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Spring Leadership Books: A Quick Tour

Starting this week, we plan to update you once a month on the newest books that leaders -- and soon-to-be-leaders -- need to read. Today we've rounded up four new, spring books on leadership: three published in March and one to be published in April.

1. Greater than Yourself: The Ultimate Lesson of True Leadership by Steve Farber

Farber warns readers in a recent blog post on his website that the lesson he wants to teach in Great Than Yourself, may seem utterly counterintuitive, especially in the hyper-competitive world we live in today. And that lesson is this: Your own greatness as a leader (or in just about any other role you take on, for that matter) lies, paradoxically, in your ability to cause others to be greater than yourself. Farber, president of Extreme Leadership, Incorporated, an organization devoted to the cultivation and development of "extreme leaders" in the business community, explains that the best way to get yourself out of a crisis is not to focus on your own peril, but to reach out and boost someone else. Farber then challenged staff members of Up with People, an international development program, to take the Great than Yourself (GTY) initiative. This challenge came to be called the GTY Project. One man who took up the challenge says in a video interview on the GTY website: "It's a natural thing to want to make other people better. But in our society, we have turned it into an unnatural thing. And to try to reverse that, which I think is what the GTY challenge is all about, it takes a lot of work, not just in the person you pick as a GTY, but in yourself."

2. The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz

Jackie Novogratz decided as a 25-year-old banker to leave her career and start a new life in Africa. She told Fortune Magazine the story of how one day, as she was feeling utterly unsure of how exactly to go about "changing the world," she ran into a young boy in Kigali, Rwanda:

My Uncle Ed had given me a blue sweater when I was in middle school. A soft blue wool sweater, with stripes on the sleeves and an African motif on the front-two zebras walking in front of a snow-capped mountain. This day in Rwanda, I ran over to the boy, who was obviously terrified. I grabbed his shoulders and turned down his collar. Sure enough, it was my name, Jacqueline Novogratz, on the tag.

Since then, Novogratz has devoted her life to understanding global poverty and finding ways of tackling it. She founded the Acumen Fund in 2001, which invests in fledgling companies and organizations that work to create stronger infrastructure and bring critical services to the world's poor. (Watch video clips of Novogratz speak about issues including poverty and "patient capitalism" on the website of TED, an annual conference that brings together some of the world's most innovative thinkers and doers.) The Blue Sweater, published just a few weeks ago, is a how-to guide on tackling poverty that challenges readers to "grant dignity to the poor and to rethink our engagement with the world."

3. Problem Solving 101: A Simple Book for Smart People by Ken Watanabe

What is leadership if not problem solving? Interestingly enough, author Ken Watanabe originally wrote Problem Solving 101 for Japanese schoolchildren, hoping to shift their learning strategy from memorization to critical thinking. A unique book full of funny pictures, simple diagrams and other visual aids, it quickly became popular with Japanese adults. Watanabe, who went to school in Japan until eighth grade before moving to Greenwich, Conn., told USA Today that the inspiration for the book came from the fact that U.S. schools focus less on memorization than Japanese schools do, and are much better at teaching critical thinking. But the man with the Yale undergraduate degree, Harvard MBA and career as a McKinsey consultant, felt that lacking in both countries was the discipline of problem solving. Luckily for us non-Japanese speaking readers, the American edition of Problem Solving 101 was published earlier this month. Check out the book's website, where you can test your problem solving skills by trying out some sample challenges online.

4. Think Like a Champion: An Informal Education in Business and Life by Donald Trump

What can we learn about leadership from Donald Trump? According to the Trump website, Donald Trump has written (at least) 16 books, all of which are his guides to being a personally and professionally successful individual. Next month (April 2009), one more will be added to the list: Think Like a Champion: An Informal Education in Business and Life. We'll just have to wait and see what new insights Trump has to share on thinking like a champion--in the meantime, we can acknowledge that Donald Trump certainly is quite the champion of a businessman. An incomplete list of Trump's accomplishments include: major real estate holdings in at least ten states in the U.S. and six overseas; hotels in three states with at least nine more coming; at least eight different golf clubs throughout the U.S.; a reality television show called The Apprentice and Trump Model Management.

What are you reading? Keep us posted.

By MJ Lee  |  March 27, 2009; 2:45 AM ET  | Category:  Books Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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