Here are our top picks for the best leadership and business growth books for April 2015
Does the character of our leaders matter?
You may think this question was answered long ago. Countless business authors and analysts have assured us that great leadership demands great character. Time and again, we’ve seen that truth play out, as once-thriving organizations falter and fail under the guidance of leaders behaving badly. Why, then, do so many executives remain skeptical about the true value of leadership character? A winning strategy and a sound business model are what really matter, they argue; character is just the icing on the cake.
What’s been missing from this debate is hard evidence: data that shows not only that leadership character matters for organizational success, but how it matters; and concrete evidence that it leads to better business results. Now, in this groundbreaking book, respected leadership researcher, adviser, and author Fred Kiel offers that evidence–solid data that demonstrates the connection between character, leadership excellence, and organizational results.
After seven years of rigorous research based on a landmark study of more than 100 CEOs and over 8,000 of their employees’ observations, Kiel’s findings show that leaders of strong character achieved up to five times the ROA for their organizations as did leaders of weak character.
Return on Character goes on to reveal:
How leadership character is formed, how it creates value, and how that value spreads throughout the organization
How low-character leaders undermine the success of even the best business plans
How leaders at any level can develop the habits of strong character and “unlearn” the habits of poor character
The book also provides a character-building methodology–step-by-step advice and techniques for assessing your own character habits and improving your performance and that of your organization.
From the visionary head of Google’s innovative People Operations–a groundbreaking inquiry into the philosophy of work and a blueprint for attracting the most spectacular talent to your business and ensuring the best and brightest succeed.
“We spend more time working than doing anything else in life. It’s not right that the experience of work should be so demotivating and dehumanizing.” So says Laszlo Bock, head of People Operations at the company that transformed how the world interacts with knowledge. This insight is the heart of WORK RULES!, a compelling and surprisingly playful manifesto with the potential to change how we work and live.
Drawing on the latest research in behavioral economics and with a profound grasp of human psychology, Bock also provides teaching examples from a range of industries–including companies that are household names but hideous places to work, and little-known companies that achieve spectacular results by valuing and listening to their employees. Bock takes us inside one of history’s most explosively successful businesses to reveal why Google is consistently rated one of the best places to work in the world, distilling 15 years of intensive worker R&D into delightfully counterintuitive principles that are easy to put into action, whether you’re a team of one or a team of thousands.
Cleaving the knot of conventional management, some lessons from WORK RULES! include:
Take away managers’ power over employees
Learn from your best employees–and your worst
Only hire people who are smarter than you are, no matter how long it takes to find them
Pay unfairly (it’s more fair!)
Don’t trust your gut: use data to predict and shape the future
Default to open: be transparent, and welcome feedback
If you’re comfortable with the amount of freedom you’ve given your employees, you haven’t gone far enough
WORK RULES! shows how to strike a balance between creativity and structure, leading to success you can measure in quality of life as well as market share. Read it to build a better company from within rather than from above; read it to reawaken your joy in what you do.
The path to success is rarely easy or direct, and good mentors are hard to find. In Getting There, thirty leaders in diverse fields share their secrets to navigating the rocky road to the top. In an honest, direct, and engaging way, these role models describe the obstacles they faced, the setbacks they endured, and the vital lessons they learned. They dispense not only essential and practical career advice, but also priceless wisdom applicable to life in general. Getting There is for everyone–from students contemplating their futures to the vast majority of us facing challenges or seeking to reach our potential.
Now with a new chapter on the Wildcats’ legendary comeback in the 2014 Final Four
John Calipari, one of the most successful coaches in NCAA history, presents the world of college basketball from the coach’s chair, unvarnished and straight from the heart. Players First is Calipari’s account of his first six years coaching the University of Kentucky men’s team, leading it to a national championship in 2012 and the championship game in 2014, all while dealing with the realities of the “one-and-done” mentality and an NCAA that sometimes seems to put players last. Filled with revelatory stories about what it takes to succeed at the highest level of the college game, Players First is a candid look at the great players and rivalries that have filled Calipari’s life with joy and a sense of purpose.
A Higher Standard: Leadership Strategies From America’s First Female Four-Star General by Ann Dunwoody with Tomago Collins
On June 23, 2008, President George W. Bush nominated Ann Dunwoody as a four-star general in the US Army—the first time a woman had ever achieved that rank. The news generated excitement around the world. Now retired after nearly four decades in the Army, Dunwoody shares what she learned along the way, from her first command leading 100 soldiers to her final assignment, in which she led a $60 billion enterprise of over 69,000 employees, including the Army’s global supply chain in support of Iraq and Afghanistan.
What was the driving force behind Dunwoody’s success? While her talent as a logistician and her empathy in dealing with fellow soldiers helped her rise through the ranks, Dunwoody also realized that true leaders never stop learning, refining, growing, and adapting. In A Higher Standard, Dunwoody details her evolution as a soldier and reveals the core leadership principles that helped her achieve her historic appointment. Dunwoody’s strategies are applicable to any leader, no matter the size or scope of the organization. They include lessons such as “Never Walk by a Mistake,” a mandate to recognize when something is wrong, big or small, and to hold people accountable. Not only can this save billions for industry, it can sometimes save the lives of soldiers and citizens. She also advises that “Leaders Aren’t Invincible—Don’t Try to Be”: to be our best, we have to acknowledge our worst. And she encourages readers to “Leverage the Power of Diversity” by creating teams of people from different backgrounds to provide a broad range of ideas and devise the best-informed decisions.
With these and other guiding principles, A Higher Standard offers practical, tactical advice that everyone can use to lead and achieve with maximum success.