Here are our top picks for the best leadership & business books for November 2014
If you’re aiming to innovate, failure along the way is a given. But can you fail better?
Whether you’re rolling out a new product from a city-view office or rolling up your sleeves to deliver a social service in the field, learning why and how to embrace failure can help you do better, faster. Smart leaders, entrepreneurs, and change agents design their innovation projects with a key idea in mind: ensure that every failure is maximally useful.
In Fail Better, Anjali Sastry and Kara Penn show how to create the conditions, culture, and habits to systematically, ruthlessly, and quickly figure out what works, in three steps: 1. Launch every innovation project with the right groundwork 2. Build and refine ideas and products through iterative action 3. Identify and embed the learning
Fail Better teaches you how to design your efforts to test the boundaries of your thinking, explore crucial interdependencies, and find the factors that can shift results from just acceptable to groundbreaking—or even world-changing. Practical instructions intertwined with compelling real-world examples show you how to: • Make predictions and map system relationships ahead of time so you can better assess results • Establish how much failure you can afford • Prioritize project activities for disconfirmation and iteration • Learn from every action step by collecting and examining the right data • Support efficient, productive habits to link action and reflection • Distill, share, and embed the lessons from every success and failure
he definitive biography of the great soldier-statesman by the New York Times bestselling author of The Storm of War
Austerlitz, Borodino, Waterloo: his battles are among the greatest in history, but Napoleon Bonaparte was far more than a military genius and astute leader of men. Like George Washington and his own hero Julius Caesar, he was one of the greatest soldier-statesmen of all times.
Andrew Roberts’s Napoleon is the first one-volume biography to take advantage of the recent publication of Napoleon’s thirty-three thousand letters, which radically transform our understanding of his character and motivation. At last we see him as he was: protean multitasker, decisive, surprisingly willing to forgive his enemies and his errant wife Josephine. Like Churchill, he understood the strategic importance of telling his own story, and his memoirs, dictated from exile on St. Helena, became the single bestselling book of the nineteenth century.
An award-winning historian, Roberts traveled to fifty-three of Napoleon’s sixty battle sites, discovered crucial new documents in archives, and even made the long trip by boat to St. Helena. He is as acute in his understanding of politics as he is of military history. Here at last is a biography worthy of its subject: magisterial, insightful, beautifully written, by one of our foremost historians.
The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership: Classical Wisdom for Modern Readers by M.A. Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas
Skills and experience might land you a leadership position, but they don’t make you a true leader.
Leadership comes from inside—and the greatest leaders first question themselves before they tackle the world around them. To aid in this critical interrogation, The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership explores ideas from Aristotle, Heraclitus, Sophocles, Hesiod, and other great thinkers, including:
Know thyself • Do not waste energy on things you cannot change • Nurture community • Always embrace the truth • Let competition reveal talent • Live life by a higher code • Understand that character is destiny
Then it shows you how to take each idea—along with what you’ve learned about yourself—and apply it to the challenges of the modern workplace. As Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great, you too will learn what it takes to conquer all.
Seven Disciplines of A Leader is a comprehensive manual for building better leaders. Author and executive coach Jeff Wolf is a respected authority on leadership, and his strategies and inspiration have fostered dramatic growth in some of the nation’s top companies. In this book, he shares the secrets of great leadership to help readers align professional development and exemplify these traits themselves. Each of the Disciplines is valuable on its own, but together they add up to more than a sum of their parts, and work synergistically to propel leaders to higher and higher effectiveness and companies to better and better business. From initiative, to planning, to community service, readers will gain deep insight into what separates the good from the great, and how organizations can nurture these qualities in their employees with leadership potential.
A good leader gets results, but a great leader inspires every single member of the team to reach their utmost potential every single time. A great leader makes everyone shine, and provides the vision, the tools, and the support people need to do their very best work. This book describes how it’s done, and how greatness can be learned.
“No two exit experiences are exactly alike. Some people wind up happy with the process and satisfied with the way it turned out while others look back on it as a nightmare. The question I hope to answer in this book is why. What did the people with ‘good’ exits do differently from those who’d had ‘bad’ exits?”
When pioneering business journalist and Inc. magazine editor at large Bo Burlingham wrote Small Giants, it became an instant classic for its original take on a common business problem—how to handle the pressure to grow.
Now Burlingham is back to tackle an even more common problem—how to exit your company well. Sooner or later, all entrepreneurs leave their businesses and all businesses get sold, given away, or liquidated. Whatever your preferred outcome, you need to start planning for it while you still have time and options. The beautiful part is that if you start early enough, the process will lead you to build a better, stronger, more resilient company, as well as one with a higher market value. Unfortunately, most owners don’t start early enough—and pay a steep price for their procrastination.
Burlingham interviewed dozens of entrepreneurs across a range of industries and identified eight key factors that determine whether owners are happy after leaving their businesses. His book showcases the insights, exit plans, and cautionary tales of entrepreneurs such as Ray Pagano: founder of a leading manufacturer of housings for security cameras. He turned down a bid for his company and instead changed his management style, resulting in a subsequent sale for four times the original offer. Bill Niman: founder of the iconic Niman Ranch, which revolutionized the meat industry. He learned about unhappy exits when he was forced to sell to private equity investors, leaving him with nothing to show for his thirty-five years in business. Gary Hirshberg: founder of organic yogurt pioneer Stonyfield Farm. He pulled off the nearly impossible task of finding a large company that would buy out his 275 small investors at a premium price while letting him retain complete control of the business. Through such stories, Burlingham offers an illuminating and inspirational guide to one of the most stressful, and yet potentially rewarding, processes business owners must go through. And he explores the emotional challenges they face at every step of the way.