• Tony Richards

Leadership & Business Growth Books for February 2013

Here are our top picks for the best leadership and business growth books this month.

Playing To Win: How Strategy Really Works by A.G. Lafley & Roger G. Martin

Are you just playing—or playing to win?

Strategy is not complex. But it is hard. It’s hard because it forces people and organizations to make specific choices about their future—something that doesn’t happen in most companies.

Now two of today’s best-known business thinkers get to the heart of strategy—explaining what it’s for, how to think about it, why you need it, and how to get it done. And they use one of the most successful corporate turnarounds of the past century, which they achieved together, to prove their point.

A.G. Lafley, former CEO of Procter & Gamble, in close partnership with strategic adviser Roger Martin, doubled P&G’s sales, quadrupled its profits, and increased its market value by more than $100 billion in just ten years. Now, drawn from their years of experience at P&G and the Rotman School of Management, where Martin is dean, this book shows how leaders in organizations of all sizes can guide everyday actions with larger strategic goals built around the clear, essential elements that determine business success—where to play and how to win.

The result is a playbook for winning. Lafley and Martin have created a set of five essential strategic choices that, when addressed in an integrated way, will move you ahead of your competitors. They are:

• What is our winning aspiration? • Where will we play? • How will we win? • What capabilities must we have in place to win? • What management systems are required to support our choices?

The stories of how P&G repeatedly won by applying this method to iconic brands such as Olay, Bounty, Gillette, Swiffer, and Febreze clearly illustrate how deciding on a strategic approach—and then making the right choices to support it—makes the difference between just playing the game and actually winning.

American Turnaround: Reinventing AT&T & GM and the Way We Do Business in the USA by Edward Whitacre w/Leslie Cauley

Ed Whitacre is credited with taking over the corporate reins at General Motors (GM) when the automotive manufacturer was on the brink of bankruptcy during 2009 and turned the company around in magnificent fashion. In this business memoir, the native Texan explores his unique management style, business acumen and patriotism.

It was President Obama who reached out to Ed Whitacre to come out of retirement and take over GM in 2009. A down-to-earth, no-nonsense Texas native with a distinctive Texas twang in his voice, Whitacre was reluctant to come out of retirement to work at GM.

But Whitacre is that rare CEO with great charisma and extraordinary management instincts. And when he got to Detroit, he started to whittle down the corporate bureaucracy right away – and got GM back on track in record time

Before being pulled out of retirement to run GM by Obama, Ed Whitacre had spent his entire corporate career in the telecom business, where he ultimately ended up running AT&T.

Where Winners Live: Sell More, Earn More, Achieve More Through Personal Accountability by Dave Porter & Linda Galindo

Be accountable and achieve success

Personal accountability is the secret weapon of every successful sales professional. It is the secret weapon of Where Winners Live co-author Dave Porter, who became the owner and CEO of Baystate Financial Services at age 35 and grew it into a $100 million-a-year business over the next 15 years. It is the secret weapon of Where Winners Live co-author Linda Galindo, who transformed herself from the self-proclaimed Queen of Victims into an entrepreneur, business coach, consultant and speaker whose typical audience numbers 500 or more.

Like all highly accountable professionals, these authors live Where Winners Live, an achievement they say is available to everyone. Written in a no-excuses tone and filled with personal stories and practical exercises, their book offers readers the non-negotiable, high-performance behaviors of the sales trade and tried-and-true best practices for success.

  1. Exposes the key difference between top-earning sales professionals and those who struggle to make their numbers every quarter

  2. Outlines the three critical characteristics of personal accountability: responsibility, self-empowerment, and ownership of results after the fact

  3. Explores personal accountability from the perspective of both leaders and rank-and-file sales professionals

Where Winners Live shows readers the most effective way to hold themselves and others accountable.

Global Tilt: Leading Your Business Through The Great Economic Power Shift by Ram Charan

The greatest change in business history is happening right now. What are you going to do about it?

the tilt (tilt): 1. The shift in business and economic power from countries of the north  to the fast-developing markets and economies of the south – not only China, India and Brazil but also the Middle East and parts of Africa. 2. The result of unstoppable forces, including the volatile global financial system, digitization,  the rise of state capitalism and a new global middle class that is both youthful and urban—forces by which industries and economies rapidly emerge and change the global playing field. 3. A call to abandon old assumptions and rules of thumb about the North and South, and the opening of mega-opportunities for leaders who learn to see the world not just from the vantage point of New York but also from that of Beijing, Mumbai, Singapore, and Sao Paulo.

Ram Charan has spent more time anyone else on the ground observing and analyzing the the tilt. Here he gives business leaders the tools to detect trends that cut across not just industries but also countries, rethink the economic and business principles they rely on, and adapt to the speed of innovation and unprecedented needs of the new global economy. With The Tilt, he provides the essential, practical playbook for strategizing and succeeding in a tilted world.

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