Dec 3, 2018 | Leadership

The dizzying news cycles and political divisiveness of this year can be enough to leave the strongest among us searching for answers. Turning to a meaty book on leadership, culture, or how to maintain clarity in a world of toxicity can be an excellent way to recharge your leadership batteries.  If you’re not sure which books to add to your holiday wish list this year, here are some fresh titles to consider.


1. The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle

What it’s about: Recommended by both organizational behavior expert Adam Grant and “The No A**hole Rule” author Robert Sutton, Coyle’s book examines how successful groups of people — from Navy SEAL Teams to the San Antonio Spurs — work together so well.

Why pick it up:  For a fresh perspective to a topic that’s often overcomplicated: how humans can function in groups. Coyle explains why addressing our most basic psychological needs is key to a high-performing culture, and he does so with colorful examples from all walks of life.





2. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brené Brown

What it’s about:  Researcher Brené Brown – a legend among TED Talk devotees – has devoted herself to covering the subject of brave leadership during a time of scarcity, fear, and uncertainty.  Based on new research conducted with leaders, change makers, and culture shifters, she’s crafted a practical playbook based on research with 150 global C-suite executives.

Why pick it up: To learn how to unlearn, choose courage over comfort, and not allow fear to keep you from stepping up.






3. Bring Your Human to Work:10 Surefire Ways to Design a Workplace That Is Good for People, Great for Business, and Just Might Change the World by Erica Keswin

What it’s about:  Given the rise of digital interface and debates about the merits of open space in workplaces, Keswin offers savvy and timely strategies to craft vital and intentional work practices that account for the complexity of our employees’ real lives.

Why pick it up:  To return to the basic rules of humanity during a time when we’re living in the Wild West and no sheriff is coming to town.






4. Superminds: The Surprising Power of People and Computers Thinking Together by Thomas Malone

What it’s about: From the father of collective intelligence, a refreshingly realistic view of how computers will help us tackle the most complex problems as artificial intelligence becomes less artificial.

Why pick it up: To put worries about AI into perspective and get fresh insight into age-old human dynamics while illuminating the incredible possibilities powered by the use of ever-accelerating computer technology.







5. The Challenge Culture: Why the Most Successful Organizations Run on Pushback by Nigel Travis

What it’s about: The executive chairman and former CEO of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins reflects on the discipline he’s developed to offer a blueprint for creating a culture where employees engage in healthy debate to solve critical issues.

Why pick it up:  For road-tested truths about how to give your team members the freedom to speak up and question the status quo, to talk in a civil way about difficult issues, and to be encouraged to debate strategies and tactics in the spirit of shared purpose.






6. Keeping At It: The Quest for Sound Money and Good Government by Paul Volcker

What it’s about: As Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1979 to 1987, Paul Volcker served under six presidents. Told with wit and humor, Volcker shares enduring lessons about the critical importance of open, disciplined, and efficient leadership in government.

Why pick it up:  With America’s constitutional system and political traditions undergoing a stress test, Volcker’s memoir provides an inspiring call for restoring public service and trust in government.






7. Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin

What it’s about: Goodwin draws upon the four presidents she has studied most closely — Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson — to explore their development, growth, and exercise of leadership.

Why pick it up:  This seminal work provides an accessible and essential roadmap for both emerging and established leaders in every field. In today’s polarized world, these stories of authentic leadership in times of apprehension and fracture take on a singular urgency.

History is filled with great leaders who were avid readers and writers (Winston Churchill won his Nobel prize in Literature, not Peace).  Make time this holiday season to give yourself the gift of deep, broad reading to cultivate the information and insight you need to give your team the leader they deserve.


Question: What books have had the most impact on you as a leader?

Download our 7 Leadership Books for Your Holiday Wish List infographic and start shopping!

Driven by the premise that excellence is the result of aligning people, purpose and performance, Center for Executive Excellence facilitates training in leading self, leading teams and leading organizations. To learn more, subscribe to receive CEE News!



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