It's time once again for my "end-of-year list of recommended reads." These are books that have stood out to me as practical and useful. As always, use this list for your own personal development, or as a suggested gift list for co-workers and relatives. Also as usual, I guarantee that valuable "golden nuggets" can be found in each of the following titles.
At the top of my list this year is Your Brain at Work by David Rock. I first became acquainted with Rock's work a number of years ago when he and research psychologist Jeffrey Schwartz wrote The Neuroscience of Leadership.
In that work, they explained how most change efforts fail because they are implemented in contrast to how the brain works, along with excellent tips for how to make change happen more easily.
In his latest work, Rock takes the concept of brain function (with respect to our productivity) and makes it extremely easy to understand. For anyone who feels overwhelmed, overextended, and nearing burnout, this book will explain why. Best of all it will give you practical suggestions for what you can do differently so you regain control and confidence.
Rock's book is easy to read and the material is organized quite well. Whether it's to help you become more effective or help those on your team, this book earns my highest recommendation.
Second on my list (and yes, a little self-serving) is my own book, Creating Passion-Driven Teams. I was encouraged to write this book by several respected leaders who believe that too often people are promoted to management positions without receiving a blueprint for how to make their teams flourish.
Having two decades of management and leadership training experience, I looked back and identified key attributes of teams I'd worked with that had passion. Then I took a practical approach, combining a balance of "why" and "what to do" so readers would have proven processes at their fingertips. Included are chapters on how to prevent micromanagement, how to motivate without manipulating, and how to turn mistakes into a fervent drive for quality.
Gratefully, the book has a five-star rating on Amazon.com, and one of those reviewers says the book "goes into the aspects that work, [with] experience that has a weight to it, along with common sense." Another reviewer says "I highly recommend it for any business owner who wants to get out of micromanaging and someday have peace." It's these types of comments I was hoping for when I wrote the book.
Next on my list is a book by Jeretta Horn Nord, entitled A Cup of Cappuccino for the Entrepreneur's Spirit. Similar to the "Chicken Soup" series in format, this book is a collection of short stories outlining the life paths of more than 50 entrepreneurs. Each story outlines what drove these people into starting their own business, along with some of the struggles and triumphs along the way.
Nord's purpose is to inspire and energize entrepreneurialism, and in my opinion, she accomplishes her goal. It's an energizing read for existing entrepreneurs as well as those thinking about becoming one.
In Harvey Deutshendorf's The Other Kind of Smart, readers will get a well-written (and well-formatted) "how-to" book to help them boost their emotional intelligence.
In my opinion, this is must for anyone in management or leadership, as it's been shown over the past 15 years that higher EQ is the prominent differentiator between top performers and average performers.
In other words, if you want to be more successful, boost your EQ. Fortunately, EQ is learnable, and this user-friendly book shows you how to apply EQ principles with real-life examples and scenarios. Even with the increasing number of books on EQ arriving on the market, I don't think you'll find a better book on the subject.
If you care to jump outside the workplace and look at the economy at large, I recommend A World of Wealth, by Thomas G. Donlan. With the world in economic turmoil, questions abound on the best path to take. Donlan does a great job of spelling out the problems with trade protectionism, government regulations, and bailing out irresponsible lenders.
The topic of economics is often clear as mud to many, but Donlan carefully explains (with good examples) how capitalism and free markets work just fine when regulations and government restrictions are removed.
As a small businessman, I'm not a fan of "little guys" getting squashed by corporate giants. This book presents 11 well-written chapters that confirm what I've believed for many years: get government out of the way, and businesses of all shapes and sizes will thrive as they meet the needs of the market.
There you have it. Five of my top recommended reads for 2009. For more books I recommend, visit my blog at www.Workplace-Excellence.com.