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The list of books and articles below are among some of my favorite on personal effectiveness, management, leadership, psychology, and philosophy of life.
The Price of Success by Hara Estroff Marano
This article provides a good overview on why CEOs are more at risk for depression. For a large number of CEOs, getting to the top brings only crippling emotional bleakness. Indeed, success has surprising psychological traps for almost all senior executives.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
Practical and thoughtful advice on building and leading a company for entrepreneurs and CEOs from someone who has been there on both sides: as an entrepreneur and as a VC.
An Invented Life-Reflections on Leadership and Change by Warren Bennis
Study of 60 successful leaders revealed 4 key skills: (1) Management of attention involves the ability emotionally to draw others; (2) Management of meaning through creating and communicating a vision; (3) Management of trust through relationships; (4) Self-awareness, self-knowledge and management of self, including knowing one’s skills. Also by Warren Bennis: On Becoming a Leader.
Authentic Leadership by Bill George
Real leaders have the courage to be themselves—to embody and lead with their own unique style. Their leadership springs forth from their essence, their mission, their values, and their passions. They are inner-directed individuals who both know how to listen and build relationships with others as well as stand firm in their own truth. With the courage to be themselves, they inspire others. Also by Bill George: True North.
Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
Leaders are not defined by their IQs but by their emotional intelligence. This book explains what emotional intelligence is and why it counts more than IQ or expertise for excelling on the job. It details 12 personal competencies based on self-mastery (such as accurate self-assessment, self-control, initiative, and optimism) and 13 key relationship skills (such as service orientation, developing others, conflict management, and building bonds). Also by Daniel Goleman: Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ.
Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Annie McKee, and Richard Boyatzis
This book argues the importance of developing resonant leadership since the actions of the leader account for 70% of employees’ perception of the climate of the organization. The best leaders maintain a style repertoire, switching easily between “visionary,” “coaching,” “affiliative,” and “democratic,” and making rare use of less effective “commanding” styles.
Change the World: How Ordinary People Can Accomplish Extraordinary Results by Robert Quinn
Offers transformational leadership lessons from the world’s great leaders such as Gandhi and applies them to everyday leadership challenges. Among the first lessons is that transformational leadership begins first and foremost with deep change and transformation within ourselves. As Rishi Vyasa said in 1000 BC, “His own self must be conquered by the king for all time; then only are his enemies to be conquered.” Transformational leaders are inner directed (they do things that are inherently rewarding for their own sake) and other focused (they practice empathy). Paradoxically, they are both task and people focused.
Leading Out Loud: Inspiring Change Through Authentic Communication by Terry Pearce
Terry offers practical and profound insights on how to connect and inspire through authentic communication. Authentic leadership communications is built on: (1) going inside to discover what matters; (2) deciding to lead; (3) connecting to others; (4) giving voice to values; and (5) applying courage and discipline. Terry also shows how to apply these building blocks in communications through the use of analogy and metaphor, stories, and personal experience.
The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner
Study of several thousand leaders reveals 5 key practices supported through 10 behaviors of effective leadership: (1) Model the way supported by finding your voice by clarifying your personal values, and setting an example by aligning actions with shared values; (2) Inspiring a shared vision through envisioning the future by imagining exciting and ennobling vision, and enlisting others in this common vision by appealing to shared aspirations; (3) Challenging the process by searching for opportunities to seek innovative ways to change, grow and improve and experimenting in taking risks by constantly generating small wins and learning from mistakes; (4) Enabling others to act through fostering collaboration in promoting cooperative goals and building trust, and strengthening others by sharing power and discretion; and (5) Encouraging the heart through recognition of contributions and showing appreciation for individual excellence and celebrating values and victories to create a spirit of community.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Powerful lessons in Personal Change by Stephen Covey
Presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems. Other good books by Covey are Principle Centered Leadership, and First Things First on effective time management.
The Fifth Discipline – The Art and Practice of Learning Organization by Peter Senge
Uses systems dynamics and feedback systems theory to analyze and solve problems more holistically and facilitate organizational learning.
Creativity in Business by Michael Ray and Rochelle Myers
Based on the famed Stanford Business School creativity course that inspired the likes of Jim Collins (author of From Good to Great) and Jeff Skoll (founder of eBay), this book draws on various spiritual traditions and teaches us to look inside in finding the essential source of our creativity. The book also teaches how to pay attention, destroy judgment, create curiosity, and ask dumb questions, all are great sources of fresh perspective and increasing creativity. Also by Michael Ray: The Highest Goal: The Secret that Sustains You in Every Moment.
Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras
This book argues that not all visionary companies were founded by visionary leaders. However, they tended to have core values and ideology that guided them in times of crisis and served as a constant benchmark for key decisions.
Improving Organizational Effectiveness through Transformational Leadership by Bernard Bass, and Bruce Avolio
Transformational leaders go beyond transactional rewards (raise, promotions, bonus, praise, etc.), inspiring followers to transform themselves and reach their true potential. They do so by using the 4 I’s of transformational leadership: (1) Individualized consideration reflects the leader’s concern about developing followers as individuals; (2) Intellectual stimulation based on an open dialogue around the process of vision formation and implementation; (3) Idealized influence that sets high self-behavior and standards for emulation; and (4) Inspirational motivation which provides meaning through work that engages followers in inspiring goals.
Reclaiming the Fire – How Successful People Overcome Burnout by Steven Berglas
This book was written by someone who has coached and worked with many executives and provides good advice on how to cope with pressures of work.
Stress Free for Good by Fred Luskin and Kenneth Pelletier
Easy-to-learn skills that can be incorporated and practiced in a few minutes each day at the office that lead to less stress and burnout and improved life satisfaction and job performance.
The Art of Living Consciously by Nathaniel Branden
“Living consciously has its roots in respect for reality—a respect for facts and truth,” says Branden. And, in fact, the old adage, “The truth shall set you free,” still applies. In becoming conscious, we free ourselves to act with conscious intention rather than based on automatic conditioned triggers. Other books by Branden (a.k.a. “The Father of the Self-Esteem Movement”) are: The Six Pillars of Self Esteem, “Of all the judgments that we pass in life, none is as important as the one we pass on ourselves, for that judgment touches the very center of our existence.” This book examines the essentials of high self-esteem (awareness and self-acceptance) and its impact on happiness and effectiveness emotionally and professionally; and Honoring the Self – Personal Integrity and the Heroic Potentials of Human Nature; Self-Esteem at Work (touches on the relationship between self-esteem and productive work); and Taking Responsibility.
Whole Brain Thinking – Working from Both Sides of the Brain to Achieve Peak Job Performance by Jacquelyn Wonder and Priscilla Donovan
On how to combine left- and right-brain thinking for greater effectiveness.
You’ve Got to Be Believed to Be Heard – Reach the First Brain to Communicate in Business and in Life by Robert Decker
If you are interested in becoming a more effective communicator and reaching others both conceptually and emotionally, this is an excellent book.
You Are the Message – Getting What You Want by Being Who You Are by Roger Ailes
How to become a more powerful communicator.
Super-Leadership, for Every Manager, New or Experienced… by Charles Manz and Henry Sims
“Today’s most accomplished leaders are self-leaders—those who use their skills to teach others to lead themselves.”
The Oz Principle, Getting Results through Individual and Organizational Accountability by Roger Connors, Tom Smith, & Craig Hickman
“Like Dorothy and her companions in the Wizard of Oz, most people in corporate America possess the power within themselves to get the results they need.”
Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun by Wess Roberts
“Reveals the leadership secrets of Attila the Hun—the man who centuries ago shaped an aimless band of mercenary tribal nomads into undisputed rulers of the ancient world…offers timeless lessons in win-directed, take-charge management.”
The C Zone – Peak Performance Under Pressure by Robert Kriegel and Marilyn Kriegel
“Is type A behavior killing you – but you’re too ambitious to be type B?” Also by Robert Kriegel: If it Ain’t Broke, Break it! Unconventional Wisdom for Changing the Business World.
Strategy vs. Tactics From a Venture Capitalist by Arthur Rock, Harvard Business Review Nov/Dec. 1987
Arthur Rock is the lead venture capitalist behind Teledyne, Fairchild, Apple, and Intel. “Good ideas are a dime a dozen. It is great people that build great companies.”
Customers for Life – How to Turn that One-Time Buyer into a Lifetime Customer by Carl Sewell
How serving the customer pays off in the long run.
The Customer Comes Second – and Other Secrets of Exceptional Service by Hal Rosenbluth
On how if you treat your employees well, they will take care of the customer.
The Sources of Innovation by Eric von Hippel
On how managers who fully understand how the innovation process is distributed among users, suppliers and manufactures have a significant advantage.
Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, How to Be Seen and Heard in the Over-Communicated World by Al Ries and Jack Trout
Flow – The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Summarizes research on the positive aspects of human experience—joy, creativity, the process of total involvement with life, flow.
Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain
Teaches how to use visualization and affirmation to bring into reality that which is imagined internally or mentally inside.
Getting to Yes – Negotiating Agreement without Giving in by Roger Fisher and William Ury
Using a win-win approach to reach mutually satisfactory agreements.