Personal Develop:The Best Business Books Of 2012: Find Fulfillment, Get Productive, And Create Healthy Habits

 By Drake Baer. FASTCOMPANY.November 26, 2012

These 12 books have shaped not only the way we work this year, but how we think and the conversations we’re having. Authored by luminaries like Nate Silver, Clay Christensen, and Susan Cain, these delightful-to-read tomes offer insight into the power of vulnerability, habit, social media, and more.

1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain In Quiet, author Susan Cain argues that introverts are a reservoir of untapped talent–and that progressive managers can create environments in which they thrive.

“Any time people come together in a meeting, we’re not necessarily getting the best ideas,” she tells Fast Company, “we’re just getting the ideas of the best talkers.”

Amazon, $15.20.

2. How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen As the author of the disruption-defining Innovator’s Dilemma, Clay Christensen is one of the most esteemed minds in business. In How Will You Measure Your Life?, he investigates what it means to have a fulfilling career, and finds that it is both a focused and open process.

“I believe that we can, in a deliberate way, articulate the kind of people we want to become,” he says. “As the rest of life happens to you, you can utilize those things to help you become the kind of person you want to be.”

Amazon, $15.98.

3. Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours, by Robert Pozen Bob Pozen once simultaneously served as president of Fidelity Management, lectured full-time at Harvard Business School, and wrote for the Harvard Business Review–meaning that he’s earned the right to write a book called Extreme Productivity.

“If you want an active schedule,” he tells us in an interview about turning career plans into daily actions, “you have to husband your time so you can act on the things that are important.”

Amazon, $15.97.

4. The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail–but Some Don’t, by Nate Silver

Nate Silver has become a bespectacled icon for his prediction prowess–as you might of heard, he called every state of the presidential election (and pulled 20+ percent of the New York Times’ web traffic on election night). But as he observes in The Signal and the Noise, we as a culture have grown forecast obsessed–something all businesses would do well to be aware of.

“We need to stop and admit it: we have a prediction problem,” he writes. “We love to predict things–and we aren’t very good at it.”

Amazon, $16.35.

5. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, by Brené Brown

There’s a myth about how entrepreneurs have to be invulnerable. Brené Brown will have none of it.

“If you are alive and in relationship, you do vulnerability,” she tells us. “If you are alive and in relationship and in business, you do it hourly.”

Amazon, $14.72.

6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg

In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explores how habits shape our lives–and how savvy businesses can shape them.

Febreeze, for instance, flopped when it launched as an odor killer, because, as Duhigg says, “the people who needed it, who lived with nine cats, had adapted to (it).” After noticing that people look proud after making their beds–a habit to capitalize on–P&G rebranded the spray as a post-cleaning reward, one that now makes $1 billion a year.

Amazon, $15.88

7. Renegades Write the Rules: How the Digital Royalty Use Social Media to Innovate, by Amy Jo Martin

Amy Jo Martin shares her story on how she got the Rock to become a social media machine in Renegades Write the Rules. In our excerpt she argues for why you need to share your life with your followers–whether you’re an an action star or an entrepreneur.

“With more than a billion people using these communication channels,” she writes, “you can’t afford not to have an active role in the conversation.”

Amazon, $15.81

8. Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck: What It Takes to Be an Entrepreneur and Build a Great Business, by Anthony K. Tjan, Richard J. Harrington, Tsun-Yan Hsieh

Business takes courage, observe the authors–but don’t confuse courage with fearlessness.

“Guts-driven entrepreneurs aren’t fearless,” they write in our excerpt, “They just know how to cope with, and maybe even thrive in, uncomfortable environments.”

Amazon, $14.75

9. The Click Moment: Seizing Opportunity in an Unpredictable World, by Frans Johansson

In every great career, Frans Johansson writes in The Click Moment, there’s a time when talent and luck intersect in a fit of business serendipity.

“If you scratch underneath the glossy exterior of success stories, you’re actually going to find that behind those things you’re going to find an unexpected meeting, a surprising insight, and that’s what’s behind most success,” he tells us. “It follows then that we should court those types of things.”

Amazon, $15.85

10. Wait: The Art and Science of Delay, by Frank Partnoy

When making decisions, Frank Partnoy observes in Wait, you need to be able to understand whether you’re operating at a Twitter or glacial pace–two contexts that might be happening simultaneously.

“What really good leaders are able to do is inspire the rest of the team by their knowledge of the granular,” Partnoy says, “but also be able to step back from the granular and put together the tectonic pieces that need to be placed together.”

Amazon, $16.49

11. The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations, by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

Thirty years of research into leadership yields impressive results–like The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, now in its fifth edition. Culled from decades of asking leaders what they’re doing when they’re in top form, the authors distill leadership to its essence.

“Leaders accept and act on the paradox of power,” they write. “You become more powerful when you give your own power away.”

Amazon, $19.38

12. 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era, by Nilofer Merchant

Social media is a game changer, yes, but it’s only part of the larger shift of the Social Era, writes Nilofer Merchant. In our excerpt from 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era, Nilofer sketches out the new paradigm’s core principles.

What’s at the center of the social era? Connections. “If the industrial era was about building things, the social era is about connecting things, people, and ideas,” she writes. “Networks of connected people with shared interests and goals create ways that can produce returns for any company that serves their needs.”

Amazon, $3.03

A Great Leader’s Year-end Checklist

  Les McKeown|Inc|Nov 27, 2012

The year is almost over. Great leaders know how to tie up loose ends and make sure their employees are happy and ready to move forward.

End of the year calendar, close up, orange

Salespeople live and die by the annual review. Auditors have built an entire industry around it. For the next month, print and television media will pour out gallons of coverage of the past year in review.

And yet, as leaders, we often move from one year to the next with little or no time spent reviewing the year just past from a purely leadership perspective. To help counter that, here’s my five-point year-end leadership checklist:

1. Manage the narrative. Every business, division, department, project, group, or team ends the year with an often unspoken (but widely accepted) narrative:

–“We blew it.”

–“We nailed it.”

–“Our customer service team let us down.”

–“The first three quarters sucked, but the fourth wasn’t too bad.”

Your mileage will vary. As the leader, it’s your job to understand what narrative has taken hold in your team and to manage it accordingly.

This isn’t the same as PR or spin. Managing the narrative isn’t about manipulating what people think. It’s about knowing what has taken root in your team’s perception and helping the team members understand its importance.

So–as this year closes, what narrative has your group or team subliminally adopted? How accurate is it? Do you need to amplify or clarify any of it? Does it need to be discussed as a group? What lessons can you all learn from the narrative?

2. Straighten the angels. Next week, we’ll put up the Christmas tree in our house, and as always, the final thing we’ll do is to straighten the angel at the top.

Whether you’ve had your best year ever or the worst year imaginable, some–probably all–of your top performers will have been bent out of shape getting you through it.

Some of them will have developed less than helpful traits – of arrogance, perhaps, or gruffness, or maybe just thoughtlessness. Some will be harboring grudges or feeling hurt or confused. Others may have been blindsided by events and are finishing the year off their game. One or two may simply be exhausted.

They’re your angels. You’re their leader. You need to go straighten them out.

3. Cull. In the course of any year, there’s a whole bunch of individual and group dynamics that lose efficacy and that only you can untether. Practices that have become outdated; policies that no longer work; routines, rituals, and habits that now just get in the way; meetings that have lost their purpose.

Ask for nominations of less-than-useful activities from your team, but make the final decision yourself–and make everyone’s life simpler by culling those that truly yield no ongoing benefit.

4. Restock. During the year, you and your team will undoubtedly have used up one or more of the staples of healthy group interaction: energy, perhaps, or enthusiasm. Maybe as a team you’ve lost a sense of fun, or maybe you’ve run short on objectivity or perspective.

Take a moment and think about it. Again, take soundings from your colleagues. One way or another, you don’t want to start the new year with one or more of those staples missing from your team’s pantry.

When you’ve identified which is missing or has run down to dangerously low levels, think through how to restock in the next 30 days–can you give the holiday retreat or your end-of-year address a theme? Do you need to give your folks some mentoring or coaching or training; or just a rest or a new perspective?

5. Center yourself. Finally, what about you? How have you changed as a leader this year?

Draw a line down the center of a page, and list in one column your defining characteristics at the start of the year, and in the other, your defining characteristics at the end of the year. How do the two lists differ, if at all?

Ask someone who knows you well to repeat the exercise, from his or her perspective of you. How similar is his or her list to yours?

As you look at the two lists, which characteristic of yours most helped your group or team this year? Which characteristic caused the most trouble? (When you’ve decided, ask your team members if they agree–you may be surprised by how differently they view which characteristics are your strong points and which are weaknesses.)

Next year, how can you do more of the first characteristic and less of the second?

6 Signs You’re Not Fit to Lead

 Brian Evje  |Inc  |Nov 28, 2012

Leadership isn’t forever. Here are six signs it’s time to step down.



Many leaders remain in power unless a clear mistake derails their tenure. Yet, many leaders also struggle with remaining fully committed to the challenges of leadership. They owe it to themselves, and to their organizations, to honestly determine when their particular role as leader has run its course and to take action.

Here are six patterns that signal it is time to move on.

You can’t or won’t fire your friends.

This is most prevalent in start-ups, family-owned businesses, or closely held companies. A group of co-founders may select one member to become CEO, and over time that person may not be able to replace colleagues who are ill-suited to their growing roles. In a family-run business, hiring and promotions are used as tools to maintain family harmony, or to appease a relative who has invested capital.

An extreme case is News Corporation, founded and ruled by Rupert Murdoch. He dares shareholders to sell if they object to his preference for running the company as if he were presiding over a raucous dining-room table filled with his children and assorted flatterers.

You don’t need to run a global media empire to fall into this trap. If you can’t do what is best for the shared purpose by making realistic, objective, and discerning decisions about hiring, promoting, reassigning, and even firing those closest to you, you are not fit to lead.

Even if you are unaware of this blind spot, others in the company will see your behavior for what it is: favoritism, fickleness, or careless leadership.

You disengage from responsibilities or the peripheries of your organization.

Every leader prefers certain responsibilities over others, and sometimes it can be easy for a leader to turn a blind eye to the unpleasant tasks in favor of more appealing activities. But consider the cost of not leading the whole organization.

Have you stopped looking into the peripheral corners of your role? Are you deflecting difficult discussions or confrontations with a direct report, team, partner, or customer?

Leadership requires embracing whole situations, not selective components. The organization may need you to confront the exact person or thing you are avoiding. If you can’t do it, the organization needs someone who will.

You believe you are indispensable.

A leader who is “indispensable” is presiding over an organization incapable of looking after itself. An indispensable leader has enabled the highest form of organization dependency and dysfunction. That is not something to brag about. If you believe you are irreplaceable, you should examine exactly what kind of work you have been engaged in and consider replacing yourself.

Your inner circle stops telling you the truth…because you stop asking.

Leading inside a bubble is a common and dangerous dynamic. The human tendency is to automatically believe in our own positions, abilities, and decisions, and to rely too heavily on our own point of view. Leaders need to press others to provide contrary perspectives. This only happens when a leader insists upon it and provides a safe environment to voice dissenting opinions.

As a leader, if you don’t challenge others to challenge you, the odds are that they won’t. If you stop asking others to tell you the truth, they will simply tell you what you want to hear.

You do not take responsibility for negative actions of the company.

Rupert Murdoch, again, proves useful. At the height of the London phone-hacking scandal involving one of his newspapers, Murdoch was asked by a government committee whether he was ultimately accountable for those in his employ. He said no; those who engaged in the dubious conduct bore sole responsibility, and it had little to do with him.

While empirically true (after all, we are each responsible for our actions), Murdoch missed the invaluable point. A leader must take the final blame in bad times, because he is looked to as the guiding force during good times. Not even Murdoch can have it both ways. If you are unable to take all of the responsibility, it is time for someone who will.

You fail themiddle-of-the-night test.

In the middle of the night when you wake up to go to the bathroom, take a quick look in the mirror. At that moment, no one cares about your job title, your wealth, or your accomplishments.

In the darkness and quiet, you will glimpse your leadership in the reflection because you will see yourself in vulnerable solitude. What does the reflection say?

That you are earnestly striving to learn, grow, and be worthy of leadership? Or that your heart is not in the journey and that it is time to move on?

Life is too short to ignore either answer. So act.

women in leadership 3:A business case for women

The gender gap isn’t just an image problem: our research suggests that it can have real implications for company performance. Some companies have taken effective steps to achieve greater parity.

SEPTEMBER 2008 •Mckinsey Quarterly. Georges Desvaux, Sandrine Devillard-Hoellinger, and Mary C. Meaney

Women in developed economies have made substantial gains in the workplace during recent decades. Nevertheless, it’s still true that the higher up in a company you look, the lower the percentage of women.

But some companies have moved successfully to increase the hiring, retention, and promotion of female executives. Their initiatives have included efforts to ensure that HR policies aren’t inadvertently biased against women or part-time workers, to encourage mentoring and networking, to establish (and consistently monitor at a senior level) targets for diversity, and to find ways of creating a better work–life balance. Changes like these have a price, but there are business advantages to making them—above and beyond the branding benefit that might accrue to companies viewed as socially progressive.

Research in Europe and the United States suggests, for example, that companies with several senior-level women tend to perform better financially. Hiring and retaining women at all levels also enlarges a company’s pool of talent at a time when shortages are appearing throughout industries.CONTINUE READING

women in leadership 2:The global gender agenda

Women continue to be underrepresented at senior-management levels in Asia, Europe, and North America. McKinsey research suggests some answers.

Source: Organization Practice.  NOVEMBER 2012 • Joanna Barsh, Sandrine Devillard, and Jin Wang

The progress of women toward the upper echelons of business, government, and academia continues to provoke media attention and lively debate. Look, for instance, at the coverage of Marissa Mayer’s July appointment as CEO of Yahoo! and the diverse reactions to an article (“Why women still can’t have it all”) published in the July/August issue of the Atlantic magazine.1

Coincidentally, this summer also marked the moment when we released the latest phase of a global research initiative on women in senior management across Asia, Europe, and North America. This effort involved assembling fresh data on the gender composition of boards, executive committees, and talent pipelines, as well as detailed surveys of leading businesses in each region.2CONTINUE READING

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP 1:What’s Holding Women Back



A Wall Street Journal task force of business, government and academic leaders set out to confront obstacles that keep women from participating fully in the economy. Here are their recommendations.Click Here




Women as leaders

SEPTEMBER 2008 • Joanna Barsh, Susie Cranston, and Rebecca A. Craske
Source: Organization Practice

A new approach to leadership can help women become more self-confident and effective business leaders.

Women start careers in business and other professions with the same level of intelligence, education, and commitment as men. Yet comparatively few reach the top echelons.

This gap matters not only because the familiar glass ceiling is unfair, but also because the world has an increasingly urgent need for more leaders. All men and women with the brains, the desire, and the perseverance to lead should be encouraged to fulfill their potential and leave their mark.

With all this in mind, the McKinsey Leadership Project—an initiative to help professional women at McKinsey and elsewhere—set out four years ago to learn what drives and sustains successful female leaders. We wanted to help younger women navigate the paths to leadership and, at the same time, to learn how organizations could get the best out of this talented group.

To that end, we have interviewed more than 85 women around the world (and a few good men) who are successful in diverse fields. Some lead 10,000 people or more, others 5 or even fewer. While the specifics of their lives vary, each one shares the goal of making a difference in the wider world. All were willing to discuss their personal experiences and to provide insights into what it takes to stay the leadership course. We have also studied the academic literature; consulted experts in leadership, psychology, organizational behavior, and biology; and sifted through the experiences of hundreds of colleagues at McKinsey.

From the interviews and other research, we have distilled a leadership model comprising five broad and interrelated dimensions (exhibit): meaning, or finding your strengths and putting them to work in the service of an inspiring purpose; managing energy, or knowing where your energy comes from, where it goes, and what you can do to manage it; positive framing, or adopting a more constructive way to view your world, expand your horizons, and gain the resilience to move ahead even when bad things happen; connecting, or identifying who can help you grow, building stronger relationships, and increasing your sense of belonging; and engaging, or finding your voice, becoming self-reliant and confident by accepting opportunities and the inherent risks they bring, and collaborating with others.Continue reading.