Since getting married in 2009, launching my business in 2010, then having my son in 2011, life has gotten very busy – in all good ways, but BUSY!! Long gone are the evenings when I poured over books, enjoying fiction of global espionage or characters like the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
I hop online from time to time like everyone else and read quick articles here and there, but I don’t seem to get around to reading as many current business books as perhaps might be expected of a leadership consultant. And while I don’t completely believe it, I occasionally take comfort in the words of a former colleague who once said, “You only need to read the first half of most business books, because the second half is typically just a regurgitation of that!”
That said, there are a few books that I return to time and time again. They offer salient observations and advice, and are based on research and common sense versus some model du jour. They are also the kinds of books you can open to any chapter at any time and quickly find yourself engrossed and learning.
So if you have a few minutes of quiet time here and there this summer, perhaps one of these will serve as a simple personal development tool, expanding your perspective and providing inspiration for your own leadership.
Why CEO’s Fail – The 11 Behaviors that Can Derail Your Climb to the Top & How to Manage Them, by David L. Dotlich & Peter C. Cairo
- By far, my favorite leadership read. An informative recounting of real anecdotes describing behavioral Achilles’ heels in leaders from all walks of life and industry. It’s quite easy to read these stories and recall someone you know who may possess the traits and behaviors being described … perhaps a little tougher to acknowledge when you yourself possess them! This book provides a thoughtful place to begin a reflection practice, identifying which behaviors you default to and what you intend to do differently going forward.
Co-Active Coaching, by Laura Whitworth, Henry Kimsey-House & Phil Sandahl
- If you work with human beings, then you need this book! The approaches and tools provided are invaluable life skills for fostering productive relationships in both personal and professional realms. Some skills are, of course, designed for use in formal coaching engagements and shouldn’t be deployed if a coaching agreement doesn’t exist. Many of the techniques, however, simply make for deeper, non-judgmental listening, and create space for genuine, candid dialogue. Who can’t benefit from that?!
Mastering Leadership – An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Business Results, by Robert J. Anderson & William A. Adams
- This book is a newer release and tied to research foundations for the Leadership Circle Profile 360 assessment. I haven’t read it cover to cover yet, but this is definitely one of those resources you can open to any chapter or scan the table of contents for a topic of interest and instantly expand your insights around leadership. It’s an essential read for those seeking to understand their own and others’ tendencies to react or to create.
Getting Real – 10 Truth Skills You Need to Live an Authentic Life and its companion book Saying What’s Real – 7 Keys to Authentic Communication & Relationship Success, both by Susan Campbell PhD
- Authenticity is a much-bandied-about word these days – which is a good thing, since it signals a societal shift towards genuine and honest interaction. Yet it’s often challenging to find resources that help move us from willing to able. These books do just that. For meaningful and productive relationships – both in business and in our personal lives – we have to be able to acknowledge and own what’s going on inside us, while also being able to hear and respect what’s going on for others … and not make that mean anything about our own value or not trigger us into defend and attack mode. Easier said than done for many people. If you’re interested in operating at a high performance level, the insights and skills you will learn to practice from these two books will support you in getting there.
Core Performance, by Mark Verstegen
- Leadership and professional performance isn’t just a head game or a heart game. It’s a total body workout! Close to 15 years ago, I allowed work stress to creep out of control and my physical well-being was negatively impacted … constant muscle spasms, pinched nerves, and neck and back stiffness that left me bedridden. A wonderful physical therapist and this book nursed me back to full health (and a fantastic coach helped me learn to manage my stress). With photos and easy-to-understand instructions, Mark guides you through a series of exercises that strengthen your core and increase your flexibility, enabling better posture, fitness and overall health without over-stressing your body. Whether you’ve been athletic and active your entire life or are just now realizing the need to take better care of yourself, this book will serve as a guide for your well-being.