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Federal Coach: Summer reading suggestions for federal leaders

(Fox's Federal Coach column was originally published on The Washington Post On Leadership site.)

Now that school’s out, my family and I are headed for a summer vacation. In between eating fried food and riding roller coasters, I plan to catch up on some new leadership books that I have been wanting to read.

What leadership books are at the top of your summer reading list? Here are my five:

Being the Boss by Linda Hill and Kent Lineback – As a federal manager, you know it can be difficult to manage the expectations of your employees, supervisors and peers. In their book Being the Boss, Linda Hill and Kent Lineback offer a mix of research and practical experience to help leaders better manage themselves, build and maintain diverse networks, and lead their teams.

Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz – While there still seems to be a Starbucks on every corner, the company experienced an unprecedented decline just a few years ago; and in response, Howard Schultz decided to return for a second time as CEO of the company. Along the way, Schultz realizes that he needs to change his behavior – the same behavior that led to his success – in the face of new challenges. The lessons that Schultz learns can also apply to federal leaders who are trying to find new ways of inspiring their teams and achieving their agencies’ goals.

Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler – Federal leaders inspired by Schultz’s story should also consider picking up a copy of Change Anything. Written by the authors of other great books like Influencer, Crucial Conversations and Crucial Confrontations, this book outlines the sources of influence that can affect our daily decisions. This book can be a great resource for leaders who are struggling with a personal change or for those who are looking to guide others through a difficult process.

Better Under Pressure: How Great Leaders Bring Out the Best in Themselves and Others by Justin Menkes - This book examines the characteristics that enable great leaders to think and act under the toughest of circumstances. Based on in-depth interviews with 60 CEOs, reviews of performance evaluations and cognitive ability tests, Menkes outlines three traits that distinguish those who excel under pressure and shows how leaders can develop and use those attributes to become more effective managers and better engage their employees.

Leap of Reason: Managing to Outcomes in an Era of Scarcity by Mario Morino – Given that federal agencies can often have difficulty measuring their outcomes, Morino’s book offers a simple approach for helping federal managers identify critical measures and learn from results. In addition, he includes some case studies that help make the translation from theory to practice.

Posted by Tom Fox, VP for Leadership and Innovation, Partnership for Public Service on Jun 22, 2011 at 12:12 PM


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