Sunday, January 22, 2012

10 Books Every Leader Should Read

1. The Progress Principle by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer. A masterpiece of evidence-based management. A strong argument for "the devil's in the details."

2. Influence by Robert Cialdini. A classic book about how to persuade people to do things, how to defend against persuasion attempts, and the underlying evidence.

3.Made to Stick Chip and Dan Heath. A modern masterpiece, an immediate classic. How to design ideas that people will remember and act on.

4. Thinking, Fast and Slow Daniel Kahneman. Kahneman won the Nobel Prize, this book is surprisingly readable. A book about how humans really think, and although it isn't designed to do this, Kahneman also shows how much of the stuff you read in the business press is rubbish.

5. Collaboration by Morten Hansen. He has another bestseller jointly penned with Jim Collins called Great By Choice. The best book ever written about what it takes to build an organisation where people share information, cooperate, and help each other succeed.

6. Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKenzie. It is the best creativity book ever written, possibly the best business book ever written. Gordon's voice and love of creativity and self-expression, and how to make it happen despite the obstacles that unwittingly heartless organizations put in the way, make this book an essential read.

7. The Pixar Touch by David Price. You can read how Ed Catmull, along with other amazing characters, after amazing setbacks, weird moments, and one strange twist after another, realized Ed's dream after working on it for decades. Jobs was rarely rude or obnoxious in his dealings with people at Pixar because he knew they knew more than him, and even he was infected by Pixar's norm of civility.

8. Men and Women of the Corporation Rosabeth Moss Kanter. The classic book about the gender dynamics in organisations. This is the book that brought us the phrase "Homosocial Reproduction," the tendency of groups to bring in people who look and act just like them. This book is beneficial because it gets beyond gender to show how corporations really work, albeit in a not very flattering but instructive light.

9. Leading Teams by J. Richard Hackman. When it comes to the topic of groups or teams, there is Hackman and there is everyone else. If you want a light feel good romp that isn't very evidence-based, read The Wisdom of Teams. If you want to know how teams really work and what it really takes to build, sustain, and lead them from a man who has been immersed in the problem as a researcher, coach, consultant, and designer for over 40 years, this is the book for you.

10. Who Says that Elephants Can't Dance? By Louis Gerstner. Organisational change is difficult, especially in a huge and old established company. This book shows it isn't impossible and how one leadership team did it in one of the most iconic companies. People believe Apple is impressive but corporations come, blossom and then go. Let's see if Apple is still around in 25 years.

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