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The business books of 2012A better understanding of oneself makes for a better leader
25 Feb 2013 By Igor Šulík Career and HR
In this uncertain and unpredictable world it is possible to find inspiration that can actually help run a business. Apart from learning from each other, one can look for ideas in literature that addresses at least some of the issues that business leaders currently face. Here are some of the books that have been published recently that are worth reading:
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Written by a Nobel Prizewinning author, this is one of the most highly acclaimed books of the past year on the subject. It offers valuable insight into how we make decisions in both our personal and professional lives, and is one of the best books on human rationality and irrationality. Kahneman points out how our minds are often ensnared by prejudice and error, and offers ways to improve our thinking to make better decisions on a daily basis.
The Strategist: Be the Leader Your Business Needs by Cynthia A. Montgomery
The Harvard Business School professor uses her research and in-depth knowledge to redefine the approach to setting strategy. In the book she takes strategy from something detached and mechanical to a more compelling and self-rewarding activity that anyone dealing with strategy should experience. Montgomery embraces the approach of asking tough questions and taking on the role of a strategist whenever it becomes necessary; otherwise the leader harms the business he or she runs. Reading this book could compel anyone to explore and invent his or her own strategic competence.
Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It by Peter Cappelli
In a time of high unemployment, it is especially helpful to find a book that examines the issue from a novel perspective. Cappelli asks provocative questions and searches for answers to questions around who is to blame for people’s inability to find jobs and why there seems to be a divide between employer expectations and the skills of employees, and offers possible solutions. Would you be surprised to learn that employers are largely responsible for their own hiring woes? Read the book and find out why.
Your Brain and Business: The Neuroscience of Great Leaders by Srinivasan S. Pillay
If you ever wondered how findings in neuroscience might be applied to the field of leadership, this book might be a good start. The author shows that thanks to neuroscience we now know much more about how the human brain works, and no longer have to guess (often wrongly). Based on this knowledge, managers can drive their own performance and become better leaders, even though it often might mean they have to abandon old ways of thinking and approaching leadership problems and apply completely new paradigms.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change by Charles Duhigg
Anyone dealing with change management knows that the most difficult part of achieving results is to get people to change their habits. This book analyses how habits are formed and how we can change them in order to transform ourselves. As the author says, we can be more effective in all transformations with an understanding of how habits work.
The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success by Kevin Dutton
You think that saints, serial killers and business leaders have nothing in common? The renowned psychologist Kevin Dutton will try to prove you wrong. In his theory he argues that we all have psychopathic tendencies, as our current society is more psychopathic than ever, valuing fearlessness, confidence and even ruthlessness – qualities that can bring you success in our current world. Acknowledging that in order to succeed in any profession a certain “functional psychopathy” is involved might be liberating and illuminating.
Risky Is the New Safe: The Rules Have Changed by Randy Gage
Although I am not a fan of motivational literature, this book is thought provoking and pushes readers to take a different view of issues that people face every day. Gage points out that the changes happening in business, technology and the economy itself create challenges and opportunities, and it is up to every individual to determine how to incorporate them into his/her business or life. Apart from being fun to read, the book also makes the reader stop and look differently at what lies ahead.
In 2013 we will be reading more about how to lead companies in uncertain times and how business leaders should approach managing companies in these ever-changing conditions. The growing knowledge in the field of neuroscience and a better understanding of what is going on in the minds of managers will influence the shift in the management paradigm. It will be exciting to follow new books that will help to understand what is coming next in the world of business and leadership.
Igor Šulík is a managing partner at Amrop
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