:08 AM
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01.01.14

First Look: Leadership Books for January 2014

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in January.

  Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't by Simon Sinek
  On the Edge: The Art of High-Impact Leadership by Alison Levine
  Quick and Nimble: Lessons from Leading CEOs on How to Create a Culture of Innovation by Adam Bryant
  Finding the Space to Lead: A Practical Guide to Mindful Leadership by Janice Marturano
  Small Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently by Caroline Arnold

Leaders Eat Last On the Edge Adam Bryant Space to Lead Caroline Arnold

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


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Build your leadership library with these specials on over 120 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:55 AM
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12.25.13

Best Leadership Books of 2013

Best Leadership Books of 2013

LEADERSHIP IS is an inside job. All of these titles help us to look at ourselves more deeply by asking the right questions. Sustainable leadership is a direct result of leaders that encourage feedback, listen and act positively on the information they receive to take their leadership effectiveness to the next level.

Leadership is about relationships. Building your leadership legacy is about building others. You will be remembered through the growth of the people you leveraged your leadership power for. Are the people around you flourishing?

The list below represents my picks for the best leadership books of 2013.

* * *

Leadership
Leadership and the Art of Struggle: How Great Leaders Grow Through Challenge and Adversity
by Steven Snyder
Struggles are an inevitable part of the leadership journey. With every episode of struggle, there is a learning opportunity. Steven Snyder offers insights as how we should accept and reconcile the struggles we experience. (Blog Post)

Leadership
The Business of Belief: How the World's Best Marketers, Designers, Salespeople, Coaches, Fundraisers, Educators, Entrepreneurs and Other Leaders Get Us to Believe
by Tom Asacker
In The Business of Belief, Tom Asacker describes the job of leadership from the perspective of beliefs—yours and theirs. Understanding people’s beliefs is the first step in leading them. It's a critical message that every leader should read. (Blog Post)

Leadership
Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success
by Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty
Phil Jackson offers 11 insights that transform ordinary leadership into great leadership. His 11 Principle's of Mindful Leadership are about leading with outgoing concern for others and good character. These principles should be a part of your personal leadership development plan. (Blog Post)

Leadership
Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day
by Todd Henry
Todd Henry asks, “Are we willing to spend ourselves on behalf of something we care about?” Be purposeful about how you spend your time. As many people become more and more successful, comfort becomes their objective. We cannot pursue comfort as an objective. That’s the path to mediocrity. You cannot pursue comfort and great works simultaneously. Your work should represent what you care about. Will you die full of unexecuted ideas or will you die empty? (Blog Post)

Leadership
The Good Struggle: Responsible Leadership in an Unforgiving World
by Joseph L. Badaracco Jr.
Underlying your leadership are certain values and assumptions. Leading responsibly and successfully is a struggle. Badaracco poses five questions leaders need to answer. The answers will guide and ground your choices in a world of widely divergent forces.
(Blog Post)


Leadership
Hacking Leadership: The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and the Secrets to Closing Them Quickly
by Mike Myatt
We all have gaps in our leadership. Hacking Leadership is for leaders who feel that their performance falls short of their potential and who want to know why. Myatt addresses 11 gaps from hacking perfection to hacking the future. He asks, “Do you want to be a leader who simply does what’s expected, or do you want to be a leader who makes what if a reality?” As a leader, you need to be focused on stretching yourself—hacking your leadership gaps.

Leadership
The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas
by David Burkus
Creativity is not as divinely-inspired, unpredictable and random a gift as we tend to think it is. These persistent myths hinder our creativity and limit our ability to produce real creative thinking. Burkus debunks ten of these myths like the Eureka Myth, the Lone Creator Myth, and the Brainstorming Myth, to help us understand how to ignite what is already inside of us.

Leadership
Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension, and rumors or riots intensify when someone tries to repress them, many things in life benefit from stress, disorder, volatility, and turmoil. What Taleb has identified and calls “antifragile” is that category of things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish. Overly protective leadership can lead to more fragile followers. Very practical insights here. (Blog Post)

Leadership
Icons and Idiots: Straight Talk on Leadership
by Bob Lutz
Bob Lutz offer practical insights into leaders and leadership. Great leaders do not possess all of the ingredients we might think they must. It’s always a blend of good and bad. But, in Lutz’s words, the value they bring to the table consistently and heavily outweighs the negative baggage. Very encouraging for us mere mortals.

Leadership
Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success
by Adam M. Grant
Every time we interact with another person at work, we have a choice to make: do we try to claim as much value as we can, or contribute value without worrying about what we receive in return? In the workplace, says Adam Grant, givers are a relatively rare breed. Are You a Giver or a Taker? (Blog Post)

Leadership
Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO's Quest for Meaning and Authenticity
by August Turak
Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks is about service and selflessness—two foundational ideas of good leadership. A reflective reading of this book will cause you to look more deeply into your own motivations and behaviors, live authentically and lead from who you are. Service and selflessness have the moral force to transcend market forces.

Leadership
Seeing What Others Don't: The Remarkable Ways We Gain Insights
by Gary Klein
Gary Klein says that organizations stifle insights because we value predictability and crave perfection more than we value the disruption they bring. A better understanding of the nature of insights will help us to welcome them and make better use of them rather than suppressing them before they see the light of day. (Blog Post)

2013bestbookpick

Biographies:

Leadership
The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism
by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Goodwin explores in detail the communication styles of William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt. Taft’s failure as a public leader underscores the pivotal importance of the bully pulpit—that “wonderful platform” from which the presidency shapes public sentiment and mobilize action —in presidential leadership. It’s an engaging story of the relationship between Roosevelt, Taft and the muckraking press.

Leadership
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
by Brad Stone
The Everything Store is an interesting account of the rise of Amazon and one of the world's leading entrepreneurs, Jeff Bezos. We learn about Bezos’ values and vision as well as his blind spots. There are lessons to be learned in all of it.

Leadership
I Invented the Modern Age: The Rise of Henry Ford
by Richard Snow
This is a well told story of Henry Ford’s rise from farm boy to one of America’s greatest industrialists. Snow portrays Ford with all of his strengths and weaknesses and the consequences of each. A study of Ford’s life provides insights into the world we live in today.

Related Interest:
Best Leadership Books of 2012
Best Leadership Books of 2011
Best Leadership Books of 2010

Posted by Michael McKinney at 02:38 PM
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12.01.13

First Look: Leadership Books for December 2013

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in December.

  Hacking Leadership: The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and the Secrets to Closing Them Quickly by Mike Myatt
  Boards That Lead: When to Take Charge, When to Partner, and When to Stay Out of the Way by Ram Charan, Dennis Carey and Michael Useem
  Lead & Influence: Get More Ownership, Commitment, and Achievement From Your Team by Mark Fritz
  The Way of the SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed by Mark Divine with Allyson E. Machete
  Beyond the Job Description: How Managers and Employees Can Navigate the True Demands of the Job by Jesse Sostrin

Hacking Leadership Boards That Lead Lead & Influence Way of the SEAL Job Description

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


From Independent Publishers:

DaskallThoughts Spoken from the Heart by Lolly Daskal
Daskal has put together over 500 thoughts that bring meaning to your life. Her hope is that “each thought will provide you with a meaningful perspective of yourself and the word around you.”

discounted books


Build your leadership library with these specials on over 120 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:02 PM
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11.01.13

First Look: Leadership Books for November 2013

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in November.

  Leading Through Uncertainty: How Umpqua Bank Emerged from the Great Recession Better and Stronger than Ever by Raymond P. Davis
  Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal by Nick Bilton
  The Practical Drucker: Applying the Wisdom of the World's Greatest Management Thinker by William A. Cohen
  The Talent Equation: Big Data Lessons for Navigating the Skills Gap and Building a Competitive Workforce by Matt Ferguson, Lorin Hitt and Prasanna Tambe
  Choosing Change: How Leaders and Organizations Drive Results One Person at a Time by Walter McFarland and Susan Goldsworthy

Leading Through Uncertainty Hatching Twitter Practical Drucker Talent Equation Choosing Change

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


discounted books


Build your leadership library with these specials on over 120 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


* * *

“He that loves a book will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counselor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter.”
— Isaac Barrow (1630–1677)


Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:40 AM
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10.01.13

First Look: Leadership Books for October 2013

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in October.

  The Good Struggle: Responsible Leadership in an Unforgiving World by Joseph L. Badaracco Jr
  Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes by Tom Rath
  Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom Kelley and David Kelley
  The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone
  Grounded: How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World by Bob Rosen

Good Struggle Eat Move Sleep Creative Confidence Everything Store Grounded

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


discounted books


Build your leadership library with these specials on over 120 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


* * *

“A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others.”
— Abraham Lincoln


Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:11 AM
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09.01.13

First Look: Leadership Books for September 2013

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in September.

  Thinking in New Boxes: A New Paradigm for Business Creativity by Luc de Brabandere and Alan Iny
  The Firm: The Story of McKinsey and Its Secret Influence on American Business by Duff McDonald
  Beyond the Idea: How to Execute Innovation in Any Organization by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble
  Winning from Within: A Breakthrough Method for Leading, Living, and Lasting Change by Erica Ariel Fox
  Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day by Todd Henry

Thinking in New Boxes McKinsey Beyond the Idea Winning from Within Die Empty

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


discounted books


Build your leadership library with these specials on over 120 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


* * *

“To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.”
— A C Grayling


Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:41 AM
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08.01.13

First Look: Leadership Books for August 2013

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in August.

  Creative Followership: In the Shadow of Greatness by Jimmy Collins with Michael Cooley
  Breakthrough by David C.M. Carter
  The Chaos Imperative: How Chance and Disruption Increase Innovation, Effectiveness, and Success by Ori Brafman and Judah Pollack
  Stop Talking, Start Communicating: Counterintuitive Secrets to Success in Business and in Life by Geoffrey Tumlin
  Leadership Transformed: How Ordinary Managers Become Extraordinary Leaders by Peter Fuda

Creative Followership Breakthrough Chaos Imperative Stop Talking Leadership Transformed

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


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Build your leadership library with these specials on over 120 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


* * *

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”
— Joseph Brodsky


Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:21 AM
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07.01.13

First Look: Leadership Books for July 2013

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in July.

  Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO's Quest for Meaning and Authenticity by August Turak
  The Rise of the Naked Economy: How to Benefit from the Changing Workplace by Ryan Coonerty and Jeremy Neuner
  Worthless, Impossible and Stupid: How Contrarian Entrepreneurs Create and Capture Extraordinary Value by Daniel Isenberg
  The Leadership Contract: The Fine Print to Becoming a Great Leader by Vince Molinaro
  Make Change Work: Staying Nimble, Relevant, and Engaged in a World of Constant Change by Randy Pennington

Trappist Monks Naked Economy Entrepreneurs Leadership Contract Make Change Work

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


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Build your leadership library with these specials on over 120 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:30 AM
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06.01.13

First Look: Leadership Books for June 2013

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in June.

  How to Change Minds: The Art of Influence without Manipulation by Rob Jolles
  Icons and Idiots: Straight Talk on Leadership by Bob Lutz
  The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die by Niall Ferguson
  The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business by Rita Gunther McGrath
  Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry by David Robertson and Bill Breen

Change Minds Icons and Idiots Great Degeneration Competitive Advantage LEGO

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


discounted books


Build your leadership library with these specials on over 120 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


* * *

“What is reading but silent conversation?”
— Walter Savage Landor


Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:05 AM
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05.01.13

First Look: Leadership Books for May 2013

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in May.

  Ten Virtues of Outstanding Leaders: Leadership and Character by Al Gini and Ronald M. Green
  What You're Really Meant to Do: A Road Map for Reaching Your Unique Potential by Robert Steven Kaplan
  Change Intelligence: Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change That Sticks by Barbara Trautlein
  The Clarity Principle: How Great Leaders Make the Most Important Decision in Business (and What Happens When They Don't) by Chatham Sullivan
  The Three Rules: How Exceptional Companies Think by Michael E. Raynor and Mumtaz Ahmed

Ten Virtues What You're Really Meant to Do Change Intelligence The Clarity Principle The Three Rules

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


discounted books


Build your leadership library with these specials on over 120 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


* * *

“You cannot open a book without learning something.”
— Confucius


Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:01 AM
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04.01.13

First Look: Leadership Books for March 2013

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in March.

  Fear Your Strengths: What You Are Best at Could Be Your Biggest Problem by Robert E. Kaplan and Robert B. Kaiser
  Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future by Dorie Clark
  The Leader's Code: Mission, Character, Service, and Getting the Job Done by Donovan Campbell
  The Athena Doctrine: How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future by John Gerzema and Michael D Antonio
  Intelligent Leadership: What You Need to Know to Unlock Your Full Potential by John Mattone

Fear Your Strengths Reinventing You Leaders Code Athena Doctrine Decisive

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


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Build your leadership library with these specials on over 120 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:09 AM
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03.01.13

First Look: Leadership Books for March 2013

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in March.

  Fred 2.0: New Ideas on How to Keep Delivering Extraordinary Results by Mark Sanborn
  Leadership and the Art of Struggle: How Great Leaders Grow Through Challenge and Adversity by Steven Snyder
  Create Distinction: What to Do When "Great" Isn't Good Enough to Grow Your Business by Scott McKain
  Global Dexterity: How to Adapt Your Behavior Across Cultures without Losing Yourself in the Process by Andy Molinsky
  Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Fred 2.0 Leadership and the Art of Struggle Create Distinction Global Dexterity Decisive

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


discounted books


Build your leadership library with these specials on over 120 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:19 AM
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02.01.13

First Look: Leadership Books for February 2013

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in February.

  Leadership Conversations: Challenging High Potential Managers to Become Great Leaders by Alan S. Berson and Richard G. Stieglitz
  Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin
  American Turnaround: Reinventing AT&T and GM and the Way We Do Business in the USA by Edward Whitacre with Leslie Cauley
  Where Winners Live: Sell More, Earn More, Achieve More Through Personal Accountability by Dave Porter and Linda Galindo
  Global Tilt: Leading Your Business Through the Great Economic Power Shift by Ram Charan

Leadership Conversations Playing to Win American Turnaround Where Winners Live Global Tilt

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


discounted books


Build your leadership library with these specials on over 120 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:59 AM
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01.01.13

First Look: Leadership Books for January 2013

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in January.

  Infectious: How to Connect Deeply and Unleash the Energetic Leader Within by Achim Nowak
  Real Influence: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen
  Admired: 21 Ways to Double Your Value by Mark C. Thompson and Bonita S. Thompson
  Taking Smart Risks: How Sharp Leaders Win When Stakes are High by Doug Sundheim
  Rebooting Work: Transform How You Work in the Age of Entrepreneurship by Maynard Webb and Carlye Adler

Infectious Real Influence Admired Smart Risks Rebooting Work

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Build your leadership library with these specials on over 120 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

* * *

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”
— Margaret Fuller


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12.25.12

Best Leadership Books of 2012

Best Leadership Books of 2012

THE WAYS we have thought about leadership have not always served us well. We have tended to think of leadership as something outside and above the rest. If leadership isn’t among, it will let us down.

Hierarchies are still important, but they must allow for freedom to act, think, and experiment in a way that encourages individual growth.

Moving ahead we need more clarity. We need to look at what we do with fresh eyes. As Andy Grove said to Gordon Moore, after a year of aimless wandering, “If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what do you think he would do? … Why shouldn’t you and I walk out the door, come back, and do it ourselves?”

We need to step back and take another look. We have become mired in the organizational processes that are no longer relevant to the world we live in. It requires taking a fearless inventory of all that we do. And that takes courage.

Looking beyond the immediate result we seek or problem we are trying to solve or skirt, we need to continually ask, “What message are we sending?”

What is your approach to leadership?

How is that helping or hindering others?

How has your leadership style changed?

Are we sending the right message?

The list below represents my picks for the best leadership books of 2012. All of these books have helped us to look at the what and ask why?

* * *

What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation by Gary Hamel

The Strategy Book by Max McKeown

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

The Twelve Absolutes of Leadership by Gary Burnison

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business by Patrick Lencioni

The End of Leadership by Barbara Kellerman

Yes to the Mess: Surprising Leadership Lessons from Jazz by Frank J. Barrett

Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back by Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Turn the Ship Around! How to Create Leadership at Every Level by David Marquet

How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen with James Allworth and Karen Dillon

2012bestbookpick

Biographies:

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham

The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Volume 3: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965 by William Manchester and Paul Reid

Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith

Related Interest:
Best Leadership Books of 2011
Best Leadership Books of 2010
Best Leadership Books of 2009

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12.01.12

First Look: Leadership Books for December 2012

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in December.

  The Art of Deliberate Success: Transform Your Professional and Personal Life by David Keane
  Service-Ability: Create a Customer Centric Culture and Achieve Competitive Advantage by Kevin Robson
  To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink
  It's All About Who You Hire, How They Lead...and Other Essential Advice from a Self-Made Leader by Morton Mandel with John A. Byrne
  The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? by Seth Godin

Deliberate Success Service-Ability To Sell Is Human Who You Hire Icarus Deception

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* * *

“When you sell a man a book you don't sell him just 12 ounces of paper and ink and glue - you sell him a whole new life.”
— Christopher Morley


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11.01.12

First Look: Leadership Books for November 2012

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in November.

  The Leader's Pocket Guide: 101 Indispensable Tools, Tips, and Techniques for Any Situation by John Baldoni
  The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing by Michael J. Mauboussin
  Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham
  The Warrior's Character: Leadership Wisdom From West Point's Cadet Prayer by Don Snider
  Grateful Leadership: Using the Power of Acknowledgment to Engage All Your People and Achieve Superior Results by Judith W. Umlas

Leaders Pocket Guide Success Equation Thomas Jefferson Warrior's Character Grateful Leadership

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* * *

“No two persons ever read the same book.”
— Edmund Wilson


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10.01.12

First Look: Leadership Books for October 2012

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in October.

  The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential by John C. Maxwell
  Makers: The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson
  The Wisdom of Failure: How to Learn the Tough Leadership Lessons Without Paying the Price by Jim McConoughey and Laurence G. Weinzimmer
  The Trust Edge: How Top Leaders Gain Faster Results, Deeper Relationships, and a Stronger Bottom Line by David Horsager
  Judgment on the Front Line: How Smart Companies Win by Trusting Their People by Noel M. Tichy and Christopher DeRose

15 Invaluable Laws of Growth Makers Wisdom of Failure Trust Edge Judgment on the Front Line

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* * *

“If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson


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09.01.12

First Look: Leadership Books for September 2012

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in September.

  Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter by Gautam Mukunda
  Self-Leadership: How to Become a More Successful, Efficient, and Effective Leader from the Inside Out by Andrew Bryant and Ana Lucia Kazan
  Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want by Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni
  Change-Friendly Leadership: How to Transform Good Intentions into Great Performance by Rodger Dean Duncan
  Nine Minutes on Monday: The Quick and Easy Way to Go From Manager to Leader by James Robbins

Indispensable Self-Leadership Help Them Grow Change-Friendly Leadership Nine Minutes on Monday

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08.01.12

First Look: Leadership Books for August 2012

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in August.

  The Pivot Point: Success in Organizational Change by Victoria M. Grady and James D. Grady
  Leapfrogging: Harness the Power of Surprise for Business Breakthroughs by Soren Kaplan
  Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire by Paul Smith
  Yes to the Mess: Surprising Leadership Lessons from Jazz by Frank J. Barrett
  How to Be Exceptional: Drive Leadership Success By Magnifying Your Strengths by John Zenger, Joseph Folkman, Robert Sherwin Jr. and Barbara Steel

Pivot Point Leapfrogging Lead with a Story Yes to the Mess How to Be Exceptional

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* * *

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”
— Groucho Marx


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07.01.12

First Look: Leadership Books for July 2012

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in July.

  There Is an I in Team: What Elite Athletes and Coaches Really Know About High Performance by Mark de Rond
  Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back by Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy
  Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations by Robert Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek
  Team Turnarounds: A Playbook for Transforming Underperforming Teams by Joe Frontiera and Daniel Leidl
  The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations, Fifth Edition by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

Team Resilience Triple Crown Leadership Team Turnarounds Leadership Challenge

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06.01.12

First Look: Leadership Books for June 2012

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in June.

  The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone—Especially Ourselves by Dan Ariely
  How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things: Breaking the 8 Hidden Barriers that Plague Even the Best Businesses by Neil Smith with Patricia O'Connell
  Leadership Isn't For Cowards: How to Drive Performance by Challenging People and Confronting Problems by Mike Staver
  Wait: The Art and Science of Delay by Frank Partnoy
  Influencing Up by Allan R Cohen and David L Bradford

Dishonesty Avoid Dumb Things Leadership Isn't For Cowards Wait Influencing Up

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05.01.12

First Look: Leadership Books for May 2012

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in May.

  The 3 Power Values: How Commitment, Integrity, and Transparency Clear the Roadblocks to Performance by David Gebler
  Flip the Script: How to Turn the Tables and Win in Business and Life by Bill Wackermann
  Leading With Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton by Lee Ellis
  Adaptability: The Art of Winning In An Age of Uncertainty by Max McKeown
  It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership by Colin Powell

3 Power Values Flip the Script Leading With Honor Adaptability Colin Powell

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* * *

“You are the same today you’ll be five years from now except for the books you read and the people you meet.”
— Charlie Tremendous Jones


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04.01.12

First Look: Leadership Books for April 2012

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in April.

  The End of Leadership by Barbara Kellerman
  All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton
  Risk Intelligence: How to Live with Uncertainty by Dylan Evans
  The Strategist: Be the Leader Your Business Needs by Cynthia Montgomery
  Extreme Trust: Honesty as a Competitive Advantage by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers

End of Leadership All In Risk Intelligence The Strategist Extreme Trust

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* * *

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”
— Victor Hugo


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03.01.12

First Look: Leadership Books for March 2012

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in March.

  The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business by Patrick Lencioni
  Theodore Roosevelt, CEO: 7 Principles to Guide and Inspire Modern Leaders by Alan Axelrod
  American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company by Bryce G. Hoffman
  Leading the High Energy Culture: What the Best CEOs Do to Create an Atmosphere Where Employees Flourish by David Casullo
  The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation by Jon Gertner

The Advantage Theodore Roosevelt, CEO American Icon Leading the High Energy Culture The Idea Factory

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* * *

“Have given up reading books; I find it takes my mind off myself.”
— Oscar Levant


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02.01.12

First Look: Leadership Books for February 2012

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in February.

  Collaborate: The Art of We by Dan Sanker
  Good Idea. Now What? How to Move Ideas to Execution by Charles T. Lee
  The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
  Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More by Jason W. Womack
  Make Up Your Mind: A Decision Making Guide to Thinking Clearly and Choosing Wisely by Hal Mooz

Collaborate Good Idea. Now What Power of Habit Your Best Just Got Better Make Up Your Mind

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* * *

“Every reader finds himself. The writer's work is merely a kind of optical instrument that makes it possible for the reader to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself.”
— Marcel Proust


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01.01.12

First Look: Leadership Books for January 2012

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in January.

  What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation by Gary Hamel
  Smart Trust: Creating Prosperity, Energy, and Joy in a Low-Trust World by Stephen M.R. Covey and Greg Link with Rebecca R. Merrill
  The Shaping of an Effective Leader: Eight Formative Principles of Leadership by Gayle D. Beebe
  Amplified Leadership: 5 Practices to Establish Influence, Build People, and Impact Others for a Lifetime by Dan Reiland
  Taking People With You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen by David Novak

What Matters Now Smart Trust Shaping of an Effective Leader Amplified Leadership Taking People With You

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* * *

"He that loves a book will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counselor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter. By study, by reading, by thinking, one may innocently divert and pleasantly entertain himself, as in all weathers, as in all fortunes."
— Isaac Barrow

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12.25.11

Best Leadership Books of 2011

Best Leadership Books of 2011

WE HAVE more recorded information about leadership now than at any other time in history. Most of it deals with the surface turbulence, which is important but not complete. In all of this information there is the sense too, that perhaps we have lost the wisdom we need and that maybe some new thing will help us to avoid what we already know and don’t want to do.

For the most part, it’s still business-as-usual within the same framework—control. It’s hard to give up fundamental beliefs even though they really aren’t working for us anymore. These books speak to our need to rethink our core thinking, beliefs and motivations—to do the uncomfortable.

We could all benefit from daily reflection. Reflecting on what we believe, who we are in relation to those we serve, and what it means to do what we do. It’s time to rediscover true leadership—to rethink our fundamental assumptions. Leadership matters now more than ever.

* * *

Consider: Harnessing the Power of Reflective Thinking In Your Organization by Daniel Patrick Forrester

From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership by Harry M. Kraemer

Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck—Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen

Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters by Richard Rumelt

Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril by Margaret Heffernan

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Take the Lead: Motivate, Inspire, and Bring Out the Best in Yourself and Everyone Around You by Betsy Myers

Practically Radical: Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry, and Challenge Yourself by William C. Taylor

Better Under Pressure: How Great Leaders Bring Out the Best in Themselves and Others by Justin Menkes

What to Ask the Person in the Mirror: Critical Questions for Becoming a More Effective Leader and Reaching Your Potential by Robert Steven Kaplan

From Bud to Boss: Transition to Remarkable Leadership by Kevin Eikenberry and Guy Harris

Advocacy: Championing Ideas and Influencing Others: Championing Ideas and Influencing Others by John A. Daly

Lead with Purpose: Giving Your Organization a Reason to Believe in Itself by John Baldoni

If You Will Lead: Enduring Wisdom for 21st-Century Leaders by Doug Moran

2010bestbookpick

Biographies:

Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz with Joanne Gordon

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Decision Points by George W. Bush

My Life in Leadership: The Journey and Lessons Learned Along the Way by Frances Hesselbein

Related Interest:
Best Leadership Books of 2010
Best Leadership Books of 2009

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12.01.11

First Look: Leadership Books for December 2011

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in December.

  360 Degrees of Influence: Get Everyone to Follow Your Lead on Your Way to the Top by Harrison Monarth
  Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World's Greatest Companies by Jim Stengel
  World Changers: 25 Entrepreneurs Who Changed Business as We Knew It by John A. Byrne
  Screw Business As Usual by Richard Branson
  Shake the World: It's Not About Finding a Job, It's About Creating a Life by James Marshall Reilly

360 Degrees of Influence Grow World Changers Screw Business As Usual Shake the World

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11.01.11

First Look: Leadership Books for November 2011

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in November.

  Lead with Purpose: Giving Your Organization a Reason to Believe in Itself by John Baldoni
  Everyone Leads: Building Leadership from the Community Up by Paul Schmitz
  People Follow You: The Real Secret to What Matters Most in Leadership by Jeb Blount
  Creative People Must Be Stopped: 6 Ways We Kill Innovation (Without Even Trying) by David A Owens
  The Radical Leap Re-Energized: Doing What You Love in the Service of People Who Love by Steve Farber

Lead with Purpose Everyone Leads People Follow You Creative People Must Be Stopped Radical Leap Re-Energized

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* * *

Jacqueline Kennedy on JFK: "He’d read walking, he’d read at the table, at meals, he’d read after dinner, he’d read in the bathtub, he’d read—prop open a book on his desk—on his bureau—while he was doing his tie. You know, he’d just read a little, he’d open some book I’d be reading, you know, just devour it. He’d really read all the times you don’t think you have time to read."


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10.06.11

Stimulus Package 4 - Free Book: Up, Down, or Sideways

StimulusPackageHere’s a stimulus package to get you thinking. It’s a package designed to serve as a catalyst to help you to find ways to make things work and get things done. While you might think of it as a piece of good fortune, don’t think of it as a bailout. You’ve still got to do the inside work.

In partnership with Mark Sanborn, we are giving away three autographed copies of Up, Down, or Sideways: How to Succeed When Times are Good, Bad, or In Between. Up, Down, or Sideways answers the question: What should we consistently do to ensure present and future success?

Up Down Sideways
For a chance to receive a free copy, you must do two things. First, leave a comment by midnight, Monday, October 10th, on this post about what methods and mindsets you have practiced when times were Up or Sideways that are paying dividends now that times are Down or what interests you about this book. Secondly, Tweet a link to this post or if you don’t have a Twitter account, you can use Facebook.

On Tuesday, October 11, 2011 we will randomly select three recipients to receive a free copy. We will contact you by e-mail for your address.

Related Interest:
  Are You Up, Down, or Sideways
  Up, Down, or Sideways web site.
* * *

Like us on Facebook for additional leadership and personal development ideas.

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10.02.11

First Look: Leadership Books for October 2011

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in October.

  Up, Down, or Sideways: What You Must Always Do to Succeed When Times Are Good, Bad, or in Between by Mark Sanborn
  The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential by John C, Maxwell
  Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen
  Practical Genius: The Real Smarts You Need to Get Your Talents and Passions Working for You by Gina A Rudan
  Demand: Creating What People Love Before They Know They Want It by Adrian Slywotzky with Karl Weber

Up, Down, or Sideways 5 Levels of Leadership Great by Choice Practical Genius Demand

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09.01.11

First Look: Leadership Books for September 2011

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in September.

  True North Groups: A Powerful Path to Personal and Leadership Development by Bill George and Doug Baker
  The Anywhere Leader: How to Lead and Succeed in Any Business Environment by Mike Thompson
  StandOut: The Groundbreaking New Strengths Assessment from the Leader of the Strengths Revolution by Marcus Buckingham
  Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney
  Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Jonathan Fields

True North Groups Anywhere Leader StandOut Willpower Uncertainty

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* * *

  NEW EDITION: How: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything by Dov L. Seidman
  NEW EDITION: Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High - Second Edition by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler

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08.01.11

First Look: Leadership Books for August 2011

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in August.

  Advocacy: Championing Ideas and Influencing Others: Championing Ideas and Influencing Others by John A. Daly
  Elephant in the Room: How Relationships Make or Break the Success of Leaders and Organizations by Diana McLain Smith
  The Innovator's Manifesto: Deliberate Disruption for Transformational Growth by Michael Raynor
  The Success Gurus: 17 Lessons in Greatness from the Best Minds in Business by Andrew Clancy
  Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn by Cathy N. Davidson

Advocacy Elephant in the Room Innovator's Manifesto Success Gurus Now You See It

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Build your leadership library with these specials on over 120 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

* * *

“The first law of skillful reading is merely an application of the Law of Relative Importance. You must perceive, first of all, the total offerings of the printed matter; then you must appraise these.”
— Walter Pitkin, The Art of Rapid Reading

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:50 AM
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07.01.11

First Look: Leadership Books for July 2011

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in July.

  The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment's Notice by Todd Henry
  I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59 by Douglas Edwards
  Growth or Bust: Proven Turnaround Strategies to Grow Your Business by Mark Faust
  Elements of Influence: The Art of Getting Others to Follow Your Lead by Terry R. Bacon
  Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters by Richard Rumelt

The Accidental Creative Im Feeling Lucky Growth or Bust Elements of Influence Good Strategy Bad Strategy

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* * *

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”
— W. Fusselman

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06.01.11

First Look: Leadership Books for June 2011

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in June.

  The Benevolent Dictator: Empower Your Employees, Build Your Business, and Outwit the Competition by Michael Feuer with Dustin Klein
  If You Will Lead: Enduring Wisdom for 21st-Century Leaders by Doug Moran
  Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business by Bob Lutz
  Power Genes: Understanding Your Power Persona--and How to Wield It at Work by Maggie Craddock
  The Professional: Defining the New Standard of Excellence at Work by Subroto Bagchi

Benevolent Dictator If You Will Lead Bob Lutz Power Genes The Professional

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* * *

“We read to know we are not alone.”
—C.S. Lewis

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05.01.11

First Look: Leadership Books for May 2011

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in May.

  What Makes Business Rock: Building the World's Largest Global Networks by Bill Roedy with David Fisher
  Better Under Pressure: How Great Leaders Bring Out the Best in Themselves and Others by Justin Menkes
  Leadership is Dead: How Influence is Reviving It by Jeremie Kubicek
  TouchPoints: Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments by Douglas R Conant and Mette Norgaard
  The Little Book of Leadership Development: 50 Ways to Bring Out the Leader in Every Employee byScott J. Allen and Mitchell Kusy

Bill Roedy Better Under Pressure Leadership is Dead TouchPoints Little Book of Leadership Development

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Build your leadership library with these specials on over 155 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

* * *

“To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.”
—A C Grayling, Financial Times

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04.01.11

First Look: Leadership Books for April 2011

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in April.

  Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler
  The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed by Adam Bryant
  From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership by Harry M. Kraemer
  Idea Man: A Memoir by Paul Allen
  Put Your Mindset to Work: The One Asset You Really Need to Win and Keep the Job You Love by Paul G. Stoltz and James Reed

Change Anything The Corner Office From Values to Action Idea Man Put Your Mindset to Work

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03.01.11

First Look: Leadership Books for March 2011

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in March.

  Poke the Box by Seth Godin
  Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story by Peter Guber
  Brainsteering: A Better Approach to Breakthrough Ideas by Kevin P. Coyne and Shawn T. Coyne
  Ten Steps Ahead: What Separates Successful Business Visionaries from the Rest of Us by Erik Calonius
  Everything Is Obvious: *Once You Know the Answer by Duncan Watts

Poke the Box Tell to Win Brainsteering Ten Steps Ahead Everything Is Obvious

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Build your leadership library with these specials on over 155 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

* * *

  NEW EDITION:
Reagan on Leadership
The Reagan leadership classic, Reagan on Leadership by James Strock, is once again available in a revised and updated edition. Tom Peters, the legendary leadership authority, has penned an insightful, delightful, highly personal foreword, putting Reagan's historical standing into context. As Mr. Peters points out, the Reagan leadership approach holds down-to-earth, actionable lessons for anyone in their work and life. Reagan on Leadership also includes a new readers' note. Strock surveys recent scholarship and histories of Mr. Reagan's career. Newly released information confirms much of what was already apparent to those who would look; what is evolving is our understanding and appreciation of his leadership legacy. Also available on Amazon.

* * *

“My early and invincible love of reading, I would not exchange for the treasures of India.”
—Edward Gibbon, Memoirs of My Life and Writings

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02.01.11

First Look: Leadership Books for February 2011

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in February.

  As One by Marhdad Baghai and James Quigley
  Split-Second Persuasion: The Ancient Art and New Science of Changing Minds by Kevin Dutton
  My Life in Leadership: The Journey and Lessons Learned Along the Way by Frances Hesselbein
  Unusually Excellent: The Necessary Nine Skills Required for the Practice of Great Leadership by John Hamm
  From Bud to Boss: Transition to Remarkable Leadership by Kevin Eikenberry and Guy Harris

As One Persuasion My Life in Leadership Unusually Excellent From Bud to Boss

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Build your leadership library with these specials on over 155 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

NEW EDITIONS:   Rubies in the Orchard: The POM Queen's Secrets to Marketing Just About Anything by Lynda Resnick and Francis Wilkinson is now in paperback. The excellent Fierce Leadership: A Bold Alternative to the Worst "Best" Practices of Business Today by Susan Scott is also available in paperback. Read the Leading Blog review.

* * *

"“When you reread a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than there was before.”
—Cliff Fadiman

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01.01.11

First Look: Leadership Books for January 2011

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in January.

  Practically Radical: Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry, and Challenge Yourself by William C. Taylor
  The Great Workplace: How to Build It, How to Keep It, and Why It Matters by Michael Burchell and Jennifer Robin
  Change the Culture, Change the Game: The Breakthrough Strategy for Energizing Your Organization and Creating Accountability for Results by Roger Connors and Tom Smith
  Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader by Linda A. Hill and Kent L. Lineback
  Outrageous Fortunes: The Twelve Surprising Trends That Will Reshape the Global Economy by Daniel Altman

Practically Radical Great Workplace Change the Culture Being the Boss Outrageous Fortunes

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discounted books

Build your leadership library with these specials on over 160 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

* * *

"The first thing naturally when one enters a scholar's study or library, is to look at his books. One gets the notion very speedily of his tastes and the range of his pursuits by a glance round his book-shelves."
—Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894), The Poet at the Breakfast Table. VIII.

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12.25.10

Best Leadership Books of 2010

Best Leadership Books of 2010

A crisis exposes character or the lack of it. Our reaction is important. Our recent history requires a response; a correction; a change in the status quo.

If we are thinking more-of-the-same or merely upping our game then we are destined to fail again. On the other hand if we are looking to change our games or approach, then we have a way forward.

The way forward will mean reviewing a lot of overly familiar ideas like, “self-awareness is critical to a good leader” because those are the things we forgot or were maybe never taught. While books about these ideas can seem boring they can, if we let them, take us to a higher level. But they require introspection and often more attention than we may think we have time for. But what is the alternative?

As reading goes, the books listed here may not be as exciting as how-can-I-leverage-other-people’s-money nor are they going to be paradigm-shifting as in why-hasn’t-somebody-thought-of-this-before. However, while many of the ideas are not new, they can be life-changing.

Some of the books listed below help to reacquaint us with ideas that we might have consciously or unconsciously decided that we would get back to when we had the time. Others help us to better understand the connected world we live in. One helps to explain the artistry of leadership. Some, while exploring the lives of others, help to provide a context for all of it.

The big lesson for all of us: nothing—leadership, capitalism, society—can be sustained forever in a culture of get—with a mindset of always more. But that’s a tough lesson to act on. When faced with the daily business of life, the ideas of give and service seem so vapid—intangible—naive.

Give. Easy to say. Much harder to live.

You Already Know How to Be Great by Alan Fine

Driven to Lead: Good, Bad, and Misguided Leadership by Paul R. Lawrence

Serve to Lead: Your Transformational 21st Century Leadership System by James M Strock

Leading Outside the Lines: How to Mobilize the Informal Organization, Energize Your Team, and Get Better Results by Jon R. Katzenbach and Zia Khan

The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion by John Hagel III, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison

The Executive and the Elephant: A Leader's Guide for Achieving Inner Excellence by Richard L. Daft

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence by Tom Peters

Denial: Why Business Leaders Fail to Look Facts in the Face—and What to Do About It by Richard S. Tedlow

The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win by David Ulrich and Wendy Ulrich

The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Building People and Teams That Win Consistently by Tony Dungy with Nathan Whitaker

Artistry Unleashed: A Guide to Pursuing Great Performance in Work and Life by Hilary Austen

The Truth about Leadership: The No-fads, Heart-of-the-Matter Facts You Need to Know by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

Bury My Heart at Conference Room B: The Unbeatable Impact of Truly Committed Managers by Stan Slap



2010bestbookpick

Biographies:

Still Surprised: A Memoir of a Life in Leadership by Warren Bennis with Patricia Ward Biederman

Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia by Michael Korda

Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow

Related Interest:
Best Leadership Books of 2009
Best Leadership Books of 2008

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12.01.10

First Look: Leadership Books for December 2010

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in December.

  Shockproof: How to Hardwire Your Business for Lasting Success by Debra Jacobs, Garrett Sheridan and Juan Pablo González
  Leadership Rules: How to Become the Leader You Want to Be by Chris Widener
  Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals by Heidi Grant Halvorson
  Faster Cheaper Better: The 9 Levers for Transforming How Work Gets Done by Michael Hammer and Lisa Hershman
  The Soul of Leadership: Unlocking Your Potential for Greatness by Deepak Chopra

Shockproof Leadership Rules Succeed Faster Cheaper Better Soul of Leadership

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Build your leadership library with these specials on over 160 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

* * *

"If you want people to read a book, tell them it is overrated."
—Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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11.01.10

First Look: Leadership Books for November 2010

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in November.

  Decision Points by George W. Bush
  The Talent MastersWhy Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers by Bill Conaty and Ram Charan
  Good for Business: The Rise of the Conscious Corporation by Andrew Benett, Ann O'Reilly, Cavas Gobhai and Greg Welch
  Seven Strategy Questions: A Simple Approach for Better Execution by Robert Simons
  Montgomery: Lessons in Leadership from the Soldier's General by Trevor Royle

George Bush Talent Masters Good for Business Seven Strategy Questions Montgomery

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10.01.10

First Look: Leadership Books for October 2010

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in October.

  Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea from Getting Shot Down by John P. Kotter and Lorne A. Whitehead
  It's a Jungle in There: Inspiring Lessons, Hard-Won Insights, and Other Acts of Entrepreneurial Daring by Steven Schussler
  The Laws of Charisma: How to Captivate, Inspire, and Influence for Maximum Success by Kurt W. Mortensen
  The Intangibles of Leadership: The 10 Qualities of Superior Executive Performance by Richard Davis
  The Leader's Guide to Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace for the 21st Century by Stephen Denning

Buy-In It's a Jungle in There Charisma Intangibles of Leadership Radical Management

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NEW EDITIONS:   Scott Eblin's The Next Level is now available in a second edition and contains a lot of new content such as new executive interviews, Coachable Moments, Data Points, an expanded Situations Solutions Guide and more to equip new and existing executive leaders.

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09.01.10

First Look: Leadership Books for September 2010

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in September.

  Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best ... And Learn from the Worst by Robert I. Sutton
  Power: Why Some People Have It—and Others Don't by Jeffrey Pfeffer
  Management? It's Not What You Think! by Henry Mintzberg, Bruce Ahlstrand and Joseph Lampel
  Reality-Based Leadership: Ditch the Drama, Restore Sanity to the Workplace, and Turn Excuses into Results by Cy Wakeman
  Defy Gravity: Propel Your Business to High-Velocity Growth by Rebel Brown

Good Boss, Bad Boss Power Management Reality-Based Leadership Defy Gravity

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"An ordinary man can … surround himself with two thousand books … and thenceforward have at least one place in the world in which it is possible to be happy."
—Augustine Birrell (1850-1933)


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08.01.10

First Look: Leadership Books for August 2010

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in August.

  The Executive and the Elephant: A Leader's Guide for Achieving Inner Excellence by Richard L. Daft
  Driven to Lead: Good, Bad, and Misguided Leadership by Paul R. Lawrence
  The Truth About Leadership: The No-fads, Heart-of-the-Matter Facts You Need to Know by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner
  SuperCompetent: The Six Keys to Perform at Your Productive Best by Laura Stack
  Still Surprised: A Memoir of a Life in Leadership by Warren Bennis with Patricia Ward Biederman

Executive and the Elephant Driven to Lead Truth about Leadership SuperCompetent Bennis

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"A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking."
— Jerry Seinfeld, Comedian


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07.01.10

First Look: Leadership Books for July 2010

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in July.

  Appreciative Leadership: Focus on What Works to Drive Winning Performance and Build a Thriving Organization by Diana Whitney, Kae Rader and Amanda Troston-Bloom
  The Learning Layer: Building the Next Level of Intellect in Your Organization by Steven D. Flinn
  Driven: A How-to Strategy for Unlocking Your Greatest Potential by Razi Imam
  All Hands on Deck: 8 Essential Lessons for Building a Culture of Ownership by Joe Tye
  The Intangibles of Leadership: The 10 Qualities of Superior Executive Performance by Richard Davis

Appreciative Leadership Learning Layer Driven All Hands on Deck Intangibles of Leadership

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:18 AM
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06.14.10

Stimulus Package 3 - Free Book: Everyone Communicates, Few Connect

StimulusPackageHere’s a stimulus package to get you thinking. It’s a package designed to serve as a catalyst to help you to find ways to make things work and get things done. While you might think of it as a piece of good fortune, don’t think of it as a bailout. You’ve still got to do the inside work.

In partnership with Thomas Nelson Publishers, we are giving away five copies of Everyone Communicates, Few Connect by John Maxwell. Everyone Communicates, Few Connect asks are you just talking or are you connecting. Connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them. To be successful, Maxwell says, you must work with others. To do that at your absolute best, you must learn to connect.

Everyone Communicates, Few Connect
For a chance to receive a free copy, leave a comment by midnight, Sunday, June 20th, on this post about how you approach the need to connect. How has your ability to connect or not connect affected your ability to influence those around you either at work or in your personal life?

On Monday, June 21, 2010 we will randomly select five recipients to receive a free copy.

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06.01.10

First Look: Leadership Books for June 2010

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in June.

  Lead Like Ike: Ten Business Strategies from the CEO of D-Day by Geoff Loftus
  Work Your Strengths: A Scientific Process to Identify Your Skills and Match Them to the Best Career for You by Chuck Martin with Richard Guare and Peg Dawson
  The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win by David Ulrich and Wendy Ulrich
  Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh
  Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Elizabeth Wiseman with Greg Mckeown

Lead Like Ike Work Your Strengths Why of Work Delivering Happiness Multipliers

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05.02.10

First Look: Leadership Books for May 2010

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in May.

  The Stress Effect: Why Smart Leaders Make Dumb Decisions--And What to Do About It by Henry L. Thompson
  The Wisdom of Bees: What the Hive Can Teach Business about Leadership, Efficiency, and Growth by Michael O'Malley
  Getting Change Right: How Leaders Transform Organizations from the Inside Out by Seth Kahan
  Heroic Leadership: Leading with Integrity and Honor by William A. Cohen
  No Excuses! The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy

Stress Effect Wisdom of Bees Getting Change Right Heroic Leadership No Excuses

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Francis Bacon offered this advice on reading: "Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention."

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04.01.10

First Look: Leadership Books for April 2010

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in April.

  Plugged: Dig Out and Get the Right Things Done by Krissi Barr and Dan Barr
  The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion by John Hagel III, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison
  Get Rid of the Performance Review! How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing--and Focus on What Really Matters by Samuel A. Culbert with Lawrence Rout
  Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality by Scott Belsky
  Leading Outside the Lines: How to Mobilize the Informal Organization, Energize Your Team, and Get Better Results by Jon R. Katzenbach and Zia Khan

Plugged Pull Performance Review Make Ideas Happen Leading Outside the Lines

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Someone once wrote, “A person who has not disciplined themselves to read has narrowed their freedom to choose between ideas. They are confined to what they hear. They are at the mercy of the propagandist. They have limited their freedom to think.”

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03.01.10

First Look: Leadership Books for March 2010

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in March.

  The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence by Tom Peters
  Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
  Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently by John C. Maxwell
  Denial: Why Business Leaders Fail to Look Facts in the Face--and What to Do About It by Richard S. Tedlow
  The Leader Who Had No Title: A Modern Fable on Real Success in Business and in Life by Robin Sharma

The Little Big Things Rework Everyone Communicates, Few Connect Denial Leader Who Had No Title

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Build Your Leadership Library

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02.01.10

First Look: Leadership Books for February 2010

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in February.

  The Right Fight: How Great Leaders Use Healthy Conflict to Drive Performance, Innovation, and Value by Saj-nicole Joni and Damon Beyer
  Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It by Marshall Goldsmith
  Reflections on Leadership and Career Development: On the Couch with Manfred Kets de Vries by Manfred Kets de Vries
  How the Best Leaders Lead: Proven Secrets to Getting the Most Out of Yourself and Others by Brian Tracy
  Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

The Right Fight Mojo Manfred Kets de Vries Best Leaders Lead Switch

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01.01.10

First Look: Leadership Books for January 2010

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in January.

  Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street by Jim Wallis
  Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin
  Outstanding! 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional by John G. Miller
  Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice by Edited by Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana
  No More Excuses: The Five Accountabilities for Personal and Organizational Growth by Sam Silverstein

Rediscovering Values Linchpin Outstanding Handbook of Leadership No More Excuses

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12.25.09

Best Leadership Books of 2009

Best Leadership Books of 2009
As we reflect on the year 2009 – the financial crisis and the accompanying recession – we know that out of the chaos, we must relearn some basics and not return to business as usual. Shortcuts are out.

The Harvard Center for Public Leadership's 2009 National Leadership Index reveals that 69% of Americans think we have a leadership crisis in the country. Another 67% believe that "unless we get better leaders, the United States will decline as a nation." Over half (52%), believe that business leaders generally work to benefit themselves. Only 25% of Americans agree or strongly agree that business leaders or news media leaders share their values. And this isn’t just an American phenomenon.

As Pogo Possum observed, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” The tendency is to catch our breath and just work harder. But we have to hit reset and work differently—to incorporate the larger picture; to not be so insular in our behavior. The Financial Times management columnist Stefan Stern remarked, “The reason why so many people want to get back to ‘business as usual’ is that that is what they do best. In fact, it may be all that they can do.” Overcoming inertia is going to be the challenge.

Back to basics. This doesn’t mean safe and boring or watered-down. These are bedrock principles that work. It’s when we try to take shortcuts that we get derailed. Consultant icon Tom Peters who has a reputation for being cutting-edge, has been relentlessly preaching the simple basics that work. And work globally. Basics are the new cutting-edge.

The present environment reminds us that leadership must exist at all levels. Everyone has a part to play. Sound principles take you through good times and bad. Business (and individuals) will have to focus more on training both on the job and off so that sound values and principles become everyday practice.

The books selected for the best leadership books published in 2009 help us to think differently; to incorporate lasting values; to answer the question, “How do we best lead?”

Managing by Henry Mintzberg

Lead Your Boss: The Subtle Art of Managing Up by John Baldoni

Walk the Walk: The #1 Rule for Real Leaders by Alan Deutschman

The Three Laws of Performance: Rewriting the Future of Your Organization and Your Life by Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan

The Upside of the Downturn: Ten Management Strategies to Prevail in the Recession and Thrive in the Aftermath by Geoff Colvin

Know What You Don't Know: How Great Leaders Prevent Problems Before They Happen by Michael A. Roberto

How Did That Happen? Holding People Accountable for Results the Positive, Principled Way by Roger Connors and Tom Smith

Greater Than Yourself: The Ultmate Lesson of True Leadership by Steve Farber

Lift: Becoming a Positive Force in Any Situation by Ryan W Quinn and Robert E Quinn

Fierce Leadership: A Bold Alternative to the Worst "Best" Practices of Business Today by Susan Scott

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson with Lou Aronica

Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

2009bestbookpick

The biographies selected here more than just life stories; they are great histories as well. Vanderbilt was a man of enormous accomplishments. At the time of his death he owned five percent of America's wealth. And while there are lessons to be learned from the life of Vanderbilt, he is in many respects, not a model to follow. Still, The First Tycoon is a page-turner that captures well the people he worked with and the culture he operated within, making it a worthwhile history of the rise of American corporate capitalism.   Cooper’s biography of one of the nation's most controversial leaders, Woodrow Wilson, is an authoritative, in-depth look at a complicated and fascinating man. It also serves as a great political history that is still relevant today.   The bicentennial year of Lincoln’s birth saw the release of many books about the 16th president. A. Lincoln is an engaging narrative and one of the best. Lincoln, says White, continues to fascinate us "because he eludes simple definitions and final judgments."

The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T. J. Stiles

Woodrow Wilson: A Biography by John Milton Cooper Jr.

A. Lincoln: A Biography by Ronald C. White Jr.

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12.01.09

First Look: Leadership Books for December 2009

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in December.

  Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink
  The Intuitive Mind: Profiting from the Power of Your Sixth Sense by Eugene Sadler-Smith
  Inner Excellence: Achieve Extraordinary Business Success through Mental Toughness by Jim Murphy
  The Leadership Illusion: The Importance of Context and Connections by Tony Hall and Karen Janman
  8 Ways to Great: Peak Performance on the Job and in Your Life by Doug Hirschhorn

Drive Intuitive Mind Inner Excellence Leadership Illusion 8 Ways

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NEW EDITIONS:   Ira Chaleff's classic, The Courageous Follower is now available in a third edition. It has been updated and includes a new chapter, “The Courage to Speak to the Hierarchy.” The Secret: What Great Leaders Know—And Do by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller has been released in a new revised and updated second edition. The popular Leadership and Self-Deception has been revised throughout to make the story more readable and compelling and is available next month.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:00 AM
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11.01.09

First Look: Leadership Books for November 2009

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in November.

  Derailed: Five Lessons Learned from Catastrophic Failures of Leadership by Tim Irwin
  Design of Business: How Design Thinking Creates Competitive Advantage by Roger L. Martin
  Everything Counts: 52 Remarkable Ways to Inspire Excellence and Drive Results by Gary Ryan Blair
  Grow from Within: Mastering Corporate Entrepreneurship and Innovation by Robert Wolcott and Michael J. Lippitz
  You Are What You Choose: The Habits of Mind that Really Determine How We Make Decisions by Scott de Marchi and James T. Hamilton

Derailed Design of Business Everything Counts Grow from Within You Are What You Choose

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10.01.09

First Look: Leadership Books for October 2009

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in October.

  Lead Your Boss: The Subtle Art of Managing Up by John Baldoni
  The Upside of Turbulence: Seizing Opportunity in an Uncertain World by Donald Sull
  Your Next Move: The Leader's Guide to Successfully Navigating Major Career Transitions by Michael Watkins
  Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
  The Unforced Error: Why Some Managers Get Promoted While Others Get Eliminated by Jeffrey A. Krames

Lead Your Boss Upside of Turbulence Your Next Move Start With Why Unforced Error

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:59 AM
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09.01.09

First Look: Leadership Books for September 2009

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in September.

  Managing by Henry Mintzberg
  True Compass: A Memoir by Edward M. Kennedy
  The Leap: How 3 Simple Changes Can Propel Your Career from Good to Great by Rick Smith
  Walk the Walk: The #1 Rule for Real Leaders by Alan Deutschman
  Seven Lessons for Leading in Crisis by Bill George

Managing True Compass The Leap Walk the Walk Seven Lessons

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:11 AM
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08.02.09

First Look: Leadership Books for August 2009

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in August.

  How Did That Happen? Holding People Accountable for Results the Positive, Principled Way by Roger Connors and Tom Smith
  The Essential Bennis by Warren Bennis
  Leadershift: Reinventing Leadership for the Age of Mass Collaboration by Emmanuel Gobillot
  Fearless Leadership: How to Overcome Behavioral Blindspots and Transform Your Organization by Loretta Malandro
  Clever: Leading Your Smartest, Most Creative People by Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones

How Did That Happen? Essential Bennis Leadershift Fearless Leadership Clever

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:45 AM
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07.01.09

First Look: Leadership Books for July 2009

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in July.

  Why Loyalty Matters: The Groundbreaking Approach to Rediscovering Happiness, Meaning and Lasting Fulfillment in Your Life and Work by Timothy Keiningham and Lerzan Aksoy with Luke Williams
  The Cost of Bad Behavior: How Incivility Is Damaging Your Business and What to Do About It by Christine Pearson and Christine Porath
  Performance Intelligence at Work: The 5 Essentials to Achieving The Mind of a Champion by Julie Ness Bell and Robin Pou
  Preparing for Leadership: What It Takes to Take the Lead by Donna J. Dennis Ph.D. with Debbie Meola
  The Golden Rules for Managers: 119 Incredible Lessons for Leadership Success by Frank McNair

Why Loyalty Matters Cost of Bad Behavior Performance Intelligence at Work Preparing for Leadership Golden Rules for Managers

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:02 AM
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06.01.09

First Look: Leadership Books for June 2009

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in June.

  The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler
  The Power to Lead: Lessons in Creating Your Unique Masterpiece by Gregg Thompson and Bruna Martinuzzi
  How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life by John C. Maxwell
  The Silver Lining: An Innovation Playbook for Uncertain Times by Scott D. Anthony
  The Upside of the Downturn: Ten Management Strategies to Prevail in the Recession and Thrive in the Aftermath by Geoff Colvin

The Introverted Leader Power to Lead How Successful People Think The Silver Lining Upside of the Downturn

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:36 AM
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05.01.09

First Look: Leadership Books for May 2009

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in May.

  Management Rewired: Why Feedback Doesn't Work and Other Surprising Lessons from the Latest Brain Science by Charles S. Jacobs
  Training Camp: What the Best Do Better Than Everyone Else by John Gordon
  The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World by Ronald A. Heifetz, Marty Linsky and Alexander Grashow
  The Inspiring Leader: Unlocking the Secrets of How Extraordinary Leaders Motivate by John Zenger, Joseph Folkman and Scott Edinger
  How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In by Jim Collins

Management Rewired Training Camp Practice of Adaptive Leadership The Inspiring Leader How The Mighty Fall

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:46 AM
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04.01.09

First Look: Leadership Books for April 2009

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in April.

  Leading in Times of Crisis: Navigating Through Complexity, Diversity and Uncertainty to Save Your Business by David L. Dotlich, PhD, Peter C. Cairo, PhD and Stephen H. Rhinesmith
  Leadership Beyond Reason: How Great Leaders Succeed by Harnessing the Power of Their Values, Feelings, and Intuition by Dr. John Townsend
  The Adversity Paradox: An Unconventional Guide to Achieving Uncommon Business Success by J. Barry Griswell and Bob Jennings
  The Firefly Effect: Build Teams That Capture Creativity and Catapult Results by Kimberly Douglas
  Inspire! Why Customers Come Back by James Champy

Leading in Times of Crisis Leadership Beyond Reason The Adversity Paradox The Firefly Effect Inspire!

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273

Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:54 AM
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03.16.09

Stimulus Package 2 - Free Book: Greater Than Yourself

StimulusPackageHere’s a stimulus package to get you thinking. It’s a package designed to serve as a catalyst to help you to find ways to make things work and get things done. While you might think of it as a piece of good fortune, don’t think of it as a bailout. You’ve still got to do the inside work.

We are giving away five copies of Greater Than Yourself by Steve Farber. Greater Than Yourself is based on the premise that great leaders become great because they cause others to be greater than they are. GTY is a one-on-one development process where you choose to help someone become more capable, competent, and accomplished than you are.

For a chance to get a copy, leave a comment on this post telling us who you have selected for your Greater Than Yourself project and we will randomly select five recipients on Monday, March 23, 2009. The opportunity to participate in this Stimulus Package will close on Friday, March 20, 2009.

Related Interest:
  Take the Greater Than Yourself Challenge

UPDATE: Five respondents have been chosen at random. Thanks for participating.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:44 PM
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03.02.09

First Look: Leadership Books for March 2009

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in March.

  Strategic Acceleration: Succeed at the Speed of Life by Tony Jeary
  Greater Than Yourself: The Ultmate Lesson of True Leadership by Steve Farber
  Problem Solving 101: A Simple Book for Smart People by Ken Watanabe
  The Deciding Factor: The Power of Analytics to Make Every Decision a Winner by Larry E. Rosenberger and John Nash with Ann Graham
  Inside Rupert's Brain by Paul La Monica

Strategic Acceleration Greater Than Yourself Know What You Don't Know How We Decide Inside Rupert's Brain</a><br>
<i>Paul La Monica</i>

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:28 AM
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02.16.09

The 100 Best Business Books of All Time

9781591842408
It’s a jungle out there! With over 40 business books published each day, you can’t possibly keep up. Fortunately, Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten have written a guidebook to help you navigate your way through the thousands of business books that have been published, talked about, referred to and in some cases, largely forgotten. The 100 Best Business Books of All Time takes you on a journey through the pages of books that have made a difference. It will help you to reacquaint yourself – in some cases – and to explore uncharted territory in others, in your search for useful ideas and choices to help you in your work.

The books were chosen based on three general criteria:
  • Does the author make a good argument? Is the author presenting something new?
  • Is the book’s premise relevant? Can it be applied to business today?
  • Is the book accessible? Well written?

The resulting list is wide-ranging. You’ll find included on the list, books from Peter Drucker to the fictional work of Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go. All of the books included have been thoughtfully considered. Of course, no list of books is without detractors. You won’t agree with every book on the list. But that’s really the value of a book. It is a personal thing that can speak to each one of us in a different way depending on where we are at and what we are faced with.

I often find that the value of a book can be the books that it leads you to. Through a book's bibliography you can both dissect the author’s thinking and build on it. A book like The 100 Best Business Books of All Time can help you find a gem of an idea in unexpected places. Some books are so poorly titled they don’t draw you in or seem so off-point. Some have a great single point that is hopelessly shrouded in fluff that you never see it. Covert and Sattersten have done a lot of the initial leg-work for you.

The short reviews are organized into twelve categories. They are well written and try to flush out the benefit of the book being reviewed. They are followed by links to books of similar thought to help you find additional advice on a relevant topic.

They say that reading about work, business, or leadership can change you – change the way you relate to other people, can change the way you see the world, can change the way you think about your career and the story-line of your life. This book can certainly help you to achieve your goals by helping you to navigate through the jungle of ideas available to locate that specific piece of the puzzle needed to complete your picture.

  The Management Gurus: Lessons from the Best Management Books of All Time

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:35 AM
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02.09.09

Books About Abraham Lincoln

On the occassion of 200th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth on February 12, we have assembled a list of some of the better books about Lincoln:

  Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times by Donald T. Phillips
  Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  Lincoln's Virtues: An Ethical Biography by William Lee Miller
  President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman by William Lee Miller
  Lincoln Speaks to Leaders: 20 Powerful Lessons for Today's Leaders from America's 16th President by Gene Griessman and Pat Williams

Lincoln on Leadership Team of Rivals Lincoln's Virtues President Lincoln Lincoln Speaks to Leaders


  A. Lincoln: A Biography by Ronald C. White Jr.
  Looking for Lincoln: The Making of an American Icon by Peter W. Kunhardt, Philip B. Kunhardt III and Peter W. Kunhardt Jr.
  Abraham Lincoln's Extraordinary Era: The Man and His Times by Karen Kostyal
  Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief by James M. McPherson

Lincoln on Leadership Looking for Lincoln Lincoln's Virtues President Lincoln

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:19 AM
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02.02.09

First Look: Leadership Books February 2009

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in February.

  The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan: How to Take Charge, Build Your Team, and Get Immediate Results by George B. Bradt, Jayme A. Check and Jorge E. Pedraza
  The 100 Best Business Books of All Time: What They Say, Why They Matter, and How They Can Help You by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten
  Know What You Don't Know: How Great Leaders Prevent Problems Before They Happen by Michael A. Roberto
  How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
  Succession: Are You Ready? (Memo to the Ceo) by Marshall Goldsmith

New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan 100 Best Business Books Know What You Don't Know How We Decide Succession

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:22 AM
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01.01.09

First Look: Leadership Books January 2009

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in January.

  The Soul of a Leader: Character, Conviction, and Ten Lessons in Political Greatness by Waller R. Newell
  Strengths-Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie
  The Tyranny of Dead Ideas: Letting Go of the Old Ways of Thinking to Unleash a New Prosperity by Matt Miller
  The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson with Lou Aronica
  You Can't Order Change: Lessons From the Turnaround at Boeing by Peter S. Cohan

The Soul of a Leader Strengths-Based Leadership Tyranny of Dead Ideas The Element You Can't Order Change

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:03 AM
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12.25.08

Best Leadership Books of 2008

Best Leadership Books of 2008
Our selections for the best leadership books published in 2008 are listed below.

The are more books every year written than one can possibly make use of. Here at LeadershipNow we try to help you find those books that will resonate with you and thus be the most useful to you. Anne Lamott wrote in her classic, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, a wonderful statement on the importance of reading.

"For some of us, books are important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die. They are full of all the things that you don’t get in real life—wonderful, lyrical language, for instance, right off the bat. And quality of attention: we may notice amazing details during the course of a day but we rarely let ourselves stop and pay attention. An author makes you notice, makes you pay attention, and this is a great gift. My gratitude for good writing is unbounded."

Followership: How Followers Are Creating Change and Changing Leaders by Barbara Kellerman

Crucibles of Leadership: How to Learn from Experience to Become a Great Leader by Robert J. Thomas

Leading with Kindness: How Good People Consistently Get Superior Results by William F. Baker and Michael O'Malley

The Ten Commandments for Business Failure by Donald R. Keough

Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin

A Sense of Urgency by John P. Kotter

Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs by Bill Hybels

Enough. True Measures of Money, Business, and Life by John C. Bogle

The Game-Changer: How You Can Drive Revenue and Profit Growth with Innovation by A.G. Lafley and Ram Charan

Lead By Example: 50 Ways Great Leaders Inspire Results by John Baldoni

The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don't Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need - and What We Can Do About It by Tony Wagner

2008bestbookpick

Here are a few biographies that we found had the power to correct, inspire and motivate.

Myself and Other More Important Matters by Charles Handy

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder

Inside Drucker's Brain by Jeffrey A. Krames

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:22 AM
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12.01.08

First Look: Leadership Books December 2008

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in December.

  Reward Systems: Does Yours Deliver? (Memo to the CEO) by Steve Kerr
  Wargaming for Leaders: Strategic Decision Making from the Battlefield to the Boardroom by Mark L. Herman, Mark D. Frost and Robert Kurz
  The Leadership Code: Five Rules to Lead by Dave Ulrich, Norm Smallwood and Kate Sweetman
  Making It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and Business of Life by David Allen
  The Toyota Leaders: An Executive Guide by Masaaki Sato

Reward Systems Wargaming for Leaders The Leadership Code Making It All Work The Toyota Leaders

Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:47 AM
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11.28.08

Stimulus Package 1 - Free Book: The Truth About You

StimulusPackageHere’s a stimulus package to get you thinking. It’s a package designed to serve as a catalyst to help you to find ways to make things work and get things done. While you might think of it as a piece of good fortune, don’t think of it as a bailout. You’ve still got to do the inside work.

In partnership with Thomas Nelson Publishers, we are giving away five copies of The Truth About You by Marcus Buckingham. The Truth About You focuses on how you set your career up right—how do you start in such a way that you can push the world toward the best of you; learning to express the best of who you are. It incorporates a candid 20-minute enhanced DVD (a reworking of the effective Trombone Player Wanted film); an interactive book, which takes up where the film leaves off; and a reMemo Pad, a way of using the raw material of your week to clearly identify your strengths and weaknesses. It’s a great gift for any young person to help clarify their direction and find meaning in life.

For a chance to get a copy, leave a comment on this post and we will randomly select five recipients on Friday, December 5, 2008.

Related Interest:
  Marcus Buckingham and The Truth About You
  Push Yourself Within Your Comfort Zone

UPDATE: Five respondents have been chosen at random. Thanks for participating.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:05 AM
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11.11.08

The Wisdom of the Flying Pig FREE Download

Wisdom of the Flying PigFollowing our review of Jack Hayhow's The Wisdom of the Flying Pig, he is graciously making a copy of the eBook available free to readers of this blog for a limited time. To take advantage of this free offer:

1. Go to Jack Hayhow’s website
2. Click “Add to Cart” button at the top of the page
3. Enter Discount Code: L8N1B
4. Fill out a short informational form and then the eBook will be emailed to you.

This offer is now over, but copies are available in paperback and on Kindle.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:11 AM
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11.02.08

Leadership Books: November 2008

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in November.

  There's No Elevator to the Top: A Leading Headhunter Shares the Advancement Strategies of the World's Most Successful Executive by Umesh Ramakrishnan
  Making a Difference by Being Yourself: Using Your Personality Type at Work and in Relationships by Gregory E. Huszczo
  Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
  Strategic Alliances: Three Ways to Make Them Work (Memo to the CEO) by Steve Steinhilber
  Call Me Ted by Ted Turner with Bill Burke

There's No Elevator to the Top Making a Difference by Being Yourself Outliers Strategic Alliances Call Me Ted

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:39 PM
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10.01.08

Leadership Books: October 2008

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in October.

  Inside Drucker's Brain by Jeffrey A. Krames
  Performance Leadership: The Next Practices to Motivate Your People, Align Stakeholders, and Lead Your Industry by Frank Buytendijk
  High Altitude Leadership: What the World's Most Forbidding Peaks Teach Us About Success by Chris Warner and Don Schmincke
  The Maxwell Daily Reader: 365 Days of Insight to Develop the Leader Within You and Influence Those Around You by John C. Maxwell
  Lead By Example: 50 Ways Great Leaders Inspire Results by John Baldoni

A Sense of Urgency Performance Leadership High Altitude Leadership Maxwell Daily Reader Lead By Example

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:29 AM
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09.26.08

Richard Branson: There Is No Reverse Gear On This Thing

Business Striped Bare
Richard Branson is the quintessential entrepreneur. Business Striped Bare is his candid account of what the Virgin companies are all about—what they hoped to do, what they actually did, how they got where they are, and why it matters. He shares the experiences and key principles that have brought him success (or not, and what he has learned from it). He explains:
There are many ways to run a successful company. What works once may never work again. What everyone tells you never to do may just work, once. There are no rules. You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over, and it’s because you fall over that you learn to save yourself from falling over. It’s the greatest thrill in the world and it runs away screaming at the first sight of bullet points….So all I can do for you now is map the territory I’ve seen. The good news is, I’ve covered a lot of territory.
And he has. You will find great stories in here about how things came to be and almost didn’t. He covers a wide range of interrelated topics: people, getting the brand right, delivering on the brand, learning from mistakes, innovation, the value of entrepreneurs and leadership, the wider responsibility of business and his thoughts on success.

Here are a few excerpts with common themes that can be applied in any context:
A manager should basically be a considerate person who is as interested in the switchboard operator and the person who cleans the lavatories as he or she is in the fellow managers. In my view, a boss who is willing to party with all of their people—and pay attention to their personal concerns—has the markings of a great leader.

Inspire people to think like entrepreneurs, and whatever you do, treat them like adults. The hardest taskmaster of all is a person’s own conscience, so the more responsibility you give people, the better they will work for you.

One thing is certain in business. You and everyone around you will make mistakes. When you are pushing the boundaries this is inevitable—and it’s important to realize this. Even when things are running well, there is always the prospect of a new reality around the corner. Suddenly, all the good decisions you made last week are doing you untold damage. … Failure usually occurs when leaders avoid the reality of business. You have to trust the people around you to learn from their mistakes. Blame and recriminations are pointless.

The secret to success in any new sector is watchfulness, usually over a period of many years. It’s hard to spin waiting and watching into a vibrant business lesson, but of there’s one thing you can take away from this chapter, let it be this: that Virgin’s sudden emergence as a leader in cutting-edge industries was decades in the making. You need a huge amount of curiosity to make it in a new sector.

Too many top executives are given massive payouts and allowed to walk away, leaving others to sort things out. I think the opposite should happen. In most cases, leaders should stay on until any problems are sorted out—or a solution found—and then they can go and with a fraction of the money they would earn if successful.
Branson says the stakes have never been higher. No one in business can unmake anything. The first law of entrepreneurial business is “there is no reverse gear on this thing.” He shows how Virgin is trying to get it right and hopes you find inspiration in it. His book will definitely get your mind moving in new directions.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:14 PM
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09.08.08

Our Performances Matter: The Encore Effect

What is the encore effect? It is delivering what you do so well that you are asked to do it again and again. It’s people wanting more of what you do best. No matter what we do, we are showcasing who we are and what we care about. As we go through our day we can either deliver an average performance or a remarkable one. A remarkable performance keeps them coming back for more.

Mark Sanborn, author of The Encore Effect, believes “Our performances matter. They can have a powerful impact on those around us. As parents, our performance shapes and influences our children. As employees and managers, our performance can make our company better, move a project forward, spark ideas among colleagues, and influence customers.”

The Encore Effect
Of course, a remarkable performance can only come from someone who knows what they do best, and is passionate enough about it to have invested the time to develop expertise in it and to live it authentically. It’s who they are and it’s infectious.

How can each of us make our own performance bigger, better, and bolder? How can we make what we do consistently remarkable and thereby make a difference in our sphere of influence?

Mark Sanborn offers five steps for making your performance remarkable; for bring your best self to whatever you are doing:

Passion: Passion is the fuel that drives our life’s purpose. Our passion for what we do pulls others along. “Nobody likes to be driven by someone else; it feels like being pushed. But when someone can show us how to be bigger on the inside—in our attitude and mind-set—that can help attract or pull us toward what we can become.

Prepare: How remarkable performance begins. “Each of us is creating our future right now. Whether the future is five minutes from now or five years, it is determined by our preparation—or lack of it.” Be a remarkable performance waiting to happen.

Practice: “There are no perfect violinists—or salespeople, executives, teachers, or parents for that matter. But deliberate practice is what distinguishes those who excel from those who get by.”

Perform: Be the performance. “One hallmark of a remarkable performance is authenticity.” Be yourself. Engage your audience by giving them your attention. “To create the Encore Effect, you shouldn’t be focused on your own happiness or success, but on the happiness and success of others.”

Polish: The difference is in the details. “There are lots of details that matter when it comes to creating a remarkable performance.” Keep polishing what you do.

Sanborn is no stranger to remarkable performances and he continues to polish his life’s work. He also highlights some pitfalls that we need to avoid along the way like arrogance, fear and impatience.

Most importantly, Sanborn points to the real goal of remarkable performances—helping others to achieve their own remarkable performances. “Remarkable performers see in others what they have discovered in themselves—the ability to reach unexplored and unanticipated levels of performance. They inspire others through their own performances, instruct others through their teaching, and help others improve through their encouragement."

Pass this title along to others—young and old. It contains a simple idea that taken to heart, can make a big difference.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 02:33 PM
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09.01.08

Leadership Books: September 2008

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in September.

  A Sense of Urgency by John P. Kotter
  The Encore Effect: How to Achieve Remarkable Performance in Anything You Do by Mark Sanborn
  The Spider's Strategy: Creating Networks to Avert Crisis, Create Change, and Really Get Ahead by Amit S. Mukherjee
  On Leadership: Essential Principles for Success by Donald J. Palmisano
  The Truth About You: Your Secret to Success by Marcus Buckingham

A Sense of Urgency The Encore Effect The Spider's Strategy On Leadership The Truth About You

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:04 AM
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08.27.08

5 Leadership Lessons: Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs

5 Leadership Lessons
Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church, wrote Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs with church leadership in mind. However, you will find pearls of wisdom that apply to any situation you find yourself in. That’s the thing about good leadership principles. They are timeless and they can be applied in any context. Here are five of the 76 guiding principles that have shaped his leadership:

1  Values Need Heat: When you heat up a value, you help people change states. Want to jolt people out of business as usual? Heat up innovation. Want to untangle confusion? Heat up clarity. Want to eradicate miserliness? Heat up generosity! New “states” elicit new attitudes, new aptitudes, and new actions. It’s not rocket science. It’s just plain chemistry. Which is a lot about heat….Over time, sufficiently hot values will utterly define your culture.

2  DNA Carriers: Great leaders take the time to explain to their team what they feel deeply about—what issues they would take a bullet for and why. Then great leaders show their staff members how to live out that DNA. They appeal to the employee’s desire to be part of something very cool and than make a hero out of each one who rises to the occasion. Sure, the final decision rests in the hands of the employee—“Will I or won’t I live out all that it means to be part of this organization?”—but effective leaders challenge and inspire their staff to become bona fide DNA carriers.

3  No Eleventh-Hour Surprises Please: One of the most harmful things a colleague can do to a leader is to toss an eleventh-hour surprise in his or her lap. Last-minute grenades ask an otherwise proactive person to become reactive, a well-paced problem solver to become a firefighter, and a long-term planner to focus all energies only on the next twenty-four hours. “I want an environment that helps keep blood pressure stable, the nuttiness quotient low, and fire drills and soap operas to a minimum. Please, no eleventh-hour surprises.”
Axiom


4  Speed of the Leader, Speed of the Team: Leaders must never expect from others anything more than they are willing to deliver themselves. They should never expect higher levels of commitment, creativity, persistence, or patience than what they themselves manifest on a regular basis.

5  Pay Attention to Greetings and Goodbyes: Everyone who works for a highly motivated leader carries with them a low-grade concern that that leader is going to use them and then toss them out. They worry that aside from getting the leader’s agenda done, they’re not at all necessary. Deep down, they simply want to know that they’re more than just a cog in someone else’s wheel. I make it a habit to do a personal, enthusiastic, genuine, warm, highly relational, look-you-in-the-eye greeting to every single person sitting around the table before I even think about starting the meeting.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:24 AM
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08.01.08

Leadership Books: August 2008

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in August.

  The PITA Principle: How to Work With (and Avoid Becoming) a Pain in the Ass by Robert Orndorff and Dulin Clark
  The Accountable Leader: Developing Effective Leadership Through Managerial Accountability by Brian Dive
  Leading with Kindness: How Good People Consistently Get Superior Results by William F. Baker and Michael O'Malley
  Leadership and the Sexes: Using Gender Science to Create Success in Business by Michael Gurian with Barbara Annis
  How the Wise Decide: The Lessons of 21 Extraordinary Leaders by Aaron Sandoski and Bryn Zeckhauser

The PITA Principle The Accountable Leader Leading with Kindness Leadership and the Sexes How the Wise Decide

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:29 AM
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07.28.08

What Is Your Plan For Personal Growth?

You won’t grow to your potential without a plan. You’ll get older, but not better. Experience guarantees nothing. Growth is intentional. If you are not growing you’re just putting in time. Waiting.

Crucibles of Leadership by Robert Thomas, is an important book that asks, “What is your personal learning strategy?” A PLS is “a highly individual plan for leveraging hard-won insights about learning from adversity and using practice to improve performance.”
Crucibles of Leadership


We all have crucibles, but it’s what we do with them that is important. Thomas writes that crucibles “are like trials or tests that corner individuals and force them to answer questions about who they are and what is really important to them.” Crucibles become valuable when we intentionally mine them for lessons that make us more effective, aware and integrated. Warren Bennis points out in the foreword that the self-awareness we should gain is “the kind of deeper understanding of self that then turns outward rather than inward and results in better understanding of others and the organizations that matter to us.”

Thomas says that we have to change our approach to learning. We shouldn’t wait for just the right moment to arrive, but learn in the moment—in real time—to, as he writes, “learn while doing.”

Preparation is essential to learning. In order to take advantage of our crucibles, we must develop a Personal Learning Strategy (PLS). Thomas introduces a framework for crafting a PLS complete with exercises to help you properly move through each step. It begins with a little introspection—understanding why you want to lead, what motivates you to do so and understanding how you learn. Then you need to access your capability in three core areas: adaptive capacity, engaging others through shared meaning, and integrity. From here you can see areas where you need to improve and strengthen in order to reach your leadership goals. Now you can assign behaviors to each of these areas that you can consciously practice at work and at home. He suggests that you “scan your landscape at work and at home, and identify those instances and roles out of your comfort zone that will allow you to stretch into new behaviors, perspectives, and leadership capabilities.”

Organizations too, can tap into the power of a PLS by adopting an experience-based approach to their leadership development program. Organizations need to recognize the importance of crucible experiences and provide the resources people need to extract insight from them in addition to the regular technical and skills training people should be receiving. Most often those resources involve creating a process that links the two learning opportunities together.

One important note on a trap that people and organizations sometimes fall into in their zeal to develop character and leadership, Thomas writes, “We create enough pressures to perform that we don’t need to invent new ones just so that we can accelerate leader development. The trick is to harness the crucibles that life sets in motion so the opportunity for learning is not squandered.” Life gives us enough opportunities to learn, but often, we just need help getting the lesson we should be getting from it.
Accomplished leaders say that experience is their best teacher. They learned their most meaningful and important leadership lessons—lessons that they’ve integrated into their own leadership style—through crucibles. These were critical events and experiences, times of testing and trial, failure more often than grand success, that grabbed them by the lapels and demanded to know “What do you stand for?” and “What are you going to do?” A situation arose that did not respect age, gender, generation, nationality, talent, or charisma; all it asked was that the person step up and be someone or do something they’d never been or done before.
Having a Personal Learning Strategy is a way of thinking about and looking at life that allows you to proactively grow from what life throws at you, rather than being knocked out by it. You need a Personal Learning Strategy.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 02:06 PM
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07.01.08

Leadership Books: July 2008

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in July.

  Six Disciplines Execution Revolution: Solving the One Business Problem That Makes Solving All Other Problems Easier by Gary Harpst
  Beyond the Babble: Leadership Communication That Drives Results by Bob Matha and Macy Boehm
  The Way of Innovation: Master the Five Elements of Change to Reinvent Your Products, Services, and Organization by Kaihan Krippendorff
  Executive Warfare: Pick Your Battles and Live to Get Promoted Another Day by David D'Alessandro
  Getting Organized at Work: 24 Lessons for Setting Goals, Establishing Priorities, and Managing Your Time by Kenneth Zeigler

Six Disciplines Execution Revolution Beyond the Babble The Way of Innovation Executive Warfare Getting Organized at Work

Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:00 AM
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06.27.08

The Offsite: A Fable to Internalize

The Offsite
The Offsite is a business fable based on the principles and practices set forth in the classic leadership book, The Leadership Challenge. And it works. Using memorable characters, author Robert Thompson, has created a story that is a great introduction not only to James Kouzes’ and Barry Posner’s work, but to the practice of leadership itself.

With our birds-eye view of the offsite and its main participants, we can see the mental struggles and the ah-ha experiences of the personalities as they begin to view leadership as a way of thinking and a choice that each individual must make. They begin by facing their reality and then learn to see a new way to get from where they are to where they want to be. They begin to see real leadership as helping people to discover what matters to them and helping them to connect to it. “Leadership is about people. Leadership is how you get management done. Leaders stretch others, not stress others.”

Through the offsite seminar leader Charlie, Thompson presents the Five Practices of Exemplary Leaders this way:

Your credibility matters so … Model the Way. How? Clarify values by finding your voice and affirming shared ideals. Set the example by aligning actions with shared values.

Your voice matters so … Inspire a Shared Vision. How? Envision the future by imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities. Enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations.

Your action matters so … Challenge the Process. How? Search for opportunities by seizing the initiative and by looking outward for innovative ways to improve. Experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and learning from experience.

Your gift matters so … Enable Others to Act. How? Foster collaboration by building trust and facilitating relationships. Strengthen others by increasing self-determination and developing competence.

Your gratitude matters so … Encourage the Heart. How? Recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence. Celebrate the values and victories by creating a spirit of community.

This is the kind of book you need to give to everyone on your team and to those your team interacts with. If you’ve read The Leadership Challenge (the new 4th edition will be out in paperback in August), then it’s a good reminder, if you haven’t, then it’s a great introduction.

Either way, you’ll find Thompson’s story a quick read, but packed full of thoughts and concepts you’ll want to reflect on and internalize. Leadership is a way of life that takes a conscious choice to build-in to everything you do, from wherever you sit. This is a great place to begin.

The Offsite

Posted by Michael McKinney at 02:35 PM
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06.02.08

To Engineer Is Human

To Engineer Is Human
At Book Expo America held in Los Angeles this last weekend, I had the pleasant surprise of meeting Todd Sattersten and Aaron Schleicher of 800ceoread. Nice guys. Todd was kind enough to give me an excerpt containing two reviews from the book he just finished writing with Jack Covert entitled, The 100 Best Business Books of All Time to be released in February 2009.

Todd’s review of To Engineer Is Human was a book I had never read. It was such a well crafted synopsis that I quickly went out and got the book. He extracted the following idea from the book that caught my attention:
Much lip service is given to accepting failure in business as natural phase in the learning process, yet internalizing the idea seems a little more difficult. Shareholders don’t show sympathy for failed products. Customers expect their product to arrive when promised and in pristine condition. Most of the other books featured in these pages detail the workings of successful companies, while Petroski’s book tells a more complicated tale of failure, one in which business practitioners can find wisdom. The most important lesson has to be appreciating failure as a learning opportunity. Failure is common. Not learning from failure forces companies to repeat the same mistakes again. In engineering, that repetition can cost lives; in business, our livelihood.
Henry Petrosky wrote that “no one wants to learn by mistakes, but we cannot learn enough from successes to go beyond the state of the art.” The core of the problem would seem to be the stakeholder's failure – or certainly their reluctance – to take the long view. If the rest of the reviews are anything like Todd’s review, the book should be a good read and a valuable reference tool.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:35 PM
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06.01.08

Leadership Books: June 2008

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in June.

  Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman
  Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life by Stewart D. Friedman
  Ethics for the Real World: Creating a Personal Code to Guide Decisions in Work and Life by Ronald A. Howard and Clinton D. Korver
  Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge by Cass R. Sunstein
  The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company by Joseph Michelli

Sway Total Leadership Ethics for the Real World Infotopia The New Gold Standard

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:50 AM
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05.29.08

Change the Way You See Yourself

Change the Way You See Yourself
The authors that brought you Change the Way You See Everything have taken the principles of asset-based thinking and applied them more specifically to you – the individual – in Change the Way You See Yourself. Like its predecessor, this book too is a feast for the eyes. I enjoy the graphics, but the message they convey is vital to your personal development.

Asset-based thinking is a way of looking at yourself that emphasizes what is working in your life and the strengths you possess. It is a way of freeing yourself from negative and unproductive thinking. It allows you to focus on what you can do and not what you can’t do (as often seems to be our default mode of thinking). They write that with asset-based thinking, “you use surprise, serendipity, and even setbacks to make the journey more interesting and more worthwhile. You are more confident in who you are, where you are going, and how to get there.”

In the section on power they invite us to look at it in a new way. Authors Kathryn Cramer and Hank Wasiak write:
When it comes to power, most people think of accumulating material wealth, status, authority, knowledge, and expertise. These are potent external sources of power. AS such, they provide you with control over a vast array of resources – from money, to land, to market share, to intellectual property. While building large reservoirs of external power may be useful, it is not enough for getting results. There is another source of power equally important and often more vital to your leadership and success.

Instead of relying primarily on external power sources to fuel your progress, look deeply inside for what can move you forward. You have a huge reservoir of internally generated power just waiting to be tapped. Internal sources of power derive from who you are – not what you have. Your internal power is defined by your Signature Presence – your unique combination of passions, capabilities, qualities, values, and beliefs. Signature Presence power gives you what it takes to get results when externally derived power is not enough.
CWYSYpower
Leadership sage Warren Bennis once said, “A point of view is worth 50 IQ points.” He knew That when you live by the power of your convictions you stand taller, sit straighter, and speak more confidently. You raise the level of your game. Others know you as a “force of nature” – someone who will not be deterred and who doesn’t give up.

People crave clarity … your voice rings clear when you stand for something.
People want wisdom … your mind creates meaning when you stand for something.
People gravitate toward hope … your ideas and promises hold sway when you stand for something.

Related Reading:
  Asset-Based Thinking

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:40 AM
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05.02.08

Leadership Books: May 2008

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in May.

  It's Our Ship: The No-Nonsense Guide to Leadership by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff
  Good Guys and Bad Guys: Behind the Scenes with the Saints and Scoundrels of American Business (and Everything in Between) by Joe Nocera
  Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: No Schedules, No Meetings, No Joke--the Big Idea That's Already Transforming the Way We Work by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson
  The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company by David A. Price
  A Global Life: My Journey among Rich and Poor, from Wall Street to the World Bank by James D. Wolfensohn

It's Our Ship Good Guys and Bad Guys Why Work Sucks The Pixar Touch A Global Life

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:58 AM
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04.23.08

How To Have Just Enough Anxiety

Just Enough Anxiety
Robert Rosen has written an excellent book on an issue we all deal with—anxiety. It’s not a bad thing, but “if you let it overwhelm you, it will turn to panic. If you deny or run from it, you will become complacent.” Rosen believes that our problem in dealing with anxiety stems from faulty thinking. In Just Enough Anxiety, he writes, “It goes something like this: Change and uncertainty make me anxious. Anxiety is bad, a sign of weakness. Therefore, I have to avoid change and uncertainty. I have to do whatever I can to avoid anxiety.”

Balance comes from a right attitude and a proper perspective. Dealing with anxiety is no different.
The success of great leaders is all about creating the right level of anxiety for growth and performance. It is their uncommon ability to create just enough tension—within themselves and their organizations—that unleashes the human energy that drives powerful leadership, accelerated growth, and winning companies.
What’s wrong with having too much or too little anxiety?

RR: Too much anxiety comes from negative thinking. When we feel too much anxiety, we attack change. We become combative or controlling as we try to ease the pain we feel. Too little anxiety is grounded in contentment. When we feel too little anxiety, we avoid change. We value the status quo and believe everything will be okay as long as everything stays the same. If your company is going through tough times like a bad economy or a merger, you definitely don’t want too little anxiety.

What exactly is “just enough anxiety”?

RR: The right level of anxiety gives individuals and organizations an emotional charge that helps us thrive in an uncertain world. As we allow ourselves to experience anxiety as our natural response to change, and learn to modulate it, we’re able to live in the world as it is instead of struggling to make it what we want it to be. And as we get better at living with just enough anxiety, it becomes the energy that drives us forward, stretches us, and challenges us to be better tomorrow than we are today.

How can leaders manage anxiety instead of letting it manage them?

RR: It starts with self awareness. Leaders who understand what makes them anxious are better able to increase or decrease their anxiety, as needed to create just enough. But, more than that, it has to do with how they relate to change and uncertainty. By admitting what they can and can’t control, they’re able to take charge of their lives while remaining open to the unexpected. They’re at home in uncharted territory. Instead of seeing anxiety as the enemy, they recognize it as their natural companion on the path of change.
Just Enough Anxiety

Rosen has placed on his web site a questionnaire to help you determine if you are a Just Enough Anxiety Leader.
Download a PDF of chapter 1: It's Time To Evolve

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:30 AM
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04.21.08

Maxwell’s Lessons Learned From a Lifetime of Leading

Leadership Gold
In his latest book, Leadership Gold, John Maxwell looks back on 60 years and distills what he has learned about leadership to date. And he stresses that he is still learning. It contains 26 important lessons about leadership and human relationships that are well worth reviewing. It’s a mentoring-style book. He says that leadership can be learned by anyone but it’s not easy. Leadership is demanding and complex. He writes:

Leadership is the willingness to put oneself at risk.
Leadership is the passion to make a difference with others.
Leadership is being dissatisfied with the current reality.
Leadership is taking responsibility while others are making excuses.
Leadership is seeing the possibilities in a situation while others are seeing the limitations.
Leadership is the readiness to stand out in a crowd.
Leadership is an open mind and an open heart.
Leadership is the ability to submerge your ego for the sake of what is best.
Leadership is evoking in others the capacity to dream.
Leadership is inspiring others with a vision of what they can contribute.
Leadership is the power of one harnessing the power of many.
Leadership is your heart speaking to the hearts of others.
Leadership is the integration of heart, head, and soul.
Leadership is the capacity to care, and in caring, to liberate the ideas, energy, and capacities of others.
Leadership is the dream made reality.
Leadership is above all, courageous.

The list makes a good yardstick.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:35 AM
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04.01.08

Leadership Books: April 2008



  Leadership Gold: Lessons I've Learned from a Lifetime of Leading by John C. Maxwell
  The Game-Changer: How You Can Drive Revenue and Profit Growth with Innovation by A.G. Lafley and Ram Charan
  Leadership the Hard Way: Why Leadership Can't Be Taught - And How You Can Learn It Anyway by Dov Frohman with Robert Howard
  Relevance: Hitting Your Goals by Knowing What Matters by David Apgar
  Beyond Ego: Influential Leadership Starts Within by Art Horn

Leadership Gold The Game-Changer Leadership the Hard Way Relevance Beyond Ego

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:04 AM
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03.26.08

Making the Impossible Possible

Make the Impossible Possible
Samuel Johnson once wrote, “The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope.” This statement seems to define Bill Strickland’s life. Make the Impossible Possible is an engaging, inspirational book written with humility and passion.

Bill Strickland’s life changed, when as a boy in a Pittsburgh ghetto, a teacher took the time to show him that he mattered and allowed him to see himself in a new way. (An integral part of any leader’s job.) As a result, he became open to opportunities and created at 19 what became the Manchester-Bidwell Center, the now famous arts-education and job-training center for disadvantaged kids and adults. This extraordinary school was built on Strickland’s belief that “all of us have the potential to make our dreams come true, and that one of the greatest obstacles blocking us from realizing that potential is that we believe, or are told, that things we want most passionately are impractical, unrealistic, or somehow beyond our reach.” He convincingly demonstrates his belief that:
Each one of us, no matter who our parents are, where we live, how much education we have, or what kinds of connections, abilities, and opportunities life may have offered us, has the potential to shape our lives in ways that will bring us the meaning, purpose, and success we long for….I want everyone who comes to this book, no matter what their age or accomplishments or the circumstances of their lives, to rethink their assumptions about what is and isn’t possible in their lives, and to convince themselves that they have not only the right but also the responsibility, and the capacity, to dream big and to make those dreams come true.
Strickland narrates his successes and failures, obstacles and opportunities, his thinking and rethinking, as he went about to create the success he has achieved. It’s a fascinating story. While he has dedicated his life to helping other people, he denies the do-gooder label. He writes, “I didn’t do any of it out of selflessness. I did it to be myself. I did it to enrich my own life, to deepen the quality and meaning of my own experience. I did it because it was a part of what I had to do if I genuinely wanted to be me.”

How often have we been burdened by self-defeating assumptions? Strickland writes that “once we accept the idea that poverty is, essentially, the acceptance of meager possibility, we can’t deny that all of us are in some fashion poor. We all suffer some form of poverty—poverty of imagination, or courage, or vision, or will. We allow ourselves to be limited by our fears—fear of failure, fear of change, fear of being criticized or of looking like a fool.”

This isn’t another see-what-I-did self-help book. It’s a book that invites introspection. Read it and learn from his experience and thinking.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 02:41 PM
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03.17.08

In Leadership, Context Is Everything

Ultimate Leadership
In leadership, context is everything. As we have said before, leadership hasn’t changed—the context we operate in has changed. Russell Palmer’s book Ultimate Leadership is on target. He believes that “the principles of leadership can be effective in a wide variety of situations, but often they need to be applied in a very different manner depending on the circumstances and the constituent groups involved.”

This of course, makes perfect sense, but what makes no sense is how often it isn’t applied. We tend to plow along the way we have always done things without regard to our current situation. Palmer writes, “Success or failure can often depend on modifying leadership styles to suit a different context.”

While there is no single style of leadership that works in every situation, there are basic principles of leadership that apply universally. Palmer explains some of those principles such as integrity, execution, good judgment, innovation, communication and people skills among others.

The core of the book provides practical, well-heeled advice on applying basic leadership principles in a variety of contexts. He discusses execution and the pros and cons of specific contexts such as top down, crisis leadership, partnership of peers, academic, entrepreneurial organizations, non-profits, government, and the military.

He includes a great deal of his personal experience and interviews with thoughtful people in each of these areas. When leading “partners and peers who have relatively narrow specializations,” Palmer points out, “leaders need a broad view. In other words, they must be generalists who know a good deal about many things. One of the problems in today’s society is that we develop more and more people with narrowly specialized knowledge…. The best subject from an educational standpoint for a leader is the study of history. Reading biographies is also particularly helpful…. The best education, for instance, for a businessperson is a strong liberal arts undergraduate program and then a graduate business program.”

In the end, he concludes, it’s all about people.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:12 PM
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03.14.08

Good Followers Make the Best Leaders

Followership Kellerman
In case you didn’t know it by now, let me just say, followership is the crucible of leadership. There is no better way to learn leadership than by being under someone else—leading from the second chair. As ironic as that may sound, it’s true. Learning to lead under someone else provides you with the opportunity (the necessity) to learn to lead without coercion. You learn to let your leadership speak for itself—authentically.

Yet we still, as Barbara Kellerman states in her important new book, Followership, overestimate the importance of leadership and underestimate the importance of followership. She argues that, “thinking leadership without thinking followership is not merely misleading, it is mistaken.” Why? The context of leadership has changed.
First, leaders have been demystified, in part by modern media, which demands grist for its mill 24/7; and in part by the modern culture, in which figures of authority are no longer exalted or even so much respected. Second, because the line between the leader and the led has been blurred, the led have been emboldened.
She points out that much of this is cyclical. I would agree. It’s hard for human beings to find balance. Consequently, we continually find ourselves reacting to someone else’s excessive behavior.

While we have spent a great deal of time distinguishing between types of leaders, we have not done the same with followers. Kellerman spends a good portion of the book explaining followers. She describes four types: Bystanders, Participants, Activists, and Diehards. She writes: “Followers are us. This does not, of course, mean that all of us follow all of the time—sometimes we lead. But all of us follow some of the time. It’s the human condition.”

She advocates that followers not try to become something else, but more importantly that they change their response to their rank, their response to their superiors and to the situation at hand. She emphasizes:
  • Followers constitute a group that, although amorphous, nevertheless has members with interests in common.
  • While followers by definition lack authority, at least in relation to their superiors, they do not by definition lack power and influence.
  • Followers can be agents of change.
  • Followers ought to support good leadership and thwart bad leadership.
  • Followers who do something are nearly always preferred to followers who do nothing.
  • Followers can create change by circumventing their leaders and joining with other followers instead.
What we need now is a Followership Part 2, where it is explained to followers just how one should follow. We do a disservice to followers – as we have with leaders – by requiring no character development and self-discipline. When we learn to develop better followers, we will get better leaders.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:06 AM
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03.02.08

Leadership Books: March 2008

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in March.

  Five Future Strategies You Need Right Now (Memo to the CEO) by George Stalk with John Butman
  Outsmart! How to Do What Your Competitors Can't: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by James Champy
  The Breakthrough Imperative: How the Best Managers Get Outstanding Results by Mark Gottfredson and Steve Schaubert
  The Offsite: A Leadership Challenge Fable by Robert H. Thompson
  Rocking the Boat: How to Effect Change Without Making Trouble by Debra E. Meyerson

Memo to the CEO Outsmart Breakthrough Imperative The Offsite Rocking the Boat

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:57 PM
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02.01.08

Leadership Books: February 2008

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in February.

  Followership: How Followers Are Creating Change and Changing Leaders by Barbara Kellerman
  Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky
  Myself and Other More Important Matters by Charles B. Handy
  The Powers to Lead: Soft, Hard, and Smart by Joseph S. Nye
  Why Should the Boss Listen to You? The Seven Disciplines of the Trusted Strategic Advisor by James E. Lukaszewski

Followership Here Comes Everybody Charles Handy Powers to Lead James E. Lukaszewski

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:05 AM
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01.01.08

Leadership Books: January 2008

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in January.

  Bounce! Failure, Resiliency, and Confidence to Achieve Your Next Great Success by Barry J. Moltz
  Ultimate Leadership: Winning Execution Strategies for Your Situation by Russell E. Palmer
  Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery by Garr Reynolds
  Leadership Lessons: 10 Keys to Success in Life and Business by Greg J. Swartz
  It Starts With One: Changing Individuals Changes Organizations by J. Stewart Black and Hal B. Gregersen

Bounce! Ultimate Leadership Presentation Zen Leadership Lessons It Starts With One

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:22 AM
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12.25.07

Best Leadership Books of 2007

Best Leadership Books of 2007
Our selection for the best leadership books published in 2007 are listed below.

Learning for the successful person, is a lifelong journey. No book or conference is an end in itself. They should encourage you to dig deeper and more often.

These titles do not necessarily represent popularity in terms of numbers of books sold. In a few cases they did not get the recognition they deserved. But all of the titles selected will contain ideas relevant and compelling to leaders at all levels and contexts.

The authors all addressed the question, “How can I create the environment and perform in a way that leads to consistently successful outcomes?” But more than that, they deal with the real success of a leader: the creating of a leadership economy if you will—a place where leaders are developed at all levels and in all areas of life. These books will help you on your journey.

True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership by Bill George and Peter Sims

What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful by Marshall Goldsmith with Mark Reiter

How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything...in Business (and in Life) by Dov L. Seidman

Measure of a Leader by Aubrey C. Daniels and James E. Daniels

Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls by Noel M. Tichy and Warren G. Bennis

The Leaders We Need: And What Makes Us Follow by Michael Maccoby

The Future of Management by Gary Hamel

egonomics: What Makes Ego Our Greatest Asset (or Most Expensive Liability) by David Marcum and Steven Smith

Five Minds for the Future by Howard Gardner

Leaders at All Levels: Deepening Your Talent Pool to Solve the Succession Crisis by Ram Charan

Remarkable Leadership: Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill at a Time by Kevin Eikenberry

The Halo Effect ... and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers by Phil Rosenzweig

2007bestbookpick

Again, we have selected a few biographies. As a category, they shape minds and ideas in ways that no other type of business book can. It's a good idea to always be working through a biography of some kind. It gives motivation for much needed self-reflection. To learn vicariously, is perhaps the best way to learn most things.

The Education of an Accidental CEO: Lessons Learned from the Trailer Park to the Corner Office by David Novak with John Boswell

Bo's Lasting Lessons: The Legendary Coach Teaches the Timeless Fundamentals of Leadership by Bo Schembechler and John U. Bacon

The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World by Randall E. Stross

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:19 AM
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12.12.07

Paul Johnson’s Heroes: Lessons for Today's Leaders

Paul Johnson: Heroes
Paul Johnson’s Heroes is a pleasure to read. With his knack for illuminative details and command of the language, he has produced a series of short biographical essays that draw you through the book and leave you with a lot to think about. He notes that heroes have not always been appreciated and the status accorded them can be fleeting and arbitrary. By way of example he writes:
In the troubled times which followed the end of the Napoleonic Wars, caused by lower wages, unemployment and higher food prices, the term became abusive. When ever the Duke of Wellington made his appearance, a certain kind of London mob (there were many different kinds) would shout: “No heroes! We want no heroes!” For the self-conscious proletariat, the “Man on Horseback” was a political enemy. They threw stones through the windows of Apsley House, the duke’s London residence. He had the windows boarded up but refused to replace the glass, as a reminder to people of how volatile was popularity an dhow fickle the crowd, applauding him as a hero one moment, detesting him the next.
Consider too, Genghis Khan was “reviled for nearly a millennium as the archetypal mass murderer and rapist, despoiler, arsonist and ravager” yet “since the collapse of the Soviet empire in Central Asia, has become there a state-sponsored hero, especially in Azerbaijan and Mongolia.”

“No people in history were more in need of heroes than the Hebrews.” And so Johnson begins his examples with the judges Deborah, Judith and Sampson leading to their greatest hero, King David. Continuing on, his survey of heroes spans almost 3000 years of Western history and ranges from, Alexander and Julius Caesar, to the unlikely Mae West and Marilyn Monroe, to Lincoln and Churchill, to Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II. Here are some of his comments from the book:
  • Ronald Reagan: "I have never come across a person, certainly not in public life, who was so thoroughly and fundamentally at ease with himself."
  • George Washington: "The United States of America has been fortunate in many ways, especially in the magnificent endowment of nature. But not the least of its blessings was the man who first led it to victory, then made the new nation that emerged law-abiding, stable and prosperous, as well as free. This double achievement is without parallel in history."
  • Thomas More: "More has a lot to teach the twenty-first century. He had a curiously modern gift for words, and he articulated the culminating drama of his life -- the still, small voice of conscience defying an ideological despotism -- with stunning aptness, so that to us he resembles the hero of a contemporary morality play."
  • Robert E. Lee: "Lee was a true hero. He insisted on making possible for others the freedom of thought and action he sought for himself."
  • Abraham Lincoln: "He was a good man on a giant scale. He invariably did the right thing, however easily it might have been avoided. Of how many other great men might this be said?"
  • Emily Dickinson: "The best [of her poetry] is sublime, moving, unforgettable, magic, and the woman who produced it is undeniably, in her obstinate, tiresome, brave, unflinching, desperate and triumphant way, heroic."
  • Winston Churchill: "In the pursuit and enjoyment of power, he was always not merely careful but punctilious in observing the constitutional rules and respecting those persons and institutions charged with upholding them. This to my mind is the quality in Churchill which makes him so quintessentially the democratic hero."
  • Margaret Thatcher: "Thatcher was a good, kind and gentle creature, wonderfully considerate to her staff, always thinking of other people and doing things for them, unasked, and never cross if she got no thanks."
  • Pope John Paul II: "He had, it seemed to me, a strong sense of priorities, an unfailing ability to separate the essential from the peripheral, and to keep to the point, obliging others to do likewise. His intellect was burly, gripped hard and never relaxed until the job was done."
  • Modern Leaders: "The great majority of heads of government, in my experience, are hardened egoists, corrupted by exercising power even if not already corrupted by getting there. The few exceptions, like Harold Wilson or Willy Brandt, tend to be weak men."
  • Good government: "After nearly sixty years of writing history, and also of observing contemporary history makers in action, I am convinced that successful government depends less on intelligence and knowledge than on simplicity – that is, the ability to narrow aims to three or four important tasks which are possible, reasonable and communicable."
Johnson states that heroic behavior is to be found in every age and in all kinds of places. He asks, “How do we recognize the heroes and heroines of today?” He puts forth four principle identifiers we should take note of:

First, an absolute independence of mind, which springs from the ability to think everything through for yourself, and to treat whatever is the current consensus on any issue with skepticism.

Second, having made up your mind independently, the ability to act resolutely and consistently.

Third, to be able to ignore or reject everything the media throws at you, provided you remain convinced you are doing right.

And finally, to act with personal courage at all times, regardless of the consequences to yourself.

Who are your heroes?

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:36 AM
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12.10.07

5 Leadership Lessons: Great Advice from Accidental CEO, David Novak

5 Leadership Lessons

While Yum Brands chairman and CEO David Novak calls himself an accidental CEO, his rise to the top, while perhaps not planned, was no accident. His advancement speaks to the power of right choices made throughout life based on the knowledge gained from cultivating lessons from life and seeking out advice. His memoir, The Education of an Accidental CEO, is written in the first person and full of advice that we can all gain from reading. Nothing here is earth-shaking or new, but it is helpful to see the successful working of these principles in the life of someone who took them to heart. Here are a few of the lessons we can take away:

1  I don’t think as a leader that you just go tell people to do something. I believe you plant the seeds and share with them what you know and let them draw their own conclusions—which may even be better than your own.

2  One thing I’ve learned over the years is that you never get promoted until most people in your company can already see you in the position. [Former chairman of PepsiCo, Wayne Calloway], took me aside and said to me, “David, I have no doubt that one day you are going to end up running something. So why don’t you just focus on what you need to do today in order to be ready when you get there.”

3  I can’t stress enough the essential nature of really hearing what someone has to say even if it is totally contradictory to your own beliefs….It’s something that I have to constantly remind myself of, and others, to do to this day. [Coach Wooden told him], “Most leaders have enough ego as it is, so you don’t need anyone around to inflate it any further.
Education of an Accidental CEO
Have strong, opinionated people working for you.”

4  One of the greatest failures to execute is the lack of follow-up. This seems obvious, yet very few companies place as much emphasis on accountability as they do on figuring out what they want to get done.

5  Self discovery is the key to learning, whether it’s learning how to do something new or better or learning something about yourself. You can tell the same thing to people a thousand times, but they don’t really own it until they discover it for themselves.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:55 AM
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12.02.07

Leadership Books: December 2007

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in December.

  Leaders at All Levels: Deepening Your Talent Pool to Solve the Succession Crisis by Ram Charan
  The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking by Roger L. Martin
  Big Think Strategy: How to Leverage Bold Ideas and Leave Small Thinking Behind by Bernd H. Schmitt
  EPIC Change: How to Lead Change in the Global Age by Timothy R. Clark
  Jacked Up: Inside Welch's Communication Revolution at GE by Bill Lane

Leaders at All Levels The Opposable Mind Big Think Strategy EPIC Change Jacked Up

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:01 AM
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11.28.07

Integrative Thinking: The Opposable Mind

The Opposable Mind
Not one to put the cart before the horse, Roger Martin understands the importance of doing but he prefers “to swim upstream to the antecedent of doing: thinking.” He writes in The Opposable Mind, “My critical question is not what various leaders did, but how their cognitive processes produced their actions.”

In examining how exemplary leaders think, he found an approach that was common to many, that he has termed integrative thinking. Integrative thinking is:
The ability to face constructively the tension of opposing ideas and, instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, generate a creative resolution of the tension in the form of a new idea that contains elements of the opposing ideas but is superior to each.
In other words, integrative thinking examines problems as a whole, taking note of the complexities that exist and embrace the tension between opposing ideas to create new alternatives that take advantage of many possible solutions.

Is integrative thinking necessary for all problems? No. For some problems there is an easy solution. Some problems benefit from breaking them down to a single manageable issue and nailing the solution. These are generally simple, linear cause and effect problems. But there are those problems that stem from multiple avenues of causation and nonlinear relationships between cause and effect. For example, when you find yourself faced with win/lose solutions, problems to which there is no apparent solution or issues for which all of the solutions are choices between bad alternatives, then integrative thinking becomes necessary.

It’s easy to get into the destructive rut of thinking that money is the solution to most problems. School boards are notorious for claiming that their hands are tied because they lack the money they want. They cripple themselves. What they really need are creative solutions. Education is a complex issue and has for too long been subject to tunnel-vision problem solving. They need integrative thinking.

Einstein opined that we should make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler. Too often we try to make complex issues too simple and leave ourselves with too few options based on our limited point-of-view. If we instead embrace complexity and learn to deal with it, we might find more and better solutions. Martin writes, “More salient features make for a messier problem. But integrative thinkers don’t mind the mess. In fact they welcome it, because the mess assures them that they haven’t edited out features necessary to the contemplation of the problem as a whole. They welcome complexity because they know the best answers arise from complexity.”

In The Opposable Mind, Martin clearly illustrates this thinking process in action by dissecting varied examples from both business and interpersonal situations. Martin claims that we are all born with an opposable mind—the ability to hold two conflicting ideas or models in constructive tension. “We can use that tension to think our way through to a new and superior idea….Opposing models, in fact, are the richest source of new insight into a problem. We learn nothing from someone who sees the problem exactly as we do.”

Related Posts:
Roger Martin on Assertive Inquiry
How to Develop Integrative Thinking

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:45 AM
| TrackBacks (1) | Books , Creativity & Innovation , Thinking

11.21.07

How to Change Anything

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
—Reinhold Niebuhr
The authors of Influencer: The Power to Change Anything claim that they can show you how to change anything. Well, nearly everything. They suggest that most of the time we cop out. We comfort ourselves with the Serenity Prayer and move on. Maybe it’s not the courage we lack but the skills to change the things we can.

Influencer
The authors set about to do just that. “If you want to change the world, you eventually have to change how people behave. And if you want to change how they behave, you have to first change how they think.” The key idea is this: “A few behaviors change drive a lot of change.”

What that means is, if you want to effect change, then while casting a vision is important (that is, what you want people to achieve), what you need to focus on is behaviors—what you specifically want people to do. If you determine the foundational behaviors upon which everything you want changed stands, and change those things, then everything else changes with it.

Here are some points to consider:
  • “People choose their behaviors based on what they think will happen to them as a result. If you want to change behavior, any behavior you have to change maps of cause and effect.”
  • “When it comes to resistant problems, verbal persuasion rarely works. Verbal persuasion often comes across as an attack. People aren’t about to give up what gives them intense pleasure or what constitutes an important window into their view of self simply because of a well-turned phrase.” Instead, “come up with innovative ways to create personal experiences. Nothing changes a mind like the cold, hard world hitting it with actual real-life data.”
  • “Stories can create touching moments that help people view he world in new ways.” Why? “Because stories help individuals transport themselves away from the role of listener who is rigorously applying rules of logic, analysis, and criticism and into the story itself.”
There is more than one way to influence and if you are only using one of them as a matter of habit, it may explain why you are having difficulty bringing complex and resistant problems to a solution. There are six sources of influence that drive our behavior divided between two domains—motivation and ability. They reason, “Virtually all forces that have impact on human behavior work on only two mental maps—not two thousand, just two. At the end of the day a person asks, ‘Can I do what’s required?’ and ‘Will it be worth it?’

Influencer presents a model that organizes influence in to 6 general strategies and clearly explains how to make use of these strategies in your own change issues.

They write, “Ineffective influencers compensate for their weak influence repertories by putting a megaphone to the one source they’ve already put into place.” If you feel you have to turn up the volume to get people to listen, it’s not them it’s you. Work on your strategy. This book will show you how.

Influencer is brought to you by the same group that produced such great books as Crucial Confrontations and Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:53 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books , Change , Motivation

11.19.07

Reframing Conflict

Managing Conflict
Negotiation expert and Harvard Law School professor, Roger Fisher talks about how we communicate through conflict in Managing Conflict. Reframing the situation we find ourselves in to reflect a concern for he other person’s point of view can move us through a perceived impasse. Fisher’s rethinking process excerpted here, is helpful in this regard:

“So I come and try to put myself in your shoes: How do you see it? How can I help you see it in a way that will be helpful to you, where you can go forward? I’m not telling you what to do; I’m not fighting with you.”

“I have to get on your side, understand what you’re thinking about; what you’re worried about—your concerns, your interests—and how I can help you deal with your side.”

Fisher adds: “Negotiation is recognizing that it’s not just the other side that has the problem but that we have a problem together. When you negotiate, you want to understand each other’s perceptions. How do you see it? How do I see it? How do we change it from adversarial to side by side, so that we’re both working on this?”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:03 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books , Communication

11.14.07

Optimizing Luck

In a world of rapidly changing conditions, luck often seems to be the determining factor in the success of the best organizations. According to authors Thomas Meylan and Terry Teays, luck is something that can be optimized and built into your culture.
Their book, Optimizing Luck is a business profile of the highly successful, 18-plus year long International Ultraviolet Explorer astronomical project they were involved in for NASA.

While the chapter on leadership could have benefited from some more rigorous thought, they do outline six behaviors and procedures you can implement to amplify your natural abilities to succeed in any environment.

First, and most importantly, they stress the importance of hiring the right people. Look for people with sufficient skills and experience to do the job, aptitudes that will contribute positively to the organization and people with a passion for the kind of work you are hiring them for. (Seek staff reaction to the new person.) “If you don’t have the time to work through a hiring process that gets you the right people, how are you possibly going to have time to deal with all the misfits you end up with?”

Secondly, multiply your strengths through the power of delegation – or just let people do their job. If you have hired the right people with the right skill set, then you should be able to trust them to accomplish the task. “Without trust, delegation doesn’t happen. What you get instead is the making of assignments that you either micromanage or snatch back to do yourself.”

Third, become adaptable through the “master process of continuous habit management.” This consists of being alert to changes, continuously trying new things until you get the results you want, converting successful behaviors into personal habits and organizational procedures, and discarding obsolete habits when you realize it’s time to create new ones.

Optimizing Luck
Fourth, know how to operate in a lean environment before it is forced upon you. “If you have hired self-renewing employees, and you have given them the opportunity and resources to learn new skills, then they are well prepared to adapt to changes in your enterprise’s needs….Don’t think in terms of malnourished drudges. Think of slender gymnasts, flexible and agile and capable of an entire repertoire of tricks.”

Fifth, promote prompt and accessible communication to all who need it. Knowledge is the raw material you use to drive a business, it must reach everyone, whether it is good or bad news. “Without good communication habits, your organization may be too slow to take advantage of a surprise opportunity and end up not getting there first.”

Finally, build a system for recognizing and rewarding people that perform beyond their job description. “Your method of rewarding employees should encourage the behavior you want your employees to show.”

The key passage is this:
Differences in levels of success often come down to differences in personal habits. People employ decades-old systems of habits to get through the day. However, most people put no special thought into developing these systems. They pick up a few tricks from mom and dad and a few teachers and a lot from their peers, while growing up and going through school. And that’s where their habit-developing effort stops.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:10 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books , Management

11.12.07

Finding the Difference Makers in Your Organization

Stories about people who have gone above and beyond inspire us to be better than we are now. These stories of people who make a difference can help others to see themselves and their work in new ways. Stories help people to disconnect from the moment and project themselves in to a new place where things are possible.

Results that Last
Quint Studer writes in Results that Last, “I think difference makers are the world’s real heroes, the people working to make things better. You know who they are: those men and women who give extra effort without thinking of themselves. They may not get a lot of glory, but they are deeply appreciated by the people whose lives they touch.”

He suggests that we make a conscious effort to look for and collect the stories of those people that go above and beyond and know when to break the rules in order to make a difference. Then retell them over and over to make them a part of the organization’s culture. The stories should have a behavior-oriented point and help people to connect their situation to that of the heroes in the story. “Finding your heroes and recognizing their behavior is key because recognized and rewarded behavior is repeated.” Here are several ways he suggests we go about finding heroes in our organizations:
  • Harvest examples of extraordinary employee behavior, making sure to get the complete story and all the facts.
  • Look at customer feedback
  • Ask your customers about the level of service they receive at your organization
  • Develop a consistent program for recognizing your organization’s heroes and their stories. Make sure no one gets overlooked!

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:43 AM
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11.09.07

You Are There: Peter Drucker's Classroom

"Everything you see here was as it happened that day, except, You Are There…. What sort of day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times—and you were there."
youarethere
Reminiscent of Walter Cronkite’s CBS program You Are There, Bill Cohen takes us back into the classroom of Peter Drucker. In A Class With Drucker, he brings to life the energy and humor of one of the best thinker’s of our time. He illuminates some of Drucker’s most profound ideas live, in real time as it were. Subtitled as “the lost lessons of the world’s greatest management thinker,” it is, more to the point, “the lost context of the world’s greatest management thinker.” While many of the ideas are not new to those familiar with Drucker’s teachings, you will find Cohen’s presentation of Drucker’s thinking and classroom elaboration of his ideas, to be enlightening.

A Class With Drucker
Drucker taught at Claremont University just a few miles from where I am here. I have had the opportunity to hear him talk and Cohen’s recollections bring back my own experiences. A Class With Drucker is an enjoyable read that shows a side of Drucker that you don’t get from his writings alone. Cohen was the first graduate of the world’s first executive Ph.D. program in management at Claremont University. He reconstructs the lectures that made the strongest impact on him when he was a student, in chapters devoted to 17 key lessons from the Drucker curriculum.

In one such chapter entitled, People Have No Limits, Even After Failure, he records Drucker’s problem with Lawrence Peter’s infamous Peter Principle from the 1968 book of the same name: "In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." Cohen writes:
Peter [Drucker] said, We have no right to ask people to take on jobs that will defeat them, no right to break good people. We don’t have enough good young people to practice human sacrifice.” The selection of the right person for the right job was the manager’s responsibility. But even more importantly, the notion that people rise to their levels of incompetence was dangerous to the organization.

According to the Peter Principle, if an organization has arrived at his or her level of incompetence, logically the organization has little choice but to get rid of the incompetent employee before the entire organization becomes overloaded with incompetent managers who make more and more bad decisions. Yet, the concept and the recommended action has many downsides. The only antidote to “incompetence” under the Peter Principle is dismissal. However, before one should even consider dismissal, the basic question concerns the assumption that failure is due to incompetence.
Cohen ends each chapter with a useful Drucker Lesson Summary. Even Drucker aficionados will gain something new here.

  William Cohen also publishes the Journal of Leadership Application newsletter.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:19 PM
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11.01.07

Leadership Books: November 2007

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in November.

  Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls by Noel M. Tichy and Warren G. Bennis
  The Leaders We Need: And What Makes Us Follow by Michael Maccoby
  Heroes: From Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar to Churchill and de Gaulle by Paul Johnson
  Rapid Transformation: A 90-day Plan for Fast and Effective Change by Behnam Tabrizi
  A Class With Drucker: The Lost Lessons of the World's Greatest Management Teacher by William A. Cohen

Judgment The Leaders We Need Heroes Rapid Transformation A Class With Drucker

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:17 AM
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10.29.07

How To Get Great Ideas: Lessons for Brainstorming

Thinking Better
In 1941, advertising man Alex Osborn (BBDO) came up with the idea of “Thinking Up” which was later changed to brainstorming by his “thinking-up” colleagues. In an excellent book about innovative and productive thinking simply titled, Thinking Better by Tim Hurson, he reviews Osborn’s list of four essential rules for effective brainstorming:
  • Criticism is ruled out. Adverse judgment of ideas must be withheld until later.
  • Freewheeling is welcomed. The wilder the idea, the better; it is easier to tame down than to think up.
  • Quantity is wanted. The greater the number of ideas, the more the likelihood of useful ideas.
  • Combination and improvement are sought. In addition to contributing ideas of their own, participants should suggest how the ideas of others can be turned into better ideas or how two or more ideas can be joined into still another idea.

Hurson notes that studies have shown that the last third of a brainstorming session usually results in the best ideas. He calls it the miracle of the third third. “You’ll have a greater chance of coming up with that one brilliant idea if you get all the way to the third third than you will if you stop at the first “right” idea.” He writes:
The first third of the session tends to produce mundane, every-one-has-thought-of-them-before ideas. These are the early thoughts that lie very close to the surface of our consciousness. They tend not to be new ideas at all but recollections of old ideas we’ve heard elsewhere. They are essentially reproductive thoughts.

Generally, the second third of a good brainstorming session produces ideas that begin to stretch boundaries….The third third is where the diamonds lie.
He says, “Brainstorming is like cholesterol—there’s good and bad, and most people have only experienced the bad.” We have all experienced brainstorming like this:
There’s no separation of the different ideas of thinking going on. Creative, idea-generating thinking is being stopped cold by critical, judgmental think. Ideas are being killed before they’re fully articulated.

The session isn’t about new ideas at all. It’s actually a version of a sad little business game called “Guess what the boss is thinking.” Everyone in the room knows it, and so as soon as someone says the boss’s secret word, the duck comes down and the meeting is over.

Perhaps the deadliest of all, the people participating in the braindrizzle stop as soon as they come up with “the first right answer.” They satisfice on the first reasonable idea they think will solve their problem and out them out of their misery.
He adds, that “Bad brainstorming is binary; ideas are either good or bad. Good brainstorming is full of maybes." The biggest issue we face in creative thinking is our own patterns of thought that keep us on the straight and narrow. We hold ourselves back because of personal notions of what is right and wrong and what will and won’t work. There’s no magic pill to conquer this. It takes a conscious effort. He suggests though that “Generating long lists of ideas flushes those early ideas out of your head so you can make room for new ones.”

Tim Hurson is a founding partner of thinkx  intellectual capital. It is a global consultancy for productive thinking and innovation.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:53 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books , Creativity & Innovation , Problem Solving , Thinking

10.24.07

Making Leadership Development Part of Organizational Strategy

Michael Maccoby states in his book The Leaders We Need, that “In any business, good leadership may be the most essential competitive advantage a company can have.” Linking leadership and strategy then, would seem to be an organizational imperative.

Leadership Advantage
According to a recent study outlined in The Leadership Advantage by Robert Fulmer and Jared Bleak, leadership is the essential element in the success of any strategic change effort. “Indeed, no strategy is good enough to succeed without strong leadership.” They found that successful organizations built a strong link between business strategy and leadership-development strategy.

The link between business strategy and leadership-development strategy is not haphazard, but specific and deliberate and omnipresent. The link is part of the philosophy of the organization that “permeates all organizational levels and is applicable to all employees.” In this way, an organization can keep the leadership-development strategy relevant to each business unit and to the overall business strategy in general. For example:
PepsiCo’s leadership-development strategy is grounded in the belief that strong leaders are needed to be successful in the marketplace. Pepsico This belief is fundamental to PepsiCo’s two-pronged HR approach, which includes a career-growth model and a talent-management model for leadership development. This two pronged approach aligns with corporate strategic initiatives, which in turn link with the organization’s sustainable competitive advantage.
Using senior executive to teach emerging leaders is an effective two-way street where both benefit.
One of the surprising findings of this project was the degree to which senior executives practice the concept of leading by teaching. At PepsiCo, Paul Russell, vice president of executive learning & development, speaks of “the magic of leaders developing leaders.” According to Russell, the missing adult-learning principle is that “people learn best when they get to learn from someone they really want to learn from.” Russell notes that “at PepsiCo, the ‘teachers’ our executives want to learn from are our own senior leaders. They are world class, widely respected, and have proven that they can do it here!”

At PepsiCo, senior executives are asked to share their personal perspectives, as well as build participant confidence and skills while demonstrating support for their growth. Of equal importance, senior leaders elicit greater teamwork from participants and get to know key young leaders while developing more loyalty, motivation, and productivity among employees and creating greater alignment around vision and key strategic initiatives. PepsiCo leaders are encouraged to think of learning as an important arrow in their quiver for helping to drive change. At PepsiCo, learning becomes something to live, not just another thing to endorse.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:26 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books , Leadership Development

10.19.07

The Impending Leadership Vacuum

IBM Global Human Capital Study 2008
IBM just released the Global Human Capital Study 2008. The study is the result of interviews conducted with 400 human resources executives from 40 countries. It suggests that companies are putting growth strategies at risk if they cannot identify and develop the next generation of leaders.

The study reports that the most vulnerable companies are those in the industrial sector and those operating in the Asia Pacific region. Yet the impending leadership crisis is a worldwide issue. Driving the problem is the retirement of baby boomers and rapid growth in Asia. Baby boomers will drain companies of valuable knowledge when they retire, while multinational firms need to find people to lead their businesses in booming markets such as India and China.

The crisis doesn’t end there. “Not only are companies concerned with their current leadership capacity,” the study says, “they are confronted by their inability to develop future leadership talent. Over 75 percent of companies indicate building leadership talent is a significant challenge.” Fifty-two percent of the human resources executives interviewed said their organizations may be unable to rapidly develop skills to meet current or future business needs. The report concludes:
Creating an adaptable workforce requires more than a series of HR programs….It requires the ability to identify experts and foster an environment where knowledge and experience travel beyond traditional organizational boundaries. It calls for a talent model that can help companies recruit, develop and retain valued segments of the employee population….The human resources organization, by itself, cannot be expected to shoulder this entire effort. True, the HR function needs to take a lead role in providing strategic guidance on workforce issues and designing human capital programs that can enhance workforce effectiveness. However, the entire executive suite needs to play a role in improving workforce performance. This may involve providing functional expertise, taking joint responsibility for executing human capital programs or simply setting a positive example for employees within their organizations. Without this unified commitment, all bets are off….The key to building that kind of workforce lies with the leadership of the organization, facilitated in large part by HR.
Leaders At All Levels
The ideas in Ram Charan’s upcoming book, Leaders At All Levels, while focused more at developing CEOs specifically, addresses this looming issue and leadership development in general. He has developed a new approach to leadership development that moves it from just an HR function to “an everyday activity that is fully integrated into the fabric of the business and in which line leaders play a central role.” He calls it the Apprenticeship Model. It is essentially learning by doing.

In this timely and valuable book, he states that we focus on the wrong people for the wrong reasons and thus we fail to recognize and develop emerging leaders. He constructed a guide to correctly identify leadership talent early-on, called the CEO Nucleus.
CEO Nucleus
The leaders with the highest potential will have what I call “the CEO nucleus,” the intuitive ability to comprehend the total picture of a business and how it makes money in the language of a street vendor. Another essential is the ability to work with and motivate people, and a third is the intellectual capacity to see ambiguous, complex, nonquantifiable situations from a broader view and through several different lenses.
We’ll take a closer look at what Charan has to say on this important issue as we approach the book’s December 21 release date.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:12 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books , Leadership Development

10.12.07

Leading When Things Aren’t Going Your Way

In Bo’s Lasting Lessons, authors Bo Schembechler and John Bacon relate a story from Bo’s early days coaching. He learned a lesson about leading when the heat is on from his boss from his boss and mentor Ara Paraseghian that he carried with him the rest of his life. Here's that excerpt:

The following season, 1956, I left Doyt [Perry]Ara Paraseghian and Bowling Green—with his blessings—to become an assistant for Ara Parseghian at Northwestern University.

Ara was not a big ego guy, he was great with players, he was a wonderful motivator, and he understood the game so well he could come up with things no one else had thought of. He was probably the most imaginative coach I’d ever seen, always adapting his plays to his players instead of the other way around like most coaches do. Heck, we used to call his practice field “The Laboratory,” because that’s where he’d try every trick in the book on Mondays, testing this and experimenting with that, just to see what might work that Saturday.

Before Ara arrived, Northwestern hadn’t had a winning season in five years, but in his first year Northwestern went 4-4-1, and everyone was encouraged. But in Ara’s second season, 1957, everything went to hell. We lost nine games—every single game we played! For a coach, that’s just about the most difficult situation you have to face.

We could keep our opponents down to one or two touchdowns, but we couldn’t score for our lives. And I was working with the offense!

Losing creates all kinds of other problems too—poor morale, nagging injuries, lackluster effort. The players were spending more time in the PR office than in the weight room. It was just a mess. I never experienced anything like that in all my years of coaching—and thank God for that.

I learned an awful lot from Ara in my first year at Northwestern, but I learned a heckuva lot more from him that second season, when he lost ‘em all. And what I learned was how a real leader leads when things aren’t going his way.

Ara treated the staff as though we were winning every game. He never gave the slightest inclination that we were the problem. He not once blamed any assistant or any player fro any loss we suffered that year. NOT ONCE.

“Stick with it, guys, and we’ll get through this,” he’d tell us. “We’re going to be okay.” We all kept busting our butts for Ara, working past midnight, doing everything we could to get that guy a victory.

I’m not saying there wasn’t some bitching among the players. When you’re losing every game, every player thinks he deserves more playing time. But I promise you this: There was a whole lot less bitching on that team than I’ve heard on teams that won half their games—and there was absolutely no, but no, bickering among the coaches.

And that wasn’t even the most impressive thing Ara did that year.

Stu Holcomb was Northwestern’s athletic director, and his son Chip was a backup quarterback on the varsity. In the middle of this losing streak, Stu kept cranking up the pressure for Ara to start his son. At one of our staff meetings, Ara laid the situation on the table. Then he asked us point-blank: “What do you think?” The thing is, there wasn’t anybody on the staff pounding on the table to make a quarterback change just because we were losing. We knew there had to be a ton of pressure on Ara to put Stu’s son in, but our quarterback wasn’t the problem. And that’s exactly what we told him when he asked us. He just nodded.

Another coach—maybe most coaches—would have caved in to their boss just to save their hides. But Ara held firm. He didn’t change quarterbacks, or even consider doing it. And every one of us who walked out of the coaches room that day felt the same way I did: Ara Parseghian is a stand-up guy. He’s a leader. I want to work for this guy!

And that’s why that losing season didn’t break Ara’s back: Because he’s a confident guy, and he knew he could coach. His staff remained dedicated to him and his program the entire season.

You’d think my two years at Northwestern would have been a horrible experience, but it wasn’t. It was a great experience, because Ara had put together a stellar staff—they’re all still good friends of mine, especially Alex Agase—but mostly, it was because Ara was there.

The result? Put this down: Ara Parseghian lost every game that year, but the next year his team went 5-4—Northwestern’s first winning season in eight years.

When Ara took the Notre Dame job five years later, in 1963, he left Evanston as one of only three coaches in the last century of Northwestern football to post a winning record. And of course, from there he won two national titles and Coach of the Year at Notre Dame. Don’t tell me he didn’t deserve it.

But that 0-9 year? He didn’t get any rewards for that, but let me tell you: THAT was the most impressive year of his coaching career.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:02 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books , Leadership

10.08.07

5 Leadership Lessons: Bo's Lasting Lessons

5 Leadership Lessons
Bo Schembechler's book, Bo’s Lasting Lessons, written with John Bacon is an engaging, hands-on, first-person account of the winningest head coach in Michigan football history and fifth on the all-time list, only behind coaching legends Paul 'Bear' Bryant, Amos Alonzo Stagg, Glen 'Pop' Warner, and Woody Hayes. The lessons found here are easily applied anywhere.

1  If you have to make a decision they’re not going to like, it’s better to tell them why you’re doing what you’re doing. They still won’t like it but they’ll always appreciate being told instead of being left in the dark. And if you don’t tell them why, they’ll feel abandoned, and start coming up with all kinds of crazy conspiracy theories.

2  You start cutting corners for this guy or that situation, and before you know it, you’re spending all your time playing judge and jury, deliberating over every little incident, when you should be leading your team. It’s painful sometimes, but you create a lot fewer headaches for everyone, including the players, when you simply stick to your guns.

3  If you don’t have leadership inside the ranks, you’re not going to be successful, because you will spend too much time policing that small things yourself, and create an “us against them” environment.

4  If you’re a leader, your ultimate responsibility is the training of your people, because every job requires training. If it’s a job worth paying someone, it’s a job worth training. And it’s your job to make sure they’re trained well. Make your training as close to the real thing as possible. Sounds easy, but from what I’ve seen, not many companies do. You get what you emphasize. Plain and simple.

Bo's Lasting Lessons
5  If you do not like people, you will not take the time to get to know them, and if you don’t get to know them, you will have no idea what scares them, what inspires them, what motivates them. If you don’t listen to what your people have to say, you will not know when they have a problem with you—and you will not know when you have a problem with them, either. You cannot lead if you cannot listen. Even if you’re doing everything else right, if one of your people comes to you with a good idea—or a personal problem—and it just goes in one ear and out the other, YOU WILL FAIL. You can have a tremendous impact as a leader just by taking a little time. Your people have to know that their value to you and your organization is not determined just by what they do, but by who they are. I can’t make it any clearer than that.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:01 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books , Leadership

10.05.07

When is it Time to Move On?

Managing Change
Managing Change is a one in a series of books from the Harvard Business School Press, that presents interviews with top leaders from various fields. In chapter 12 is one such interview with CEO of GenSpring Family Offices (formerly Asset Management Advisors), Maria E. "Mel" Lagomasino.

Faced with a new merger that would change the culture of the organization, Lagomasino, then chairman and CEO of JP Morgan Private Bank, had to make a tough decision to step down at the top of her game and move on. Here are some of her thoughts on the process:
This is the toughest lesson, I think; after you devote yourself to a company and to a lifelong career, and you’ve been very successful—as I have been lucky enough to be—to be able to say, “We’ve come to the point where you need to step down.” This is the time when you have to know when to fold them.

For me, I think the big lesson here is that no matter how great the title is, how great the company is, how long you’ve been there, or how much you enjoyed the run, there are points in time—particularly cultural points in time—when you need to step back and reassess, and ask, “Is this what I want tot do for the next X number of years, and do I have a cultural fit?” And understand that even though it may have this—the company may have the same name it had before—the culture might not be the same as it was before. It’s time to step down and start anew.

I think at the end of the day, when your values and how you like to work are totally simpatico with the values and the culture of the organization you work in, you have a very high probability of success, because in a sense you’re swimming in your own element. If, in fact you have a disconnect between the two—and again, it’s not about better or worse, or good or bad; it’s just about different—then you really have to step back and ask, “What does this really mean, and do I want to put a stop to it here? Is it the time to fold them and move on and reinvent yourself?” And that’s what I did.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:04 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books , Change

10.01.07

Leadership Books: October 2007

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in October.

  The Future of Management by Gary Hamel
  The Mindful Leader: Ten Principles for Bringing Out the Best in Ourselves and Others by Michael Carroll
  Results That Last: Hardwiring Behaviors That Will Take Your Company to the Top by Quint Studer
  Launching a Leadership Revolution: Mastering the Five Levels of Influence by Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward
  Be a People Person: Effective Leadership Through Effective Relationships by John C. Maxwell

Future of Management Mindful Leader Results That Last Launching a Leadership Revolution Be a People Person

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:54 AM
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09.16.07

Alan Greenspan: The Age of Turbulence

Alan Greenspan begins The Age of Turbulence on the morning of September 11th, 2007, but then leaps back to his childhood, and follows the arc of his remarkable life’s journey through to his more than 18-year tenure as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, from 1987 to 2006, during a time of irrational exuberance. It’s a good read, written in clear language on the workings of the economic world (and then some). Here are some of the informed opinions he presents in the book:

Greenspan
“For the five years we overlapped, President Bush honored his commitment to the autonomy of the Fed….The administration also took the Fed’s advice on policies we thought were essential for the health of the financial markets. Most important was the effort that began in 2003 to curb excesses at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac….President Bush had very little to gain politically by supporting a crackdown. Yet he backed the Fed through a two-year struggle that resulted in crucial reforms. My biggest frustration remained the president’s unwillingness to wield his veto against out-of-control spending.”

“After the Republicans lost control of Congress in the November 2006 election, former House Republican majority leader Dick Armey published a perceptive op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal….Armey had it exactly right. The Republicans in Congress lost their way. They swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose.”

“[Wealth Creation] requires people to take risks. We can’t be sure our actions to acquire food, clothing, and shelter, for example, will succeed. But the greater our trust in the people with whom we trade, the greater the accumulation of wealth.…Reputation and the trust it fosters have always appeared to me to be core required attributes of market capitalism. Laws at best can prescribe only a small fraction of the day-to-day activities in the marketplace. When trust is lost, a nation’s ability to transact business is palpably undermined. In the marketplace, uncertainties created by not always truthful counterparties raise credit risk and thereby increase real interest rates.” Looking toward the U.S. economic future, a 4 to 5 percent inflation rate “is probably not a bad first approximation of what we will face.” He continues, “Yet to keep the inflation rate down to a gold standard level of under 1 percent, or even a less draconian 1 to 2 percent range, the Fed, given my scenario, would have to constrain monetary expansion so drastically that it could temporarily drive up interest rates into the double-digit range not seen since the days of Paul Volker.“

“A simple test for any retirement system is whether it can assure the availability of promised real resources to retirees without overly burdening the working-age population. By that measure, America may be on a collision course with reality….[W]e likely won’t have enough people working, nor will we likely have a sufficient increase in the amount each worker in average can produce, to cover the enormous shortfall from entitlements under current law. It may not even come close.”

“The notion of enlisting representatives of a corporation’s various stakeholders on the board—unions, community representatives, customers, suppliers, and so forth—has a nice democratic ring to it. But it is ill-advised and I strongly suspect it will not work. Today’s highly competitive world needs each corporation to execute plans from a single coach, as it were. A vote by the whole team on each big play is a recipe for defeat. I assume that eventually some of the more abrasive edges of Sarbanes-Oxley, especially Section 404, will be honed down.”

"The shift of manufacturing jobs in steel, autos and textiles, for example, to their more modern equivalents in computers, telecommunications and information technology is a plus, not a minus, to the American standard of living,"

Alan Greenspan
“However we get to 2030, the U.S. economy should end up much larger, absent unexpectedly long crises—three-fourths larger in real terms than that in which we operate today.”

“We should focus on addressing and assuaging the fears induced by the dark side of creative destruction rather than imposing limits on the economic edifice on which worldwide prosperity depends.”

“Venice, I realized, is the antithesis of creative destruction. It exists to conserve and appreciate the past, not create a future. But that, I realized, is exactly the point. The city caters to a deep human need for stability and permanence as well as beauty and romance. Venice’s popularity represents one pole of a conflict in human nature: the struggle between the desire to increase material well-being and the desire to ward off change and its attendant stress.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:08 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books , General Business

09.10.07

Four Warning Signs That Our Ego is Getting the Best Of Us

egonomics
A managed ego is an important trait of the effective person. Authors David Marcum and Steven Smith state in their compelling book egonomics: What Makes Ego Our Greatest Asset (or Most Expensive Liability), that “surprising as it may sound, many people don’t have enough ego, and that leads to insecurity and apathy that paralyze cultures and leaders.” This is an important addition to our thinking about ego and worth examining in more depth. It does sound odd as no doubt, most of us have been told that ego is a bad thing. But an unbalanced ego—either overconfident or lacking in confidence—can trap people in bad thinking resulting in poor or damaging interactions with others.

egonomics offers four warning signs that our ego is getting the best of us:
  1. Being Comparative “When we’re comparative, we tend to either pit our strengths against another’s weaknesses, which may lead us to an exaggerated sense of confidence, or we compare our weaknesses to their strengths, which can cause negative self pressure.
  2. Being Defensive “When we can’t ‘lose,’ we defend our positions as if we’re defending who we are, and the debate shifts from a we-centered battle of ideas to a me-centered war of wills.”
  3. Showcasing Brilliance “The more we want or expect people to recognize, appreciate or be dazzled by how smart we are, the less they listen, even if we do have better ideas.”
  4. Seeking Acceptance “When we equate acceptance or rejection of our ideas with acceptance or rejection of who we are, we ‘play it safe.’ We tend to swim with the current and find a slightly different way of saying what’s already been said as long as acceptance is the outcome. That nor only makes us a bland follower, but an uninspiring leader.”
I believe that these four warning signs crop up in our lives and in the lives of those around us, due more to a lack of a proper ego than an oversized ego. More often than not, a person that appears egotistical is covering for insecurities than they are expressing a genuine belief in their superiority.

Humility isn’t the opposite of ego, but it plays a vital role in keeping it in balance. Marcum and Smith created the following diagram to help us to understand the equilibrium concept of humility.
humility equilibrium
The diagram graphically illustrates the two poles of ego and the grounding effect that humility plays to pull us back into a proper perspective. The authors define humility as the “intelligent self respect which keeps us from thinking too highly or too little of ourselves. It reminds us how far we have come while at the same time helping us see how far short we are of what we can be.”
Ego doesn’t suddenly pull us to the extremes and twist us overnight into egomaniacs, or lead us to believe we’re above the law. But once we’re in the habit of being off-center, we do slowly start to believe we’re above other things: reproach, being wrong, being questioned, the need to prove we’re right, having a bad idea, following the lead of others, and so on. Being consistently off-center leads us gradually toward the extremes.
When we lose control of ego, we lose “trust, respect, relationships, influence, talent, careers, clients, and market share. Each of us has occasionally, perhaps unknowingly, let ego weaken our talents despite our qualifications, expertise, charisma, track record, or remarkable ability.”

This is an important book that will be helpful to anyone trying to get a handle on their ego and understand it manifestations in themselves and others. egonomics is a book that every leader should read and one that we will return to again on this blog.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:32 AM
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09.03.07

Why Aren’t We Learning?

What Were They Thinking?
Jeffrey Pfeffer observes in What Were They Thinking? that while “learning organization” and “continuous improvement” have become cliché, few companies actually do those things that need to be done to make them smarter. He writes, “That’s because some of the things they need to do to learn are counterintuitive.” And we might add, are frowned upon socially. We would rather say, “We rarely (never) make mistakes,” instead of “We make mistakes, but we’re learning.” The latter just doesn’t have that ring to it. Culturally, mistakes have no glamour to them. To be free of them is everything. We are attracted to the person who seems to be on top of it all. The fact is, we all make mistakes. But are we learning?

It may seem counterintuitive, but the most successful people are making many if not more mistakes than most people. The difference is that they don’t try to cover them up. They acknowledge them, learn from them and move on. At IDEO, they believe that it’s better to make many smaller mistakes than one big one. Pfeffer writes, “But that ethos requires accepting that novelty and innovation are invariably accompanied by setbacks and failures. And embracing such a way of operating requires letting people fail—maybe even encouraging them to fail. After all, if nothing ever goes wrong, it must be because the capabilities of the system and its people have not been truly tested.” This applies on a personal level as well. Are you testing your capabilities?

Pfeffer proposes that organizational learning requires three things:

1. A clear understanding of reoccurring problems. “If the root causes of problems are not discovered and remedied, the problems will almost certainly recur . . . . Organizational learning thus requires people to direct others’ attention to problems so they can be noticed, diagnosed, and fundamentally fixed once and for all.”

2. The willingness to allocate resources to address the root causes of those problems. Research on health care organizations “found that those that learned best generally had a higher proportion of managers. . . . They were helping their employees learn, moving information across organizational boundaries, and essentially scanning the environment for common trends and themes, and then bringing that information to their people, who could collectively use it to enhance performance.”

3. Cultural values that foster learning—which means “encouraging employees to find, fix, and report mistakes rather than heroically patch things up.” Fundamental to this issue, is that we—businesses, churches, families, friendships—all too often punish (exclude, at least frown upon) those making mistakes and reward (promote, speak well of, hang-out with) those who don’t seem to be making any. Who would dare try to learn in that environment? Who would ask for help?

Related Posts:
  Who Will Succeed or Fail in the Corner Office?
  Growth: The Key to Leading for a Lifetime

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:54 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books , Learning , Management

09.02.07

Leadership Books: September 2007

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in September.

  egonomics: What Makes Ego Our Greatest Asset (or Most Expensive Liability) by David Marcum and Steve Smith
  The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World by Alan Greenspan
  Leadership Solutions: The Pathway to Bridge the Leadership Gap by David S. Weiss, Vince Molinaro and Liane Davey
  Doing What Matters: How to Get Results That Make a Difference - The Revolutionary Old-School Approach by James M. Kilts with John F. Manfredi and Robert Lorber
  Think Better: An Innovator's Guide to Productive Thinking by Tim Hurson

egonomics Alan Greenspan Leadership Solutions Doing What Matters Think Better

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:27 PM
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08.27.07

5 Leadership Lessons: Measure of a Leader

5 Leadership Lessons

Aubrey and James Daniels wrote a comprehensive and thoughtful book on leadership entitled, Measure of a Leader. It is a book that deserves far more attention. The premise is a new model of leadership that focuses on the behavior of followers. By becoming a better observer of human behavior we can become better leaders. They say that “most leadership writers limit their premises to the success of the leader at his or her particular venture.” There’s more to it than that. How you accomplish something is as important (if not more important) than what you accomplish. Here are a few lessons from their book:

3  In any undertaking that requires leadership, loyalty to the individual may be how the venture starts, but it is not how that venture thrives. If the leader cannot transfer personal loyalty to his vision, he has failed one of the critical tests of effective leadership.

3  When change exposes individuals to failure and punishment, they resist. When change increases the person’s access to reinforcement, they seek it out. Since one of the leader’s key functions is to lead change, he must view resistance as a signal that something is wrong with the process being used to achieve desired change rather than simply passing off the resistance to change as a normal characteristic of human behavior. Contrary to common opinion, it is not normal!

3  Learning to lead is a function of deliberate practice. You refine your techniques and skills by observing the followers’ responses. While you may pick up some pointers from the stories of others, you cannot simply imitate what they do. This intentional search for the impact of your actions will set you apart from those who try to replicate the actions of other leaders.
Measure of a Leader


3  Managers need to learn the following rule: you don’t lead by results; you lead to results; and only behavior will get you there. It is important to differentiate between behavior and non-behavior. Of course, attitudes are not behaviors; competencies are not behaviors; values are not behaviors; employee involvement and commitment are not behaviors. Asking someone to smile more often may be infinitely more helpful than telling him to change his attitude.

3  Learning leadership is fundamentally a self-management task. But this task is made immensely more difficult if you think of it in terms of changing your personality, such as becoming more charismatic. Since leadership is defined in terms of the behavior of the followers, the task is to ask, “What do I want my followers to do?” and then “What must I do to produce that behavior?”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:48 AM
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08.22.07

Fast versus Busy in the Age of Speed

The Age of Speed
Speed aficionado Vince Poscente says we are looking at speed from the wrong perspective. While living in a more-faster-now culture can be a little daunting, it also has the power to enrich our lives by making room for more significant things. In The Age of Speed he writes, “When we harness the power of speed, we not only get more and get it faster, but our lives and work become less stressful, less busy, and more balanced.” Crazy idea you say?

We like speed when we’re demanding it. We are not so fond of it when it is being demanded of us. You can’t have it both ways. If we want speed, we also have to deliver it. Poscente says though, that it doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to be buried under more work, more responsibilities and more demands.
We actually can do more in a given time than we could even five years ago. Therefore, the expectations we face to produce faster are often valid. But we don’t have to work harder or work longer hours to accomplish more.
“So,” Poscente asks, “why do people become irritated and rail against the expectation to speed up?” Here’s the key:
Perhaps it’s because we don’t often use the extra time for more rewarding experiences. Frequently, when we reduce the time it takes to do something insignificant, we end up using the saved time on yet another insignificant activity. If you figure out a way to save time at the bank and the grocery store, for example, do you earmark that time for something more rewarding, or do you just fill that time passively with other responsibilities that pop up? The latter scenario would leave anyone feeling exhausted, burnt out.
I think we have all been guilty of that. He explains:
Speed is a great solution for increasing income and productivity, but those benefits are only one piece of the picture. The bigger reason we should speed up is to make time for meaningful experiences. Speed is not just the way to get more work done—speed is the secret to having time to do what we want.
Poscente say we can speed up and still have the time to smell the roses. We need to know when speed will and will not benefit us. Are there ways you can approach what you do in a different way that would allow you to spend more time with your priorities, strengths, talents, and passions?

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:46 AM
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08.20.07

The Power of Thinking Twice

Human freedom involves our capacity to pause, to choose the one response toward which we wish to throw our weight.
—Rollo May
Responsibility at Work
Les Parrott claims that “three seconds separate those who ‘give it their all’ from those who ‘don’t give it a thought’ — literally. Three seconds. This brief buffer is all that stands between those who settle for ‘whatever’ and those who settle for nothing less than ‘whatever it takes.’”

In his book, 3 Seconds: The Power of Thinking Twice, he presents six impulses that never pay off. The impulse to …

Give up before trying . . . because we feel helpless.
Shun a challenge . . . because it seems daunting.
Settle for the status quo . . . because we lack vision.
Shirk responsibility . . . because it’s easier to shift blame.
Do the mere minimum . . . because that’s all that’s expected.
Avoid taking action . . . because we fear failure.

If we routinely don’t give any one of these a second thought, they can lead us to lives of mediocrity. From Parrott’s perspective, it comes down to taking a moment to leverage the three seconds it takes to decide whether to behave in a manner consistent with what you really want or to give in to one of these self-sabotaging impulses.

Fundamental to all of this is taking personal responsibility. “And many times, you have to shoulder the blame, not because you personally did anything wrong, but on behalf of the company. The best way to do this us to focus not on who’s wrong, but on what’s wrong.”

Taking ownership for something often involves an apology. But a simple “I’m sorry” will sound hollow unless you’ve taken the three elements of an apology into account. First, you’ve got to understand what’s wrong. Get what’s wrong right. Second, you then have to admit to it. “Don’t make anyone drag an admission of what’s wrong out of you.” Finally, you need to rectify the situation. You need to do something to try to make the situation better. I would add that not all wrongs can be righted. Nor should we expect them to be. It is a very inward-directed individual that always demands their pound-of-flesh.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:08 AM
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08.17.07

How To Increase the Incidence of Good Work In Our Society

Ever since Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, human beings have had to work “by the sweat of our brows.” For most of human prehistory and much of recorded history, work has not been an activity on which we have had much perspective.
Howard Gardner continues, “If we are to have a society that is open and fair, individuals must willingly, even energetically, be prepared to carry out crucial actions—ones required for the achievement and maintenance of such a society.”
Responsibility at Work
This sets the stage for his new book, Responsibility at Work. The book of basically a collection of reports on the GoodWork® Project. Began in 1994 by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, William Damon, and Howard Gardner, the GoodWork® Project seeks to determine how best to increase the incidence of good work in our society. From the reports given, Gardner lists seven widely applicable takeaways:
  1. Understand the basic mission or missions of your occupation and your role(s) within it.
  2. Explore the relation of your personal beliefs and goals to your chosen occupation and role(s).
  3. Identify individuals and institutions that take responsibility seriously; seek to work in such a milieu; take positive lessons from those positive instances.
  4. Note examples of irresponsible work, derive lessons from them, be prepared to change course or even institutions and to advise others to pursue the responsible course.
  5. Realize that you cannot undertake complete responsibility to all possible persons and tasks; have a sense of priorities, an alertness to limits and boundaries, and a balance among responsibilities.
  6. As you grow older, broaden your sphere of responsibility; be prepared to go beyond your own circle, to assume responsibility for the wider profession to which you belong.
  7. As you grow older, direct increasing attention to the support of young persons, the good workers of the future.
Gardner gives an important caution; one that needs wider attention. “Recognizing the complexity of ethics is not the same, however, as embracing relativism. That the answer is not always clear-cut or that judgments may be controversial is scarcely a license for ‘anything goes’.” Extremely well put.

At the expense of making this post a little long, let me give you a couple of other thoughts from the book:

William Damon and Kendall Cotton Bronk contributed: “A critical component of [Max] De Pree’s philosophy on leadership was accountability. Leaders, he believed, should have enough faith in their workers to allow those workers to be personally accountable for the work they do.

“De Pree had a series of mentors who helped him see his work in a broader context. In our interview he talked about the important role that ethical businesses play in the support of the societies they serve. ‘I think that my business career was kind of pilgrimage away from, you know, how you can build up the revenues . . . towards a goal of figuring out what are the preserving principles of the free market system in a democracy.’ Mentors helped De Pree connect his work life to his religious life. They helped him see how his work life could serve society and, in doing so, serve his religious aims as well.”

And finally, again from Gardner: “Professions need to respect their current instantiation but not be paralyzed by it. Change for change‘s sake is rarely indicated, but reflexive adherence to the status quo is equally problematic. Those professionals and professions that keep their principle values and goals centrally in mind are the ones most likely to thrive; they can peer through accidental changes in methods of delivery while making certain that the most important needs and desires are being appropriately fulfilled.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:48 AM
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08.15.07

It's Not About Me?!?

In The Ring in the Rubble, Gary Brandt brings up something that can hold us back from defining our problem, immobilize us, and block us from finding solutions.
you are here
It’s an attitude that is easy to slip into and the last thing we want mentioned when we are in trouble. But if we can deal with it now, we can have a better chance of avoiding it when we are in trouble. He writes:
We tend to think that what we see is reality, and to forget that there is a much bigger world out there that, if we considered it, would put our situation into perspective. When we forget this, we tend to take our own perspective a little too seriously, and in the process, we take ourselves too seriously as well.
Brandt suggests that a well-developed sense of humor makes a good antidote.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:25 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books , Personal Development , Problem Solving

08.13.07

Dilenschneider: Power and Influence

Power and Influence
Public relations guru Robert Dilenschneider’s excellent new book, Power and Influence: The Rules Have Changed, is worth your time because it is filled with a lifetime of wisdom about how to get along with others—a skill that is at the heart of leadership. He presents ten rules to think about and apply variously to your own situation. I think the most important ideas coming from these rules revolve around how to adapt to your changing world and situation, the importance of knowing how to be relentless and the need for civility and humility.

Rule Four is Seize the Opportunity in Every Crisis. All of us experience some crisis of one form or another, at any given moment in our lives. The big question is how we handle it. Dilenschneider writes, “The ability to survive in an uncertain time is critical…. [A] big part of power lies in knowing the moment to move. It’s not being all over he place all the time; it’s knowing that one critical instant to move, taking action, and getting the result.” He asked his friend, power player Alan Goodman how he viewed power players and their ability to respond to a crisis:
They are not impressed with power, and they are not concerned with power. They are concerned with ideas and impact. To me, that’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned from the people I’ve met. Their focus, and the focus of any of us that are lucky enough to lead an institution, has got to be what you do with it. How you make the world less dangerous, how you make your community a better place, how you energize people to get their ideas, because you don’t have all the ideas yourself. The best leaders focus on getting the best ideas and then doing something with them.
Here’s a few other lessons from Dilenschneider:

LESSON:  For a power player, it’s important to reach out to the shoeshine boy as well as the CEO. In fact, sometimes it’s more important to reach out to the shoeshine boy so that the CEO sees that you’re a person of the people, a person who’s generous, who’s humble, who’s willing to do outreach.

LESSON:  What is it like to be with these men and women of power? With the best of them, it is terrific because they are essentially humble people who understand their own shortcomings.

LESSON:  Keep your friendships, nurture them, and don’t expect anything in return. At the same time, when someone else has a problem, help that person instead of shying away from him or her. Most people tend to look at people with problems and say, “I want to avoid those people.” The time to go to people is when they’re down and out. They are unlikely ever to forget your goodwill.

* * *

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:58 AM
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08.01.07

Leadership Books: August 2007

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in August.

  The Leadership Challenge, Fourth Edition by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner
  What Made jack welch JACK WELCH: How Ordinary People Become Extraordinary Leaders by Stephen H. Baum and Dave Conti
  Remarkable Leadership: Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill at a Time by Kevin Eikenberry
  Corporate Agility: A Revolutionary New Model for Competing in a Flat World by Charles Grantham, James Ware and Cory Williamson
  Responsibility at Work: How Leading Professionals Act (or Don't Act) Responsibly Edited by Howard Gardner

The Leadership Challenge What Made jack welch JACK WELCH Remarkable Leadership Corporate Agility Responsibility at Work

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:10 AM
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07.30.07

In A World Of Accelerating Change, It Takes Bold Leadership

jeb bush
Speaking July 18th, at the annual Scotiabank Lecture Series in Jamaica, former governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, said that in a world of accelerating changes, a combination of bold public leadership, a commitment to entrepreneurial capitalism and a focus on education is the key to avoid the risk of severe economic stagnation.

What does he mean by bold leadership? In terms of a government's leadership style, Bush noted that it is critical for an administration to rethink what they are doing.
“A lot of times, the way we do things is because we have been doing it that way before, not because it is rational, not because it improves the human condition or creates the chance for people to pursue their dreams, but because we have been doing it that way. So in a world where change is happening a lot, whether the government is changing or not, it is important for leadership to have a healthy disrespect for the status quo. You won't change everything but the things that don't work need to be changed and without leadership, this won't happen."
This thought is echoed in Jim Tompkins’ new book, Bold Leadership for Organizational Acceleration. In it he addresses three important aspects of bold leadership—the inspirational leadership that drives an organization, outsourcing those areas outside your core competencies, and the importance of a Plan B. Tompkins states. "Leaders must not only be bold if they want to thrive today, but they must also develop bold companies—encouraging boldness in all aspects of the organization."

Bold Leadership
To do this, “Leaders must therefore teach others how to be leaders. Their strategies must be flexible and innovative. They must challenge the established view of a leader as someone who leads and demonstrate that leadership means inspiring others to lead. They must have the courage and spirit to move from wherever they are to further their abilities to lead others into getting extraordinary things done. In other words, these leaders must practice Inspirational Leadership."

To make this happen Tompkins suggests that leaders look at the big picture to locate and deal with those “parts of the picture that are just filling up canvas and not adding value to the subject.” Tompkins adds something that I think underscores the importance of this point. “Actually, it is not enough just to look at the big picture. If your picture is in a frame, you need to look at the frame too. Is it possible that the frame is the important part and the picture inside it needs to be changed or removed? ... Or is the frame that holds the picture rotting or overpowering the picture so that it is totally lost?”

Perhaps it’s time to look at what we are doing and ask if we need to be doing it differently or if we need to be dong it at all.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:00 AM
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07.25.07

Remarkable Leadership: The Kevin Eikenberry Interview Part 2

Our interview with Kevin Eikenberry author of the book Remarkable Leadership continues. The final part will be posted on Friday.
Remarkable Leadership


LeadingBlog: In your book, Remarkable Leadership, you divide teams into two types — basketball teams and track and field teams. Could you explain that?

Kevin Eikenberry: You obviously read the book.

LB: I did.

KE: I love that. To me what we've got is everyone thinking that everyone should be like a basketball team or a hockey team or a soccer team, which is a highly interdependent team. If you've got a basketball team, you've got five players who at any given time might have to play a different role; they all have to have some very similar skills to do various things within the team. And when any one of those five players, like in the case of basketball, is not being successful, it has a significant impact on the rest of the team. That in Western culture is what we think of a team in the workplace. An interdependent team. But in many cases, the kinds of teams at work aren't that way. They're more like a track and field team. So if you and I are on a track and field team together and you're a hurdler and I'm a pole-vaulter, how well you hurdle today does not impact how well I pole-vault or vice versa. But both of us want the other to do well and when we both do well the team wins. And we advance to the next meet, right? But as independent participants in this team, my work product doesn't require your input at the kind of level it does if you're passing the ball to me to take a shot or if I'm passing the ball to you after I make a rebound. So it’s a very different sort of an interaction. And I think the challenge that we get into in many cases Michael, is that we think as leaders and as team members that every team ought to be like that basketball team. And it gets us into all kinds of trouble because we try to interact in ways that we don't even need to, to get the work done.

LB: So what we're trying to do really, is force track and field participants or teams into basketball teams?

KE: I think that happens far too often. I've been on teams like that and I have been in situations like that and I have seen it many times. I've tried to help individual teams and organizations think about it. Most organizations have both kinds of teams and the problem is that leaders try to treat both the same because they've never thought about the differences.

LB: You wrote in your book that “remarkable leaders don't delegate, they share responsibility.” What do you mean by that?

KE: Well, you know I asked a lot of people about the “delegate” word. The interesting thing that I got was, there’s not a lot of positive feelings around the word delegate. I think that maybe it’s a bit of a play on words but I think that when leaders are thinking about delegating at least in my experience—anytime I think about any book I've read about being a more effective leader or manager and it talks about delegation, it’s talking about handing things off so you can do something else—and when you think about delegating from the perspective of handing things off to others so I can do something else, you're not doing it in support of the other person. You're just doing it in a somewhat selfish way to give me time to do something different , however valuable that might be.

I think that the difference is in the focus. The focus of thinking is about sharing responsibility—it's not “I'm sharing this with you, yet I'm going to be free to do something else” but “I'm sharing this with you to help you grow, to help you to get to the point where you can do my job, or that we collectively can be more productive or whatever that looks like.” But really I think its as much about what’s the underlying reason for the activity. Remarkable leaders think about it from the perspective of how’s that going to impact positively the other person and the organization. I know that if I'm thinking about it that way Michael, I'm going to do a better job of handing-off that task—whatever we're going to use to call it. If my intent is about helping the other person be more successful, building their skills, increasing their accountability, whatever that looks like, if my intent is to help them, then I'm going to be much more successful at doing it whatever I call it. So the difference is not so much about the semantics, but the intent. I'm using different words to try to help describe that intent. I may have just done a better job of describing it here than I did in the book. I don't know.

LB: That caught my eye in the book, because everything you read says delegate.

KE: Everybody that I talked to—and that’s one of the chapters that as I was writing that I spent a lot of time calling people, calling colleagues, calling friends, (and the next book I'd be calling you—you're one of those people that I'd ask) everyone had this whole thing about delegating—both as being delegated to and delegating—not a positive thing. I'm thinking, you know, wait a minute, these are opportunities for learning and development and growth, why is it that they don't feel that way. And I tried to back into this whole idea of intent and I think that’s where the difference is.

LB: Well, that makes good sense. I was wonder about delegating those tasks where we know we are weak … if you're doing it in the sense of a shared responsibility then that would make sense wouldn't it?

KE: That’s exactly right. And I think remarkable leaders do recognize their strengths verses the strengths of the other people on their team. And hopefully we are self aware enough to know what it is that we want to be sharing based on what our strengths are.

And we're aware enough of the strengths of our team members to be sharing things with them that matches their styles or strengths better. I think as remarkable leaders we recognize that we're better off when we put the right work in the hands of the people that have the strengths to handle it. It doesn't necessarily mean the experience or knowledge as much as the strengths. I think that remarkable leaders figure that out well enough and try to share the work in a way that makes the most sense.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:24 AM
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07.23.07

Remarkable Leadership: The Kevin Eikenberry Interview Part 1

Remarkable Leadership
This week—Monday, Wednesday and Friday—we will feature an interview with Kevin Eikenberry author of the book Remarkable Leadership. Kevin is the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that provides a wide range of services, including training delivery and design, facilitation, performance coaching, organizational consulting, and speaking services. Kevin believes that remarkable leaders are developed. Remarkable Leadership identifies the 13 competencies of remarkable leadership and offers a proven method for applying those competencies at any level leadership. The book is thought provoking and easily applied. In this interview, Kevin will share his thoughts on leadership development, lifelong learning, teamwork, delegating, followership and the biggest factor that could prevent you from becoming a remarkable leader.

LeadingBlog: How do you define a Remarkable Leader?

Kevin Eikenberry: I think all people who are leaders have the ability to become remarkable leaders. I think that’s the most important thing and the underlying concept of my book. But to me you define a remarkable leader as someone who is continually working to become a more effective leader, number one. And secondly, they recognize that remarkable leadership is not about the technical skills of forecasting, budgeting and technical knowledge of the work, but really about how we engender trust, build relationships, develop others, communicate more effectively—all of those other skills that we really think of when we think of great leaders that we've worked with in the past. That’s a remarkable leader.

LB: What is wrong with how most organizations do leadership development today?

KE: The main thing that is wrong with what most organizations are doing, is that they think of leadership development as being about events. We always say, “training is an event, learning is a process.” And it’s the same thing for leadership development. Organizations are looking for the magic pill, they've identified people as high performance or their next leader or “they've been a supervisor for three years so we'd better give them some training.” So leadership development looks like this event, this workshop, this seminar, this whatever, and when they've done that they've checked that box and that’s their leadership development process. I think the smartest organizations are looking at it differently. They're looking at leadership development much more holistically. They're thinking about a wider variety of activities, and experiences and processes. Anything from different sorts of assignments, different sorts of projects to application projects, to the chance to be coached or coach others, mentoring programs and a whole host of other things, put together specifically to work best for that organization. So in short, what’s wrong is that people are thinking about leadership development like they do most training and that is as events as opposed to thinking about a process in terms of what really makes learning work.

LB: So more of a long term thing?

KE: A long term thing, but an integrated thing. Integrated with the work. You could have training that is long term right? You could have a class this week and next month and four months from now and 21 years from now and all that sort of thing, but the real challenge is, I think, integrating it back into the work so that people can go back and really apply what they're learning.

LB: You place a lot of emphasis on learning? Would you say that the ability or the desire to learn is the most fundamental skill of the remarkable leader?

KE: That’s like the big softball for me. One of the early chapters in the book talks about that very thing. I do believe that the number one skill of a leader—the underlying core skill of a leader—is their ability to learn. Because, if we want all of these kinds of things in our employees or those we lead—we want flexibility and collaboration, and we want them to continually grow and we want them to develop and we want those things for them—then number one, we had better be doing those things ourselves. And secondly, if we want to continue to build our skills—as I said a remarkable leader is someone who does continue to build their skills—that means by definition, that we have to be ongoing, or as I say in the book, continual learners. To me it is the fundamental underlying skill. And Michael, when I work with groups, I'll ask them when they think of the best leaders they've ever experienced, make me a list of their characteristics, and people will come up with a long list of great attributes, but they won't come up with the word learning. But without learning most of those other things aren't going to happen.

LB: So you don't think leaders are born?

KE: I don't. I don't think leaders are born. I think that all of us have a unique bundle of gifts and talents that are a part of our DNA and although there are some people that may have some innate skills that help them become some parts of the leadership process more easily—just like there are some people that innate skills that make them better mathematicians or musicians right? But I think just like those things that challenge us as a leader, is to play on our greatest strengths—to utilize our greatest strengths—to become more effective leaders. Because in the end being a highly effective leader is about being a highly effective human. There are many different ways to lead and the challenge is finding the voice that we best lead with and build on those strengths first.

LB: Good. How would you improve your learning ability? Or make the time for it? Sometimes we get so busy that we put “learning” off because we don't have time for it.

KE: Absolutely. That’s why, when I started to write the book the learning competency was that remarkable leaders are continuous learners. And I don't think that that’s really true. We're not continuous learners. We're doing all sorts of things and although as human beings we are learning beings, we are not necessarily continuously, consciously learning. The kind of learning we are talking about here is conscious right? And so, I think it’s much more about being continual. On an ongoing basis as opposed to continuous—in every moment being a learner. I think that’s too high a bar to set for ourselves.

I think the challenge for us all is that first of all we have to figure out how to make the time for it and the way to do that is to find opportunities. I think if I could encourage people to do just one thing that would make them a more effective continual learner—and it doesn't necessarily take a lot of time, it takes change of a couple of habits—that is that we would just take time to reflect more on our day; thinking about what worked and what didn't, what we want to repeat and what we don't want to repeat, and what we learned that we want to do differently the next time. If we would take 20 minutes everyday to do that we would improve so rapidly I think it would be quite amazing. And the way we do that is to first of all, make a conscious effort to do it. You say, “Well I don't have 20 minutes.” but yeah you do. Because you drive home from work and you listen to the radio or you take your walk and you listen to your I-pod or watch television in the evening, I think there are lots of times we can steal 15-20-30 minutes a day to do these kinds of things. It’s not like reading … having a book in hand or any of those other things. It’s just closing our mind down enough from other things to give ourselves a chance to reflect. And in the end, a learning process has to include a reflection process or we can't learn from our own experiences. I think that that is too often left out. And we're in such a rush to move from one thing to the next—from doing one tele-seminar, to another interview, to do another phone call, right?—that we don't take the time to just stop take a mental deep breath and really think about what worked and what didn't. So if I'm going to do a better job in my next interview, I'd better stop and spend a little time thinking Michael, about what went well on this one or not. And I think that is the key for us to become continual learners. If I could say one thing, it would be take the time, make the time to reflect and ask those reflective questions.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:23 AM
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07.10.07

Six Disciplines for Excellence: Decide What's Important

Now in its new and improved second edition, Six Disciplines for Excellence by Gary Harpst is still one of the best field guides to business. It lays out a practical methodology to help you stay aligned with your mission using sound foundational principles. Through a series of repeatable annual, quarterly, weekly and daily cycles, this methodology will help you to successfully guide your business and quite frankly, your personal life as well. Not surprisingly, you will find that these disciplines are applicable to your personal life, because we are all subject to some of the same pressures that are present in any other system. six disciplines

I find that the most vital principle presented here begins with step one: Decide What's Important. Its importance is underscored in the fact that it is woven throughout the process and culminates in step six. The practice of repeatedly stepping back and asking how did we get here? and why are we doing what we are doing? is vital to sustaining any system.

While this is probably one of the most intellectually understood behaviors, it is in practical terms, likely the most overlooked discipline he presents here. It is overlooked because the pressures of the present lead us into directions and practices that we never intended and are often counter-productive. So we put it off, intending to address it later. Unfortunately, later rarely comes and the inconsistencies we create only breed more inconsistencies. Unnecessary actions and behaviors hang on long after their usefulness is gone.
Six Disciplines for Excellence


In business and life, we need to continually step back and reconsider what we are doing. Sometimes life happens – things happen we can’t plan on - and in the swirl of it all, we find ourselves doing that which we otherwise would not. His methodology helps to you to become more proactive and eliminate the tangents that distract you from what you should be doing.

Harpst writes:
Businesses are “systems” and they’re subject to forces similar to entropy. Once a small business makes plans, the chaos of everything changing around it gradually erodes those plans, like the warm water melts the ice. An organization must have a systematic and ongoing way to offset those forces, or it will eventually become ineffective to the point that its survival will be at stake. Or, using a different analogy, Stephen Covey once said, “We are too busy driving to get gas.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:49 AM
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07.03.07

Leadership Books: July 2007

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in July.

  Apples Are Square: Thinking Differently About Leadership by Susan Kuczmarski and Thomas D. Kuczmarski
  Lessons on Leadership: The 7 Fundamental Management Skills for Leaders at All Levels by Jack Stahl
  What Were They Thinking? Unconventional Wisdom about Management by Jeffrey Pfeffer
  The Art of Creative Thinking: How to Be Innovative and Develop Great Ideas by John Adair
  The Innovative Leader: How to Inspire Your Team and Drive Creativity by Paul Sloane

Apples Are Square Lessons on Leadership What Were They Thinking? The Art of Creative Thinking The Innovative Leader

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:17 AM
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06.15.07

Growth: The Key to Leading for a Lifetime

Leading for a Lifetime
Harvard Business School Press has thankfully reissued Geeks and Geezers by Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas, as a paperback titled, Leading for a Lifetime: How Defining Moments Shape Leaders of Today and Tomorrow. The focal point here is growth. The kind of growth that comes from working through and finding meaning in what they term the crucibles of our life—places or experiences from which one extracts meaning, meaning that leads to new definitions of self and new competencies that better prepare one for the next crucible.
The ability to learn is a defining characteristic of being human; the ability to continue learning is an essential skill of leadership. When leaders lose that ability, they inevitably falter. When any of us lose that ability, we no longer grow.
This book is about the importance of learning and how to keep learning. They write, “The ability to process new experiences, to find their meaning and to integrate them into one’s life, is the signature skill of leaders and, indeed, of anyone who finds ways to live fully and well.” In a nutshell, the ability to find context in your life experiences is key to success.

They talk throughout the book about the importance that crucibles play in the transformational learning that is essential to leadership. They ask if your company incorporates opportunities for learning into the daily life of the organization. Do they provide leaders with the tools and the coaching required to make the most of their formative, and transforming, experiences?
Companies need to encourage employees to reflect on what they are learning even as they face new challenges. Companies have to learn that quiet thoughtfulness may be more productive than frantic bustle. Employees need to be rewarded for the way they approach crises as well as for outcomes. Organizations have to distinguish between occasional good failure and habitual, unproductive failure. Employees need to be rewarded for their creativity, which inevitably means taking risks.
They cite Edith Wharton from The Age of Innocence: “In spite of illness, in spit e of the arch-enemy, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.” Words to live and grow by, whatever your age.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:35 AM
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06.08.07

Key to Presidential Courage

Michael Beschloss
Historian Michael Beschloss, gave an engaging and entertaining talk to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council a couple of nights ago about his book, Presidential Courage.

We expect our Presidents to be willing to make a sacrifice if necessary; to place the interests of the country ahead of their own interests. George Washington set the bar for other Presidents to follow. John Adams, our second President was faced with an issue—potential war with France— that required the courage to place his own aspirations second to what was right for the country. He had to go against his party by rejecting the idea of a war with France. It cost him a great deal of personal anguish and loss of the Presidency to Thomas Jefferson. Beschloss wrote of Adams, “He had long argued that a leader ‘must run the risk’ of incurring ‘people’s displeasure sometimes, or he will never do them any good in the long run.’”

Beschloss said that in effect, Adams said, “I wanted more than anything to get a second term so that I had a chance in history to be the equal of General Washington. Now that’s gone. But, I can go back to Massachusetts and I can feel that my sacrifice was for something important. And I still have my wife Abigail (to whom he was so close) and my children and my farm and my books and my old veteran friends from the revolution.” Adams lived on for 26 more years; long enough to see his son John Quincy elected to be the sixth President. Bescholoss found his attitude a significant key to courage. Adams had a life beyond the Presidency.
“We’ve got to look at candidates for President this year and next, and if you want someone who is capable of presidential courage, I would say one thing to look for is: Is this someone who is desperate to be President and hang-on almost at all costs or is this someone who if there is a moment requiring presidential courage—where they have to give it all up—has something else in his or her life—a family or other interests or even better yet, convictions (they can feel that they gave it up for doing the right thing)?

As we choose candidates these days, in a system that I find completely atrocious, it forces all of us to evaluate these people’s character. And one thing I would really ask is that we would look at them in terms of the stories in this book and say “Is this someone who is like these courageous Presidents?” Because, in the next five years we may very well need that.
The question was raised concerning the difference between courage and betrayal. We speak of courage on the one hand, but what is going on when a President betrays people by doing something that people do not like or different from what they said they would do. Beschloss responded, “In these stories you will see where Presidents do tell American’s that it’s a good thing to do things that they may not first approve of, but it is not something that is wildly different from something they said in the campaign. They’re moving public opinion just somewhat beyond where it’s willing to go at the moment.” For example:
Of the nine presidents I write about, only one had to pay the price of losing reelection and that was John Adams. Everyone else was a good enough politician or a good enough educator that they were able to continue. For instance, FDR, in trying to get a third term could say to Americans, “Well, you may be disturbed by my building up our defense, but think of it this way. Maybe it’s the best way to scare off Hitler if we’re really strong with 50,000 airplanes and so on.” Or in Abraham Lincoln’s case, he stuck to the Emancipation [Proclamation]. But rather than just say, “Well, I’m going to be a courageous guy, and I’ll just go down in flames,” he was such a good educator that he said to Americans, “You may not like the idea of fighting the Civil War also to free the slaves, but since I’ve declared the Emancipation, 200,000 African-Americans have come across enemy lines from the South and they’re all working hard in our Union War effort. If I now dispense with the Emancipation, they’d sit on their hands and we’d lose the war.”

That’s what a great President does.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 02:34 AM
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06.06.07

10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy

Jon Gordon writes in The Energy Bus, “No one goes through life untested, and the answer to these tests is positive energy.” Fortunately he is not referring to the kind of rah-rah positive energy that makes you roll your eyes and close the book as the title might suggest. Instead he refers to “the kind of positive energy consisting of vision, trust, optimism, enthusiasm, purpose, and spirit that defines great leaders and their teams.” energy bus

The Energy Bus is a well-executed fable that reveals 10 secrets for approaching life and work with the kind of positive, forward thinking that leads to true accomplishment - at work and at home. The story will resonate with anyone with any life experience at all. The 10 rules are:
  1. You’re the Driver of the Bus.
  2. Desire, Vision and Focus move your bus in the right direction.
  3. Fuel your Ride with Positive Energy.
  4. Invite People on Your Bus and Share your Vision for the Road Ahead.
  5. Don’t Waste Your Energy on those who don’t get on your Bus.
  6. Post a Sign that says “No Energy Vampires Allowed” on your Bus.
  7. Enthusiasm attracts more Passengers and Energizes them during the Ride.
  8. Love your Passengers. (How? Make time for them, listen to them, recognize them, serve them and bring out the best in them.)
  9. Drive with Purpose.
  10. Have Fun and Enjoy the Ride.
Jon Gordon's take on these rules is good and worth a look at. He has created a web site to support the book.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:24 AM
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06.04.07

Up the Organization

Up the Organization
Jossey-Bass has released a commemorative edition of Robert Townsend’s (1920-1998) leadership classic, Up the Organization: How to Stop the Corporation from Stifling People and Strangling Profits. Originally published in 1970, this candid and provocative book deserves to be re-read every year. Here's a sample of Townsend's straightforward and practical advice:

On People: Why spend all that money and time on the selection of people when the people you’ve got are breaking down from under-use. Get to know your people. What they do well, what they enjoy doing, what their weaknesses and strengths are, and what they want and need to get from their job. And then try to create an organization around your people, not jam your people into those organization-chart rectangles.

On Delegation: Many people give lip service, but few delegate authority in important matters. And that means all they delegate is dog-work. A real leader does as much dog-work for his people as he can: he can do it, or see a way to do without it, ten times as fast. And he delegates as many important matters as he can because that creates a climate in which people grow.

On Leadership: True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not the enrichment of the leaders. In combat, officers eat last. Most people in big companies today are administered, not led. They are treated as personnel, not people.

On Rewards: Rewarding outstanding performance is important. Much more neglected is the equally important need to make sure that the underachievers don’t get rewarded. This is more painful, so it doesn’t get done very often.

AVIS On Compromise:Compromise is usually bad. It should be a last resort. If two departments or divisions have a problem they can’t solve and it comes up to you, listen to both sides and then, unlike Solomon, pick one or the other. This places solid accountability on the winner to make it work.

Robert Townsend served as the president and chairman of Avis Rent-a-Car from 1962 to 1965 during its celebrated turnaround. You may remember the infamous the "We Try Harder" advertisign campaign that helped to tranform it into a world-class organization.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:33 AM
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06.01.07

Leadership Books: June 2007

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in June.

  Leading for a Lifetime: How Defining Moments Shape Leaders of Today and Tomorrow by Warren G. Bennis and Robert J. Thomas
  X-teams: How to Build Teams That Lead, Innovate and Succeed by Deborah Ancona and Henrik Bresman
  How: Pursue Significance and Achieve Success by Dov L. Seidman
  Advantage Makers: How Exceptional Leaders Win by Creating Opportunities Others Don't by Steven Feinberg
  The Five Literacies of Global Leadership: What Authentic Leaders Know and You Need to Find Out by Richard David Hames

Leading for a Lifetime X-teams How Advantage Makers Five Literacies of Global Leadership

leadership

Leadershop
The LeaderShop specializes in providing books and resources to businesses—for training, conferences and gifts—in large quantities at substantial discounts. On orders of 100 or more copies of a title, we can usually obtain additional discounts and/or free shipping. If you need an order expedited or are looking for a title you can't find on our title index, just call 800-423-8273 and ask about it. If it's out there we can generally get it for you. And thanks for your support.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:02 AM
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05.25.07

Developing a Respectful Mind

Five Minds for the Future
Howard Gardner writes in Five Minds for the Future, "Adolescents have potentials for leadership, or for enterprise, that can be marshaled for diverse ends; it is up to their elders—parents, educators, community leaders, slightly older and more mature peers—to influence how these potentials are mobilized." This is a significant thought worthy of repeated reflection. It describes the process of character development throughout our lives. We might consider what functions we occupy and the influence we are having on others.

In any event, Gardner believes that the mobilization of these potentials should progress in five directions that can be manifested in five minds. They are: the disciplined mind (a mind trained on a specific scholarly discipline, craft or profession), the synthesizing mind (a mind that can create value from information), the creating mind (a mind that can break new ground), the ethical mind (a mind that contemplates meaning in work and life and then acts on it) and the respectful mind (a mind that welcomes differences between group and individuals).

Looking specifically at the respectful mind, he writes that “rather than ignoring differences, being inflamed by them, or seeking to annihilate them through love or hate, [he] would call on human beings to accept the differences, learn to live with them, and value those who belong to other cohorts.”

The respectful mind, like the other four qualities of mind, Gardner believes is a kind of thinking or attitude we will need to have to thrive during the eras to come. He says “eras to come” because while we have always needed this quality of mind, it has been a kind of option. Meaning I assume, that the repercussions of not having it were better contained in times past. However, today we are so interconnected that our very survival depends on it. In a global sense he is right.

While all of these minds interact with each other, the respectful mind, I believe, would seem to be the cornerstone. five minds for the future Without it we limit our input—distance ourselves from reality—and virtually assure that we are not effective with others. Consequently, the respectful mind is the first mind we should seek to develop in children and demand from ourselves.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:22 AM
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05.10.07

Embracing The Dip

Seth Godin is a perennial favorite because he is among other things, what Saul Bellow called, a first class noticer. He gathers information and makes valuable and practical meaning from it. He doesn't skip the hard questions. His new book The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) is no exception.

What is The Dip you ask? Seth defines it as “the long slog between starting and mastery. It's any rough patch you have to get through before achieving your big goal . . . if in fact you're chasing the right goal.” This short read – 86 pages – is really about understanding what needs to be done to make the move from mediocrity to greatness. It's about quitting what gets in the way of you being the best. As Seth points out, it takes a lot more than saying, "I want to be the best." It also means letting go of those things that for you are dead-ends. Quitting those things where you are wasting your time and energy and refocusing your resources in The Dip – that place where you can achieve the greatest accomplishment. This isn’t a new idea, but it is the best, most memorable presentation I have ever seen of it.
Strategic quitting is the secret of successful organizations. Reactive quitting and serial quitting are the bane of those that strive (and fail) to get what they want. And most people do just that. They quit when it’s painful and stick when they can’t be bothered to quit.
Finding and successfully moving through your Dip is really a matter of counting the cost. Consider first, if you have the resources to carry on and then, if you succeed, is it worth the effort?

The Dip is why everyone is not doing what you're doing. It is also why you are not the “best in the world” at what it is you do. It’s where most people get stuck. Anything worth doing has a Dip. The Dip is actually a good place to be Seth says, because if you can get through it, you can win where most others quit. So, you want to find your Dip.
It’s the incredibly difficult challenges (the Dips) that give you the opportunity to pull ahead.
If you’re looking for some inspiration you might try reading New Ideas from Dead CEOs by Todd Buchholz. He writes: “Each of these CEOs failed at some point. Faced with bankruptcy and defections, they could have succumb to psychological depression or the siren call of politicians offering class warfare. He each heard nos, the tsk-tsks of friends, and a schadenfreude chorus scoffing at their failure. But they pushed on, energized by passion, ego, money, and the promise of glory. You cannot build a successful business or economy on the kindness of strangers. These CEOs relied on more dependable, more human drives. Drives that took them on fascinating rides.” In short, they embraced the Dip.

Here’s a tip. If you can’t measure your progress, if you feel like you are working harder and harder to get nowhere, then you’re probably putting your efforts into a dead-end initiative. You have the wrong strategy. You need to let go and find your Dip. With a little introspection, this has the potential to be a life changing book. Take the time to read it and apply it. You can read it in one sitting but you’ll think about it for days.
A few people will choose to do the brave thing and end up the best in the world. Informed people will probably choose to do the mature thing and save their resources for a project they’re truly passionate about. Both are fine choices. It’s the last choice, the common choice, the choice to give it a shot and then quit that you must avoid if you want to succeed.
The Dip by Seth Godin

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:15 AM
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05.07.07

What It Takes to Lead

Tony Smith believes that much of the leadership literature today dances around what it really takes to lead because there are some areas that are politically incorrect or just too difficult to talk about. As a result we have created a “sanitized, air-brushed, or glorified picture of leadership that masks or disguises reality” and we never really get at what leaders do and why they do it.
The Taboos of Leadership


Through his frame of reference, that of executive coach and advocate, he adds great value to our understanding of the realities of leadership even if at times, his conclusions derail when trying to understand leadership at any other level that that of the CEO. In his new book, The Taboos of Leadership his observation that “leaders who are successful never quite fit the theories we apply to them and are always messier and more complex than we would predict” is quite true. It is an aspect that is missing from or far too understated in most leadership literature. Perhaps that explains why international leadership expert Manfred Kets De Vries, wants to put the leader on the couch.

Smith writes:
There is nothing tidy or clean about leadership. It’s messy, but so is the rest of life.

What makes an effective leader is a contradictory collage of motivations and drivers, rewards and costs. We can’t teach leadership, not in the sense that we’ve been trying thus far. We can’t look at all the theories of leadership and say: Do this, this, and this, and you will become or create a good leader. But we can understand leadership much better than we do now. If we take a look below the surface, into the blood, guts, and pulsing arteries of leadership, we are bound to understand leadership as a process much, much better.
He asks ten taboo-braking questions: What does it take to lead? Does charisma matter? Is being political a bad thing? Do women make better leaders? What about the trappings of power? Should the leader play favorites? Do leader’s really want to groom a successor? Should a leader’s work be their life? Should leaders put aside their own motivations and interests and serve only the motivations and interests of their people? Do leaders cultivate loneliness deliberately?

He left out a direct discussion of followers and authority. These are two areas that are misunderstood as often as they are poorly executed. The proliferation of “leaderless organization” literature will attest to that fact. Instead of sugar-coating or dismissing these topics, we should seek a better understanding of these vital and necessary issues.

Smith suggests: “Perhaps we should know, or at least recognize, the risk-reward ratio of leadership a little better before we judge our leaders, or decide to become one ourselves.” That point can’t be emphasized enough.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:28 AM
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05.04.07

Presidential Courage

Presidential Courage
Michael Beschloss has written a series of stories in Presidential Courage about how nine American Presidents have, at crucial moments, made courageous decisions for the national interest even when they knew they might be jeopardizing their careers. The stories are brief overviews of trying times but are both poignant and encouraging. In his epilogue he writes:
From his own reading of history, John Kennedy feared that the changing political environment was making it more difficult fro Americans to practice the kind of leadership that had shaped our past.

In 1955, he complained that politics had become “so expensive, so mechanized and so dominated by professional politicians and public relations men.” Thanks to “the tremendous power of mass communications,” he wrote, “any unpopular or unorthodox course arouses a storm of protests.”
Beschloss continues with this prescription:
The ancient Romans surrounded their young leaders with paintings and sculpture to encourage qualities of greatness.

Should Americans ever follow such a practice, one of the public rooms of the White House might be enhanced with artifacts reminding Presidents that since George Washington, courage has been a requirement of the Presidency.

First might be the baseball that Joe DiMaggio asked Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev to sign. Then, moving backward through time, the dented helmet worn by one of the U.S. Marshals sent by JFK to integrate Ole Miss.

Next might be the Torah that moved Harry Truman to tears after he helped ensure the Jewish people a home—and the black cathedral radio that told FDR on Election Night 1940 that he might be defeated by the isolationists.

After that would be a miner’s torch given to Theodore Roosevelt by grateful anthracite coal workers, and T.R.’s relic of his own hero—the fold ring containing hair snipped from Abraham Lincoln’s head after his murder for liberating a race.

Beside the Lincoln ring would be the cameo that Andrew Jackson wore around his neck: the sad, soulful face of his wife, Rachel—victim, he was certain, of his plutocratic enemies.

Then propped upright, a serving plate from the beloved family home that John Adams called Peacefield—a reminder that if halting war with France cost him reelection, he could return to a rich life with Abigail, surviving comrades from the American Revolution and, in the end, when he was almost alone, his books.

Looming on a self above all these objects would be the quill pen and inkwell used by President Washington on those storm-swept nights in August 1795 to write all of those letters defending John Jay’s peace treaty with the British.

GWashington Master Bed
But not all Presidents are affected by historical artifacts. In that case, they might be taken up to Mount Vernon, and up the stairs to the bedroom where George Washington died.

Standing there, to this day, is the wooden four-poster deathbed where the Father of His Country looked up into his doctor’s kindly, worried eyes and croaked his near-t-last words.

General Washington was referring to his medical prognosis, but his words conveyed what he hoped his example would say to future Presidents of the United States.

What Washington told the doctor was, “Don’t be afraid!
Surround yourself with these stories.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:58 AM
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05.02.07

Ignition Points

How do you lead in a situation where you are not in control? Vince Thompson asks in his book Ignited, “Can the principles [CEOs] use to run their companies really work for managers in The Middle like us—managers without the ability to reshape businesses, redirect strategies, or even (in many cases) to hire, fire, and reward employees as we see fit? The answer is a qualified no.”

Working from where you are with a foundation of authenticity and self-discipline, you can help to make the necessary changes in your organization and create more purpose in your leadership role. Thompson defines seven ignition points—functions or tools you can develop and use to create unique value to your organization.
Ignited


The first of these is the power of the Process Master. “One of the most powerful ways for a manager in The Middle to add value is by knowing the processes his company engages in … and knowing them cold.” In addition to specific steps in the process, “It also means knowing the individuals who handle the processes, along with their quirks, strengths, shortcomings, needs, and vulnerabilities.” A big picture thinker.

Second, is the power of the Linkmaker. “Great managing is largely about Linkmaking—knowing the people around you, understanding what makes them tick, And connecting their knowledge and skills in ways that will make powerful things happen for the organization.”

Third, is the power of the Translator. The translator helps people in the organization to see each others viewpoints and values to help unite them behind shared organizational goals. It’s the ability to translate organizational goals “into actionable ideas that our diverse workforces can ll relate to, buy into, and support.”

Fourth, is the power of the Scout. The Scout understands the landscape—the environment, the customers and vendors—the organization is functioning in and communicates that throughout the organization. The Scout tracks people’s changing attitudes, interests and ideas and works to develop its full potential for the benefit of the organization.

Fifth, is the power of the Pilot. In the role of Pilot, you need to be “looking for threatening shoals and promising open sea lanes, and working to steer your company away from the former and toward the later.”

Sixth, is the power of the Bard. “The Bard is an ignited manager with the ability to record and pass on organizational history … and the evocation of relevant facts and comparisons from past events when current decisions are being weighed.” Why is this so important? Because you can “help others understand where they fit into that story.” That’s vital.

Finally, he describes the power of the Healer. “Rather than treating people like cogs in a machine, smart managers empathize with the struggles and aspirations of their team members. They realize that each one is an individual with strengths, weaknesses, and emotions that must be understood fully.” The ignited manager “knows that motivating people is, in part, about nurturing their hearts and minds.
Ignited
The ignited manager “knows that motivating people is, in part, about nurturing their hearts and minds.

Thompson begins with a short quiz to help you identify your mindset in relation to the ideas he presents in this book. He finishes with steps you can take for “getting your idea sold and ensuring that you achieve the success and recognition you’re earned.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:51 AM
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05.01.07

Leadership Books: May 2007

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in May.

  The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) by Seth Godin
  Achieve Leadership Genius: How You Lead Depends on Who, What, Where, and When You Lead by Drea Zigarmi, Susan Fowler and Dick Lyles
  Great People Decisions: Why They Matter So Much, Why They are So Hard, and How You Can Master Them by Claudio Fernandez Araoz
  The Voice of Authority: 10 Communication Rules Every Leaders Needs to Know by Robert J. Herbold
  Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World, 1940-1941 by Ian Kershaw

The Dip Achieve Leadership Genius Great People Decisions The Voice of Authority Fateful Choices

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:50 AM
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04.08.07

Lee Iacocca’s 9 C's of Leadership

Where Have All the Leaders Gone?
Lee Iacocca’s polemic, Where Have All the Leaders Gone?, will be released on April 17th. In the meantime you can read chapter one Had Enough? in our Reading Room. Included in chapter one he presents his 9 C's of Leadership you will find briefly illuminated below:

1. A leader has to show CURIOSITY. He has to listen to people outside of the "Yes, sir" crowd in his inner circle. He has to read voraciously, because the world is a big, complicated place. If a leader never steps outside his comfort zone to hear different ideas, he grows stale. If he doesn't put his beliefs to the test, how does he know he's right? The inability to listen is a form of arrogance. It means either you think you already know it all, or you just don't care.

2. A leader has to be CREATIVE, go out on a limb, be willing to try something different. You know, think outside the box. Leadership is all about managing change -- whether you're leading a company or leading a country. Things change, and you get creative. You adapt.

3. A leader has to COMMUNICATE. I'm not talking about running off at the mouth or spouting sound bites. I'm talking about facing reality and telling the truth.

4. A leader has to be a person of CHARACTER. That means knowing the difference between right and wrong and having the guts to do the right thing. Abraham Lincoln once said, "If you want to test a man's character, give him power."

5. A leader must have COURAGE. I'm talking about balls. (That even goes for female leaders.) Swagger isn't courage. Tough talk isn't courage. Courage is a commitment to sit down at the negotiating table and talk.

6. To be a leader you've got to have CONVICTION -- a fire in your belly. You've got to have passion. You've got to really want to get something done.

7. A leader should have CHARISMA. I'm not talking about being flashy. Charisma is the quality that makes people want to follow you. It's the ability to inspire. People follow a leader because they trust him. That's my definition of charisma.

8. A leader has to be COMPETENT. That seems obvious, doesn't it? You've got to know what you're doing. More important than that, you've got to surround yourself with people who know what they're doing.

9. You can't be a leader if you don't have COMMON SENSE.

THE BIGGEST C IS CRISIS. Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:46 PM
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04.02.07

Talent is Never Enough

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”
—Stephen King
Talent is Never Enough
In John Maxwell’s valuable new book, Talent is Never Enough, he cites Peter Drucker on effectiveness, "There seems to be little correlation between a man's effectiveness and his intelligence, his imagination, or his knowledge...Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge are essential resources, but only effectiveness converts them into results. By themselves, they only set limits to what can be contained." "If talent were enough," Maxwell writes, "then the most effective and influential people would always be the most talented ones. But that is often not the case."

Talent might get you noticed but it won’t keep you there. Success requires hard work. To achieve the effectiveness that Drucker is talking about and to turn talent into results is matter of choice. Maxwell writes, “The key choices you make—apart from the natural talent you already have—will set you apart from others who have talent alone.” He has identified 13 choices you can make to maximize your talent. These choices form the framework of his book:

Belief lifts your talent: Lack of belief in yourself can act as a ceiling on talent.

Passion energizes your talent: A passionate person with limited talent will outperform a passive person who possesses greater talent.

Initiative activates your talent: Socrates said, “To move the world we must first move ourselves.”

Focus directs your talent: Attempting everything, like attempting nothing will suck the life out of you.

Preparation positions your talent: Becoming more intentional. You can claim to be surprised once; after that, you’re unprepared.

Practice sharpens your talent: Practice demands discipline and embracing change.

Perseverance sustains your talent: People who display perseverance keep a larger vision in mind as they toil away at their craft or profession.

Courage tests your talent: As we develop our talent and grow to our potential we will be tested continually. Courage is an everyday virtue.

Teachability expands your talent: Teachability is not so much about competence and mental capacity as it is about attitude. It is the desire to listen, learn, and apply. Talented people can be the toughest to teach because they often think they know it all. It’s a problem of pride.

Character protects your talent: People cannot climb beyond the limitations of their character. Talented people are sometimes tempted to take shortcuts. Character prevents that.

Relationships influence your talent: Life is too short to spend it with people who pull you in the wrong direction. And it’s too short not to invest in others. Your relationships will define you.

Responsibility strengthens your talent: Responsibility not only improves your life, but also will improve the life of those around you.

Teamwork multiplies your talent: Teamwork divides the effort and multiples the effect.

“Make these choices,” Maxwell encourages, “and you can become a talent-plus person. If you have talent, you stand alone. If you have talent plus, you stand out.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:54 AM
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04.01.07

Leadership Books: April 2007

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in April.

  Troublesome Young Men: The Rebels Who Brought Churchill to Power and Helped Save England by Lynne Olson
  Five Minds for the Future by Howard Gardner
  Where Have All the Leaders Gone? by Lee Iacocca
  The Taboos of Leadership: The 10 Secrets No One Will Tell You About Leaders and What They Really Think by Anthony F Smith
  Talent Is Never Enough: Discover the Choices That Will Take You Beyond Your Talent by John C. Maxwell

Troublesome Young Men Five Minds for the Future Where Have All the Leaders Gone? The Taboos of Leadership Talent Is Never Enough

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:44 AM
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03.28.07

Blind Spots: The Strategies for Clear Sight

Blind Spots
What are blind spots? Claudia Shelton, author of Blind Spots: Achieve Success by Seeing What You Can't See, explains that they “are patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving we often do unconsciously that can negatively influence our relationships with other people. They often show up when we are under stress and overuse our greatest strengths. So why are blind spots a big deal? Blind Spots can become possible problems in our working processes and relationship and if left unchecked, they can become serious obstacles to our progress.

Shelton has developed a plan to help us develop what she terms Clear Sight by first recognizing our blind spots and then turning them into strengths. This book is an excellent tool to help you to see yourself differently and thereby increase your self-awareness. What you don’t see is holding you back. She presents five strategies for turning each of the five most common blind spots into strengths. Here is an overview:

Identify Your Strengths
Not being clear about your strengths is a major blind spot. It can undercut your confidence and reduce your energy and vitality. Your strengths are the anchor of your self-confidence.

Check Old Habits
Old habit blind spots are often developed in adolescence when they prove successful in helping us reach our adolescent goals. Blind spots may keep us from realizing that these old habits are not part of who we are; they are just habits that do not serve today’s goal. They block us from developing a clear sense of who we are. Old habits are hard to recognize because they are so familiar to us and so comfortable.

Address Stress
We may be experiencing stress that we believe others can’t see. They do see it and it interferes with our goals and relationships. Importantly she cautions, “Constant unchecked stress can make us inflexible, overusing our strengths, increasing our blind spots, and undercutting our relationship every day.” We most often negatively express the stress we feel by criticism, anger and mood swings.

Tune Your Radar
We need to be aware of the nonverbal cues we send out, as well as recognize the non-verbal cues others are sending. When we communicate conflicting non-verbal signals, we lose influence. “When our radar is tuned, we synchronize what we say with how we say it in a way that has positive impact.”

Connect With Others
Our integrity and trustworthiness are often perceived by our ability to connect with other people effectively. “Connection is more than just information sharing….To connect, we need to be able to bring ourselves into the present moment.”

Shelton provides techniques to help you with the principles outlined here. She suggests however, that you focus on only one or two at a time as more than that can become a bit overwhelming.

A Blind Spots Profile and a Blind Spots 360° questionnaire and Workbook are available for purchase on the WhatsMyBlindSpot web site. The tool helps individuals to recognize their strengths—and the potential blind spots that can appear when those strengths are overused. in advance so they can stay working from their strengths. It can be done free (short version) or for $34.99 (long version with early warning signs for blind spots and plans of attack to turn them into strengths) by going to the WhatsMyBlindSpot web site.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:58 AM
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03.26.07

5 Leadership Lessons: Getting Unstuck

5 Leadership Lessons
Getting Unstuck: How Dead Ends Become New Paths by Timothy Butler is an interesting look at a chronic human problem: not being able to see the forest for the trees. There are times when we get stuck and find ourselves stewing in our own juices.

Our stuck feeling comes from our inability to get our thinking moving again. Sometimes we get hit so hard that it is hard to get our mind off of the point of impact and instead focus on our response. The decision to get on with it, frees us to rally our resources and broaden our repertoire of responses. We will, with the proper outlook, grow to a higher capacity to handle the next crisis that life throws at us.

Bulter offers these thoughts:

1  “When we are at am impasse, we often cannot even sense this flow [the connection we feel to the energy in our life] — or to see how close we are to a dynamic dislodging that would place us back into the energy of the moving current….When we have run aground, we sometimes fail to realize that his is a necessary crisis; without it we cannot grow, change, and — eventually — live more fully in a larger world.”

2  “Self-images often seem to have lives of their own, separate from our daily reality, and they exert a powerful presence that affects decisions and distorts perceptions. These distortions lead us away from the ability to pursue the work and the relationship that hold the greatest promise for fulfillment.” These self-images keep us suck.

3  “The problem with any mental model is that it is always operating on information from the past. In contrast, true vision is never an arrangement or rearrangement of solutions that have worked in previous circumstances, but springs from the immediacy of today….Life is always breaking our mental model…A life shock momentarily awakens something I us, and for a moment we are fully alive, with no model at all. We all want this, to be touched directly by life itself.”

4  “When we are at an impasse, we need new information, especially information about what is missing rather than a summary of what is already there.”

5  Getting unstuck ultimately comes down to a choice. Our lives do not change without action. “The only way forward is to bring our whole person into the tension of the choice. The temptation when experiencing the tensions of a difficult choice is to seek a quick compromise, to find some middle ground that seems to offer some of the best of the conflicting pole. This rarely works and rarely satisfies.”
Getting Unstuck


Butler offers some practical ways to get ourselves thinking again through practicing free attention and some healthy ways of looking at crisis in our life. His One Hundred Jobs Exercise presented in this book, is aimed at helping us to reexamine our outmoded mental models and identify essential work and life themes that will bring us back to our place (authentic) where we can offer our contribution.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:06 AM
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03.23.07

The Well-Differentiated Leader

USS Cole
Recently U.S. Navy Cdr. Kirk S. Lippold spoke about leadership at Highland School in Virginia. You may remember that he was the commander of the USS Cole when it was attacked in Yemen in October of 2000. Lippold said, "When you talk about leadership, for a lot of people, it boils down to one word, and that is integrity. If you have the integrity to do what's right regardless of the circumstances and the situation, you are a leader in your own right, because so many people today fail or waiver on that one key trait.

"As commander, you provide the crew with the command philosophy, then you give them goals and guidelines to get there. By that philosophy, you start with the foundation of integrity, but it is also good work ethic, taking care of your fellow sailors, making sure that you look out for each other, not just for the time you are there on the ship, but when you are on liberty.”

What he is referring to is similar to an idea Edwin Friedman presents in A Failure of Nerve. It’s what Friedman has termed the well-differentiated leader. It is similar to what is most commonly termed authentic leadership, but I like the way it is articulated here. The well-differentiated leader is not “an autocrat who tells others what to do or orders them around, although any leader who defines himself or herself clearly may be perceived that way by those who are not taking responsibility for their own emotional being and destiny.”
A Failure of Nerve
By the well-differentiated leader “I mean someone who has clarity about his or her own life goals, and, therefore, someone who is less likely to become lost in the anxious emotional processes swirling about. I mean someone who can separate while still remaining connected, and therefore can maintain a modifying, non-anxious, and sometimes challenging presence. I mean someone who can manage his or her own reactivity to the automatic reactivity of others, and therefore be able to take stands at the risk of displeasing. It is not as though some leaders can do this and some cannot. No one does this easily, and most leaders, I have learned, can improve their capacity.

Two key concepts here are self-knowledge and self-control. What Friedman spurns is a highly anxious risk-avoided, someone who is more concerned with good feelings than with progress, someone whose life revolves around the axis of consensus. He calls this a failure of nerve. Friedman writes, “It is the integrity of the leader that promotes the integrity or prevents the dis-integr-ation of the system he or she is leading.” It was Lippold’s understanding that “you have the integrity to do what's right regardless of the circumstances and the situation” that enabled he and his men to get through the attack. It points again to the fact that leadership is really a character process and not an intellectual one.

Previously: Friedman - If You Are a Leader, Expect Sabotage

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:02 AM
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03.19.07

Looking for Leaders

Recently someone was lamenting to me the lack of new leaders in their organization. I replied that perhaps they weren’t really looking for leaders. Maybe they were looking for leaders in all the wrong places. We commonly look for what looks like leadership. We look for people who stand out (self-promoters). We look for clones (people who are just like us). We look for the smartest person in the room (technically competent). We look for people who did a good job for us (promote as a reward). Sometimes we get lucky—often we don’t.

Ram Charan begins his fine contribution, Know-How, with, “What gets in the way of finding people who can perform is the appearance of leadership. All too often I see people being chosen for leadership jobs on the basis of superficial personal traits and characteristics.” He lists some of the trappings that are often mistaken for leadership:
The seduction of raw intelligence: “He’s extremely bright, incisive, and very analytical. I just feel in my gut he can do the job.”
A commanding presence and great communication skills: “That presentation was awesome. How she ever boiled down all that data onto the PowerPoints is beyond me. She certainly had the committee in the palm of her hand. Mark my words, she’s going to the top.”
The power of a bold vision: “What a picture he painted of where we are going, moving foreword.”
The notion of a born leader: “The people in the unit love her. Such a morale builder and motivator!”
As Charan points out, these attributes are just a small piece of the leadership pie. We need to look deeper.
True North


While there may be a shortage of leaders, “there is no shortage of people with the capacity for leadership” as Bill George points out in True North.  “The problem is that we have a wrongheaded notion of what constitutes a leader, driven by an obsession with leaders at the top. That misguided standard often results in the wrong people attaining critical leadership roles. … We frequently choose leaders for their charisma instead of their character, their style rather than substance, and their image instead of integrity.”

He adds, “There are leaders throughout organizations, just waiting for opportunities to lead. In too many organizations, however, people do not feel empowered to lead, nor are they rewarded for doing so.”

There is obviously a problem in the way that we approach leadership development. We are taking the path of least resistance. To put the right people in the right jobs and encourage their leadership potential, we must get to know them to see those things that really count. Our preconceived ideas of what a leader is, is just the thing that is getting in our way of finding great leaders. Our beliefs can set us up for selecting leaders that are dysfunctional.

Lists of leadership traits and characteristics can help to educate us, but leadership radiates from who we are. Leadership traits and characteristics are just part of the mix that defines who we really are—our character and attitudes. What else could we be doing to find true leaders?

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:01 AM
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03.14.07

If You Are a Leader, Expect Sabotage

A Failure of Nerve
Sabotage “is part and parcel of the systemic process of leadership” writes Edwin Friedman in A Failure of Nerve. “Sabotage is not merely something to be avoided or wished away; instead, it comes with the territory of leading, whether the territory is a family or an organization. And a leader’s capacity to recognize sabotage for what it is—that is, a systemic phenomenon connected to the shifting balances in the emotional processes of a relationship system and not to the institution’s specific issues, makeup, or goals—is the key to the kingdom.”

The “shifting balances in the emotional processes of a relationship system” just referred to, have a lot to do with people’s insecurities, people trying to measure up and just trying to merely hold on to what they have or where they are. It is a reaction that some people get to strong and clearly defined leadership. Knowing that this is part of the leadership process and not an unexpected turn of events is helpful in maintaining a leader’s authenticity.

An effective leader should expect to be attacked as a result of their leadership. Some people will react negatively to what a leader stands for and then begin a campaign of sabotage in order to draw attention away from themselves or the mission. Friedman says “this is the moment when a leader is most likely to have a failure of nerve and experience a strong temptation to seek a quick fix.” This is the moment of truth. “A leader can never assume success because he or she has brought about a change. It is only after having first brought about a change and then subsequently endured the subsequent sabotage that the leader can feel truly successful.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:42 AM
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03.12.07

The Strategy Paradox

The Strategy Paradox
The Strategy Paradox is about managing risk. It provides a vocabulary and set of frameworks to help us begin to embrace our ignorance about the future and deal with it.

The strategy paradox lies in the fact that the characteristics that we typically associate with success are also systematically associated with total failure. That is, the strategies with the greatest possibility of success also have the greatest possibility of failure. Author Michael Raynor, says that resolving this paradox requires a new way of thinking about strategy and uncertainty.

In his research he found that strategies normally associated with success look very much the same as strategies that in fact lead to failure as well. What was interesting is that while successful and failed strategies look the same, strategies that lead to mediocre financial performance look very different from strategies associated with both successful and failed strategies. This leads us to the conclusion that the opposite of success is not failure, but mediocrity. So to assume that we are safe with a compelling vision, commitment and a clear focus—all defining elements of successful strategies—is misguided as these elements are also systematically connected with some of the greatest strategic disasters. The real issue is that these elements must be based on an accurate view of the future, and not surprisingly even the best minds often get this wrong. Naturally, the further out you go the greater the degree of strategic uncertainty.

One of the reasons the future is difficult to predict is because it is random. In other words, the past isn’t always a good indicator of the future. Randomness enters in your analysis because at some point you have to confine it. You have to leave some data out, thus reducing your accuracy. To avoid this “we find ourselves compelled to build a theory of everything in order to predict anything.” Not practical—analysis paralysis.

Another issue is cause and effect. Accurately determining why something happened before—initial conditions—is a judgment call. Even if we are correct, recreating those conditions exactly is not generally doable. (See The Halo Effect.)

What are we to do? Raynor suggests implementing what he calls strategic flexibility and using what he calls requisite uncertainty to allocate responsibility for managing uncertainty vertically through an organization. That is, calibrating the focus of each level of the hierarchy to the uncertainties it faces.

For instance, Board members should be looking ten or more years out and asking, “What is the appropriate level of strategic risk for a firm to take? What resources should be devoted to mitigating risk? What sacrifices in performance are acceptable in exchange for lower strategic risk?” CEOs looking out five to ten years, should ask, “What strategic uncertainties does the company face? What strategic options are needed to cope with those uncertainties? In other words, it falls to the CEO, and the rest of the senior team, to find ways to create the strategic risk profile the board has mandated for the firm.

Moving down the hierarchy, operational divisions dealing a time horizon of two to five years should ask, “What commitments should we make in order to achieve our performance targets? For these folks, it’s no longer about mitigating strategic risks, but making strategic commitments. And then managers with a short term time of horizon of 3 months to a year should ask, “How can we best execute the commitments that have been made in order to achieve our performance targets? There are no strategic choices to make at this level, because the time horizons are too short.

What is useful about this book is that it is not just for CEOs. As just shown, people at all levels in an organization deal with a certain amount of uncertainty. Regardless of the timeframe they are dealing with or looking at, the tools outlined here are valuable for managing that risk.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:16 AM
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03.09.07

Our Strengths Are Not to Be Indulged, But Managed

In Marcus Buckingham’s latest book, Go Put Your Strengths to Work, he presents three myths that we need to deal with in order to make the most of our strengths. The first myth is, “As you grow, your personality changes.” The truth Buckingham says is, “As you grow, you become more of who you already are.” As it is presented, there could be some confusion. There are a few issues that need to be considered.

Go Put Your Strengths to Work Myth 1

Go Put Your Strengths to Work TRUTH 1

There is personality, there is behavior and there are attitudes. Although they are dependent on each other and intertwined, they are not all the same thing. In any discussion about any one of them, we have to be careful what we are talking about.

We all have traits that become more apparent as we grow and develop. These traits and talents—strengths—do not change over our lifetime. On the other hand, our behavior and attitudes can be altered, overhauled, modified, transformed or ignored. A scrooge can become generous. An approach that says, “Hey, that’s just the way I am” is a recipe for self-destruction.

Buckingham contends that "as you grow, you don't change into somebody else .... Personality tests confirm this. Much as we would like to believe that we change as we grow, if we take a personality test twice separated by many years, the results from the two tests are almost exactly the same." This is true. However, what we are, how we are perceived, how we relate to others, is determined by and large by how we see ourselves and our world, how we see or filter our experiences—our attitude—and how we act based on what we think—our behavior.

We may be competitive by nature—our personality—but we need not behave in such as way as to be obnoxious, rude, inconsiderate or demanding. We need not see everything as an opportunity to conquer. We can develop that trait or strength into an asset or we can let it rule our lives by letting it run amok to the point where we become the jerk that Bob Sutton describes in his book, The No Asshole Rule. If we allow it, our strength sabotages us and ends up holding us back from achieving our potential and from functioning well with others. Strengths must be managed, not indulged. The character we develop functions to monitor our strengths so that they serve us and don’t become a liability that holds us back.

With that in mind, Buckingham’s point is well taken. It is imperative that we know ourselves—our personality, our strengths—and not try to be something we are not. If we don’t, we diminish our effectiveness. Too often we head in a direction or a career path that does not compliment our innate strengths. These don’t change over our lifetime, and when we work with them rather than against them we can have more effective and fulfilling lives and be of greater service in any area that we chose to make our contribution.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:31 AM
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03.05.07

Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance

Go Put Your Strengths to Work
Marcus Buckingham’s latest work, Go Put Your Strengths to Work begins by speculating on the source of the strengths movement. He speculates that perhaps for many it may have begun with Peters Drucker’s 1966 comment in The Effective Executive: “The effective executive builds on strengths—their own strengths, the strengths of superiors, colleagues, subordinates; and on the strengths of the situation.”

For me, it began in the early seventies when Jack McKinney—my Dad—began presenting his Know Yourself seminars in English-speaking countries around the world. A big part of his seminar was identifying and building on strengths and learning to manage them as the excessive use of strength becomes a weakness.

Whatever your introduction was to the strengths movement, Go Put Your Strengths to Work is an attempt build on the shoulders of giants to advance the current strengths movement from just identifying and labeling our strengths to learning how to actually put our strengths to work. This is the real point of the whole process. His practical system is very useful in helping you to do just that. The system is based on 6 steps:

1: Bust the Myths—So, What’s stopping you?
2: Get Clear—Do You Know What Your Strengths Are?
3: Free Your Strengths—How Do You Make the Most of What Strengthens You?
4: Stop Your Weaknesses—How Can You Cut Out What Weakens You?
5: Speak Up—How Do You Create Strong Teams?
6: Build Strong Habits—How Can You Make This Last Forever?

The process involves the careful observation of your work habits—using a guided questioning procedure—to turn the best of your job into the most of your job. Simply put, Buckingham defines your strengths as “those activities that make you feel strong.” Conversely, the best definition of weakness is any “activity that makes you feel weak.”

Of course, the system is backed by a web site—SimplyStrengths.com—accessed by using the now familiar code given with the purchase of the book. The release of the book is also backed by a nationwide tour by Marcus Buckingham beginning today. This event will also include a private showing of his short feature film entitled Trombone Player Wanted. You can get an invitation and a tour schedule on his website.

Related Interest:
StrengthsFinder 2.0: A New and Upgraded Edition of the Online Test

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:02 AM
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03.02.07

Ego Check: Self Check

9781419535352
There's a fine line between being confident and having an out-of-control ego and it has to be managed carefully. No of us is immune to overconfidence and that line is all too easy to cross. Here are four questions Mathew Hayward recommends to ask yourself as a sort of self ego check:

Why am I doing this? We need to understand where our pride is coming from. Our pride needs to be based on real achievements and emotions. “We all receive pleasure and pain from how others perceive and respond to us. When taken too far, however, that tendency gives others control over our pride. Playing to others’ aspirations and expectations makes us characters in their play. Be fore long we become inauthentic, rudderless, and self-destructive.”

Am I getting the right input into this decision? “Finding and working effectively with the right foils is a critical way of managing one’s pride and, therefore, of curbing false confidence and hubris. The right foils know when to tell us when we are wrong, and they enable us to step back, step in, and step aside.” He adds, “…the key to real and lasting success is to have the right relationships with a number of trusted managers.”

Am I seeing, seeking, using, and sharing material feedback? Are we kidding ourselves about our situation? The key here is to get and use the best available feedback.

Have I clarified the conditions in which I could be wrong? It is wise to face the potential consequences of our decisions and actions today before they have occurred. By managing what could go wrong, we can factor in the possibility that our actions are driven by false confidence, even if we don’t know it at the time.

This is probably a lot like preaching to the choir. If you’re ego is out of control, you’re no doubt certain that you’re already doing these things.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:05 AM
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03.01.07

Leadership Books: March 2007

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in March.

  Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance by Marcus Buckingham
  Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower by Zbigniew Brzezinski
  Leading for Growth: How Umpqua Bank Got Cool and Created a Culture of Greatness by Raymond P. Davis and Alan Shrader
  Seduced by Success: How the Best Companies Survive the 9 Traps of Winning by Robert J. Herbold
  True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership by Bill George and Peter Sims

9780743261678 9780465002528 9780787986070 9780071481830 9780787987510

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:11 AM
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02.28.07

Firing Back: Coming Back After a Fall

Humpty Have you ever had a major setback? No. I didn’t think so. Me neither. But in the unlikely event you do or in the more likely event that you know someone who has or will, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and Andrew Ward have created a well researched guidebook. Firing Back: How Great Leaders Rebounded After Career Disasters strives to help us through the approaches that have worked for some and those that have backfired on others.
Leaders should not be measured by how they bask in the gratification of their accomplishments. Rather, they should be measured by how they respond when fate deflates the joys of hard-earned triumphs. How well do they pick themselves up and get back in the race.
The most important thing is to put your defeat into the proper context. This is often difficult to do in a culture that sees failure as a very bad thing and finds it difficult to even discuss. They write, “It is, in fact, wrong to consider adversity a diversion off one’s path toward greatness. The subsequent resilience from calamities has been revealed as vital to the character formation and differentiation of heroic figures…. It is the ability to bounce back from adversity—to prove your mettle once more by getting back into the game—that separates the lasting great from the fleeting greats.”

They have developed a five-step strategy for rescuing and restoring your career and reputation—a leader’s most valuable asset—after a devastating professional setback.

1. Fight not Flight. This doesn’t mean to come out swinging, but to face the reality of the situation. “To stand up to the reality of the situation and not to flee from it or shirk the battles that lie ahead in restoring the reputation and career of the leader." Being able to pick your battles is an important component here.

In the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan opined in an article entitled, Ford Without Tears these comments about the comeback and legacy of Gerald Ford.
He seemed lacking in vanity. There is no evidence that he was obsessed with his legacy. He didn't worry and fret about whether history would fully capture and proclaim his excellence, and because of this he didn't always have to run around proving he was right. He just did his best and kept walking. What a grown-up thing to do. Former, current and future presidents would do well to ponder this approach. History would treat them more kindly. The legacy of a man who spends his time worrying about his legacy is always: He worried about his legacy.
2. Recruit Others into Battle. This assumes you haven’t burnt your bridges. Build strong relationships now. You need to take responsibility for innocent close colleagues who suffer collateral damage with you and then leverage your support networks to reaffirm your credibility through the voices of others. Support from friends and family “can be very influential in reducing the levels of stress felt by the individual suffering from career setback and in encouraging coping behaviors.

3. Rebuild Heroic Stature. Explain the true nature of the adversity. Provide a rational explanation of the context behind any injustice or provide authentic contrition over any missteps you made.

4. Prove Your Heroic Mettle. Regain trust by demonstrating that the setback has not destroyed your professional expertise and character strength. Actions speak louder than words.

5. Discover a New Heroic Mission. Don’t merely define yourself by your past success or failure. Rather, define a new leadership vision and a new path for personal meaning in your work. You may find that you transcend past triumphs.

In all of this they caution:
Indeed, for many people, the failure to come back successfully is caused by an exclusive focus on the immediate problems of dealing with downfall—often practical and financial constraints that consume the person’s energy and will.

While these are indeed important constraints and require attention, they are focused on adjusting to the downfall rather than preparing for the rebound, and an all-consuming focus on these issues can lead to a spiraling down from which the person never fully recovers.

No one can truly define success or failure for us—only we can define them for ourselves.
Of Related Interest:
  Second Acts: Presidential Lives and Legacies After the White House

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:06 AM
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02.21.07

Keeping Your Ego in Check

9781419535352
If a little ego is a good thing, too much can be a very bad thing. Managing one’s ego is the subject of Mathew Hayward’s book, Ego Check. “Checking one’s ego at the door is entirely the wrong way to think about managing overconfidence and hubris because it drives a wedge between who we are and how we are supposed to act. Instead, the key is to check our decisions and actions, ahead of time to determine whether they reflect authentic or false confidence.”

He suggests that authentic pride is good—even necessary—as it helps us to “appreciate who we are and what we have done” without constantly seeking approval from others. He warns that “the danger is that authentic pride—based on real achievements and emotions—can quickly degenerate into excessive pride. We easily slip into becoming too full of ourselves and operate with clouded judgment. I believe it was Dirty Harry who said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

He breaks excessive pride—which arises when we develop an inflated view of ourselves based on our need for certain outcomes and approval—into three forms:
Dependent Pride: Pride based on what we hope to accomplish—future outcomes—rather than what we have done or are currently doing
Exaggerated Pride: Pride based on what we want to believe about ourselves rather than what the data or the feedback we are getting would really tell us (believing our own press releases) Overweening Pride: Pride driven by potential outcomes or what we imagine we are doing as opposed to what we are actually doing
Ego Check

Authentic Pride or Grounded Pride arises when we intrinsically appreciate ourselves based on candid and factual feedback. This type of pride can be a positive force in our lives.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:30 PM
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02.16.07

In Difference Lies the Potential to Contribute

We tend to think that if we get the smartest people all together in one room, we will get the best solutions. In a very readable book, The Difference, Scott Page shows that in fact diversity in thinking and perspective produces more and better solutions and contributes to overall productivity. He maintains that “when confronted with a difficult task, be it solving a problem, predicting the future, or making a choice, we benefit by including diverse people.” Value can be added just by virtue of its being different. How many disciplines have benefited from interdisciplinary approaches? Diversity doesn’t necessarily mean black/white or men/women, but diversity in thinking and perspective. He notes that “cognitive diversity increases innovation. Preference diversity leads to squabbles.” So we’re looking for relevant diversity and informed intelligence.
difference

The trap we fall into is that we prefer to continue to work with and consult people who think like us—people with the same general background and types of experiences. The familiarity is more comfortable and seems right to us. In the end we get the same way of looking at things and we bring the same kinds of tools to the table to tackle our problems. We miss important clues. If one of us gets stuck, then we all get stuck. “People who think alike get stuck.” We also create barriers to innovation and radically new ideas.
A preference for working with people who bring the same formal perspectives to bear on a problem leads to segregation by function in firms and by discipline in the academy. In each case, the tendency to interact only with people like us creates the same micro-level dynamic. Each culture in a society, each identity group in a city, each department in a university, and each functional area of a firm ends up building walls around itself. As these walls become higher, the members of each group—be they Evangelicals, African Americans, chemists, or accountants—find themselves inside silos of their own creation.
9780691128382

He suggests that we should not only get more kinds of people involved in tackling the issues, we should also encourage our people to think differently by giving them time to pursue individual projects that interest them (varied experience) and by creating skunk works type groups within the organization. He observes, “as individuals we can accomplish only so much. We’re limited in our abilities. Our heads contain only so many neurons and axons. Collectively, we face no such constraint. We possess incredible capacity to think differently. These differences can provide the seeds of innovation, progress, and understanding.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:56 AM
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02.15.07

StrengthsFinder 2.0

“Most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong . . . . And yet, a person can perform only from strength.”
—Peter Drucker
9781595620156
Gallup Press has just released StrengthsFinder 2.0. It’s a handy and improved follow-up to Now, Discover Your Strengths. What’s so new? Gallup has this to say:

Our research and knowledge base on the topic of human strengths have expanded dramatically over the past decade. StrengthsFinder 2.0 picks up where the first version left off, and it is designed to provide you with the latest discoveries and strategies for application. The language of 34 themes remains the same, but the assessment is faster and even more reliable. And, the results yield a much more in-depth analysis of your strengths — featuring a look at the nuances of what makes you unique, using more than 5,000 personalized Strengths Insights that we have discovered in recent years.

Going far beyond StrengthsFinder 1.0's shared theme descriptions, which can be found in Part II of StrengthsFinder 2.0, these highly customized Strengths Insights will help you understand how each of your top five themes plays out in your life on a much more personal level. For example, even though you and a friend may both have the same theme in your top five, the way this theme is manifested will not be the same. Therefore, each of you would receive entirely different, personalized descriptions of how that theme operates in your lives.

These new Strengths Insights describe what makes you stand out when compared to the millions of people we have studied. Once you have completed the online assessment, you will receive a comprehensive Strengths Discovery and Action-Planning Guide that is based on your StrengthsFinder 2.0 results. This guide includes:
  • Your top five theme report, built around the new Strengths Insight descriptions
  • 50 Ideas for Action (10 for each of your top five themes) based on thousands of best-practice suggestions we reviewed
  • A Strengths Discovery Activity that helps you think about how your talents, investment, experience, skills, and knowledge work together to build strengths
  • A Strength-Based Action Plan for setting specific goals for building and applying your strengths in the next week, month, and year

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:51 AM
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02.14.07

Simplicity: Focused and On Track

0470048182
Simple Solutions is directed toward getting things done. It’s about being able to “boil things down to their essence” and thereby bring complex issues down to a simple problem statement. To do this you must learn what is important to all stakeholders. Simplified problems are ones that can be acted one through effective, focused communication. Authors, Tom Schmitt and Arnold Perl provide some practical steps to build this skill. They define a continuum of leadership as: clarity of thought leads to simplicity, which leads to focus and powerful communication—the essence of leadership. Here are a few of the ideas found in this book:

Focus on the Amazing Goal, Not the Incremental. The deadly enemy of innovation is incrementalism. By just trying to make problems better a little bit at a time you can lose sight of the possibility of making a quantum leap. A useful question to help you look for amazing goals is, “What would have to be true in order to/for…?” The answer to the question helps you to think differently and make breakthroughs.

Be Directionally Correct. “The fact is there will never be enough time or information to help you arrive at the perfect answer. The right answer can be one that is directionally correct. In other words, the solution may not be perfect, but it’s in the ballpark. This paves the way for more action but at least you’re already working with the customer and aren’t stuck back at the starting gate, still refining the model in the search for the non-existent perfect solution”

Determination versus Distractions. Determination is the willingness and ability to overcome obstacles and to avoid distractions. “Determination requires continued focus and commitment to a project. It requires the business savvy to separate the core of an issue from ancillary matters and then to continue plugging away at the core.” It is important to note though, “determination is an art. It requires walking a fine line between passionate focus and blind stubbornness. Use your judgment to determine if the goal needs to be simplified, changed, or even abandoned altogether. Don’t confuse sheer stubbornness with determination.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:26 AM
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02.08.07

Are We Hardwired For Success?

Are we hardwired for success? Well yes, if we are working in sync with the way we are hardwired. It probably goes without saying that a person’s skill set helps to determine why they succeed or fail. Obviously, leveraging your particular skills will get you the most return on your effort and thus greater success.


In Smarts, authors Chuck Martin, Peg Dawson and Richard Guare have identified 12 brain-based Executive Skills that are developed by young adulthood and are critical for decision making and regulation of behavior. They report that, “Executive Skills are grounded in brain functions that have been demonstrated through research in the neurosciences to reside in specific brain locations and to become activated under predictable conditions." The skills are:
  1. Self Restraint: The ability to think before you act.
  2. Working Memory: The ability to hold information in memory while performing complex tasks.
  3. Emotional Control: The ability to manage emotions in order to achieve goals, complete tasks, or control and direct behavior.
  4. Focus: The capacity to maintain attention to a situation or task in spite of distractibility, fatigue, or boredom.
  5. Task Initiation: The ability to begin projects or tasks without undue procrastination.
  6. Planning and Prioritization: The capacity to develop a road map to arrive at a destination or goal, and knowing which are the most important signposts along the way.
  7. Organization: The ability to arrange or place according to a system.
  8. Time Management: The capacity to estimate how much time one has, to allocate it effectively, and to stay within time limits and deadlines.
  9. Defining and Achieving Goals: The capacity to have a goal, follow through to the completion of the goal, and not be put off or distracted by competing interests along the way.
  10. Flexibility: The ability to revise plans in the face of obstacles, setbacks, new information, or mistakes.
  11. Observation: The capacity to stand back and take a birds-eye view of yourself in a situation and to be able to understand and make changes in the ways that you solve problems.
  12. Stress Tolerance: The ability to thrive in stressful situations and to cope with uncertainty, change, and performance demands.

The idea here of course, is to understand your particular strengths and use that knowledge to match your skills to the type of work that requires or values your skill set. As Marcus Buckingham and others have pointed out, this is not easily or accurately done by introspection or guessing. The book does include the Executive Skills Profile to help you determine this. They explain, “People typically have two or three strengths and two or three weaknesses, with the remaining Executive Skills falling somewhere between. Those that re in between are not generally likely to get you into trouble, but those at the extremes can help you position yourself for greater successes and fewer failures.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:10 AM
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02.02.07

Not All Leaders Are the Same

The Greatness Guide
In The Greatness Guide, Robin Sharma clarifies the mantra that leadership is everybody’s business. While everyone is a leader, not everyone does the same thing. Obviously not everyone should be running the company. He explains:
Know your role. Everyone needs to behave like a leader—no matter what they do. Everyone needs to demonstrate leadership traits—regardless of their position. That means everyone needs to take responsibility for getting results that they generate. Everyone needs to do their part to shape culture. Everyone needs to be positive and inspirational. Everyone needs to keep customers happy and protect the brand. Everyone is a leader. But not everyone is the same.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:10 AM
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02.01.07

Leadership Books: February 2007

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in February.

  Firing Back: How Great Leaders Rebound After Career Disasters by Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld and Andrew Ward
  The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't by Robert I. Sutton
  The Halo Effect ... and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers by Phil Rosenzweig
  Trust: The Secret Weapon of Effective Business Leaders by Kathy Bloomgarden
  A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix by Edwin H. Friedman

0749447982 0307341518 9780743291255 031234984X 9781596270428

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:29 AM
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01.26.07

Connections: It’s a Lego World

Drucker: Lego world "The assumptions on which most businesses are being run no longer fit reality." Elizabeth Haas Edersheim explains in her new book, The Definitive Drucker, Drucker’s idea of the connectedness of business. Today, connections can be made in more and varied ways than ever before imagined. With his focus on people, he of course, refers here to more than just products and services but more importantly people, their talents and abilities and their ability to create. “In an organization, we can connect individuals' strengths, minimizing their weaknesses. And across organizational boundaries, we can connect the strengths of each corporation and provide the customer with far greater value than can any single enterprise.” She describes the Lego world we live in:

“…The management world is only flat if you take an industrial perspective. If you just want the lowest cost, the capabilities exist virtually everyplace in the world to get the lowest cost. But if cost is not your only concern and you recognize that the industrial world has given way to an information and knowledge driven world, you will see that Indiana and India are not interchangeable.

In the twenty-first century, businesses exist in a Lego world. Companies are built out of Legos: People Legos, Product Legos, Idea Legos, and Real Estate Legos. And these aren't just ordinary Legos; they pass through walls and geographic boundaries, and they are transparent. Everything is visible to everyone all the time. Designing and connecting the pieces is at least as important as providing them. It's crucial to remember that these aren't simply pieces of plastic or metal—they are not just factories or warehouses. They are also humans who program computers, train newcomers, and think about innovation as they prowl malls, libraries, and parks, coming up with new products. These pieces are constantly being put together, pulled apart, and re-assembled.

“My company's Legos—manufacturing, distribution, skills, and services—cannot be unique unto themselves; they have to connect with your company's Legos. I can build my company, but in a year or two, my CEO and I might have to tear down and rebuild part of it in a totally different configuration, perhaps with fewer American People Legos and more of your company's People Legos in Sweden or South Africa. Leading visionaries in business are expressing the same notion. Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's chief software architect, recently explained: 'What's more important than any one individual Lego is that you know how to build with all the Legos. With everything out there, all those programs and applications and accessories, what's important is the ability to find a way to connect fragmented software pieces Lego rather than simply finding the next piece of software.'

“…There are no competitors. Let me repeat that, because it's something that Peter Drucker loved to say: 'There are no longer competitors, just better solutions and more choices that can be put together in more ways.'”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:23 AM
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01.19.07

Six Sigma Leadership

6 sigma leadership Six Sigma expert Peter Pande writes in his book, The Six Sigma Leader, “Studies have repeatedly shown that the high failure rate of many promising leaders is largely due to an over-reliance on a limited set of capabilities. Many times leaders are promoted because of a strong record of achievement, only to derail later because of their inability to adapt. For example, an individual may be good at demanding high performance from his or her followers, or have strong technical ability. However, those strengths are not sufficient when, for example, big-picture thinking or relationship building are also essential to success. To prepare yourself and others for growing challenges, you need the clarity of thought and flexibility to understand your own weaknesses and develop new talents.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:42 AM
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01.05.07

Caught in a Dilemma: Hard Choices

0749447982
The Book of Hard Choices is a book about integrity. We are reminded that integrity is one of those words that doesn’t mean a thing until it becomes behavior. And it’s all the more important in difficult and challenging circumstances. Eventually your integrity will be put to the test.

The authors James Autry and Peter Roy have found that the really tough choices are not about money but relationships. And the little everyday stuff is just as important as the big dilemmas. They write, “Once you recognize that your integrity is on the line every day, then your work life takes on a different meaning.
As organizations have pressured their workers to work harder and work longer, they have helped create an atmosphere in which the concepts of civility and cooperation are lost in the hurry-scurry of a high-pressure workplace.

This means you have to be careful with your own language. You must take time to express yourself calmly and carefully, especially when telling people something they may not like to hear. There’s a thin line between being frank or honest and being tactless. There’s also a measure of integrity in how you speak to people, in your body language, in your tone of voice.
Using a series of 23 stories the authors offer up hard choices that we any one of us could face. For example, do you go for the quick fix or teach values first? When the pressure is on to turn things around, the temptation is to skip over a lot of the “pleasantries.” In their example, the CEO said that first you need to lay out the ground rules and be consistent. “It always starts with respect, and that means respect even under pressure. It takes more time to treat people with respect, and when you are under pressure, it seems counterintuitive to insist on something that takes more time. But without the value of respect, nothing else works.

He continues, “Of course you can always try the quick fix, but most of these companies didn’t get into a mess overnight. You can apply the Band-Aid if you’re just planning to flip the business, but I’m not looking to do that. I’m looking to provide a foundation for growth. So if you’re planning to really turn the business around you’ve got to start with basics. No turnaround will be lasting unless you start with the basics. And I think there has got to be leadership by example.”

This is great advice. And of course, it applies in all kinds of relationships. It is a foundation of all relationships—both work and personal— of counseling and of creating a learning environment. Most problems we face weren’t created overnight and require to time to bring about a long-term fix. We can’t afford to overlook this first crucial step.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:35 AM
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01.01.07

Leadership Books: January 2007

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in January.

  Leadership and Motivation: The Fifty-Fifty Rule and the Eight Key Principles of Motivating Others by John Adair
  Know-How: The 8 Skills That Separate People Who Perform from Those Who Don't by Ram Charan
  What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful by Marshall Goldsmith with Mark Reiter
  The Three Tensions: Winning the Struggle to Perform Without Compromise by Dominic Dodd and Ken Favaro
  George Washington's Leadership Lessons: What the Father of Our Country Can Teach Us About Effective Leadership and Character by James Rees with Stephen Spignesi

0749447982 0307341518 1401301304 0787987794 0470088877

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:05 AM
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12.25.06

Best Leadership Books of 2006

Best Leadership Books of 2006
Our selection for the best leadership books of 2006 are listed below. The books listed below—in no particular order—we believe, have added something unique or a useful restating of important insights that we all need to be reminded of as we develop our leadership skills.

It's true, as Michael Silverblatt wrote, "The art (as opposed to the technology) of reading requires that you develop a beautiful tolerance for incomprehension. The greatest books are the books that you come to understand more deeply with time, with age, with rereading." Because we only see what we believe, it's through time, experience and personal growth, that we are able to draw insight and connections we didn't see before.

The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization by John C. Maxwell

Why Should Anyone Be Led by You? What It Takes to Be an Authentic Leader by Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones

Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths And Total Nonsense: Profiting From Evidence-Based Management by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton

A Leader's Legacy by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

Leadership Agility: Five Levels of Mastery for Anticipating and Initiating Change by William B. Joiner and Stephen A. Josephs

Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win by William C. Taylor and Polly G. LaBarre

Success Built to Last: Creating a Life That Matters by Jerry Porras, Stewart Emery and Mark Thompson

Purpose: The Starting Point of Great Companies by Nikos Mourkogiannis

Great Leadership: What It Is and What It Takes in a Complex World by Anthony Bell

Questions of Character: Illuminating the Heart of Leadership Through Literature by Joseph Badaracco, Jr.

Quiet Leadership: Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work by David Rock

2006bestbookpick

In 2006 at least three biographies were released that are worthy of mention:

The Defining Moment : FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope by Jonathan Alter

Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw

Joe Wilson and the Creation of Xerox by Charles D. Ellis

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:00 AM
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12.18.06

5 Things Leadership is Not

Greg Morris, asks us in his book, In Pursuit of Leadership, to consider five things leadership is not:
  1. Leadership is not a position. Leadership comes from personal influence, not a job title.
  2. Leadership is not building a personality cult. Leadership is not surrounding yourself with “yes men.”
  3. Leadership is not being indispensable. While it may give you strokes to feel needed, it is not leadership. Some leaders build followers, while true leaders build other leaders.
  4. Leadership is not about blaming others. Leadership is first and foremost about being honest and responsible for the decisions you make or fail to make.
  5. Leadership is not privilege. Authentic leaders will not use their position for their own advantage or comfort and should not ask others to do what they are unwilling to do themselves.
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He adds, “The reality of true leadership is that your rights actually DECREASE as you rise in the organization, while your responsibilities INCREASE. This suggests that leadership involves not power or prestige but servanthood.”

In Pursuit of Leadership is an interesting analysis of the life of Moses—a man nearly all of us are familiar with—in terms of his leadership and the path he took to get there. He points out that the accomplishments that Moses is known for “materialized in the final third of his life…. The first eighty years of Moses’ life molded him into a man that God could trust and use. There is no shortcut to spiritual preparation and leadership training. Only through the crucible of life can patience, discipline, character and maturity be developed.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:21 AM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books , Leadership

12.15.06

Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination

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Walt Disney is arguably one of the most influential Americans of the twentieth-century. (The Atlantic listed him at number 26 in their recent listing of influential Americans.) He died 40 years ago today at age 65 in Los Angeles.

Steven Watts writes in The Magic Kingdom, "Walt Disney operated not only as an entertainer but as a historical mediator. His creations helped Americans come to terms with the unsettling transformations of the twentieth century. This role was unintentional but decisive. Disney entertainment projects were consistently nourished by connections to mainstream American culture — its aesthetics, political ideology, social structures, economic framework, moral principles — as it took shape from the late 1920s through the late 1960s.”

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The new biography of Disney by Neal Gabler is the best portrait of Disney to date. With unprecedented access to Disney family achieves, Gabler tells a story of a man that would not be deterred from his many disappointments and failures to fulfill his dreams and in the end, decidedly alter the American consciousness. Unfortunately for Disney, his dreams didn’t always bring him personal happiness.

Disney once remarked, "All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me... You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you."

Gabler concludes that of all Disney’s contributions, his greatest is that “he demonstrated how one could assert one’s will on the world at the very time when everything seemed to be growing beyond control and beyond comprehension. In sum, Walt Disney had been not so much a master of fun or irreverence or innocence or even wholesomeness. He had been a master of order.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:06 AM
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12.04.06

Leadership Agility

What is leadership agility? Like agile organizations—organizations that anticipate and respond to rapidly changing conditions by leveraging highly effective internal and external relationships—leadership agility is the ability to take wise and effective action amid complex, rapidly changing conditions.
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Leadership Agility is an interesting, thorough, and well-written book and one of the best on the topic. Authors Bill Joiner and Stephen Josephs encouragingly tell us that their research “reveals a significant set of findings about the relationship between personal development and leadership effectiveness: As adults grow toward realizing their potential, they develop a constellation of mental and emotional capacities that happen to be the very capacities needed for agile leadership.”

Building on the pioneering work of Piaget and Erickson in mapping the stages of human development from infants to adulthood—the pre-conventional stages—the authors identify three more stages they call the conventional stages: Conformer, Expert and Achiever. And finally there are the post-conventional stages they call: Catalyst, Co-Creator and Synergist.
agileleadership5chart.gif - 32235 Bytes Some people, of course, may never move through all of the stages. Of the 600 managers they studied, most never move beyond the Achiever stage. They write, "Most top executives and administrators, state and national politicians, influential scientists, and other highly successful professionals have stabilized their development at [the Achiever] stage." Only about 10 percent of today’s managers operate at the post-conventional stages of adult development. What does it mean to be at one of the post-conventional stages?
Research has shown that people at these post-conventional stages are more deeply purposeful, more visionary in their thinking, and more resilient in responding to change and uncertainty. They’re more welcoming of diverse perspectives and have a greater capacity for resolving differences with other people. They’re also more self-aware, more attuned to their experience, more interested in feedback from others, and better at working through inner conflicts.
These stages are sequential and are not personality dependent. In other words, any one can be at any stage but you can move to another stage until you have mastered the one you are at. The question is, “How can we begin to move through these stages of development?” Simply put, you get there by practice—by putting the capacities and traits to work and learning to apply them in various situations.

Each stage represents the maturation to a certain point of four competencies and their respective mental and emotional capacities. They state that highly agile leaders orchestrate the four competencies so that they work in concert. They have developed the Leadership Agility Compass to graphically represent these competencies. All eight of the capacities contribute directly to your effectiveness as a leader.
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The outer circle on this graphic represents the tasks carried out using the four leadership agility competencies. The middle circle represents the four pairs of capacities that support these competencies.

The four mutually reinforcing competencies are:

Context-setting agility improves your ability to scan your environment, frame the initiatives you need to take, and clarify the outcomes you need to achieve. It entails stepping back and determining the best initiatives to take, given the changes taking place in your larger environment.

Stakeholder agility increases your ability to engage with key stakeholders in ways that build support for your initiative. It requires you to step back from your own views and objectives to consider the needs and perspectives of those who have a stake in your initiatives.

Creative agility enables you to transform the problems you encounter into the results you need. It involves stepping back from your habitual assumptions and developing optimal solutions to the often novel and complex issues you face.

Self-leadership agility is the ability to use your initiatives as opportunities to develop into the kind of leader you want to be. It entails stepping back; becoming more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; and experimenting with new and more effective approaches.

After laying this groundwork in far more detail, Leadership Agility provides real life stories to demonstrate what leadership looks like at that level and then clarifies what it takes to move to the next level. You will also learn how to become more effective in your current level of agility.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:02 AM
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12.01.06

Leadership Books: December 2006

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books being released in December. For a look a little further out see the Upcoming 2007 releases.

The Six Sigma Leader: Putting the Power of Business Excellence Into Everything You Do by Peter S. Pande
Simple Solutions: Harness the Power of Passion and Simplicity to Get the Results You Need by Thomas Schmitt and Arnold Perl
The Book of Hard Choices: How to Make the Right Decisions at Work and Keep Your Self-Respect by James A. Autry and Peter Roy
Paths to Power: How Insiders and Outsiders Shaped American Business Leadership by Anthony J. Mayo, Nitin Nohria and Laura G. Singleton
Building Character: Strengthening the Heart of Good Leadership by Gene Klann

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:53 AM