I have taken some ribbing over past versions of my summer reading list by some who felt it was too much like work, that it should be lighter and provide a break from some of the more challenging titles I have suggested in the past. This year's list attempts to broaden its offering by tapping into a number of different business book categories.
This year's list includes books that inspire groups to make better decisions, several that provide practical management advice (can't help myself) and one that demonstrates the role of mindfulness on the job. I am even throwing in titles that showcase how skills used by comedians can improve communication on the job as well as some fun reading in quirky economics. There is also a research-based self-help book for the business set. Most are new titles from 2015.
Are you Fully Charged
Are you Fully Charged by bestselling researcher and author Tom Rath was the early 2015 book I was most looking forward to reading. Fully Charged continues in the author's tradition of well-researched offerings that in this case highlight the three things that contribute to being engaged at work and our general wellbeing, namely deriving meaning, focusing on interactions and putting our health first. Rath's ties to the Gallup organization are personal and deep and his personal story, long withheld from the media but now public, is a compelling backdrop to his work. His work is conversational, very readable and there is an accompanying app, children's book and documentary film by the same name.
I allowed myself one very deep read on the list, Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter by Reid Hastie and Cass Sunstein (2015) is a Harvard Business Press release with Nudge coauthor Cass Sunstein and leading decision-making scholar Reid Hastie delving into why groups do and don't make great decisions. It is broken into two parts, the first highlighting how groups get it wrong and most importantly what they do to get it right. I especially like the advice on "silencing the leader" to engage the entire group and other insights. This is exquisitely researched, and (especially for an HBR publication) amusingly written and witty.
Mindful Work: How Meditation is Changing Business from the Inside Out by David Gelles (2015). The talented New York Times writer (and meditation practitioner) showcases how meditation and mindfulness are getting a lot of attention in the workplace with stress reduction as a benefit that one would expect but also with bottom line benefits for employers. Gelles effectively presents examples, illustrations and convincing data to support his argument. This is one of the stronger titles of the crop of mindfulness/workplace books currently on the market as it seems to be written for sceptics as opposed to some others which present the topic from the convinced to the committed. I especially enjoyed the exploration of the contradiction between hard-nosed business realities and the mindful perspectives of Ford Motor Company's executive chairman Bill Ford as well as phenom retailer Patagonia's Yvon Chouinard.
Dealing With Difficult People
Dealing With Difficult People — 24 Lessons for Bringing Out the Best in Everyone by Rick Brinkman and Rick Kirschner (2003). This is a useful 48-page reference for dealing with the 10 most common difficult behaviours from know-it-alls to whiners, yes and no people and the loud and pushy. It is all conveniently packaged in a series of two-page instructions on how to cope and bring out the best in them.
Work Rules by Laszlo Bock (2015). People operations chief Googler lays out some HR problems, explains how others get it wrong and tells us how Google does it. If you are in HR, "Don't be Evil" and read this book regardless of whether his suggestions are workable anywhere else but Google. It's Google after all and we should be learning from them.
Work Happy: What Great Bosses Know by Jill Geisler (2014). I like how Geisler makes the topic of being a great boss so accessible and how she walks thorough the real problems bosses face and gives straightforward insight on how to tackle those challenges. This book is used by at least one notable New Brunswick employer as the cornerstone of their management development efforts and with good reason. Besides, it is endorsed by Harvard University's Kennedy School leadership guru and noted author Marty Linsky. Talk about a gold standard of approval.
Yes, And - Lessons from the Second City
Yes, And - Lessons from the Second City by Kelly Leonard & Tom Yorton (2015). Co-creation, collaboration and innovation lessons including "leading by listening" techniques and "following the follower" tips from the folks at the improvisational theatre troupe and school Second City. The theatre has been teaching leadership development through improv techniques to build leadership and innovation in organizations for years. Now we get to jam along.
When to Rob a Bank
When to Rob a Bank:…And 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner (2015). This offering is drawn for the over 8,000 blog entries in this 10th year of the Freakonomics.com. This title from the hugely popular Freakonomics bestselling authors is even better with the accompanying very well-produced and entertaining podcasts.
Which way to the beach?
One of the co-authors of Yes, And - Lessons from Second City is Tom Yorton, whose last name was spelled incorrectly when this item was originally published.Jun 08, 2015 2:22 PM AT