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  • Writer's pictureTony Richards

Leadership & Business Growth Books for May 2013

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

Ten Virtues of Outstanding Leaders: Leadership and Character

This readable distillation of the core common features of successful leaders shows how an individual’s character, and especially their virtue, is the defining factor. Without these ten vital virtues, leadership becomes “misleadership.” The authors, both renowned business ethicists, combine theory with fascinating biographical detail on exemplary leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Oprah Winfrey. The result is an accessible text on the ethics of leadership which, unlike many publications that claim to reveal the secrets of success as a leader, is informed by a wealth of exceptional academic experience.

What You're Really Meant to Do: A Road Map for Reaching Your Unique Potential

Robert S. Kaplan is Senior Associate Dean and a Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School. He is the author of the popular book What to Ask the Person in the Mirror: Critical Questions for Becoming a More Effective Leader and Reaching Your Potential (2011).

In his new book, Kaplan describes a specific and actionable roadmap for helping you define your own success and reach your unique potential. This effort requires several key steps in an integrated process, as well as a high level of motivation and hard work.

Kaplan proposes specific steps and exercises to help you understand yourself more deeply, take control of your career, and build your capabilities in a way that fits your passions and aspirations. In What You’re Really Meant to Do, he draws on numerous years of experience and real life experiences in helping people achieve their aspirations and re-think their approach to their personal and career development.

Rather than pursuing goals set by others, Kaplan covers in-depth a critical series of issues that you must address in order to set and achieve your ultimate goals. These include assessing your strengths and weaknesses; understanding your passions (and translating them into potential career opportunities); understanding yourself; performance and career management; exhibiting character and leadership traits that help you go from good to great; creating mutually beneficial relationships; and finally, bringing it all together.

Are you open to this challenge? To understanding what are you really meant to do? If so, this book can help you reach your potential.

Change Intelligence: Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change That Sticks

In the world of business, the ability to handle constant change makes the difference between success and failure. Today, executives, supervisors, and project managers have plenty of methodologies for managing change, yet the failure rate of major organizational change is still an abysmal 70 percent.

In this innovative guide, Barbara Trautlein argues that this is because our current approaches are inadequate when not used in tandem with a deep understanding of change intelligence, or CQ—the skill set required to lead a team or company through vital transformations. Inside, she gives readers access to a proprietary, interactive CQ assessment that’s based on substantial research and experience in working with hundreds of top organizations. And after readers learn their own change leader style, they go on to discover practical strategies for leveraging their strengths and shoring up their weak spots.

The Clarity Principle: How Great Leaders Make the Most Important Decision in Business (and What Happens When They Don't)

Turf wars, low morale, bad politics, and misguided strategies: these are issues that claim much of a leader’s time. But this parade of dysfunctions and messy “people” problems actually points to an organization confused about its core business, torn between competing ideas about what it is and wants to be—an organization facing an identity crisis.

Strategy and leadership expert Chatham Sullivan argues that when the purpose of a business becomes confused, it is the leaders’ responsibility to restore clarity, especially in the face of tough strategic choices that have political, personal, and cultural consequences for the organization. Sullivan shows leaders how to take the decisive stand that clarifies their organization’s core purpose.

Featuring compelling stories of leaders who have succumbed to and successfully resolved their organizations’ identity crises, The Clarity Principle bridges the gap between leadership and strategy and demonstrates the tremendous gains to be achieved by leaders willing to make tough choices.

The Three Rules: How Exceptional Companies Think

Finally, an answer to the ultimate business question: How do some companies achieve exceptional performance over the long term?

In every sector, there’s an outlier. In the phar­maceutical industry, it’s Merck. In discount retail, it’s Family Dollar. It used to be Wrig­ley in candy and Maytag in appliances. Other superstars have been hidden in plain sight, like Heartland Express in trucking or Linear Technology in semiconductors. How do these exceptional companies deliver superior perfor­mance over the long run despite facing the same constraints as competitors? What are they doing differently? What can we learn from them?

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