Lead yourself and invite others to follow.
How do these elements support your development as a leader? Leaders test reality - beginning with their personal reality and awareness. Leadership comes from the heart. It's a human experience and process. We are not "just" entrepreneurs, but complex leaders making intuitive and reasoned choices to consistently show up, for ourselves and those who choose to follow us.
How do we think? What do experts think about? What information do I need to pay attention to, consider, disregard? Thinking is that intellectual process that goes on in the brain, and creates the ‘mind’.
The Power of Habit: Charles Duhigg’s well-researched book looks at how much of our thinking and decisions are ‘automatic’ – and where our leverage and power is to be aware of and change those patterns when we chose to.
Thinking Fast and Slow: Daniel Kahneman is a Nobel Memorial Prize winner in economics – because he has spent his life trying to understand the way we think – where our power is – and where we most commonly ‘fool ourselves’. This BBC interview is a great starting point – and if you are intrigued by his interview his book is fabulous!
Flow: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi spent his academic career in the US researching and writing about happiness and creativity (120 books!) Flow is a great starting point to read and understand how happiness is often created in that fantastic feeling of ‘lost in the moment’ – how fulfilling total absorption can be. Bringing your whole self to the moment – matching skill and challenge – and fully motivated.
Top Dog: Po Bronson has taken a fascinating look into how we compete, and our drives and personal dynamics so important for success. What does teamwork require? How defeat can (or doesn’t) build character? How does competition drive innovation? Using great stories, Po illustrates some counter-intuitive findings about what drives us.
The Upside of Irrationality: Dan Ariely is another researcher who weaves some great stories and examples around some important science. His blog, and his books look at procrastination, dishonesty, irrationality and other important thinking patterns we share. He is in the midst of crowdfunding a movie – smashing many of our beliefs about dishonesty – in ourselves and others.
Our emotions are powerful. Fear, passion, worry, love and anxiety are strong forces that live within ourselves and others. Our vulnerability, authenticity and real power come from sharing our feelings in the world.
Daring Greatly: Brene Brown is a powerful researcher/storyteller. Her Ted Talk is one of the most watched ever. She also maintains a strong list of wholehearted nonfiction.
Unleashing the Power of Emotional Connection: Raphael Cushnir writes about your feelings in your body and how to feel them fully, and what emotional resistance does to us all. We can become skilled emotional surfers, and wake up one moment at a time. Emotional Surfing.
Crossing the Bridge: Hedy Schleifer is a fascinating psychotherapist who has made a film and a great TED talk about the ‘art of relationships’. Simple but profound concepts and ideas presented with passion and clarity.
Queendom: Emotional Intelligence Test. A real one. With results. Queendom is an interesting (and potentially dangerous spot) where many self-evaluation tools are available online… The center of FEEL is emotional intelligence… from recognizing your own emotions to being able to read them in others and understand. For $10 and about 20 minutes of your time, you can get the full results from this academically rigorous test.
Fierce Leadership: by author of Fierce Conversations – Susan Scott. Susan has done a lovely job of distilling down and exposing many management ‘best practices’ which are the opposite of authentic and vulnerable. Real leaders are fierce - not in an aggressive way – but fierce with YOURSELF… real, candid, frank and authentic. Leaders need a good heart, a well-fed mind and be willing to make decisions. Radically transparent.
Awesomely Simple: John Spence makes it all sound so easy. His lessons about our sense of urgency, disciplined execution and extreme customer focus are well told and powerful. It is about getting the right things done: specific, plans, actions, steps.
Good to Great and Great by Choice: Jim Collins has written classic books and has a powerful website with many articles and tools. Jim’s work celebrates architects over charisma and innovation that lasts. Inner character and integrity become the foundation of leadership and excellence.
In Search of Excellence: Tom Peters has a fantastic blog that is full of fabulous rants on important leadership topics and quotes. Excellence is the next 5 minutes! No excuses. His short and readable manifestos can be quite helpful.
Willful Blindness by Margaret Heffernan: Margaret has a great TED talk about how conflict is central to progress. Healthy conflict. Leaning in respectfully. Actively seeking disconfirmation – to find the conflict around our theories. Thinking partners who aren’t echo chambers… getting things done with others and working together by thinking differently.
Followers: Barbara Kellerman writes clear direct prose, and looks at many of our leaders and leadership with a steely eyed view. She also holds followers as responsible for outcomes as the leaders. Followers matter whether they do little, nothing or something. The leader-follower interaction is important. Leadership Lessons from a Dancing Guy: Derek Sivers' blog posts are more relevant to followership. His 3 minute video, TED talk, and this blog post are a dramatic illustration of the individual decisions that followers make. The power of the follower becomes clear.
Visual Meetings: David Sibbet’s book is a simple read. Lots of great specifics. Visual tips and tricks of how to create great flip charts and how to use big sticky notes. Simple ways to draw, visualize and capture the ideas in a room that everyone can do. We don’t need four years in art college – just these strategies!
The Art of Facilitation: Dale Hunter’s book starts with the philosophy and ethics of facilitation, with subtle understandings of important facilitation dilemmas. It also offers a valuable toolbox and a simple roadmap for personal development. Dale believes that facilitating (leading) groups and others can only be done if you can lead yourself
The Skilled Facilitator: Moving up the continuum of simple to more complex – this is a detailed and well-written resource for new and experienced facilitators and leaders. Roger explains his underlying belief models of Unilateral Control and Mutual Learning models as well as many other useful facilitation models, strategies and behaviours. In-depth discussions and specific ground rules to facilitate in many different situations.
The Case of the Missing Cutlery: Kevin Allen: “Leadership isn’t static – it is going somewhere… a journey toward a fantastic goal.” Setbacks aren’t exceptions – they are an inextricable part of your journey. They are a gift – when things get real, and everyone is paying attention. The powerful leadership moments. Mutual respect and trust creates buoyancy – where we hold each other up because we chose to. Great stories, real life.
Multipliers: Liz Wiseman puts a sobering spin on many of our entrepreneurial ‘habits’ – things that were so important in start-up and bootstrap phase… that are not helpful now that we have 10 or 40 or 400 employees. Great blog, free quiz, much to think about.
Difficult Conversations – Thanks for the Feedback: We want to learn and grow, but we also really want to be just perfect. Listening to feedback is crucial… and quite difficult. Receiving is actually more important than giving. Uncomfortable is where the magic is.
Five Dysfunctions of a Team: Patrick Lencioni – looking at the role of a leader as a pyramid – with vulnerability is the base. Human and real. Written as a fable - short and readable.