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Weekend reads: The books edition

Weekends reads is back after a hiatus, and just in time for the big fall leadership book season. It's October, the time of year when publishers roll out the tomes they hope will be the blockbuster books of the year.

Of course, as leadership guides go, few books will rival Bob Woodward's Obama's Wars. Unlike some of the leadership-by-the-numbers guides the business publishers churn out, Woodward's guide appears to be a gripping, detailed tale of real-life leadership in crisis at work.

But that doesn't mean there won't be a few worth reading, either for knowledge or entertainment. My picks for the big fall book season:

Where good ideas come from: The natural history of innovation.
Reading Steven Johnson, author of Why Everything bad is good for you and Mind wide open, is like reading Malcolm Gladwell, only less predictable. His new book is a contextual romp through the history of innovation that will leave leaders with plenty of ideas for sparking innovation without beating them over the head with a prescriptive formula.

Driven to lead: Good, bad and misguided leadership. I don't know anything about Harvard Business School professor Paul Lawrence. But former Medtronic CEO and smart leadership thinker Bill George loved it, and I have to think someone who's been studying the topic since at least the 1960s would have something smart to say.

Working together: Why great partnerships succeed. Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner would hardly be the first person you'd think would write a book about successful business partnerships. Eisner, who has been painted as "grasping, self-centered, manipulative, and ultimately self-destructive" in an Amazon.com review of James B. Stewart's book about Eisner's reign atop the Magic Kingdom, Disney War, became known for his epic feuds with Dreamworks founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and uber-Hollywood agent Michael Ovitz. If Eisner weren't writing about such an overlooked topic, it might not be worth a read, except for the media insiders looking for the entertainment value. But because most leadership books focus on how to work with the people who report to you, rather than the people you work closest with, Eisner's book may fill a valuable niche. Whether he's the guy to write it is debatable. A taste is here.

Good boss, bad boss. Stanford professor Bob Sutton has followed up his wildly popular No A**hole Rule with a simple book that pares leadership down to its human essence: are you a good boss or a bad boss? Sutton is great at reminding readers that really, it's all about pretty simple stuff: Don't shirk the dirty work, protect your people and squelch your inner "bosshole."

Want to know what government officials are reading? Check out their leadership book picks here.

By Jena McGregor

 |  October 1, 2010; 9:26 AM ET |  Category:  Books , Corporate leadership , Leadership advice , Must reads , Personal Leadership Journey Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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