5 Books on Leadership, Innovation, Change, Future, Joy and Decision Making

Books are great way to spend your time.

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September has been a great month to read some terrific books. Here are 5 good ones I liked reading recently.

Leadership in Turbulent times by Doris Kearns Goodwin: This is one of the best books on leadership you will ever read. 4 leaders Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson are dissected right from their childhood through their adversity to their leadership philosophy. This is truly a tour de force. I loved the last section which has great leadership tips for all of us. Some of these types of books can be dry to read but this is so engaging I couldn’t put it down. The big takeaway is they persisted well beyond any personal setbacks. In fact one of the examples provided is Lincoln’s friends had to hide sharp objects from his room because he could hurt himself. Theodore Roosevelt lost his wife and mother on the same day. It is an inspiring account of what true leadership is in times of crisis. Abraham Lincoln stood for transformation leadership. Some of the things he did well were gather first hand information, acknowledge when failed policies demand a change, and exhaust all possibility of compromise before imposing executive power. Theodore Roosevelt stood for crisis management. Some of the things he did were to calculate risks of getting involved, use history to provide perspective, and be ready to grapple with reversals. Franklin Roosevelt stood for turnaround leadership. Some of the things he did were draw a demarcation between what has gone before and what is about to begin and strike balance between realism and optimism. Lyndon Johnson stood for visionary leadership. Some of the things he did were make a dramatic start, lead with your strength and master power of narrative.

Imagine it forward by Beth Comstock and Tahl Raz: This is all about unleashing the imagination of the people who work in your organization. Of course, it is a part biography and even if you ignore those parts there is enough here of value. The main thesis is the change is never going to be slower than it is today. The only way to play in the future is to embrace change as Tom Peters likes to say. You must truly re-imagine yourself to have a successful future. One of the ideas is that if something occurs a third time it is a trend. She also talks about emergent leadership which is all about ditching hierarchy, giving people permission to fail, controlling the information flows and managing the space where you don’t know what will happen next. This is a good book on dealing with change.

21 lessons for the 21st century by Yuval Noah Harari: If you have read Homo Deus there is some repetition here. He also doesn’t really offer any clear pathway forward and it could be argued that no one else has as well. There is a lot of talk about AI and how none of our jobs are safe from automation. He also dwells into religion, terrorism and so many topics across the board. Last chapter he talks about meditation. The main takeaway is to keep reinventing yourself all the time. The key question is even if universal basic income is provided and we don’t need to work for money what will humans do to find meaning. I tried to answer this question with this article.

Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee: This is an enjoyable book and appeals to your aesthetic senses. You can look at your life through the prism of joy. The takeaway is to create an environment where you feel joy. Create a workspace that brings joy to you. Keep symbols that remind you of joy.

Farsighted by Steven Johnson: This is all about making better decisions. There are lots of examples and of course this covers a lot of ground that other books of the same genre have covered. One of the things I liked is you should engage more in deliberation before deciding anything. So, do not act on impulse. Just as what is mentioned by Daniel Kahneman in Thinking Fast and Slow there are two types of thinking. System 1 is immediate action on impulse. However, we should engage more in system 2 thinking which is slow and deliberate. Of course, it is not easy even though it may be the right thing to do.

There you have it 5 books you can read to end this year on a high note. Thanks for reading this post.

The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.

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