By Scott Weighart, Director of Learning and Development

With the holidays almost upon us, I thought it would be a good time to pass along some gift ideas for those who are leaders or aspiring to be.  So I asked our leaders and coach/consultants to share their thoughts on what business books they would recommend for our audience.  Whether you’re looking to ramp up your own knowledge or share some wisdom with others, here’s what we suggest and why:

Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours – Lessons on Performance from a Highly Effective Executive by Robert C. Pozen

Recommended by Suzanne Bates, CEO:

Extreme Productivity is written from the perspective of somebody who’s not a productivity guru but who has had a productive career and life.  It’s about the real stuff that executives and leaders need to think about if they’re going to accomplish something great.”


The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle

Recommended by David Casullo, President:

“Leadership and personal development initiatives span the whole gamut of areas necessary to become the best leader a person can become.  Tolle’s book helped me understand that the key to executing on those developmental opportunities is by living fully in the present moment.  Tolle says that all any of us really has is the present moment: We need to embrace it and remain in it as much as we can.  This book transcends spiritual beliefs in a way that makes it practical for anyone.” 


The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons From CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed by Adam Bryant

Recommended by Sarah Woods, Vice President of Strategic Relationships:

“Bryant writes a regular ‘Corner Office’ feature in the Sunday Business section of the New York Times.  For this book, he reflects on interviews with over 75 CEOs and top executives and pulls together all kinds of powerful insights.   Conversationally written, this is a treasure trove of hard-earned wisdom from a wide range of senior leaders, using real scenarios, real strategies, and real mistakes.”


The Eloquent President: A Portrait of Lincoln Through His Words by Robert C. White Jr.

Recommended by Craig Bentley, Vice President:

“This book is not terribly well written, to be honest, but very interesting.  It recalls the development of Lincoln’s speaking style. It starts with him as a young lawyer, riding on horseback on the judicial circuit and regaling his comrades nightly with a plethora of stories and anecdotes.  Moving through his political career, the book focuses on his time in the White House, revealing the care and effort Lincoln put into every spoken word.” 


The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

Recommended by Margery Myers, Executive Coach/Consultant:

“Physician and author Atul Gawande takes the simple idea of the checklist and shows us what it reveals about complexity—and how we can deal with it more effectively.  Spanning a wide variety of fields, Gawande shares compelling stories about how checklists can be a powerful tool for improvement through simplicity.”


The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson

Recommended By Elizabeth Freedman, Executive Coach/Consultant

“Rich in research, entirely readable and action-oriented.  Here’s a must-read for anyone in a client-facing role; it’s also for anyone who wants better ways to build credibility, influence, and sell their ideas inside their own organizations, too.   This is one to read and re-read.”


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Recommended by Meredith Courtney, Vice President of Client Solutions:

 “Despite the title, Quiet is a fascinating read for both introverts and extroverts. Introverts will breathe a sigh of relief to hear someone (finally) making a case for not always being the chattiest person in meetings or social situations.  Extroverts will gain insight into why their introverted colleagues don’t always share the same communication habits or priorities, and why that’s OK. The author presents interesting insights into our society’s preference for and nurturing of ‘extroverts,’ while making a compelling case for the need for ‘quiet leadership’ in business and society.”


The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science

Recommended by Scott Weighart, Director of Learning and Development

“Neuroscience has become an increasingly hot topic in the field of learning and development of late, and this book shows why.  Like many of us, I grew up believing that the brain was pretty much a fixed entity.  As shown in this book and others, that’s not at all the case.  We all have the potential to strengthen our brain—as if it were a muscle—even relatively late in life.  This book also shows you how the choices you make in terms of positive thinking and positive behaviors literally can change your mind—for better or worse.” 


So that’s our list for 2012, though I also should add that the better part of our staff also read and enjoyed the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.  Jobs gave his blessing to this “warts and all account,” and it’s loaded with all sorts of memorable stories and lessons.

Additionally, don’t forget the newest books by our own resident authors:

Thoughts for Tuesday: How Life's Little Moments Teach Us the Greatest Lessons in Business by Suzanne Bates 

This is a “best of” collection of our CEO’s wildly popular weekly blog.  It’s all about sharing everyday experiences and translating them into stories that will inspire you or make you laugh, cry, or reflect.  Whether the stories are personal and professional, they always come with a meaningful leadership lesson.  This book is entertaining but also a good model of how a leader can use stories to make meaningful points.  It’s only available on our website for now.

Leading the High-Energy Culture: What the Best CEOs Do To Create an Atmosphere Where Employees Flourish by David Casullo

This book will help you get clarity about your personal truths—the guiding principles that are crucial to your personal and professional fulfillment.  Each chapter features compelling stories about leaders and a reflective exercise geared to help leaders understand how to create an energized team.  I get to see Dave use these principles in practice every day, and this book really explores the practical steps that underlie the seeming magic of great leadership.

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