Instead of reading action or romantic novels at the beach this summer, expand your mind with something more meaningful. Whether you’re a CEO, entrepreneur, architect or engineer, you’ll find these books instructive and inspiring.
Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. Written by Zappo’s CEO Tony Hsieh, published in 2010, chronicles his early life and influences, entrepreneurship and personal growth. Hsieh writes about the importance of a company’s culture and how to nurture it as a means of empowering employees and providing them with a sense of purpose and fulfilment, which ultimately translates into a commitment to service (i.e., happy employees equal happy customers). Details about how Zappos developed its core values—incorporating input from employees—are helpful to anyone seeking to build an effective, team-oriented organization.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, first published in 1936 and revised with updated anecdotes in 1981, has sold some 15 million copies worldwide. The book offers commonsense insights and tips on winning people to your way of thinking without making them feel mowed down, as well as increasing your influence and ability to get things done, handling complaints, becoming a better speaker, and inspiring enthusiasm among associates. “When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity,” Carnegie writes.
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by Jim Collins, published in 2001, concluded an exhaustive five-year research project on all Fortune 500 companies and identifying only 11 that achieved long term great results. Collins and a team of researchers identified common characteristics necessary to make the leap from good to great. Some findings were surprising; for instance, the most effective leaders were humble and strong-willed rather than outgoing. “Greatness is not a function of circumstance,” Collins writes. “Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice.”
The Art of War, an ancient Chinese military treatise, has influenced Eastern and Western military thinking, business tactics and legal strategies. Military leaders ranging from Mao Zedong to Gen. Douglas MacArthur have cited the work, which has been attributed to Sun Tzu, a high-ranking general, strategist and tactician. First translated into French in 1772 by a Jesuit missionary and into English in 1910, the book contains 13 sections pertaining to different aspects of battle strategy. But you don’t have to wage war to find valuable insights and quotes. “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. The book is written as a fictional story of a new woman CEO taking on an early stage company failing from dysfunctional relationships at the top executive team level. Recognising the dysfunctional behaviours she calls them out and by engaging them in regular consistent team engagements, she helps them experience a new way of being with each other, that enables vulnerability, conflict, commitment and accountability to engage them in a progressive journey of personal and team development.
The Anatomy of Peace – written by the Arbinger Institute whose work focuses on solving the problems created by the pervasive problem of self-deception and in this case, its outplay in conflict. Written as fiction, the storyline addresses the intimate story of a Jew and an Arab, whose history set them up for conflict, but who were enabled to come together and in an innovative way take responsibility for their own behaviours. The story tells how they help warring parents and children to come together and demonstrates how we may find out way out of struggles and conflicts and put us at difference from one another. This book follows their earlier highly successful book ‘Leadership and Self Deception’.
4 August 2014