3 Books, 2 Websites, and 1 Blog – 2013

In my annual 3 Books, 2 Websites, and 1 Blog, I offer some suggestions for great reads and references.  Hope you enjoy!

The Books

decisiveDecisive:  How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, Chip Heath and Dan Heath. New York:  Crown Business, 2013.

As I was doing research for my June 2013 blog posting, “Taking Time to Think about Decisions”, I came upon Decisive.  I knew of the Heath brothers’ work and own their other books (Made to Stick and Switch) but, I must admit, they are still on my “to read” list. 

As I sat down to read Decisive, I was amazed at how much I enjoyed it. (The term “enjoyed” is one I do not often use to describe “business” books.)  As engaging as a piece of fiction, this book entertains while teaching about the real-life decision-making process.  As I completed my read, I was so charged up I found myself searching for decisions to be made!  I wanted to practice the tips and techniques I had learned.

Starting with a brief description of the Four Villains of Decision Making (narrow framing, confirmation bias, short-term emotion, and overconfidence), the authors take the time to spell out practical, doable techniques for stopping the “villains” in their tracks.  The examples of the techniques in action show the reader how the process is implemented and therefore, how it may be modeled.

This book is for teams, but also for individuals.  The concepts are applicable to all types of decisions with all types of impact.  I highly recommend this read.

fyiFYI For Your Improvement:  A Guide for Development and Coaching, Michael M. Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger. Lominger International:  A Korn/Ferry Company, 2009.

Competencies are the key to effective talent management programs within organizations.  As I wrote in my November 2012 blog posting, “Building Your Organizational House on Competencies”, competencies are the DNA of an organization.

The seminal resource for assisting individuals, managers, and organizations through the competency modeling and development process is FYI: For Your Improvement.

In FYI, the Lominger/Korn Ferry group has identified 67 measurable competencies describing characteristics related to success at work.  Each competency is defined through the use of skilled, unskilled, and overused skill descriptors.  In addition, development ideas and suggestions are attached to each competency.  (Eichinger and Lominger believe that development is best done through 70% being provided by on-the-job experience, 20% by coaching, and 10% through formal learning programs.  Therefore, the remedies listed focus on experiences, tips and actions that are doable and action oriented.)   The inclusion of 19 Career Stallers and Stoppers (potential derailers to success) and 7 Global Focus Areas provide valuable suggestions for today’s organizational environments.

This book is suitable for any person at any organizational level.  For the self-motivated individual, the book clearly describes the actions needed to be successful in a collaborative environment.  For the manager, the book describes the behaviors you may be seeing in your team and gives you the words to communicate the suitability of those actions.  For the organizational development professional, this is your go-to resource for identifying competency models that will drive behavioral success in your company.

elephant whispererThe Elephant Whisperer:  My Life with the Herd in the African Wild, Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence.  New York:  St. Martin’s Press, 2009

Yes – this recommendation may seem a bit odd to include in a review of “leadership” books.  But once you read this, you will see that Lawrence Anthony is the epitome of effective leadership. 

My sister suggested that I read The Elephant Whisperer prior to going on our South Africa trip in September 2013.  Upon return, I wrote of the humbling experience witnessing the gift of forgiveness throughout the country in my October 2013 blog posting, “A Lesson from South Africa:  Witnessing the Freedom to Choose”.  But up to this point, I have not described the second half of this journey – the opportunity to share space with Africa’s Big Five (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, and white rhinoceros) and a variety of other wild game (giraffe, kudu, impala, wildebeest, hippo, crocodile, to name a few).  Words cannot describe the sensations experienced “being there” – witnessing a herd of elephants walking down the road together or a male lion following two females as they scout out their next kill or giraffes calmly eating leaves from the tallest branches in the trees.  Experiences of a lifetime!

The Elephant Whisperer prepared me for the grandeur of this opportunity.  Lawrence Anthony, owner of the Thula Thula game reserve in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, was asked to provide a home for a herd of elephants known to be rogue and destructive.  The choice – take in the elephants or they would be killed.  Regardless of the fact that he and his game reserve crew had never housed elephants, his response was quick.  The elephants were brought to Thula Thula.

The story expands beyond a description of custody of an elephant herd to include their impact on the game reserve, the people of the neighboring town, and the Thula Thula caretakers themselves.  The story is one of building relationships, honoring history and culture, and building trust among men and between men and animals.

Sadly, Lawrence Anthony passed away in 2012.  His legacy of conservation, however, lives on in his three books.  The Elephant Whisperer is one you will not forget.

The Websites

hbrwww.hbr.org

As a long-term subscriber of the print edition of the Harvard Business Review, I have always found the articles to be a great resource for molding my thinking on leadership.  The online version exponentially expands that resource.  The website provides access to articles, case studies, blogs, videos, webinars, courses, and books covering all topics related to operating a successful business today.   Any business-related keyword typed into the search field will result in a plethora of content.  Fascinating – helpful – relevant.

Business journalswww.bizjournals.com

Chances are a city near you publishes a Business Journal.  If so, the printed version is also accompanied (or replaced) by a digital version and a website that publishes daily business news articles relevant to your local area.  The benefit of looking at bizjournals.com, however, is the broader focus.  At this site, you receive news beyond your local boundaries; business highlights from around the country.  Whether local or national, the Business Journal website keeps you abreast of the trending business news of the day.

The Blog

break the framewww.breaktheframe.com/blog/

I was introduced to Alli Polin’s work and her Break the Frame website and blog during the Todd Nielsen 2nd Annual Leadership Blogathon in which we both participated.  My piece, “Ready or Not … It’s Going to Happen!”, spoke of the importance of preparing a succession plan and how that plan will only be successful with two willing partners (the employee and the organization).   Alli’s entry, “Break Out of the Leadership Comfort Zone”, prompted the reader to break away from the status quo and “create a vision that sparkles like the North Star”. 

Since the Blogathon, I have enjoyed reading and learning from Alli’s work.  She intertwines her leadership messages with stories of her family and experiences in her “adopted” country of Australia.  Alli shows us that leaders are human – and as humans, we are bound to make mistakes.  But she always points out that those mistakes are learning opportunities that allow us to “make the leap”.

Check out her blog.  I know you will be enlightened by her thoughts.

I hope you will take some time to read one or more of these recommendations.  And please feel free to share your favorites from this year.

As 2013 ends and 2014 begins, I wish you …

Happy Reading and Happy Leading!

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