When I suggested 6 Books to Make You Feel New and Improved in 2017 — to be consumed at the rate of one book every other month — readers responded so well that I’m recommending six more titles for the alternate months.
This second short list of favorites offers multiple alternative and complementary ways to look for everyone’s best and help them bring it out. If you apply the lessons and concepts in these books, you’ll improve your understanding of others, and therefore, teamwork, collaboration, and performance — as well as the chances of accomplishing more together.
And do let me know about any books you’ve read that have helped you at work!
- Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
This very meaningful book is chockfull of techniques for conducting productive discussions and learning what’s really going on with people. The goal is for everyone to end up better off — notwithstanding high stakes, drastically different perspectives, and fraught emotional reactions. Crucial Conversations was my first exposure to the concept of keeping people safe as an absolute requirement, and the reality that if you want to make effective decisions, each participant must feel comfortable to put all the relevant information on the table.
- Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
Some people believe their capabilities are limited and unchangeable; others believe capabilities can be developed through serious effort and knowledgeable application. Recognizing the difference between growth and fixed mindsets helps you figure out how to approach people and what kind of support they’ll need to develop their own capabilities and accomplish their goals. And you might even get some additional growth out of Mindset yourself — thank goodness it’s almost always possible to do better.
- Drive by Daniel H. Pink
According to Pink, “autonomy, purpose, and mastery” are the cornerstones of motivation, for both ourselves and others. People want to feel that they can control their own destiny, work on meaningful projects, and get really good at things that matter to them. Autonomy, purpose, and mastery provide the levers to ramp up professional accomplishment and to develop appropriate self-satisfaction. Create work situations that help individuals experience this winning combo, and you’ll never have to worry about “motivation” in the traditional sense again.
- Turn the Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders by David Marquet
This book is a fun-to-read case history of changing both mindsets and behavior. I love Marquet’s “leader-leader” vs. “leader-follower” concept and its parallels to Pink’s use of autonomy, purpose, and mastery as a way to get everyone on your team to grow beyond expectations. Read how self-leadership based on commitment, skill, and ability, will always top mere compliance for true and ongoing accomplishment — even in a military operation.
- The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander
This truly inspirational book is one of my all-time favorites. I’ve lent it out and given it as a gift numerous times because it shows how any human being can contribute, grow, and rise to the occasion in a world of almost infinite opportunity. It’s simultaneously moving and practical. And it’s well worth rereading whenever you need to be reminded of the potential that exists within each of us — and the numerous ways to reach that potential in others as well.
- Memos from the Chairman by Alan C. Greenberg
This fun and thought-provoking compilation of actual memos from the ’80s and ’90s was written by Ace Greenberg, who was the chairman of Baer Sterns when that investment firm was in its heyday. Although his comments occasionally sound a bit dated, Memos delivers a distinct picture of a leader who uses practical common sense and a kind of humorous vigilance to reinforce a unique sense of purpose and culture. And there’s no mistaking Greenberg’s clever clarion calls for humility, teamwork, diligence, and pride.