• Tony Richards

Leadership & Business Growth Books For September 2014

Here are our top picks for the best leadership & business books for September 2014

The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership by Richard Branson

While building the Virgin Group over forty years, Richard Branson has never shied away from seemingly outlandish challenges that others (including his own colleagues on several occasions) considered sheer lunacy. He has taken on giants like British Airways and won, and monsters like Coca-Cola and lost.

Now Branson gives an inside look at his strikingly different swashbuckling style of leadership. Learn how fun, family, passion, and the dying art of listening are key components to what his extended family of employees around the world have always dubbed (with a wink) the “Virgin Way.”

This unique perspective comes from a man who dropped out of school at sixteen, suffers from dyslexia, and has never worked for anyone but himself. He may be famous for thinking outside the box—an expression he despises—but Branson asserts that “you’ll never have to think outside the box if you refuse to let anyone build one around you.”

This is a unique book on leadership from someone who readily admits he has never read a book on leadership in his life. So expect the unexpected.

The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders & Create A Competitive Organization by Jacob Morgan

Throughout the history of business employees had to adapt to managers and managers had to adapt to organizations. In the future this is reversed with managers and organizations adapting to employees.  This means that in order to succeed and thrive organizations must rethink and challenge everything they know about work.

The demographics of employees are changing and so are employee expectations, values, attitudes, and styles of working.  Conventional management models must be replaced with leadership approaches adapted to the future employee. Organizations must also rethink their traditional structure, how they empower employees, and what they need to do to remain competitive in a rapidly changing world.

This is a book about how employees of the future will work, how managers will lead, and what organizations of the future will look like.

Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators and Icons Accelerate Success by Shane Snow

Entrepreneur and journalist Shane Snow (Wired, Fast Company, The New Yorker, and cofounder of Contently) analyzes the lives of people and companies that do incredible things in implausibly short time.

How do some startups go from zero to billions in mere months? How did Alexander the Great, YouTube tycoon Michelle Phan, and Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon climb to the top in less time than it takes most of us to get a promotion? What do high-growth businesses, world-class heart surgeons, and underdog marketers do in common to beat the norm?

One way or another, they do it like computer hackers. They employ what psychologists call “lateral thinking: to rethink convention and break “rules” that aren’t rules.

These are not shortcuts, which produce often dubious short-term gains, but ethical “smartcuts” that eliminate unnecessary effort and yield sustainable momentum. In Smartcuts, Snow shatters common wisdom about success, revealing how conventions like “paying dues” prevent progress, why kids shouldn’t learn times tables, and how, paradoxically, it’s easier to build a huge business than a small one.

Learn or Die: Using Science To Build A Leading Edge Learning Organization by Edward D. Hess

Edward D. Hess is professor of business administration and Batten Executive-in-Residence at the Darden Graduate School of Business. He is the author of eleven books, including Smart Growth: Building an Enduring Business by Managing the Risks of Growth, which was named a Top 25 business book for business owners by Inc. Magazine and was awarded the Wachovia Award for Research Excellence. His current research focuses on innovation systems and organizational learning cultures, behaviors, and processes.

Hard Times: Leadership In America by Barbara Kellerman

Leadership has never played a more prominent role in America’s national discourse, and yet our opinions of leaders are at all-time lows. Private sector leaders are widely seen as greedy to the point of being corrupt. Public sector leaders are viewed as incompetent to the point of being inept. And, levels of trust in government have plummeted. As the title of this book conveys, leaders in America are experiencing hard times.

Barbara Kellerman argues that we focus on leaders, and even on followers, while ignoring an essential element of leadership: context. This book is a corrective. It enables leaders to track the terrain that they must navigate in order to create change. Rather than a handy-dandy manual on what to do and how to do it.

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