Five leadership resources I can’t stop going back to

Last month, I shared some of my top books for campaign success.

Today, I wanted to share some of the leadership resources that most inspire me. These are the books and articles I turn to when thinking about how I show up at work. You’ll notice that the same key themes emerge across them.

  • They challenge us to consider what motivates people; I am amazed by how often we overlook human behaviour when creating strategies and structures.
  • They explore how to become the best version of ourselves before influencing others – introducing honesty, vulnerability, learning and risk-taking as key components of leadership; unpicking some of the damaging assumptions about performance that are often hardwired in corporate culture.
  • And they provide practical strategies to realize these aspirations.

1.Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness

As anyone I’ve ever worked with can attest to, I cannot stop banging on about Brené Brown. Her books, articles and talks have hugely inspired me – especially Braving the Wilderness, which challenges us to confront patterns of behaviour that feel rational, but are stopping us reaching our full potential.

Brown’s powerful combination of self-awareness and self-acceptance; personal integrity and trusting relationships; and establishing the boundaries that allow us to both foster these relationships and take risks, re-imagine leadership.

Her approach isn’t easy to adopt wholesale, but Brown’s stance is powerful because she’s honest about how hard this is. We won’t show up like this every day, but Braving the Wilderness provides us with practical strategies to move in this direction.

2.Reni Eddo-Lodge, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

In careers centred around social justice, we too often focus on external change and forget to challenge the imbalance of power and privilege in our own workplace. Yet this is where we should start.

To be a good leader – especially as a straight, white, middle-class woman – it is incumbent on me to understand the unique barriers people of colour, and people who experience intersectional injustice, face – and to confront my own personal role within this.

Eddo-Lodge’s tour-de-force is a fantastic place to start.

3.Boris Groysberg, Jeremiah Lee, Jess Price, and J. Yo-Jud Cheng, The Leaders Guide to Corporate Culture 

Not the pithiest title, but the content is golden.

When considering strategic outcomes, we often focus exclusively on the delivery structure. In doing this, we fail to create the workplace culture that enables employees to deliver these outcomes.

The Leaders Guide to Corporate Culture identifies the different cultures that exist – including learning, purpose, caring, risk-taking, order and results. Whilst you might aim to promote a variety of these, in reality you should carefully create an incentive structure geared towards your strategic needs. This is the clearest way to maximize impact and performance.

It is a fascinating read, again with practical examples of how to do this – and it totally transformed how I think about process, structure and people-management.

4.Harvard Business Review Website

Speaking of the Harvard Business Review, I can’t recommend their regular online content highly enough. Their website is a brilliant resource for easy-to-read, thought-provoking ideas on leadership, culture, and structure. Some of my favourite articles include:

  • Joseph Grenny, 4 Things to Do Before a Tough Conversation – reflecting Brené Brown’s tenants of bravery and integrity, this is a great guide for those ‘cruel to be kind’ moments.
  • Michael Harris and Bill Tayler, Don’t Let Metrics Undermine Your Business – anyone responsible for setting strategy should internalize this piece, which explores the damaging effect of metrics that are easy to measure but divorced from the strategic outcome you seek.
  • Peter Bregman, The Best Leaders Aren’t Afraid to Ask for Help – a super short but super powerful read that dismantles the fallacy of super-human leadership, demonstrating how corrosive this is for individuals, teams and organizations.
  • Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy, Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time – I have my old boss Vic to thank for the revolutionary concept of being energy-led rather than hours-in-the-day led; not all tasks are equal and managing your energy is critical to long-term happiness and performance.

5.Amy Edmondson, The fearless organization

Psychological Safety at work is one of those ideas that seems so painfully obvious when articulated, and yet is consistently and deliberately undermined.

At work as in life, we are happier, more confident and willing to take risks when we feel safe.

Edmondson’s research demonstrates that when people feel able to speak up or take risks, better ideas, better teams and improved performance follow (not to mention happier people out in the world living their best lives!).

This is a great long-read from the New York Times of how Google embodied Psychological Safety. Likewise, Edmonson’s 2018 write-up of her research in strategy+business.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn


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