Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote that our high respect for a well-read man (and I’ll add woman) is praise enough of literature. It also is evidence of the leadership value of some of the best books on my shelf.
Like many people, I rotate my bookshelf, lending out or donating some and replacing them with the latest titles. But there is a core library of books I maintain, for their enduring principles and lessons as much as for inspiration. As I set my sights on another year of fresh challenges, I want to share the best:
Written following Christensen’s fight with cancer, “How Will You Measure Your Life?” takes on some of the most confounding and persistent struggles of today: how to find happiness in our careers and in our relationships. He then addresses them through the lessons of the world’s greatest companies, including Honda and Walmart.
With a disarmingly personal approach and straightforward language, Christensen gets to the heart of these challenges and provides thoughtful solutions rich in integrity. For example, he states, poignantly, that “for many of us, as the years go by, the dreams peel away,” but later resolves this by stating, “understanding what makes us tick is a critical step on the path to fulfillment.” I had the pleasure of watching Christensen present last fall at the World Business Forum in New York and he delivered then as he does in his book, with top-rate inspiration.
It’s long been a frustration of mine that so many companies invest in collecting customer information but then have no idea how to use it toward engagement. This book is for all of those companies, and also for those that actually do know what to do with those insights.
Isson, the global vice president of business intelligence and predictive analytics at Monster Worldwide, has a highly sophisticated understanding of data analytics. Yet his instructions are written clearly, and not just for those with a PhD in the field. Marketers and even ad buyers can put down this book feeling markedly more confident and knowledgeable about the science of information analysis.
Hamel, founder of the international management consulting firm Strategos, makes the case in this compelling read that the single most important quality to corporate success does not exist in operations, but in management innovation. Though not his most recent book (it published in 2007), this is a classic, containing the “refresher” principles we all should return to with regularity.
The book is structured in three parts. The first challenges the reader to envision and innovate his or her own management of the future. The second part presents case studies to see this visionary innovation in action. And in the third, the book presents instructional concepts for creating that future, in part by forcing us to answer the “how” as much as the “what.”
We all have our personal guidebooks that shepherd us through our daily and long-term goals. These represent a short list I am eager to expand, so feel free to share what is on your bookshelf. Happy reading.