One of the things that almost all successful leaders have in common is that their thirst for knowledge and continuous learning. As I mentioned previously, the average CEO reads 60 books a year. With the end of summer approaching, I thought I’d share a few books that have made a big impression on me over the years.
Linchpin by Seth Godin
Seth Godin, in my opinion, is not capable of publishing bad content. My favorite book of his is Linchpin, in which he talks about how each individual can make themselves indispensable, regardless of what position they hold within an organization. The key is to treat your work as your craft instead of your job. The book is an inspiring read, despite some of criticism it has received (“Nobody is indispensable!”). I could immediately think of people I’ve worked with or interacted with in other capacities who are so passionate about their work that they make it their personal mission to push themselves on a daily basis and to do and try things that others aren’t willing to do – no matter what their job description says. Look for those linchpins and hire them. Above all, strive to be one of them.
“Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you’re doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they’re hiding out in the comfortable zone. When your uncomfortable actions lead to success, the organization rewards you and brings you back for more.”
Multipliers by Liz Wiseman
I believe that any aspiring manager, first time manager, or company leader can find valuable takeaways and action items in Multipliers. As a first time manager, you may feel insecure and threatened by high performers. Liz Wiseman explains in no uncertain terms that your existence and success as a leader hinges upon your ability to make everyone around you better. You’re not in a leadership role in order to be the shining star or amazing individual contributor. You’re there to inspire, to coach, to remove obstacles, and to empower team members to get out of their comfort zones. Wiseman uses specific examples to illustrate the qualities needed to be a multiplier instead of what she calls a “diminisher”. One of the things that hopefully resonate with readers is the fact that as a leader, you have to allow mistakes, exercise restraint, and be committed to tapping into each individual’s hidden potential. Don’t hog the spotlight. Be a genius maker.
“Multipliers aren’t “feel-good” managers. They look into people and find capability, and they want to access all of it. They utilize people to their fullest. They see a lot, so they expect a lot.”
Practically Radical by Bill Taylor
Practically Radical walks you through the cases of 25 companies of different sizes and in a variety of industries to showcase how each one identified opportunities for change and took calculated risks to implement them. Even though this book was published more than six years ago, it is more relevant than ever, as our world has gotten increasingly disruptive. Finding new ways to connect with your customers is more important than ever. In times when new products and new services emerge so quickly, you have to ask the right questions, foster the right company culture, and be truly transformational – whether you’re a startup or an established enterprise. Practically Radical lays out processes and techniques to make meaningful changes in your company, but also in your life.
“We are living through the age of disruption. You can’t do big things if you’re content with doing things a little better than everyone else or a little differently than how you did them before. In an era of hyper-competition and non-stop dislocation, the only way to stand out from the crowd is to stand for something special.”
Reading is one of the best things you can to do invest in your own growth. A word of caution: Sharing insights from your reading is great, but be prepared that some people will inevitably make negative comments (“Here you go again. It’s just something you read.”). Don’t let it get to you. Keep reading.
What about you? Which management books would you recommend?