Want to inspire your team and organisation? Do you need to work on your leadership skills in order to improve your team's efficiency? We have selected and reviewed a number of leadership books to help you grow.
Future brain – The 12 keys to create your high-performance brain
Author: Dr Jenny Brockis
In Future Brain, Dr Brockis summarises facts, experience and observations to help professionals manage their choices – and, therefore, their consequences – more effectively. For many, these insights will help with influencing a team’s behaviours and the environments in which we work.
The 12 keys are a mixture of common sense, scientific study and anecdotal input, which may cause many readers to revisit their own knowledge and perspectives on health and wellbeing. The combination of appropriate diet, behaviour and lifestyle choices are all broken down in easy-to-follow content, allowing the reader to see benefits to the brain.
For example, “sitting is the new smoking” is one phrase used to shock readers out of complacency and encourage them to focus on movement and activity, and reduce sedentary lifestyle choices.
The reader is encouraged to reflect upon individual and collective potential to manage change, create innovation, secure collaboration and provide essential leadership. The benefits include healthier, more productive and more successful individuals, and therefore teams.
Having spent considerable time learning and practising mindfulness, I appreciate the subject being brought to the fore.
Through a combination of information, questioning and reflective summaries, Dr Brockis encourages us to take individual responsibility and make conscious choices about ourselves.
Reviewed by Sheilina Somani
Too fast to think
Author: Chris Lewis
Publisher: Kogan Page
In his foreword to Too Fast to Think, Sir Ken Robinson defines this book as “part memoir; part meditation on why creativity matters in life and work, and why it’s at risk; and part manual on what leaders in every sort of organisation can do to help it flourish”.
The speed and noise of modern life make it hard for us to be quieter, think deeply and be creative. This book aims to allow everyone to do these things by changing their attitudes.
Creative ideas flourish when we are in quiet, familiar and comfortable spaces. Unfortunately, technological developments have led to people having far less free time, changed our behaviour and created stress. Everyone moves too fast. There is more communication, but less conversation; more information, but less learning; more speed, but less progress. Information has increased in quantity, but decreased in quality. Productivity has increased, but wellbeing and creativity have decreased.
Too Fast to Think is essential reading if you want to improve your creative process and reach insights more easily. It explains the challenges of the modern world and explains how to overcome them through creativity. It could be used to inspire project managers to use creative thinking to find permanent solutions.
With the advice in this book, project managers could improve their work and communication methods, and increase their projects’ productivity and creativity.
Reviewed by İpek Sahra Özgüler
Leading with vision
Authors: Bonnie Hagemann, Simon Vetter and John Maketa
Price: £14.99 (paperback)
Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing
This book explores how to build and communicate an engaging corporate vision to get ‘generation Y’ employees’ buy-in. It is always encouraging to see someone championing active engagement with, and understanding of, the people that make up teams and organisations.
Although the thread of this book focuses on generation Y, I am sure that what the authors are advocating would help anyone feel more invested in their work and, in return, help their organisations get more out of them.
At the start of the book, the authors use anecdotes to bring their methodology to life. This is interesting and feels natural, but, later on, begins to feel like an attempt to flesh out what might otherwise have been a much shorter read. Luckily, there are ‘takeaways’ at the end of each chapter, so the reader can choose to skip the padding if they want and go straight to the tools.
This book probably has a space in the marketplace simply because there’s not enough out there aimed at helping leaders (project managers or not) understand how to engage and lead rather than drive their employees. Ultimately, this is what many intangible projects live and die by.
There is a disappointingly ‘Kotteresque’ shadow behind the content of this book. It doesn’t take much to imagine his devotees developing it into a toolkit for mobilising employees so that leaders can use and control them. It would be nice to see a version of this book written from the other end of the vision conversation – ‘Following With Vision: The employee’s blueprint for demanding a compelling vision and engaging the leadership’.
Reviewed by Roger Batho
When execution isn't enough
Author: Claudio Feser; foreword by Manfred Kets de Vries
This is a practical guide on how to lead individuals and whole organisations in an inspirational way. It takes the reader through a series of frameworks for how to influence others and achieve organisational change. The frameworks are based on McKinsey and others’ research, and reference the neuroscience of our brains, how we learn and the insights that come from personality tools.
It is short and easy to read, and yet packed with useful information. The author uses the storytelling formula that has worked so well in other business books of this type to illustrate the application of the theory.
Each chapter is well referenced. There are clear guidelines for how to apply the frameworks. The foreword by Manfred Kets de Vries offers additional insights and depths.
As a change practitioner, however, I would have liked to see references to other key works relating to influence and change. I will be bringing aspects of the frameworks and insights into my work with managers. I am sure that project (and line) managers will want to try them out in relation to how they influence and inspire people.
Readers who enjoyed Eliyahu M Goldratt’s The Goal and Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team will find that this book has a similar style and quality of content.
Reviewed by Elisabeth Goodman