What Should You Read?

You already know that leaders are readers. Not only is it something that you can’t avoid, it’s unimaginable that you’d even think about doing so. No one, not even you, has a corner on good ideas. If you want to even keep up to date on what you think you know, then you must keep reading.

Popular readings lists include such books as The Age of Unreason, by Charles Handy; Competing for the Future, by Gary Hamel and C K Prahalad; Competitive Strategy, by Michael Porter; and Reengineering the Corporation, by James Champy and Michael Hammer. If you have read these and other books of the time, then you ought to congratulate yourself for having staying ahead of the game until about 1995; however, if this is as far as you’ve come, then you have a lot of catching up to do.

The world has moved on. We’ve been living in the age of unreason for more than a decade, the future is now, and every second it becomes the past. Everyone is engaged in competitive strategy; indeed, nearly everyone thinks that they have a competitive advantage. And let’s be honest: It’s impossible for that to be true. If fact, it’s unlikely that it ever was. As for reengineering, that, too, is old hat.

And here’s something else you may not have realized. All books – every last one of them – are out of date to a greater or lesser extent before they even hit the shelves. Apart from the time it takes to write the manuscript, the preparation necessary to edit the manuscript, read the proofs, make changes and print them is about a year.

So what should you be reading? Here are a few titles to get you going.

1. The Power of Full Engagement (2007) by Jim Loehr, Tony Schwartz, and James E Loehr.

This book is about managing your energy, rather than your time. If you think that you and your organization should be full-on, giving 100% all the time, then you’ll burnout before you discover that it isn’t true.

2. Johnny Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products (2014) by Leander Kahney.

If you’ve ever wondered how Apple is able to create products that rise above anything the competition puts on the market, then this book will show you the path. It’s an eye-opener.

3. Will Power: Why Self-Control is the Secret of Success (2012), by Roy F Baumeister.

Self-control is a long-forgotten discipline. The idea that we should adopt a regimen in our lives that is anything other than doing your own thing, live and let live, or . . . is antithetical to the way society thinks today. Even ministers and pastors don’t talk about it. Yet, it is the key to achievement. This book will tell you why it’s so important, and how to implement it successfully in your own life.

4. The Four-Hour Work Week (2011) by Timothy Ferriss.

This book teaches employees how to convince their bosses that they will accomplish as much or more when left on their own as they would in the office. Not all places of work will be able to adopt this approach; but anywhere that you have people working with a computer, you should be proactive in finding ways to help them work from the beach, their weekend cabin, or on a lodge at the top of a ski slope.

5. The 7 Triggers to Yes: The New Science Behind Influencing People’s Decisions (2008) by Russell H Granger.

This book destroys the myth that people buy for rational reasons. By extension, it also pulls the rug out from the idea that you make decisions by carefully evaluating all the options in a sterile environment. The truth is that we all make decisions on the basis of how we feel, and then we justify our actions afterwards with our heads.

It doesn’t matter who moved your cheese. Cheese was being moved long before anyone made millions of dollars telling us what we already knew.

The fact is that If you read a book a week, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t – there’s enough training on YouTube to teach you how – then in 12 months’ time, you’ll only be one year behind.

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