It’s September, time for our kids to go back to school and hit those books. It’s also time for us to think about hitting the books too. Whether recent college graduates or seasoned professionals, now is as good a time as any to dust off our professional development plans and consider participating in some sort of learning—perhaps by taking advantage of online training or picking up a business or leadership book.
Lifelong learning is core to what we do at Genesis10, and, on a personal note, to how I approach my career. I love to learn and to read and to share what I’ve learned with others, including my recommendations of leadership books that I have found helpful throughout my career.
Among my all time favorites is Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman. As Wiseman sees it, there are two types of leaders. One, the Diminisher, drains intelligence, energy, and capability from the people around them and always need to be the smartest people in the room. These are the idea killers, the energy sappers, the diminishers of talent and commitment. The second, the Multiplier, uses their intelligence to amplify the smarts and capabilities of the people around them. When Multipliers walk into a room, lightbulbs go off over people's heads; ideas flow, and problems get solved. These are the leaders who inspire employees to stretch themselves to deliver results that surpass expectations.
In the book, Wise shows how Multipliers can have a positive and profitable effect on organizations—getting more done with fewer resources, developing and attracting talent, and cultivating new ideas and energy to drive organizational change and innovation. She identifies disciplines that distinguish Multipliers from Diminishers. These skills and practices everyone can learn to use.
Another favorite is The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni. In this book, Lencioni tells the story of a woman who, as CEO of a struggling Silicon Valley firm, took control of a dysfunctional executive committee and helped its members succeed as a team. Lencioni shares instructions for overcoming the human behavioral tendencies that he says corrupt teams. These are: absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results.
I try to adhere to the game plan presented in Verne Harnish’s book, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm. From Harnish’s One-Page Strategic Plan to his outline of practical actions you can take to strengthen your culture, this book compiles best practices from some of the best-run firms.
I am a big fan of Anthony Robbins and love his book, Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny! In it, he provides a step-by-step program that teaches fundamental lessons of self-mastery that help us discover our true purpose, take control of our lives, and harness the forces that shape our destiny.
According to Robbins, all dysfunctional behaviors arise from the inability to consistently meet six human needs. But people’s needs aren’t just behind the bad decisions we make – they are also behind all of the great things humans accomplish. Understanding our own needs and psychology can not only help us avoid toxic behaviors and habits but can also help achieve our goals. These needs are:
The 6 Human Needs
- Certainty: assurance you can avoid pain and gain pleasure
- Uncertainty/Variety: the need for the unknown, change, new stimuli
- Significance: feeling unique, important, special or needed
- Connection/Love: a strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something
- Growth: an expansion of capacity, capability or understanding
- Contribution: a sense of service and focus on helping, giving to and supporting others
By understanding which need is our driving force, we can set goals and implement positive behaviors to achieve these goals.
I’ve read these books at different times in my career and continue to refer to them. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them. How people interact in organizations has always interested me, going back to my undergrad days when I majored in business and minored in psychology. What I learned then, and still see today, is that when you get down to it, it’s people who make or break a business.
To be an effective leader, we all need to try to better understand one another as people, especially today as we become more accustomed to working remotely. Picking up these books has helped me.
What books do you recommend that have helped you? I encourage you to share them with someone in your network!