Leadership & Business Growth Books for November 2012

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

The Leader’s Pocket Guide: 101 Indispensable Tools, Tips, Techniques for any Situation by John Baldoni

“A sumptuous feast served up for experienced and aspiring leaders in bite-sized portions. A thoughtful and practical guide for lifting one’s leadership profile in the here and now.”

Douglas R. Conant, retired President, CEO, and Director of Campbell Soup Company and New York Times bestselling author of TouchPoints

“John Baldoni gets to the heart of what it takes to inspire others to follow your lead….The Leader’s Pocket Guide is a welcome read for executives looking to lead with more smarts as well as more heart.”

Ryan M. Lance, CEO, ConocoPhillips

“At last! This book provides practical, easy-to-reference information for leaders to access daily….It is useful and comforting for leaders of all ages and levels of experience.”

Nancy Schlichting, CEO, Henry Ford Health System

“The content is rich with practical insights that are supported with action steps to provide a roadmap to implementation. A quick, easy read, The Leader’s Pocket Guide is a handy reference for those looking to develop themselves and their abilities as leaders who can make a positive difference.”

Brian O. Underhill, Ph.D., founder, CoachSource, and coauthor, Executive Coaching for Results

The Leader’s Pocket Guide is a fantastic leadership book. It is a ‘must have’ for all leaders….I was captivated by the ‘think about’ takeaways at the end of many lessons; these were like having personal executive coaching.”

John Owens, President & CEO, Cohesion Corporation

The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing by Michael J. Mouboussin

“Much of what we experience in life results from a combination of skill and luck.” — From the Introduction

The trick, of course, is figuring out just how many of our successes (and failures) can be attributed to each—and how we can learn to tell the difference ahead of time.

In most domains of life, skill and luck seem hopelessly entangled. Different levels of skill and varying degrees of good and bad luck are the realities that shape our lives—yet few of us are adept at accurately distinguishing between the two. Imagine what we could accomplish if we were able to tease out these two threads, examine them, and use the resulting knowledge to make better decisions.

In this provocative book, Michael Mauboussin helps to untangle these intricate strands to offer the structure needed to analyze the relative importance of skill and luck. He offers concrete suggestions for making these insights work to your advantage. Once we understand the extent to which skill and luck contribute to our achievements, we can learn to deal with them in making decisions.

The Success Equation helps us move toward this goal by:

• Establishing a foundation so we better understand skill and luck, and can pinpoint where each is most relevant • Helping us develop the analytical tools necessary to understand skill and luck • Offering concrete suggestions about how to take these findings and put them to work

Showcasing Mauboussin’s trademark wit, insight, and analytical genius, The Success Equation is a must-read for anyone seeking to make better decisions—in business and in life.

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham

In this magnificent biography, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of American Lion and Franklin and Winston brings vividly to life an extraordinary man and his remarkable times. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power gives us Jefferson the politician and president, a great and complex human being forever engaged in the wars of his era. Philosophers think; politicians maneuver. Jefferson’s genius was that he was both and could do both, often simultaneously. Such is the art of power.

Thomas Jefferson hated confrontation, and yet his understanding of power and of human nature enabled him to move men and to marshal ideas, to learn from his mistakes, and to prevail. Passionate about many things—women, his family, books, science, architecture, gardens, friends, Monticello, and Paris—Jefferson loved America most, and he strove over and over again, despite fierce opposition, to realize his vision: the creation, survival, and success of popular government in America. Jon Meacham lets us see Jefferson’s world as Jefferson himself saw it, and to appreciate how Jefferson found the means to endure and win in the face of rife partisan division, economic uncertainty, and external threat. Drawing on archives in the United States, England, and France, as well as unpublished Jefferson presidential papers, Meacham presents Jefferson as the most successful political leader of the early republic, and perhaps in all of American history.

The father of the ideal of individual liberty, of the Louisiana Purchase, of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and of the settling of the West, Jefferson recognized that the genius of humanity—and the genius of the new nation—lay in the possibility of progress, of discovering the undiscovered and seeking the unknown. From the writing of the Declaration of Independence to elegant dinners in Paris and in the President’s House; from political maneuverings in the boardinghouses and legislative halls of Philadelphia and New York to the infant capital on the Potomac; from his complicated life at Monticello, his breathtaking house and plantation in Virginia, to the creation of the University of Virginia, Jefferson was central to the age. Here too is the personal Jefferson, a man of appetite, sensuality, and passion.

The Jefferson story resonates today not least because he led his nation through ferocious partisanship and cultural warfare amid economic change and external threats, and also because he embodies an eternal drama, the struggle of the leadership of a nation to achieve greatness in a difficult and confounding world.

The Warrior’s Character: Leadership Wisdom from West Point’s Cadet Prayer by Don Snider

Lead your people to excellence using the time-honored values of one of America’s most successful institutions.

As one of America’s most honored institutions, West Point has produced some of the greatest leaders in the history of the nation—and the world. For almost a century, West Point’s men and women have been both informed and inspired by the “Cadet Prayer”—a simple but profound set of moral precepts for those who aspire to realize in their lives and work as leaders the ideals and principles of West Point.

Imagine if business had a similar compass

for leadership . . .

Using the “Cadet Prayer” and the Academy’s developmental model as a foundation, U.S. Army veteran and West Point professor Don M. Snider and his colleagues lay the groundwork for achieving leadership success in any business. Snider’s assertion is this: In leadership, moral character comes first. Without it, skills, competence, and even vision are useless. Here are just a few of the leadership axioms from the “Cadet Prayer”:

  1. Strengthen and increase our admiration for honest dealing and clean thinking

  2. Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong

  3. Endow us with courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy

  4. Guard us against flippancy and irreverence in the sacred things of life

  5. Grant us new ties of friendship and new opportunities of service

Honesty. Transparency. Loyalty. Service. These aren’t “soft” traits. The’re the nuts and bolts of quality leadership. They’re the hallmark of authentic leadership for the sake of it. And they are the rock-solid foundation on which stand leadership success and all that comes with it.

“In leadership,” Snider writes, “being precedes doing.” This timeless truth is the first step toward leadership excellence in any walk of life. The Warrior’s Character will take you the rest of the way.

Grateful Leadership: Using the Power of Acknowledgement to Engage All Your People and Achieve Superior Results by Judith W. Umlas

Go Grateful—have the courage to learn, the vision to lead, and the passion to grow.

When employees are engaged, they are passionate and feel a deeper connection to their work. Grateful Leadership is an essential approach for leaders who want to achieve the bottom line and foster a value driven workforce to build stronger professional relationships with customers, stakeholders, and employees.

Grateful Leadership shows how to create a more positive and meaningful connection between you and the people you lead. These skills are a catalyst for making immediate positive changes in your workplace that will enhance productivity, reputation, and overall performance.

Leadership training expert Judith W. Umlas provides the rationale, tools, and methodology to build a company culture based on the free expression of gratitude, and she reveals simple but remarkably effective ways for leaders to build a culture in which each individual employee possesses:

  1. Courage to make important decisions

  2. Willingness to take initiative

  3. Trust in the organization and fellow employees

  4. Motivation to strive for continuous improvement

Acknowledgment is a basic human need and a powerful motivator—people want to make a difference. In a culture of gratitude, employees stay; unappreciated employees leave.

Your company will benefit from the many Grateful Leadership stories from leaders such as Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, that attest to the fact that when you appreciate, acknowledge, and affirm the essential contributions of employees, you unlock their potential to deliver superior results and enable your business to meet stakeholder expectations and outperform.

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