It's gift-giving season once again, and time for my annual "must read" list. Whether you're looking for a holiday gift for someone else or you're looking to sharpen your own thinking, some valuable golden nuggets exist in each of the following titles.
As usual, these books aren't necessarily new releases, they're just titles I've found myself recommending to many people this past year. And since they seem to be a common prescription for so many acquaintances and clients, they're probably appropriate for a lot of other folks, too.
1. Death by Meeting (ISBN: 0787968056) by Patrick Lencioni. Once again it's a Lencioni book that makes the top of my list. In my professional opinion, most meetings I witness or hear about are a colossal waste of time. It's likely that most of the waste would be trimmed if managers and leaders would follow the advice in this book. The fable Lencioni creates to illustrate the points is a tad drawn out for some, but the message is spot on, and one that every organization could learn from. If you run meetings, I highly recommend you read this book. (For those of us on the go, an audio version is also available.)
2. Lucky or Smart? (ISBN: 1844136914) by Bo Peabody. This fast, spirited account of Peabody's success provides a look into the brain of an entrepreneur. It's a quick-witted tome on how Peabody went from rags to riches with a "damn the torpedoes, I'm not going to get bogged down in the details" mindset. In a nutshell, he says leave managing to the "A" students and entrepreneurship to the "B" students. It's a first-person perspective that will both amuse and inspire those who lead organizations.
3. Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big (ISBN 1591840937) by Bo Burlingham. Long time readers will know that I'm not a huge fan of taking companies public, mainly because the pursuit of shareholder approval often supersedes the focus that made a company successful in the first place. Burlingham outlines fourteen "small" companies that focused on their passion instead of the almighty dollar, and yet gained huge profitability as a result. Essentially, growth for growth's sake is not necessarily the best route to wealth. All small business owners would benefit from reading this book.
4. Stop Telling, Start Selling: How to Use Customer-Focused Dialog to Close Sales (ISBN: 0070525587) by Linda Richardson. This book is mandatory reading for all my sales clients. Reason: One can learn all the steps of a sales process, but if the customer does not feel understood or is not getting his or her needs met, sales numbers will suffer. Richardson not only emphasizes the need to change the way we think about sales, she explains how to do it. A practical, this-is-what-it's-all-about manual for taking you to the next level in your sales career.
5. and 6. When I Say No, I Feel Guilty Vol. II, For Managers and Executives (ISBN: 0970299605) by Manuel J. Smith, Ph.D. and/or Boundaries (ISBN: 0310247454) by Cloud and Townshend. I see major problems caused by weak or non-existent boundaries at all levels of an organization. Both of these books are phenomenal guides for addressing that issue. Boundaries, written by two Christian psychologists, is an excellent book, but some prefer something without the biblical references, so that's where Smith's book comes in.
Essentially, many fall prey to the mindset that they have to do everything asked of them, and that saying "no" is a bad thing that creates problems. The truth of the matter is that many workplace problems are created by an inability to say "no."
Anyone who goes home frustrated because they feel taken advantage of will want to read these books. Both will equip you with tools for how to build better relationships and a better workplace by learning when to say "yes" and "no" with confidence, and without breaking under the pressure.
There they are: Six ideas for good reading across a spectrum of topics. Or maybe there's another book someone's been telling you about. It doesn't matter. Just pick a topic you want to learn about and read up on it.
Bottom line: If you invest time to read, you're investing in yourself.
And here's something I heard long ago: Show me the books in a person's library and I'll tell you about the type of person he'd like to become. Show me the books he's actually read and I'll tell you about what kind of person he actually is.