Good To Great by Jim Collins
This book definitely goes on my top ten list! The business lingo and rather technical data in the first chapter almost threw me but I soon got past that and really into the concepts presented by Jim Collins and his team. The fact that the book was based on empirical data and not just some person’s conclusions based on a variety of observations was a real selling point with me. The complex filtering process the author and his team applied and the amount of research they undertook gave this book tremendous credibility. Two key takeaways from this book:
1) Level 5 Leadership. Level 5 leaders are ambitious first and foremost for the cause, the organization, the work-not themselves-and they have the fierce resolve to do whatever it takes to make good on that ambition. A Level 5 leader displays a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.
2) First Who…Then What. Those who build great organizations make sure they have the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the key seats before they figure out where to drive the bus. They always think first about ‘who’ and then about what.
The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
I often quote Stephen Covey during my presentations. He has so much to offer in his books on leadership and life. A few highlights from this book include:
1) Which is better: dependence or independence? Actually neither. While we certainly consider ongoing dependency as unhealthy, there’s also a downside to full-blown independence. We live in an interdependent reality. Our most important work, the problems we hope to solve or the opportunities we hope to realize require working and collaborating with other people in a high-trust, synergistic way—whether at home or at work.
2) Maintain your P/PC balance. Based on Aesop’s fable—the Goose and the golden eggs—strive to keep production balanced with your production capability. Don’t burn out.
3) Be Proactive. Choose the right response. As Viktor E. Frankl so aptly stated: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
4) Seek first to understand, then to be understood. In a world of conflict, noise, and multiple voices, win the right to be heard by listening empathically to another human being who is equally made in the image of God.
Full Steam Ahead by Ken Blanchard & Jessie Stoner
For an excellent resource written in narrative form on vision and life purpose, look no further. Blanchard and Stoner have written an excellent book that covers several key elements important to one’s mission statement:
1) Purpose. Everyone desires significance and meaning in life. Figure out why you exist and where you are going. Write your own eulogy, describing what people will say about you someday after fulfilling your life purpose.
2) Clear values. While purpose speaks to the “why” question, values answer the “how” question. Values are deeply held beliefs that certain qualities are desirable. They provide guidelines for our choices and actions.
3) Preferred picture of the future. We need to learn from the past, live in the present, and plan for the future. We cannot have a vision for the future unless we are firmly grounded in the present.