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The Leadership Playlist

Five New Perspectives on Leadership

This month we feature five new books with five very different takes on leadership.

1. Start With the Answer: And Other Wisdom for Aspiring Leaders by Bob Seelert (Wiley)

A CEO of five companies and currently head of the advertising company Saatchi & Saactchi, Bob Seelert distills wisdom from his years of leadership experience into quick, bite-sized chapters. The 16 mini-chapters on leadership cover topics like "What Winners Learn from Losing" and "Delegation: The Art of Letting Go and Holding On." In the chapter entitled, "What is Leadership?" Seelert describes his early days as CEO of a struggling apparel company: why the organization had low standards, how he aimed to change that, and how he began by meeting personally with every member of the company. "As a leader," he writes, "you cannot expect to have followers who support you without first establishing trust."

2. The Adventures of an IT Leader by Robert D. Austin, Richard L. Nolan & Shannon O'Donnell (Harvard Business Press)

You may have idly wondered sometime, "What exactly is a Chief Information Officer, or CIO?" Not a very compelling question for the average person, a fact that makes the achievement of authors Austin, Nolan and O'Donnell (all of them business profs and consultants) all the more notable. Rather than writing yet-another book of bullet-pointed lists and would-be catchy phrases, they created a book of fiction to explore the leadership issues involved in managing information technology. The main character, Jim Barton, has just been appointed CIO -- even though he has zero background in IT -- and there the drama begins. With graphic-novel type illustrations and plausible dialogue, this new genre of fiction-advice makes, if not great literature, then at least good reading.

3. The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing your Organization and the World by Ronald Heifetz, Alexander Grashow & Marty Linsky (Harvard Business Press)

Are you ready to get serious about leadership? This text book-style book offers a complete guide to a theory and practice of leadership developed by the authors, who together consult on leadership at Cambridge Leadership Associates (in addition to offering free leadership advice here at our Leadership House Call blog.) Taking the time to read, interact with and implement the book's insights and challenges is like getting a total leadership makeover.

4. Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business Without Losing Yourself, by Alan Webber (HarperBusiness)

As you might know from reading Alan Webber's regular commentary here at On Leadership, he's a great writer -- dryly hilarious, counter-intuitive and well-versed the successes and failures of many business leaders. In his new book, he shares the best of his stories, drawing from his experience as a business journalist, entrepreneur and co-founder of Fast Company magazine, and draws out the most important lessons of how to realize your ambitions without killing yourself in the process.

5. Get Off Your "But": How to End Self-Sabotage and Stand up for Yourself by Sean Stephenson

When Sean Stephenson was born with Brittle Bones disorder doctors told his parents that he may not live past his first 24 hours. Thirty years later, at a mere three feet tall, Sean discusses his struggles growing up in a world full of "normal" people--but uses them to teach a valuable lesson: in order to be successful in achieving your dreams, you must eliminate excuses, end insecurities and "Get off your But!" "As Sean puts it, anyone can call victim to the "Buts": 'BUT' fears (BUT what if I fail...) 'BUT' Insecurities (BUT I'm not good enough...) 'BUT' Excuses (BUT there's no time...)"

Sean, now a PhD and licensed psychotherapist (he's completing a second PhD in clinical hypnosis), discusses not only what he learned from his hardships growing up, but what he learned from President Clinton about making connections in the workplace, why choosing your words carefully is a key component to success, and how choosing your friends wisely is a good idea.

By Lauren Gentile  |  April 29, 2009; 3:57 PM ET  | Category:  Books Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Becoming a Leader On the Job (Search) | Next: Chief Happiness Officer and Other New Leadership Jobs

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How many leaders read these books? And of those who do, how many become better leaders as a result? Who are these books for? High school or undergraduate college students who have decided, before developing any real career skills and experience, to become leaders? Corporate middle managers who don't think they're making enough money?

Posted by: harrumph1 | May 4, 2009 9:21 PM

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