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New Year, new reading list: 15 titles that inspired us

January 6, 2017

What do the people who are in the business of developing leaders read? Inspiration is a key ingredient that interests us. Making an impact, enabling change, fostering innovation, and individual growth are also common themes.

At Linkage, we’re passionate about the many facets of leadership development. And, we’re eager to keep challenging ourselves so that we can guide the thousands of leaders we work with each year—on their journey to lead differently and discover their own greatness.

So as we enter 2017, we wanted to share with our readers some of the books we’ve read in the last 12 months that have impacted us in meaningful ways and challenged us to change our outlooks on our professional and personal lives.



From Peggy Boyer, Principal Consultant and Executive Coach:

conscious-capitalism-coverConscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia

At once a bold defense and reimagining of capitalism and a blueprint for a new system for doing business, Conscious Capitalism is for anyone hoping to build a more cooperative, humane, and positive future. The authors argue that both business and capitalism are inherently good, and they use some of today’s best-known and most successful companies to illustrate their point. This book will help you to understand how four specific tenets—higher purpose, stakeholder integration, conscious leadership, and conscious culture and management—can help build strong businesses, move capitalism closer to its highest potential, and foster a more positive environment for all of us.



18-minutes-cover18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction and Get the Right Things Done by Peter Bregman

In this book, Bregman shows how busy people can cut through all the daily clutter and distractions and find a way to focus. His approach allows us to safely navigate through the constant chatter of emails, text messages, phone calls, and endless meetings that prevent us from focusing our time on those things that are truly important to us.





From Dana Yonchak, SVP of Marketing:

the-seventh-sense-coverThe Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks by Joshua Cooper Ramo

Using varied stories and examples, from Buddhist warriors to politicians, academicians and more, Ramo offers a new way to think about and define “networks,” and how visionaries who can leverage networks differently gain competitive advantage. Principles of communication, collaboration and connection are changing dramatically in our wired and unwired world. Hearing the perspectives of visionary leaders from all walks of life and circumstance who interact with these rapidly moving dials with agility and bold thinking has me thinking differently about streamlining, collaboration and influence.



From Susie Kelleher, Principal Consultant:

the-only-way-to-win-coverThe Only Way to Win: How Building Character Drives Higher Achievement and Greater Fulfillment in Business and Life by Jim Loehr

Jim Loehr is a performance psychologist who has long studied human behavior and extraordinary performance. In this most recent of his many books he does a brilliant job outlining how far too often character is compromised for the sake of achievement, and how we all fall into this trap at times. He brings back into the light what is most important for our own happiness and fulfillment and what truly drives outstanding performance. It has significantly changed me for the better and one of the first books I recommend to everyone!



From Briana Goldman, Consultant:

productive-workplaces-coverProductive Workplaces:  Dignity, Meaning, and Community in the 21st Century by Marvin Weisbord

I was aghast when my colleague, Mark Hannum, recommended Productive Workplaces to me. It’s a hefty 576 page tome; an ode to the history of Organization Development. Weisbord’s description of the evolution of the field, married with practical case studies has had a profound impact on me. My approach to consulting, and how I understand my profession has been transformed. Not a page in my book has gone unhighlighted.

A few of the nuggets that I gleaned and now wholeheartedly espouse, in no particular order, are:

On Leadership:
– There are three goals that pilots have―get the plane into the air, keep the plane in the air, and make the plane go where you want. It’s not so different for organizations.
– Leadership is best defined by effective behavior more than by personality type, i.e., leadership is what you do, not who you are.

On Developing Organizations:
– Individual training, no matter how powerful, cannot be by itself a strategy for organizational change.
– The best insurance policy is having all workers involved. It takes wisdom to realize that no single person knows enough to do it all and it takes courage to involve those who have the information and control the change.



From Matt Norquist, President and CEO:

the-road-to-serfdom-coverThe Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek

While this treatise is almost 70 years old, much of its observations still hold true today, and are particularly relevant as we face national and global ideological impasses, many of which center on the issues of personal freedoms and centralized control. Hayek’s arguments for personal and market freedoms are resonant to me as an American, but also as a leader, just trying to figure out how to give my people just enough freedom with just enough guidance to get the most for everyone.



till-we-have-faces-coverTill We Have Faces
by C.S. Lewis

This one stuns me every time I read it. It’s a story about knowing yourself and being truly known―about how difficult that is to cultivate, and how freeing it is once you do it. Not to mention a story about war and leadership, about fiscal governance, and about how women have to work harder to get through the glass ceiling. Finally, a reminder that leadership, like any good story, is about drawing the other in, to a tale they want to be a part of―a plot where they too can know and be known.




From Claire Edmondson, Director of Strategic Accounts:

moral-tribes-coverMoral Tribes: Emotion, Reason and the Gap Between Us and Them by Joshua Greene

This book was written by both a neuro scientist and a philosopher, and so it gives a unique perspective on how we, societally, can find more common ground with others, no matter what culture. It starts with one question: how do we live together (as a tribe) when we have so many different cultures―and still be able to solve problems?

The author provided a new way for me to think about how I act day-to-day in solving problems and living a better life. He shared a few tips for how we can move beyond our own personal biases and see each other in the world as individuals. He shared examples of many cultures and how these cultures solve problems―giving a true global perspective of humanity.



From Richard Leider, Founder/Chairman of Inventure and Co-Chair of Linkage’s Global Institute for Leadership Development®:

tribe-coverTribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger

Using global stories and solid sources, Junger clarifies why we have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding. This tribal connection has been largely lost in modern society, but regaining it may be the key to leadership development. The core theme, writes Junger, is that “humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it; what they mind is not feeling necessary.”





From Susan MacKenty Brady, Principal Consultant and EVP of Global Program Strategy & Development:

triggers-coverTriggers: Creating Behaviors that Last—Becoming the Person You Want to Be
by Marshall Goldsmith

Change, no matter how urgent and clear the need, is hard. Knowing what to do doesn’t ensure that we’ll actually do it. We’re superior planners, says Goldsmith, but become inferior doers as our environment exerts its influence through the course of our day. We forget our intentions. We become tired, even depleted, and allow our discipline to drain. Goldsmith offers a simple solution in the form of daily self-monitoring, hinging around what he calls “active” questions, which measure our effort, not our results.


daring-greatly-coverDaring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead  by Brene Brown

Dr. Brown dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and argues that it’s our most accurate measure of courage. In a world where “never enough” dominates and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive and uncomfortable. Putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of getting criticized or feeling hurt. But when we step back and examine our lives, we’ll find that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as standing on the outside of our lives looking in and wondering what it would be like if we had the courage to step into the arena.


the-power-of-purpose-coverThe Power of Purpose: Find Meaning, Live Longer, Better by Richard Leider

Purpose is fundamental and gives life meaning. It gives us the will not just to live, but also to live long and well. Purpose is an active expression of our values and our compassion for others—it makes us want to get up in the morning and add value to the world. Leider details a graceful, practical, and ultimately spiritual process for making it central to your life. This revitalized guide will help you integrate it into everything you do.





From Danielle Lucido, Manager of Strategic Accounts:

shakti-leadership-coverShakti Leadership: Embracing Feminine & Masculine Power in Business by Nilima Bhat and Raj Sisodia

This book is yogic inspired, describing how to harness authentic source power in leadership. With Shakti, the goal is to achieve self-mastery internally and be of selfless service to the world through acts of conscious life-giving caring, creativity, and sustainability.

History has been built on traditional “masculine” leadership qualities, i.e., hierarchical, militaristic, win-at-all-costs. The authors show a more balanced approach to leadership that is generative, cooperative, creative, inclusive, and empathetic. While these are traditionally regarded as “feminine” qualities, we all have them.



From Stacey Gordon, Senior Recruiter:

fish-coverFish!: A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results by Stephen Lundin, Harry Paul, and John Christensen

The authors share four simple practices that, when applied daily, help anyone to be more energized, effective, and fulfilled in work and in life:

1. Choose your attitude every day. You can choose your own attitude and how you respond to others.  It is your choice how you respond and react―whether you are positive or negative.

2. Play. Enjoy each day―make it and keep it fun.

3. Make their day. Go out of your way every day to do something positive―exceed expectations.

4. Be present. Be available and attentive when interacting with others. Don’t get distracted by your phone, your email or what is going on around you. Give people your undivided attention. Show them that they matter.


the-dream-manager-coverThe Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly

In this fictional story, the managers try to figure out why turnover is so high. What they find is that it is not always about how much people get paid. Other things, that managers can control, often play into people’s loyalty to their company and enjoyment of their work. They make simple changes that show the employees they are listening and that they care―it makes a world of difference.






What’s on your reading list for 2017? What have you read in the last 12 months that inspired you? Share with us by leaving a comment below.

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