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A Culture of Purpose: How to Choose the Right People and Make the Right People Choose You
A Culture of Purpose: How to Choose the Right People and Make the Right People Choose You
by Christoph Lueneburger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.17
53 used & new from $12.79

5.0 out of 5 stars The stuff that matters..., April 11, 2014
In this book, Christoph Lueneburger, a partner at global talent firm Egon Zehnder, distills his learnings as a result of numerous in-depth interviews with senior business leaders and his time running the sustainabilty practice at EZ. The key practice for cultures of purpose is the commercial pursuit of sustainability.

Christoph breaks down achieving this kind of a culture of purpose into three domains of work.

First, for the leader: the leadership competencies of change leadership, influencing, results delivery, commercial drive and strategic orientation matter most.

Second, for the organization’s people: individual traits of engagement, curiosity, determination, insight matter most.

Third, for the organization’s culture, cultural attributes of energy, resilience, openness matter most.

These attributes are elaborated with stories from business leaders.

Christoph appropriately links culture to behaviors, including the practice of language. He also asserts that instead of focusing on reducing bad unintended consequences, we should talk about maximizing the positive impact we can have.

He then provides a 3 phase plan for implementation:
Organizations start in what could be called unconsciously reactive, and progress to the …
Early phase, where organizations realize that they been reactive with respect to sustainability. They then progress to the ...

Middle phase, where the realization of phase 1 is translated into action. The organization shifts from being consciously reactive to deliberately proactive. And then finally progress to the ...

Advanced phase, the behaviors of sustainability have become so ingrained in the organization’s culture that the organization becomes unconsciously proactive.

Full disclosure: I have a 2-page mention in the book.

Are You Talent Obsessed?: Unlocking the secrets to a workplace team of raving high-performers.
Are You Talent Obsessed?: Unlocking the secrets to a workplace team of raving high-performers.
Price: $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars We all know we should develop our people, but finally a book on how., April 11, 2014
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In Are You Talent Obsessed? Beth Armknecht Miller goes beyond the hype of employee engagement to discuss practical mechanisms for making it happen.

She provides a structured schedule (In the military we would call it a battle rhythm) for developing talent that I found very helpful. It includes:
-Daily teachable moments.
-Weekly team learning.
-Monthly one-on-one mentoring sessions
-Quarterly forecast and plan

I think the focus on the scheduling actions is correct. This is where good intentions either become realized (or not). Ms. Miller correctly identifies that unless leaders are putting in the time to develop their talent, it will just be one more thing on the "to do" list.

Recommended for people who work with people.

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Donít
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Donít
by Simon Sinek
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.41
79 used & new from $11.37

38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Create a circle of safety for optimal team performance, January 7, 2014
Written by one of the most astute observers of the human condition today, this manifesto makes the case that humans work best when placed in environments similar to those in which we evolved.

Through surveys, scientific research, and stories, Simon Sinek describes the pain many suffer in workplaces. Instead of thriving, we are preoccupied with internal rivalries and distanced from fellow humans by abstraction and scale. The result is our defense mechanisms kick in, and the chemicals released make us more unhelpful, unhappy, and unhealthy.

There is a way out. Understanding that humans biologically evolved to cooperate and that leaders emerged to protect the group, organizations that create environments paralleling those early conditions will bring out the best in us. This means taking steps to avoid the allure of abstraction in modern life by keeping it real and avoiding the perils of scale by keeping team sizes that mimic those of human tribes.

The leader, then, plays a role in service to the group, protecting it from external threats. In short, quoting a Marine Corps general, Leaders Eat Last.

If you work with humans, you'll be delighted and reinvigorated.

Leading Prior To Arrival (Commanding Cooperatively Book 1)
Leading Prior To Arrival (Commanding Cooperatively Book 1)
Price: $0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mind of a Leader, September 10, 2013
So we start...
Sean Heritage takes inside the mind of a leader as he learns he will take command of a navy Information Warfare center. We gain insights into choice and control and his preparations for making the best environment possible for the sailors in his charge.

Ghost Boat
Ghost Boat
by Dan Gillcrist
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.99
11 used & new from $15.71

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and Inspirational Tale!, July 31, 2013
This review is from: Ghost Boat (Paperback)
As a former submarine captain I can tell you Dan Gillcrist tells it like it is. He puts you there. This is a remarkable human story of grit, luck, discipline, and teamwork. It's just good storytelling. If you liked Hunt for Red October and want the real thing, this is it.

by Jim Selman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.00
23 used & new from $17.39

5.0 out of 5 stars We see what we have words for..., June 19, 2013
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This review is from: Leadership (Paperback)
Language defines what we see, how we interact, and how we think. Thoughtful and lean, this book explains why that is truly so and what all leaders need to know about how we do, can, and should talk to each other.

Happy Hour is 9 to 5 - How to Love Your Job, Love Your Life and Kick Butt at Work
Happy Hour is 9 to 5 - How to Love Your Job, Love Your Life and Kick Butt at Work
by Alexander Kjerulf
Edition: Unknown Binding

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Happiness and success. Which comes first?, February 11, 2013
Success and happiness: we have it backward.

Traditional thinking is that if we are successful, we'll be happy. In our organizations, leaders think that once the company has some success their people will be happy and morale will improve.

This is fundamentally backward.
Happiness comes first, and once we have happy people, the company will be successful. Once we are happy, we will be successful.

What makes us happy? Alexander Kjerulf in his book, Happy Hour is from 9 to 5 lists the following 6 things:
1. Be positive.
2. Learn.
3. Be open.
4. Participate.
5. Find meaning.
6. Love.

Kjerulf's focus in mainly on your responsibility for your own happiness at work but as leaders we can have a big impact on the happiness of those around us. All you need to do is just order people to be happy, right? We all know that won't work.

What can we do as an organization to invite people to happiness? Let's look at Kjerulf's list again.
1. Be positive. We can focus on success and what we achieve as opposed to avoiding errors. Michael Jordan said "I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed." If we just focused on errors, we would assess this basketball player as a failure.
2. Learn. Growth is key to happiness. Stagnation is lethal to happiness. Not only can we develop a learning culture with respect to our work, we can encourage, support, and pay for employees who want to learn new skills outside of work. Steve Jobs credited his study of calligraphy as a key part of his thinking on the design of the Mac.
3. Be open. Honesty and trust at work are critical and you have the biggest impact on this. When people feel they are constantly being judged with an eye toward documenting a case to getting fired, they won't be honest. This hurts business. It is also bad for employees home lives. Since they can't release the frustrations of work at work because of fear, they take them home and release the toxins there. Not good for relationships.
4. Participate. This is where I think leaders can have the greatest impact: give people control, don't take control. this invites participation in a big way.
5. Find meaning. Whether it's understanding your Why or establishing organizational clarity, ensure your company is first, honest about what they are trying to achieve, public about it, and practice it.
6. Love. Kjerulf's interpretation of love is action oriented. In other words, love isn't something you feel, it's something you do. He gives examples of behaviors that will improve interpersonal relationships and improve the environment for love. For example, give full attention to the person you are talking with, simple and true.

And, as a bonus...happiness makes you healthier as well. Kjerulf cites a study where 21,900 nurses were monitored and the findings were that unhappiness and stress at work was as bad for your health as smoking.

Let's work on setting the conditions for our people to be happy, and success, and profits, will follow.

Scrum and XP from the Trenches (Enterprise Software Development)
Scrum and XP from the Trenches (Enterprise Software Development)
by Henrik Kniberg
Edition: Paperback
Price: $20.66
34 used & new from $13.60

5.0 out of 5 stars And that's how it's done..., February 6, 2013
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My software friends are talking about Scrum, Agile, Pair Programming and I knew nothing about it. I have a friend who even suggested that Agile could be extended to general organizational design and even leadership!

I read Henrik Kniberg's book, Scrum and XP (Extreme Programming) from the Trenches, on his suggestion and, well, he's right!

Kniberg's book is a concise "how to" on how his company implements Agile in their software development business. It's chock full of great ideas and details that come only from those that have actually practiced something. As such, I gained a good insight into how Agile and Scrum work, and you will too.

What I want to explore more, however, is the idea that Agile can be applied as a model for leadership, or, more precisely, how can the practices of Agile be applied more broadly to knowledge workers? I think the best way to think about it to briefly recap the points of Agile and at every point where you see the word "product" think "culture." Let's see how that works.

1. The Agile process starts with describing stories about how the product should work. The focus is not on how things aren't working but how they should work. Process step 1: collect stories.

2. In preparation for the sprint planning meeting, have the product backlog (the list of stories about how we want our culture/product to be) in shipshape. This means being clear about the outcome including an defined "when done." This invokes the element of clarity and measurability. When we do workshops on changing culture this reminds me of the step where I ask, "...and how would we know...."

3. Have the sprint planning meeting with the team. Allow the team to determine the scope of what projects will be included in the upcoming sprint. Principle: give control, don't take control. Corollary: move authority to information, not information to authority.

4. Determine overall sprint goal prior to closing the planning meeting. This ensures the necessary supporting condition of clarity is in place.

5. Launch the team and get managers, coacher, owners, out of the way. Again, giving control to the people who know (the coders, testers, developers).

6. Always test the product with a demo before saying "done." This emphasis on actual products is very helpful, especially when changing business cultures where sometimes there is a tendency to think in terms of vague changes in mindset. Instead, we should focus on specific behavioral changes that we can observe and measure.

7. Conduct an assessment of how the Sprint went and measure team velocity. This would apply to following up on whether behavioral changes are sticking or not?

OK, well, that seems clear enough but when it came down to it, what was the leadership team actually working on -- the parallel to the code the developers were writing? Well, I think the code (sometimes I call it the DNA) for the company's culture is written in the policy documents that give authority for making decisions and detail how we will interact with each other. The cultural "coders" work on these policy documents in the same way the software developers work on the code.

What the Best College Teachers Do
What the Best College Teachers Do
by Ken Bain
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.09
195 used & new from $5.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to get people to think?, February 4, 2013
College costs since I graduated in 1981 have risen twice as fast as medical costs, three times as fast as family incomes and four times as fast as inflation. With average private school costs approaching $40,000 a year and public school costs approaching $20,000 a year, the OECD estimates that the United States spent 2.6% of GDP in 2008 on education, about $370 billion. Given the investment, understanding what the best educators do is important.

Ken Bain, Director of the Research Academy for University Learning at Montclair State University is attempting to answer that. He has written about it in his 2004 book What the Best College Teachers Do.

The book is based on research done studying (observing, videotaping, interviewing) what the best college teachers do. One could poke holes at the rigor of the study (who defines what "best" is, who identified the "best" teachers, is it anything close to the complete set, and so forth) and claim that the findings are essentially expert opinion. Even so, the book is supremely useful.

The findings are presented along the following lines:
1. Outstanding teachers know their subjects, including the history of their subject, extremely well.
2. Exceptional teachers treat their lectures, discussion sessions and classes as serious intellectual endeavors.
3. The best teachers expect more thinking from their students.
4. The best teachers create environments where learners feel a sense of control over their education, work collaboratively with others, believe their work will be considered fairly.
5. Highly effective teachers tend to reflect a strong trust in students.
6. All the best teachers have a systematic program to assess and continue to improve their own efforts.

In the end I was struck that it all amounts to getting people to think. Of course, this is exactly what businesses with knowledge workers are trying to do, so the question that begs to be asked is this: to what degree are these ideas applicable to business leaders, and to what degree should businesses attempt to replicate the best practices, environment of these college professors? In other words, shouldn't a business that is trying to get people to think feel like a college classroom where we are trying to get people to think?

Criticism of the book has been along the lines of it being "too idealistic," "not applicable to the real world," "only would work with highly motivated students in Ivy League schools." I'm not worried about all of that. However, one area that I did miss was an emphasis on stories. From my speaking experience, I have learned that stories are a wonderful way to make an emotional connection and convey content that people will remember. Bain cites examples where the best teachers have used stories, like Feynman's frog in the swimming pool, but he doesn't specifically call it storytelling, he calls it "good explanations."

The Lost Art of the Great Speech: How to Write One--How to Deliver It
The Lost Art of the Great Speech: How to Write One--How to Deliver It
by Richard Dowis
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.26
112 used & new from $3.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful advice. Historical Examples., January 26, 2013
Richard Dowis is a speech writer and president of the Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature.

The book progresses logically from concept development through outline through written copy through delivery. It's probably natural that there is heavy emphasis on writing the speech, and here it's helpful. He includes a historical example with each chapter and I found these interesting and useful.

He also references helpful resources, audio recordings of speeches and web sites.

And yet, a good speech is much more than the written word -- including intonation and tempo of the speaker, facial expressions and body language, and authenticity. Still looking for a good book on that. Any ideas, let me know.

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