Contributors to the May 2020 issue of TD magazine offer their book recommendations.
Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman, with Greg McKeown
When I think about how I want to show up as a leader to my team, I think about how I can serve as a "multiplier" who attracts, empowers, and develops talent. This book provides a solid overview of how managers empower their teams and their shadow counterparts.
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck
Whether you’re a learner trying your hand at complex subject matter or an educator trying innovative approaches, a growth mindset will allow you to learn from (and even embrace) your failures and experiments.
Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization by Dave Logan, John King, Halee Fischer-Wright
Many of us grow in our careers by pursuing individual development, but we never learn the skills that help us collaborate and become better together. This book reminds me of the crucial hurdle that organizations must clear in moving from rampant individualism to meaningful teamwork.
Feedback (and Other Dirty Words): Why We Fear It, How to Fix It by M. Tamra Chandler
I needed some new insights to share with a very sophisticated group about feedback. It's something we all think we know about, and so many books have been written on the subject. I found what I needed here. This one is the best. I loved her writing style. I loved the ideas; I was able to put them to use immediately in a presentation, and I know it hit home. I loved that it was practical and yet irreverent.
Think Outside the Building: How Advanced Leaders Can Change the World One Smart Innovation at a Time by Rosabeth Kanter
This is a perfect book for 2020 that only Kanter could write. She uses detailed case studies and hundreds of interviews to fuel her fire. She developed Harvard’s amazing Advanced Leadership Institute and had the opportunity to ignite so many creative and inventive new ideas. I’ve known Kanter for four decades, and she never disappoints. Her thinking is new, clear, and easy to digest—so many digestible lessons on these pages.
Humanity Works: Merging Technologies and People for the Workforce of the Future by Alexandra Levit
I am so impressed with the work Levit must have put into this book. She is one smart woman who writes about a complex subject and makes her insights clear and easy to understand. She has so much knowledge, and she’s boiled it down for us. Levit gives us great case studies and even an action plan to jump-start our thinking.
Cracking the Curiosity Code: The Key to Unlocking Human Potential by Diane Hamilton
This is a well-researched and timely book about a subject that I’ve seen pop up all over the place. Hamilton nails it. We all know that curiosity leads to creativity and new insights and tools. I love the way she writes and the wonderful quotes scattered throughout her book. She explains why little kids have curiosity and why so many of us lose it. It’s a critical competency that needs to be understood.
The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick Lencioni
From a business strategy standpoint, nothing beats a Lencioni work. I love the actionable nature of the content created by the Table Group. This book serves to drive organizational health but can also be leveraged at a departmental level (read sales organization). If you're looking to build a cohesive leadership team and create clarity at scale, this is the book for you.
Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation by James D. Kirkpatrick and Wendy Kayser Kirkpatrick
This is on the pre-boarding list for anyone joining my team. Enablement should be driven by metrics, and too many practitioners skip from survey to business impact. Without measuring comprehension, knowledge retention, and behavioral adoption trends, it’s unrealistic to attribute success to a point-in-time event. This framework helps my team implement programmatic enablement initiatives and claim success where its due.
Sales Enablement: A Master Framework to Engage, Equip, and Empower A World-Class Sales Force by Byron Matthews and Tamara Schenk
If your organization uses Miller Heiman’s strategic selling as your methodology, this is a must read for your enablement organization, product marketing, and content teams. And if your team doesn’t use Heiman’s methodology, the checklist approach is sure to yield actionable insights to up-level your current strategy.
Enablement Mastery: Grow Your Business Faster by Aligning Your People, Processes, and Priorities by Elay Cohen
This book is my secret weapon for someone moving into enablement. It balances strategy and tactical focus to provide really great consultative questions and best practices for key sales and go-to-market activities. My two-word review would be: instant credibility. This book will set a practitioner up for success.
The First 90 Days by Michael D. Watkins
This book stands the test of time for good reason. Organizations have built full programs based on its philosophies. Sales leader interviews seem to have shifted from the old adage of “sell me this pen” to “present your 30-60-90 plan.” Read this book prior to starting any new role to own your learning journey with a thoughtful approach.
Facilitating With Ease by Ingrid Bens
I have dubbed Ingrid “The Queen of Facilitation.” She is one of the most prolific writers in our industry and provides clear and usable tools and techniques to hone your craft.
The Skilled Facilitator by Roger Schwarz
Schwarz is the best thinker in our field. As a college professor, he brings the conceptual models that form the basis for his unique insights for creating impactful facilitation experiences for your participants.
Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C Brown, Henry L Roediger III, Mark A. McDaniel
Probably one of the best compilations of neuro and social science I’ve had the opportunity to dig into in a while, this book combines some fairly dense complex topics into straightforward concepts that can be applied to self-learning but also to teaching—delivery, design, practice, and testing. I find myself thinking about and applying the concepts described in every class I teach and every workshop I facilitate.
Iron Druid Series by Kevin Hearne
For my all-around fun break, I’m re-reading these: an urban-fiction-fantasy series with a sense of humor and adventure; an ancient druid living in a college town running a bookstore and battling bad guys from Norse, Gaelic, Greek, and Roman pantheons. They’re just plain fun! And if that doesn’t bring you in, there’s an Irish Wolfhound that’s not afraid to speak his mind (pun intended) on vampires, good food, and poodles.
Python for Kids – A Playful Introduction to Programming by Jason R Briggs
This book combines some of my favorite things: my kids and learning new things. I’ve struggled with self-taught coding books in the past, but so far this has been just fun. Working through the content with my daughters helps put me back in the beginner’s mind and also keeps reminding me of and giving me ideas about another perspective.
The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization by Peter Senge
This is the kind of book that sets the foundation for changing the way we look at organizations, systems, and the people we serve. Senge explores the complexities of organizations (and people) and the barriers that prevent them from achieving personal mastery. Although this book is categorized as a management book, it has a great deal of value for anyone with a talent development focus.
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
This is a fun book (fiction) with well-developed characters set in the 1930s. I encourage you to look beyond the primary character and consider how the actions of the characters that come into her life impact her. This book caused me to think about how my actions may be impacting those around me.
Building a Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller
This book isn’t a brand-new release; however, I keep it handy on my desk. Making a business case, creating a website, or just articulating a point of view are all more powerful when we use story elements. It elicits interest, engagement, and customer spend.
Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
This title is a time-tested work that bears reflection and rereading. It’s easy to tell when an initiative falters that the why question wasn’t answered clearly from the beginning. Just seeing this book on my desk as a visual cue helps me regularly.
Speed: How Leaders Accelerate Successful Execution by John H. Zenger and Joseph Folkman
It’s a surprising title for a book by two research-based authors; however, speed in this case doesn’t imply recklessness. Zenger and Folkman did considerable research using 360-degree feedback results from their database and reveal eight essential leadership behaviors shown to improve performance and ultimately drive organizational effectiveness. Practical tools help you assess the pace at which you work and determine how you stack up against others in their firm’s database. It’s a readable, practical business read for leaders at every level.