The end of the year is finally here. Some of you might be lucky enough to be jet setting off to a sunnier location or throwing yourself down a snowy mountain somewhere, some of you might be staying at home with your family and many of you will be working over the Christmas period. But whatever you’re doing, take some time out for yourself at this peaceful hectic time of the year to curl up somewhere with a good book and get inspired for the year ahead!
Wondering what to choose? Our own Libby Penn has just the answer. These books are great reads that will get you excited and inspired to start the new year off right. Enjoy.
Onward: How Starbucks Fought for It's Life without Losing Its Soul - Howard Schultz
“Stick to your values, they are your foundation.”
In 2008, Howard Schultz returned as the CEO of Starbucks, eight years after he stepped down and became chairman. He was concerned that Starbucks had lost its way and wanted to return it to its core values as well as restore the company’s financial health. In this book, he shares the story of his return and shows how Starbucks managed to achieve profitability and sustainability again, without sacrificing humanity, during one of the most tumultuous economic times in history. This book shows Schultz’s great leadership philosophy of “it’s not just about winning, but the right way to win”, which we couldn’t agree with more.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - Patrick Lencioni
“Great teams do not hold back one another. They are unafraid to air their dirty laundry. They admit their mistakes, their weaknesses, and their concerns without fear of reprisal.”
Having written two best-selling books, “The Five Temptations of a CEO” and “The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive”, Patrick Lencioni decided to turn his focus in this book towards the complex and fascinating world of teams. Like most of his books, the majority of it is written as a business fable about a woman called Kathryn Petersen, CEO for Decision Tech, who faces the challenge of uniting a team in such disarray that it is threatening to bring down the entire company. This book serves as a reminder that leaderships is as much about courage as it is about insight and throughout the story, Lencioni reveals the five dysfunctions of why even the best teams often struggle: absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results. A must read!
The Silo Effect - Gillian Tett
“The word “silo” does not just refer to a physical structure or organization (such as a department). It can also be a state of mind. Silos exist in structures. But they exist in our minds and social groups too. Silos breed tribalism. But they can also go hand in hand with tunnel vision.”
In this book, award-winning columnist and journalist for the Financial Times Gillian Tett talks about how our tendency to create functional departments, or silos, hinders our work and how important it is to break down those silos to unleash innovation. The Silo Effect asks why humans working in modern institutions collectively act in ways that seem stupid, why normally clever people fail to see risks and opportunities that later seem blindingly obvious and why we are sometimes so “blind to our own blindness”. Tatt answers these questions by using her background as an anthropologist and her experience reporting on the financial crisis in 2008. In a series of case studies, she tells stories of both failure and success, and gives great ideas on how to organise office spaces and lead teams of people with disparate expertise. This one is really useful, especially for large organisations, where silos can often appear over time without you realising.
Good to Great - Jim Collins
“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.”
Jim Collins is the founder of a management research lab in Colorado and has spent more than ten years studying and analysing how great companies achieve superior performance, grow and then perform consistently well. This book shows his findings and answers the question, “can a good company become a great company, and if so, how?” Collins and his team of researchers sorted through a list of 1,435 companies, looking for those that made substantial improvement over time, finally settling on 11 with common traits that challenge many conventional ideas of corporate success. This book is great example of how Collins’ data shows that at the heart of those rare great companies is an excellent corporate culture.
Let my People go Surfing - Yvon Chouinard
“How you climb a mountain is more important than reaching the top.”
Written by the founder and owner of Patagonia, Inc., the maker of outdoor clothing, this book demonstrates how a company run by a person with strong beliefs can use its product and market them to spread those beliefs among the public. As the book’s subtitle, “the education of a reluctant businessman” suggests, Chouinard never wanted to be the head of a multimillion dollar company. He wanted to create better outdoor equipment and clothing because he wanted access to better things. Now having found himself in the role, he sees it as an opportunity to change people’s perceptions of the world. The book gives an interesting insight into his “management by absence” business style, where he spends part of the year testing the goods and coming up with new ideas through indulging with his passions for climbing, surfing and other outdoor activities. Sounds like he’s got everything figured out to us! A great read for anyone wanting to see how a passion for your product can make all the difference.
How to Win Friends & Influence People - Dale Carnegie
“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.”
An oldie but a goodie. It’s one of the first best-selling self-help books ever published, written in 1934, packed with solid advice that has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives. Even though it was written in its first form over eighty years ago, it’s still as relevant as ever and will help you achieve your maximum potential in our competitive modern age. Learn the six ways to make people like you, the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking and the nine way to change people without arousing resentment. If you don’t have quite enough time to read all 218 pages, here’s a great blog post that gives you a summary of all the most crucial points.