Leadership & Business Growth Books for June 2012

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

The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie To Everyone, Especially Ourselves by Dan Areily

The New York Times bestselling author of Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality returns with thought-provoking work to challenge our preconceptions about dishonesty and urge us to take an honest look at ourselves.

  1. Does the chance of getting caught affect how likely we are to cheat?

  2. How do companies pave the way for dishonesty?

  3. Does collaboration make us more honest or less so?

  4. Does religion improve our honesty?

Most of us think of ourselves as honest, but, in fact, we all cheat. From Washington to Wall Street, the classroom to the workplace, unethical behavior is everywhere. None of us is immune, whether it’s the white lie to head off trouble or padding our expense reports. In The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, award-winning, bestselling author Dan Ariely turns his unique insight and innovative research to the question of dishonesty.

Generally, we assume that cheating, like most other decisions, is based on a rational cost-benefit analysis. But Ariely argues, and then demonstrates, that it’s actually the irrational forces that we don’t take into account that often determine whether we behave ethically or not. For every Enron or political bribe, there are countless puffed résumÉs, hidden commissions, and knockoff purses. In The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, Ariely shows why some things are easier to lie about; how getting caught matters less than we think; and how business practices pave the way for unethical behavior, both intentionally and unintentionally. Ariely explores how unethical behavior works in the personal, professional, and political worlds, and how it affects all of us, even as we think of ourselves as having high moral standards.

But all is not lost. Ariely also identifies what keeps us honest, pointing the way for achieving higher ethics in our everyday lives. With compelling personal and academic findings, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty will change the way we see ourselves, our actions, and others.

How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things: Breaking 8 Hidden Barriers That Plague Even The Best Companies by Neil Smith with Patricia O’Connell

Every day, seemingly intelligent and successful companies make headline news for poor decisions that can cause their business to stumble and make many of us scratch our heads in wonder. Why would such a successful business make ”that” strategic decision? Neil Smith, with more than 20 years of experience leading large-scale performance improvements, reveals the hidden barriers that limit excellent companies from reaching their potential, and cause even the smartest managers and leaders to falter. During his experience transforming some of the top global businesses, Smith has identified 8 barriers that prevent organizations from achieving and maintaining sustainable success:

Avoiding Controversy

Poor Use of Time

Reluctance to Change

Organizational Silos

Management Blockers

Incorrect Information and Bad Assumptions

Size Matters

Existing Processes

Rich with anecdotes and case studies, Smith identifies the ways in each of these barriers interrupt your own business.  He then outlines a fast and proven process in which 12 principles of business transformation can break down the processes that hold companies back.   What Smith offers his readers is the same thing he offers every day to the major companies he works with,  A PROMISE that by following his insights,  the company will be able to increase communication, simplicity, and profit to levels never before attainable.

Throughout the book, Dr. Richard Levak has contributed personality and organizational insights that shed light on why an individual or an organization behaves in contrary ways giving you a better sense of why these internal walls exist and how to be aware of your actions in your day to day life.

Leadership Isn’t For Cowards: How To Drive Performance By Challenging People and Confronting Problems by Mike Staver

Leadership Isn’t For Cowards offers straightforward steps to leading courageously and practical tips for driving performance. Courageous leadership means toughening your approach by being rigorous in the application of your values through the company culture. It means confronting and challenging people, and not letting them get away with being less than you know they can be. The path to courageous leadership has six components: Accept Your Current Circumstances, Take Responsibility, Take Action, Acknowledge Progress, Commit to Lifelong Learning, and Kindle Relationships. These manageable steps include:

  1. Identify the area in your business or life where a gap exists between your current reality and your desired reality

  2. Align yourself with a person or a group of people who can commit to holding you accountable for closing the gap

  3. Make a specific commitment to the outcome(s) you want and assign dates to them

With courageous leadership, you’ll create a culture and a mindset that encourages and demands excellence! Follow these steps to bring out the best in your employees and lead your company to significant success.

Wait: The Art & Science Of Delay by Frank Partnoy

What do these scenarios have in common: a professional tennis player returning a serve, a woman evaluating a first date across the table, a naval officer assessing a threat to his ship, and a comedian about to reveal a punch line?

In this counterintuitive and insightful work, author Frank Partnoy weaves together findings from hundreds of scientific studies and interviews with wide-ranging experts to craft a picture of effective decision-making that runs counter to our brutally fast-paced world. Even as technology exerts new pressures to speed up our lives, it turns out that the choices we make––unconsciously and consciously, in time frames varying from milliseconds to years––benefit profoundly from delay. As this winning and provocative book reveals, taking control of time and slowing down our responses yields better results in almost every arena of life … even when time seems to be of the essence.

The procrastinator in all of us will delight in Partnoy’s accounts of celebrity “delay specialists,” from Warren Buffett to Chris Evert to Steve Kroft, underscoring the myriad ways in which delaying our reactions to everyday choices––large and small––can improve the quality of our lives.

Influencing Up by Alan Cohen & David L. Bradford

“As I reflect on over thirty years building my company from a seven cow farm to a $370 million enterprise, it is clear to me that the most essential but under-appreciated attributes that helped us succeed were determination and self-confidence. We faced countless situations along the way where our willingness to speak up for what we needed with key influencers literally made the difference between success and failure. That is why this book is a must for anyone trying to start or build anything. It is loaded with practical wisdom on how to change minds and get the support of key people who will absolutely enhance your chances of success. I only wish Professors Cohen and Bradford had written it thirty years ago . . . we could have used it.” —Gary Hirshberg, Chairman, Stonyfield Farm, Inc.

“Knowing how to connect with the powerful and gain cooperation is now a critical skill in all organizations. Cohen and Bradford can help anyone be more influential.” —Ram Charan, coauthor of Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done and The Talent Masters

“Allan and David’s insights—including their sharp focus on determining exactly what drives people—are extremely useful. Influencing is becoming increasingly important, not only within organizations, but also with powerful people outside who are potential customers and partners.” —Paul Duffy, Chairman and CEO, Pernod Ricard USA

“This insightful book offers ways to marshal resources you don’t control—the essential task of everyone trying to grow a business. Because it goes beyond self-oriented and ultimately self-defeating political tactics, it is an antidote to techniques the powerful sometimes use to hoard power by controlling information as well as access to people and resources.” —Joel Peterson, Chairman of JetBlue Airways; former managing partner, Trammell Crow Company

“Allan Cohen and David Bradford demystify the use of personal power to influence the boss, difficult colleagues, clients, and even competitors. Influencing Up is a must-read for those who want to succeed in complex organizations, large and small.” —Kay Koplovitz, founder and former CEO, USA Network

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