Book Affair and Giveaway!

Throughout my career I’ve been blessed to have great people around me from whom I could learn.  These have included bosses and colleagues in my ‘work world’, as well as coaches in my ‘karate world’.  Alongside these great teachers have been those who have shared their wisdom through books and articles. Today’s Karen Gately blog looks at a range of books I’ve been most inspired by- and we’re offering you the chance to win one!

I must confess to being a book junkie and find  it hard to leave a bookstore without at least three books in my shopping basket.  At times I have so many books on my bedside table that I begin to fear for my safety – what if they come crashing down on me while I sleep?

Because we believe in ‘sharing the wisdom’, we are are offering you the opportunity to win a book of your choice from the ‘KG  Awesome Reads List’. Here’s how you enter the giveaway – complete these three easy steps:

  1. “Like” us on Facebook  – here’s the link!
  2. Subscribe to my blog  – button to subscribe is just on the right. If you’re already a subscriber, high five!
  3. Email with your name and postage details to confirm you’ve done the first two steps. Winner announced Friday, 3rd February!

Creating the list wasn’t easy – there are so many inspiring authors and great insights to choose from.  Forced to narrow down the field I’ve chosen three books that have  had a significant influence my own development as a person, leader and advisor:

  1.  The No Asshole Rule – Robert Sutton
  2. Good to Great – Jim Collins
  3. Working with Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman

The No Asshole Rule

In October I posted a blog called Nasty People in the Workplace, featuring Robert Sutton’s masterpiece The No Asshole Rule.  If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to read that blog for a bit more insight.  Here’s a quick review:

Robert Sutton first began to tell the world about the impact of assholes in the workplace through an article published in the Harvard Business Review. Written in frank language (as the title intimates) he articulates what I believe is an undeniable fact: the modern workplace is beset with assholes. Sutton, a professor of management science at Stanford University, argues that those who deliberately make others feel bad about themselves and project their ordinary behaviour on those less powerful — are toxic in the work environment, dramatically diminish productivity and performance and are the reason why many capable team members choose to leave.  Regardless of how great they are at their job, Robert makes one solution very clear – they have to go.

Good to Great

During the eight fabulous years I worked with Vanguard Investments I had the opportunity to participate in the Six Sigma program. One of the books on the program’s compulsory reading list was Good to Great by Jim Collins.  It remains today one of my favourite books. Based on extensive research, Good to Great describes how businesses transition from being average to great and how some fail to make the transition. Key to his work, Jim defines “greatness” in terms of financial performance several multiples better than the market average over a sustained period. In other words, to make the list of great companies it wasn’t good enough to have anecdotal evidence and achieve the heights of performance he describes for a narrow window of time.  To make the cut, the numbers needed to impress, and the organisation needed to have experienced a substantial uplift in performance that was sustained over at least 15 years.

Jim and his research team identified a group of leading companies and compared them with a carefully selected group that failed to make the leap from good to great. Core to their research was the question “why did one set of companies become truly great performers while the other set remained only good?” Their research (spanning five years and including analysis of the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study) identified key determinants of greatness.  Key findings included:

  • Level 5 Leaders: a leadership style characterised by a humble approach balanced with a strong drive to achieve what is best for the company
  • First Who, Then What: get the right people on the bus, and make sure they are sitting in the right seat
  • A Culture of Discipline: by combining a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, great results are possible
  • The Stockdale Paradox: confront the brutal truth of reality but never lose hope
  • Hedgehog Concept: three overlapping circles: What makes you money? What could you be best in the world at? And what are you excited about? Or as I heard someone once put it, what lights your fire?
  • Technology Accelerators: using technology to accelerate growth within the three circles of the hedgehog concept.
  • The Flywheel: the additive effect of many small initiatives which act on each other like compound interest.

Good to Great offers so much more than this brief snapshot – I could write a book about this book!

Working with Emotional Intelligence

Towards the end of the 1990’s I was given a book that turned out to be the first of a number of books authored by Daniel Goleman that I have read.  As you may be aware, Daniel Goleman is a pioneering contributor to what has become undoubtedly one of the most important advancements in management theory in the last 15 years. Working with Emotional Intelligence takes the concepts from Daniel Goleman’s bestseller – Emotional Intelligence – into the workplace. Daniel argues that business leaders and top performers are not defined by their intellectual capabilities (IQs) or even their job skills.  Rather the book and its forerunner present compelling arguments that “emotional intelligence” is what primarily drives success not only in business but in life. Emotional intelligence can be defined as a set of competencies that differentiate how effectively people manage their own feelings as well as interact and communicate with others. Extensive research and analyses done by many experts in corporations, government departments, and the not-for-profit sector globally support Daniel Goleman’s conclusions that emotional intelligence is the barometer of excellence on virtually any job.

Working with Emotional Intelligence clearly explains what emotional intelligence is and why it counts more than IQ in enabling someone to excel. It details 12 personal competencies based on self-mastery (such as accurate self-assessment, self-control, initiative, and optimism) and 13 key relationship skills (such as service orientation, developing others, conflict management, and building bonds). To add colour beyond the data, the book includes many examples and anecdotes which illustrate how competencies lead to or undermine success.


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