27 September 2023

Books worth a read before year’s end

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May Busch* shares four books she believes will be helpful to anyone in the world of work, whatever the stage of their careers.

Motivational speaker and author, Alan Stein once said: “Show me your calendar, your bookshelf and the pics on your phone and I will know exactly what you value, what is important to you and what your true priorities are.”

Well, I’m not going to show you my camera reel or my calendar, but I will show you my bookshelf (pictured).

As for what I’ve been reading lately, here are four books that have made the biggest impression on me.

Impact Players: How to Take the Lead, Play Bigger, and Multiply Your Impact, by Liz Wiseman.

Who it’s for: Early and mid-career professionals who want to stand out at work.

There’s also a section for senior leaders who want to help their team members become impact players.

Frankly, everyone should read this book.

What it’s about: Some talented, smart, driven people who do exceptional work and make an outsized contribution, in other words, impact players.

Then there are equally talented, smart, driven people who do solid or even great work but don’t have the stellar careers they could have had (contributors).

Wiseman explains why this happens and identifies practical, research-based steps you can take to become an impact player.

This book is packed with actionable strategies to help you develop the mindset and practices that will help you become an impact player.

It’s a book I wish I’d had when coming up through the ranks in my career.

This sure would have saved time, energy and mental anguish.

Competing in the New World of Work: How Radical Adaptability Separates the Best from the Rest, by Keith Ferrazzi, Kian Gohard and Noel Weyrich

Who it’s for: Leaders who want to help their organisations win in an environment characterised by uncertainty, ambiguity and change.

What it’s about: In a post-pandemic world where things aren’t going back to normal, you can’t cling to the old ways of working and expect to succeed.

Instead, it’s about adopting a new way of working which Ferrazzi and his team call ‘radical adaptability’.

Discover the four practices leaders must adopt to master radical adaptability.

These include actionable steps and insights from the authors’ research with more than 2,000 leaders during the pandemic.

The common belief that “virtual is suboptimal and in-person is the best way to create connection and innovation” is a misconception.

We can achieve greater innovation and include more diversity of thought by adopting the right practices around virtual work.

The Advantage: Why Organisational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business, by Patrick Lencioni.

Who it’s for: Leaders and managers who want to make their organisations better and reduce unnecessary politics, confusion, turnover and unproductive behaviour.

It’s also useful for aspiring leaders who want to gain insight into what senior management should be thinking about.

What it’s about: Most leaders focus on getting the classic fundamentals right, like strategy, marketing, finance and technology — what Lencioni refers to as the smart side of organisations.

However, the key to the success of an organisation is what Lencioni calls being healthy.

This means having minimal politics, minimal confusion, high morale, high productivity, low turnover.

He shares his Four Disciplines Model for creating a healthy organisation and actionable ways to build it.

What impressed me most were the six questions leaders must be able to answer to give employees the clarity they need, gain alignment and therefore develop organisational health.

The answers need to be in plain English, with no jargon, buzzwords or corporate-speak.

The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win, By Maria Konnikova.

Who it’s for: Anyone interested in a story about an underdog who takes on a big challenge and wins against the odds.

You don’t have to know anything about poker, although poker players will probably enjoy it too.

It helps if you like to connect the dots to your own situation.

What it’s about: It’s not a classic business book, but more of a “can’t wait to see what happens next” story of Konnikova’s experience transforming herself from journalist to champion poker player.

It’s on my list because it turns out the world of poker has some interesting parallels to the world of work and careers.

So much of success and learning how to succeed is simply noticing, observing and, well, paying attention.

Attention is an exceptionally rare commodity in these times of distraction.

These books are part of the new reading habit I adopted at the start of the year.

While my original commitment was to read 50 pages a day, reality has fallen a bit short of that pace, but the main thing is, I am reading regularly still.

*May Busch works with smart entrepreneurs and top managements to build their businesses. She can be contacted at [email protected].

This article first appeared at maybusch.com.

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