Six transformative books for every business leader

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Transformation starts at the top and every business leader, no matter how large or small the company, nor how successful, has something to learn. Whether your goal is to grow your business, develop goals and strategy, build better habits, or change your way of thinking, we’ve assembled the six most transformational books that have shaped how we look at business.

Measure What Matters by John Doerr

Big goals and missions need a framework from which to become a reality. In “Measure What Matters,” John Doerr shares how companies like Google, artists like Bono, and non-profits like the Gates Foundation use the OKR framework to think big, define audacious world-changing missions and align every action and team member to move the needle forward towards that mission. This is a must-read at Illumine8, and my own team utilizes the OKR framework. This book is great in both hard copy and audio formats, and the book’s own website has numerous resources that give you more guidance in implementing the OKR framework in your organization or personal life.

Scaling Up by Verne Harnish

If you read Mastering the Rockefeller Habits and were lost as to how to actually implement the theories and principles, then Verne Harnish’s sequel Scaling Up is the answer you have been looking for. Scaling Up focuses on the Four Decisions® methodology: People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash. The book also includes worksheets and hand-on tools. Tip: start with the primer Mastering the Rockefeller Habits if you haven’t read it to get the most from this book. Both will become frequently referenced frameworks in your library. Because of the worksheets, I highly recommend the print version only of this book.

Think Again by Adam Grant

We have all walked away from conversations where we really didn’t understand the other person’s point of view. This latest release by Adam Grant examines the origins of our belief systems, how they cloud our judgment, and how we can unlearn our assumptions and become better leaders by asking better questions. At Illumine8, we often say you have to learn the rules to break the rules. Adam Grant challenges us to a lifetime of joyfully unlearning and refining our belief systems.

I recommend this read after completing Thinking Fast and Slow. It is excellent in both written and spoken versions.

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

The fallacy in our thinking is on display in nobelist Daniel Kahneman's book “Thinking, Fast and Slow”. If you ever wanted to dive into the root causes behind snap judgments and the impact of our own biology in our decision making processes, this read will help you better understand how your brain makes decisions and how to harness our natural biological tendencies to make better ones. I highly recommend this read in audiobook form because of the number of case studies included in the work.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Your entire day is a series of habits, and each habit can have a ripple effect towards a much larger outcome. Take health for example. Exercising every day as a habit has a cumulative effect on your physical and mental health. Reporter Charles Duhigg pairs scientific discoveries with storytelling to explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. In the book you’ll learn why change is easy for some and hard for others from a scientific point of view. He uses stories to illustrate how even the smallest habits can change for great gains personally and professionally. I loved the audio version of this book.

Mindset by Carol S. Dweck

Ever wonder why some people adapt to challenges and others find themselves stuck? In Carol Dweck’s book Mindset, she explores the idea of a fixed mindset vs a growth mindset. The front half of the book dives into the theory and case studies of a fixed vs growth mindset. The second half gives more practical applications for addressing a fixed mindset. Like Thinking Fast and Slow, I recommend this read in audiobook form because of the number of case studies and scientific approach of the work.

Bill Gates is known to read as many as 50 books a year - almost one a week. Warren Buffet believes you should "read 500 pages every day. That's how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.” No matter the stage of your company today, or where you want to be tomorrow, take the time to invest in yourself and your company by reading. If Elon Musk can transform the space program by reading, you can identify areas of needed transformation in your company.

 

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