Words of Wisdom

Joan’s 5 Top Reads: Leadership and Leadership Tools

Yes, I do have some words of my own wisdom, but this blog is calling your attention to the words of wisdom from great authors and teachers that have been captured in books and are there just waiting to be plucked off the shelf.

Many of you know that I am a lifelong learner, as evidenced by the results of my Strength Finders assessment. Even though I did not grow up in a reading home, I read everything I could get my hands on, starting with the backs of cereal boxes.

Everything I have ever read has been while wearing two hats. One is the, “what can I learn from this author” hat and the other is the, “what can I learn that will help me to help someone else” hat.

I am frequently asked what my favorite book is. That is like asking which fish in the ocean is the most beautiful. I honestly could not pick one favorite book because each one of the lovely gifts in my home library are special and have at least one nugget for me (usually too many to count).

However, I can suggest some of my favorite books and authors depending on the topic.   Today, I will focus on favorites in the Leadership and Leadership tools category.

  1. Beyond the Wall of Resistance by Rick Mauer.
    This book was required reading when I was going through my Hudson Coaching Certification program many years ago. I still use it with many of my teams because of its simplicity and immediate application. In essence, Rick talks about the three reasons why people resist: I don’t get it; I don’t like it; and I don’t like you either. Rick does a beautiful job of making the complex into something simple and providing strategies for embracing and leveraging resistance to get a better result.
  1. Monday Morning Leadership by David Cottrell.
    In a past life, I implemented a successful mentoring program. This book was required reading for both the mentor and the mentee. It is a story whose main character is a mentor who sits down with his mentee each Monday morning.  There is a different mentoring lesson each week which is very relevant to us as individuals and leaders.
  1. Good to Great by Jim Collins.
    This book was probably the first what I would call “business book” that I read. Jim’s words made me hit the pause button and realize why some companies make the leap and others don’t, and the important role of leadership.   Sound, timeless principles.
  1. First 90 days on the Job by Michael D Watkins.
    I can’t remember how many years ago I first read this book, but I do know I have recommended it multiple times throughout the years and in fact, just recommended it to a client last week. The actions one takes in their first three months on the job is a good determinant of success or failure. This book is about transition acceleration which debunks long accepted myths about what is important, lays out easily understood and executable strategies. Although each organization is unique, Michael shares things that are universal such as culture and the people, as well as the business.
  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and the 8th Habit by Stephen R. Covey.
    Timeless wisdom. I am confident that the habits that Covey outlines in these two books will still be relevant 50 years from now. Covey takes the concept of trust, helps us see it as a business tool and gives us strategies on how to build and rebuild it.  He has us assess why we trust people and asks us the question: do you make people earn trust or do you give it freely?

I must admit that as I was typing each book title, a struggle was going on within me. Even though these are a few of my all-time favorites, I have so many more that I would love to suggest.

Entry requirements for my personal bookshelves are that the materials are timeless and thought provoking. In addition to the authors mentioned above, there are authors who have earned multiple spots on my shelves: Brené Brown; Dale Carnegie; Arianna Huffington; Bill George; Kamin Samuel, Marshall Goldsmith; Patrick Lencioni; and Brian Tracy.

E.O. Wilson considered the most important and outstanding living biologist in the world and nicknamed “The New Darwin,” has stated that we are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom.

My belief is that books serve as the foundation for wisdom. Yes, there is information between the front and back cover, however, what we do with that information determines if it continues to be information, or if it becomes wisdom.

If you haven’t read all of these, my hope is that you pick just one and start.  I’d love to hear what resonated with you. And share YOUR reading suggestions!

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  1. Jeff Rogers

    Adding to your wonderful “timeless and thought provoking” list…I recommend “Leadership is an Art” by Max DePree. Max’s writings touch my heart and are some of my favorite for, like you, “self-learning and for helping me help others.”

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