Think Again by Adam Grant
#Leadership#Organizational Culture

Big Picture:
Adam Grant is increasingly gaining traction in the world of work-place psychology. For this specific book, Grant digs into how and why we hold onto deeply held beliefs/opinions, even when they are no longer serving us. Grant addresses several meaty topics, including the cognitive science of “unlearning”, the leadership benefits of humility, embracing imperfection and being wrong, why disagreeable colleagues can be a tremendous asset to our teams, and the power of motivational interviewing in our personal and professional lives.

How to use it:
The content is especially relevant for leaders and organizations that are on the precipice of change and evolution. Leaders can use chapters of this book as pre-work for brainstorming sessions. The content has the potential to prime your team members to “think again” about their opinion and/or position and how they show up for charged conversations. For example, Chapter 7 Vaccine Whisperers and Mild-Mannered Interrogators is an excellent pre-read for a team meeting that will require deep listening skills to move toward resolution.

Essentialism by Greg McKeown
#Organizational Culture#Personal Development

Big Picture:
I picked this book up from a Brooklyn stoop (New Yorkers often set up small libraries on their stoops for the give & take of myriad of urban resources!). My friend mocked me for picking up a discarded book on essentialism, suggesting that it would only add to a growing collection of un-essential reads. I think her mockery was mis-placed!

Here are the Core Ideas:

  • Find the Essential Intent: do one thing, and do it well.
  • Make one decision that makes 100 more decisions for you (the daily clothes uniform is a classic example, but this concept is applicable in so many aspects of leadership and decision making.)
  • Prioritize our time based on our essential intent (the one thing that we want to do well). It’s not that we don’t have time. Rather, it’s how we prioritize the time we do have.

How to use it:
This book is pure genius for anyone that is struggling to find enough hours in the day. McKeown boils our time down to priorities and reminds us of the simple fact: “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.” I suggest this book for leaders and leadership teams that currently believe everything is important, and therefore struggle to prioritize anything with essential intent. The content is a great mindset primer for re-evaluating time and task management strategies.

Radical Candor by Kim Scott

Big Picture:
This book was first suggested to me following a 360 Annual Performance Review. My mandate: to manage my team with Radical Candor. Kim Scott illuminates concrete strategies for how we can both challenge directly and care personally. She uses her own personal and professional experiences to share sticky vignettes of how to manage high performing teams in high-stakes arenas, while also maintaining humanity, empathy, and compassion. It’s an excellent read for new and old managers alike, particularly if you feel like you’ve lost your north star and need/want to recalibrate your management ethos.

How to use it:
This is an excellent book club for senior level managers to use with direct reports. It has interesting lessons for the individuals struggling with too much compassion (ruinous empathy) and the individuals that are struggling with too little compassion (miscreant managers). In other words, Kim Scott provides real-life strategies for balancing accountability and kindness. If you are managing someone that is struggling to strike the right balance, buy him/her this book and incorporate reflection exercises into your weekly check-ins.

Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy

Big Picture:
The book cover says it all: 21 great ways to stop procrastinating and get more done in less time. The basic premise is that we should start each day with our biggest and most important task and/or project (aka: the ugliest frog). The chapters are short and digestible. The chapter summary provides tangible exercises to improve efficiency and diminish procrastination. The content is 100% accessible for all types of team members trying to improve time and task management strategies. Best of all, there is no promise of a single silver bullet. Rather, the key message is 1% solutions to develop habits of success and a positive addiction to efficient outcomes.

How to use it:
This is a fantastic read for school-based operations team. Assign a chapter each week and discuss in your weekly ops team meeting. Brainstorm opportunities to make the concepts appliable to your current challenges. Most of us are still trying to dial-in our time and task management strategies and I promise that this book provides helpful tips and tricks for every single team and every single challenge.

The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks
#Personal Development

Big Picture:
Gay Hendricks takes us on a journey to discover our zone of genius. Most of us spend the bulk of our lives operating in our zone of competence or maybe even our zone of excellence. But how much richer, exciting, challenging, and rewarding would our lives be if we took the big leap to our zone of genius? The answer: VERY. This is an excellent book for inspiring deep and honest reflection on how we truly want to spend our time and talent.

How to use it:
Are you thinking about transition or change? Are you trying to determine the path forward (in your personal or professional life) and finding yourself stuck with logistics at the ground level? This book will give you the bird’s eye view and challenge you to re-adjust your perspective. You should use this book to inspire personal development and explore the infinite possibilities that might exist for your future. While reading this book, you will likely find yourself dreaming big. And I hope it will be an awesome feeling.

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