Read to lead. 2018’s list of business and self improvement books

I am always looking for inspiration and new ideas, I also really believe in the concept of self-development. Don’t wait for someone to come along and offer you the perfect course or advice….read – the answer is out there! The challenge is to find the time to go do this.  Last year I discovered audio books and they have been a revelation. I have a long commute that is now being put to good use.

Here are my top picks from last year:

Grit – by Angela Duckworth. This is my book of the year. Grit = Passion and perseverance. Excellent, interesting and enjoyable read containing many interesting examples. I am fascinated with resilience and the impact it has on success and mental health. This book has got it all: How to develop more of it, how to parent for it, teach for it and how to make your culture at work grittier. I need to get a hard copy of this as I want to read it again but this time underline passages and mark pages!

The Positive Organisation: Breaking Free from Conventional Cultures, Constraints and Beliefs – by Robert E Quinn. This was fantastic. It deals with the mental mind map we apply to work and how we can challenge and change this map. Loved the concept of being bilingual and being able to shift your mind map to the situation. Gave really good practises that can have an impact on your organisation. I will be reading this one again as there were too many great concepts and ideas to take in on the first read!.

Our Turn – by Kirstine Stewart. Really interesting book that highlights how women are well poised to lead in this technological world where the old style of leadership is losing its place. Great insights into successful leadership styles and techniques.

Work Reimagined: Uncover your calling – by Richard J Leider. If you are not in the right job or want to find more meaning in your current job then this is the book for you! I have been recommending this book regularly since I read it. I went through this career reset in my late 20’s and created a career that fulfils me every day but this book conceptualises how to do this in a way I have been unable to when coaching others. 

Permission to Screw Up: Learning to Lead by doing almost Everything Wrong – by Kristen Hadeed. I wish I had read this book in my 20’s. I learnt so many very hard lessons then that made me a better manager and leader in the long run (I just couldn’t see it then). This is a great book for the more junior manager, learning the hard way is not something you need to beat yourself up about – just make sure you are learning the lessons, apply them and move on.

The Leaders Way: Business, Buddhism and Happiness in an Interconnected World – by Dalai Lama XIV and Laurens van den Muyzenberg. This book very much fits in with my life view and gave me more confidence that I can fit that life view into my chosen career. Very realistic, non-judgemental and inspiring.

Communicate like a leader: Connecting Strategically to Coach, inspire and get things done – by Dianna Booher. Not life changing but some good tips and reminders. Good for those who struggle getting people on board with their vision.

Organise for complexity: How to get life back into work to build the high performance organisation – by Nils Pflaeing. Good book with lots of interesting concepts. Certainly made me think more deeply about organisational design and facing the customer. However, with my HR hat on I struggle to see how I can manage risk and underperformance as part of the Beta model. Also, would have loved some practical examples of how this works in the real world.


Mindshift – by Barbara Oakley. Don’t think I was the right audience for this book.

The innovation code – by Jeff Degraff and Staney Degraff. Didn’t really hold my attention.

Hunch: Turn your everyday insights into the next big thing: Bernadette Jiwa

Think! – by Edward de Bono. Not a good audio book, needed to be read. Too much information that was quite boring when just listening to it. It also came over as quite condescending.

How you learn is How you live – by Kay Peterson and David A Kolb. Again not really suited to an audio book.

Decision Making and Problem Solving Strategies – by John Adair. Comprehensive but very basic. Would be really good for those new to management.

The idea driven organisation by Alan G Robinson and Dean M Schroeder. Gave me lots of ideas 🙂 Robotic voice of narrator was hard to listen to.

For 2018 I am really looking forward to a number of books I have lined up:

Simon Sinek’s Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last

Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage

Amy Cruddy’s Presence

I’ll report back in the New Year 2019!

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