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5 Great Books on Leadership…from long ago

Everyone from Bill Gates 2016 Summer Reading List to The Huffington Post and many authors in between have their Top 5 Best Summer Reads. I’m offering a twist to the typical Reading List while digging your toes in the sand. So, here are The Culture Whisperer’s Top 5 Leadership Books to Read at the Beach! I’ll even throw in a BONUS pick at the end, just so you’ll feel you got more than a BARGAIN!

#5 – Shel Silverstein’s, The Giving Tree

I love picture books, and who doesn’t! One of Silverstein’s best and wildly controversial books depending on which side of the fence you are with the relationship between the boy and the tree. Just stop, unplug and enjoy the book for what it is – a journey through life with unconditional love, friendship and communication, giving and joy. The leadership implications here focus on how generous leadership allows for people in an organization to thrive and to be successful even if they don’t necessarily see the long term effects or consequences of their own decisions. It’s up to the leader to give, to communicate, to provide the landscape for his or her employees, peers, colleagues and more to learn, to grow and to embrace the power of relationships.

Leadership success is the balance of egos, results and relationships! Get any one of these three dimensions out of alignment, and all you will have left is the stump – a quiet place to sit and rest; and the tree was happy. The Giving Tree pdf format

#4 – Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi

Yes, everyone does it and I’m a boy so we find the title Giggle-worthy! There’s some really interesting poopy pictures in this one – love those picture books…so, here’s the scoop on the poop. Everyone screws stuff up and leaders frame failures as learning opportunities. Failures are our best education with serendipitous benefits all throughout that failed process. Regardless if you make an elephant-sized poop or a mouse-sized poop, it’s still a poop and there’s something to be gained from that poop.

We eat so we poop. We work and we’re going to make mistakes and it’s all going to be okay, because learning from failures provides innumerable benefits – research, perseverance, determination, dedication, focus, working hard, communication, following up and following through, inspect what you expect and other clichés…you get the idea. I don’t recall learning as much with my successes as I did with my failures. And no, you don’t get a trophy for just being at work. And yes, life keeps score so you better shit or get off the pot Scooter! Everyone Poops pdf format

#3 – Dr. Seuss’, Oh The Places You Will Go!

Yeah, you’re off and away! You’re going to the beach! It’s a great place cuz’ ‘you have brains in your head and feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose!’ You can think and make decisions and your feet can direct your path. As a leader, you face a mountain of decisions every day and so does your team. You decide which direction is best and off you go! Today is the best day to make a decision and never put off today what can be accomplished now.

You’ll never find if you stay behind. No one was bitten on the ass of success! Analysis paralysis can drag you down when complicated questions appear and simple answers are oh so near. There is no 100% guarantee of success. Will you succeed? Sure you will, you’re 98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed. I can’t guarantee your success, but I can guarantee if you work smart, put in the effort and make decisions you will succeed. Success isn’t the destination as you all well know. It’s all about the places you will go! Oh The Places You Will Go! Pdf format

#2 – Another Dr. Seuss favorite, The Sneetches

What better place to be than on a beach with a sneetch! Some of you have a star on your belly and some of you really do shake like jelly. While you may not be yellow, I’m sure you’re a mellow fellow. Let’s hope you’re not one to discriminate, hold prejudice or embrace materialism. A leader must understand each person’s strengths and behavioral tendencies within his or her staff. Not to put pegs in holes or stars on bellies. It’s up to you to appreciate and leverage the unique differences in those strengths and natural abilities Sylvester McMonkey McBean, because you don’t need a star belly machine.

It’s not my plan for everyone to work and live in total harmony and peace in order to be socially acceptable. A leader is one who understands whether you’re this way or that, it matters not. The fit machine can add or remove a star from your belly. What makes your company grow is the fact that you know how to manifest your team’s strengths, how to get the very best from those who want to grow and to embrace the unique intangibles only this sneetch or that sneetch bring to your beach. So, don’t be fooled by looks or stars. It’s up to you to win on ‘your beach’ with all of those with or without stars on thars. The Sneetches pdf format

#1 – All I Really Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum

Fulghum engages each of us with thoughts on life, death, love, pain, joy, sorrow and the best chicken-fried steak in the USA. He reminds us to be unafraid to fly, that naps are good and the best stuff of life is the significance found in the smallest details. In today’s challenging world, his essay on life will resonate more deeply as you discover how universal insights can be found in ordinary events. Our high-tech, low-touch society continues to evolve at warp speed as we are bombarded with multiples priorities with difficult deadlines and near impossible milestones through that stage-gate process at a cadence that’s burns each of us out at some point. There’s very little this author can add on leadership that hasn’t been said – be authentic, generous, transparent, honest, forthright, think slowly, decide quickly and truthful. Everything I Need to Know pdf format

Here are my personal favorites from his poem:

  • Live a balanced life 
  • Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some 
  • Be aware of wonder 
  • The Golden Rule 
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody 
  • And it’s still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

To this day, the foundation for everything you needed to learn was formed way back then. The reason so many people fail in their roles today is they forgot what it was like back then as they can’t seem to get along with their peers and colleagues today for whatever reason. As promised, here’s a BONUS to today’s reading list. As we pass through each decade regardless what generation you’re a part of, all of us reflect at some point in life’s journey on what we’ve done and occasionally what might have been with no regrets.

It’s great to remember and value what’s important. As the years pass, some of us have become a bit bunchy and soft, a bit different from our stronger wooden days, and we never felt insignificant or commonplace. There’s a ‘Skin Horse’ in all our lives and the hope for you this summer is you have an ‘Uncle’ who made you REAL. Go run and play! Enjoy the summer reads! BONUS – The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams or The Velveteen Rabbit pdf format

Leaders don’t change organizations – people inside the org do! Leaders change themselves on the inside to affect change! You facilitate change within the organization provided you’ve made the behavioral and perceptual changes first and your organization is in alignment by modeling those same behaviors. Great leaders are humble – it’s not about your confidence and good self-esteem – Elegant Leaders are not arrogant and filled with self-absorbed self-importance. Stop doing what’s not working and chart a new course. I look forward to and welcome your thoughts, questions and comments. For more articles or to connect with me here on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ or on our website or feel free to email me directly and ask about how you can show up and Become An Elegant Leader With Voltage today!

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