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Posts Tagged ‘values-based leadership’

Top Ten Books-Understanding Humans and Organizations


Books offer a world of knowledge.

The emotional brain responds to an event more quickly than the thinking brain, Daniel Goleman.

I find that the more time I take to bolster my thinking brain the better my decisions are in business and in the other aspects of life.  Reading books from a range of authors offers me a better way to think, connect ideas and see the bigger picture.

The following list is for anyone in a professional and/or managerial role that is looking for a less bumpy way to evolve through the shift to the [connected/digital era] we are experiencing now. Some of these books were published more than twenty years ago and some were published this year. Some of the older publications have updates and you may prefer to read those. They are all related and they all provide a picture of the workplace to come. I have listed them in the order that I think will most benefit you to read but you can choose your own way through them.

(1) The Art Of Systems Thinking (1997)

Joseph O’Connor & Ian McDermott

This little book is a gem for anyone struggling to understand how and why things happen in any organization. If you want to influence the decision makers in your organization to buy on board to your workplace ideas, start with this book. Being prepared to answer the Why, What, When, Who, Where questions will be easier once you understand Systems Thinking.

(2) The Fifth Discipline (1990)

Peter Senge

Still the best starting point to grasp a reasonable understanding of the value of knowledge in organizations. If you haven’t read this don’t wait – it is as relevant today as it was when first published.

(3) Emotional Intelligence (1995)

Daniel Goleman

Since Daniel Goleman first wrote Emotional Intelligence a number of other authors have published perspectives on Emotional Intelligence in the workplace. I believe that starting with Daniel Goleman’s work offers the reader a solid place to begin to understand how EI affects many aspects of organizational success.

(4) Who Are You Meant To Be? (2013)

Heather Dranitsaris-Hilliard and Anne Dranitsaris PhD

Anyone who has experienced one or more of the many personality or competency based assessment tools in their career will appreciate the work that Heather and Anne have done to bring actionable meaning to the awareness the other tools offer. If you have developed a cynical or resistent attitude towards such assessments based on past negative experiences,  put it aside just long enough to understand the value offered here. Understanding this work will serve you well in any aspect of your life.

(5) Flourish (2011)

Martin E.P. Seligman

Martin Seligman has a friendly, let’s talk, way of writing about psychology. In this work he says: Coaching is a practice in search of a backbone. Two backbones, actually: a scientific, evidence-based backbone as well as a theoretical backbone. Positive psychology can provide both. And that, for this executive coach sounds like great common sense. Even if you are not a coach, this book will provide a nice little positive mood swing, something we can all benefit from.

(6) Immunity to Change (2009)

Robert Kegan & Lisa Laskow Lahey

I like this book as it fits neatly into my own research and work on change and resilience. If you have responsibility for strengthening the outcomes of change in your organization it can be a useful tool to add to your toolbox. I don’t see it as the answer but it does offer some thoughts that help when working through change with diverse teams. The more tools we have to work with the less chance of falling into the ‘one size fits all’ method of change management.

(7) Clear Leadership (2001)

Gervase Bushe

This is an interesting work, somewhat more complex in the ideas inside it that the title suggests. However, it is worth having on your book shelf to refer to once in a while. It has a way of offering clarity when the fog rolls in.

(8) To Sell is Human (2012)

Daniel Pink

I appreciate the work that Daniel Pink has produced, while Drive certainly struck home with many, is it possible that To Sell is Human is more practical? I think so, and I would like to know what you think once you read it.

(9) The Connected Company (2012)

Dave Gray & Thomas Vander Wal

“To keep pace with today’s connected customers, your company must become a connected company. That means deeply engaging with workers, partners, and customers, changing how work is done, how you measure success, and how performance is rewarded. It requires a new way of thinking about your company: less like a machine to be controlled, and more like a complex, dynamic system that can learn and adapt over time.” I always prefer reading authors who have tested their theories and research through their own hands on efforts, it lends a level of credibility that makes all the difference.

(10) Flat Army (2013)

Dan Pontefract

An unobstructed flow of corporate commonality.

Dan has deftly connected the wisdom of many other organizational behaviour and business research authors, added his own brand of organizational dynamics, and woven in his experience of employing these ideas in currently successful businesses. A rarity in leadership writing, offering the theory, research and practical application from the cyber desk of someone who can say, I researched it and also applied it. If you are not familiar with the other works on this list, I suggest you read them first as a way to ease into the groundbreaking work offered in Flat Army.

And that is my Evolve Top Ten List that offers much to consider about organizational life! What are your suggestions? What books have helped shape your thinking and how did they make a difference in how you went about your work?


Values Based Leadership ROI

Welcome back. As promised we are going to talk about operating outside our comfort zone. Most leaders operate outside their comfort zone at different points in their career and how successful the outcomes are depend on how prepared we are to take that leap into the unknown. It requires us to accept that we will be inviting some degree of distributed leadership to be available. It also requires that as a leader you must expect accountability from others and be clear and consistent on that.

If that sounds like a recipe for increasing stress, read on!  One of the best arguments for values based leadership in organizations is that it creates a culture of accountability and allows for distributed leadership. Leaders who operate primarily from a control format, putting rules and policies into place in an attempt to reduce the unknowns will feel quite challenged by this idea.

Values-Based Leadership Delivers ROI

The rewards for creating a values-based leadership practice are significant and the process for shifting an organizational culture to one of accountability and values based decision-making requires a commitment to change. The rewards are significant. Values-based leaders find they are free to attend to the responsibilities of their role, keeping the vision focused forward, making important connections, and creating strength in the marketplace. They are able to trust that the employees in the organization are providing the customer service that is expected and required. They are comfortable with a defined level of distributed leadership because they are committed to the core values and have ensured that the values are communicated, understood and utilized throughout the organization. They trust that decisions are made based on the core values.

In a recent talk at a meeting of local business owners in Vancouver, WebNames President Cybele Negris credited much of her executive success and the growth of the business to values-based leadership. She noted that because she is able to trust her team to be accountable she is free to focus on continuing the growth of WebNames.Cybele strongly believes in values-based leadership and the continued success and growth of WebNames is a testament to the return on investment of this executive style of management.

In our next post we are going to talk about improving performance by making it the centre of attention through consistent and timely communication.Be sure to join us next week and share your thoughts on the state of performance management in organizations today.

Questions To Consider:

How often do the leaders in your organization use the core values as the decision point for actions? Do employees in the organization observe that decisions, both positive and negative are true to the core values? Are the core values and how those values are experienced in action understood consistently by everyone in the organization?



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