I was fortunate to hear Viktor Frankl speak when I was in college and later read his book. His experience as a psychiatrist who service the Nazi concentration camps in World War II illuminate many aspects of the meaning of life. Many of us seek understanding of the meaning of life and Frankl provides a first- hand experience.
This is an extremely well written book about the University of Washington rowing team who won the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It brings together a group of boys from various backgrounds who must not only learn how to work together but develop a consciousness of what it takes to be great. When working with management teams I often talk about a conscious organization. This book brings to life the understanding of the unconscious components required to create a conscious reality.
John Wooden, the Hall of Fame coach from UCLA, presents a value driven approach to leadership. He presented a pyramid of values that form the basis of strong leaders and strong teams. His approach to leadership is that winning will come if you are willing to play by these values. This approach makes everyone accountable for their own actions within a shared vision of what you are trying to achieve. This type of leadership is a strong formula for success.
Although this book was written about large organization, it basic tenets help reinforce what I believed about organizations many years ago. The Command and Control structure was being replaced a Shared Vision and Systems Thinking strategy. Where Command and Control dictated the Vision, the future is driven by leaders who develop a shared vision within their leadership team and ultimately with the workforce itself. This also requires a change from linear thinking to systems thinking. This is movement away from reacting to change but generating change. In today’s environment it is the way we do business that needs to change, and future leaders will need to encourage this type of thinking from their team.
Strength Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath (order)
Strength Finder 2.0 is not a book to read, but an assessment of your Strengths with explanations of each. The computerized assessment development by Tom Rath and other at Gallup Consulting offers an easy to use tool to determine your natural strength. I used this book with individuals and in my work with executive team development as it focuses on the positive aspects of behavior. Would recommend it for people who are looking for insight into what naturally motivates them.
Peterson is a psychologist living in Canada who bring together some simple rules to live by. For me reading this book was recognizing many of the things I was taught in life which have benefited me throughout my life. Components of the book challenges the “politically correct” world we live trying to re-balance some of these attitudes to maintain a level of equilibrium. Others are more about live and let live. In a time with must controversy about the Truth it is a book worth passing on to your children and then having the discussion about what it says.
Hamilton by Ron Chernow (order)
This book inspired Lin-Manual Miranda play “Hamilton”. It is must read before you see the play, as it gives you greater insight into Miranda’s genius. Without seeing the play, it is an excellent read about the development of this great country we live in today. Chernow command of the English language offer a descriptive journey into brilliance and short coming of the founding father while giving birth to a new nation. The story sheds light on how the struggles we face today are not new.
A great read for CEO’s and management teams trying to understand where they are in organizational growth and transition. Having experience many of these stages first hand, this book provides a road-map to the natural stages of organizational development and failure. It offers insight into the timing for the introduction of critical roles and the potential damaging effect of entrepreneurial founders on the growth and development of an organization.
This is an easy to read book on the effect of “Acting as If” in leadership. Using a story telling approach the book takes us through many experiences those of us involved in management can relate to. It discusses both personal and work situation where we know “we should feed the baby, but pretend we are asleep”. It is about being truthful with yourself and doing the right thing by getting out of the self-deception box.
Fritz looks at life from a perspective of structure. He contends that we go through life following the path of least resistance. This path is determined by the underlying structure in our life, our beliefs, values, desires, assumptions, aspirations, etc. Fritz believes that you can change your path by learning the underlying structure and change behavior, so you can create what you want for your life.
Fritz talks about this in terms of Current Realities. It is this tension between our current realities and our vision, or what we are trying to achieve, that promotes the creative process or not. This true in organizational change as the current structure limits the ability of the organization (people) to achieve their shared vision when the current realities remain unaddressed. Addressing the old structure and transitioning to a shared vision creates the opportunity to create a new path of least resistance.
Fritz Perls was the founder of Gestalt Therapy which as a humanistic psychologist was part of my early methodology. A key element of Gestalt Therapy is to breakdown a person’s issues into smaller more manageable problems. This makes for more management understanding of what the “real” problems are which then become easier to solve. Once you have a clear understand you can bring multiple issue back together into a better understanding, the “Gestalt”. This book is not for everyone, but it helped me understand “you have to first become aware of something before you can change it."
Good to Great by Jim Collins (order)
Although there are many great aspects to this book, what has always stayed with me is the recognition there are only so many exceedingly talented people in the world and when you meet one in business you should hire them. Moving a company forward is extremely difficult and you are not always ready when the right person comes along. Collins figured this out as a critical component of moving a company from Good to Great.
Endurance by Alfred Lansing (order)
This is a book about the adventures of Earnest Shackleton, a British explorer in Antarctica in the early 1900. It is not a book for the weak at heart for it is about survival in the most treacherous conditions. Just when you think things could not get worse they do, but the group survives. It is a book about never giving up and having the personal strength to continue not matter what the obstacles.
If I was to ever write a book, I would like to write one like this. Finnegan earned the Pulitzer Prized for the book as he has a unique writing style sharing his journey of surfing around the world. He uses surfing inside waves to tell the story of his life’s journey. Interesting for those who have or would like to take the road less traveled.
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