Our Managing Director, Lucy, has looked over her reading list. What were her top three recently read books about? Leadership, change, culture and wrestling pigs!
Since Amazon allowed Kindle books to be switched between reading and audio books I have massively increased my capacity for devouring books! I switch between reading at night to listening in the car while out and about and can get through more books than ever.
The following three books have been the highlights of those I’ve read in recent weeks. Thanks everyone who recommends books to me, I do try to get through them. If you’ve recently read something you’d like to share drop me an email at email@example.com.
1. Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall
This one was recommended to me by my brother and I must admit it made me laugh a few times. The book lists a range of commonly held assumptions in the workplace claiming they are lies. Some of the “lies” are very embedded in organisations I’ve worked in, including “people need feedback”, “work-life balance matters most” and “leadership is a thing”. Yes, before you ask, the book states these are all lies! The most contentious lie for me, being a project manager was “the best plan wins”! The book states that actually the best intelligence wins and that significant effort on drafting plans with poor intelligence/evidence is wasted, which you can’t argue with. Each lie has a dedicated chapter describing why the thinking behind the statement is flawed, and the book finishes on an alternative set of truths.
I enjoyed this book, and it challenged a lot of common ways of working while tapping into what many of us probably already know. For example, complex competencies are not good ways to “rate” people, and people care much more about what team they are in rather than the organisation. I’ve often felt that when organisations spend considerable time and money on defining corporate values, these sometimes do not translate or connect with individual staff/teams. This book is much more about connecting with individuals as people, not focusing on process.
This is a great book if you’re up for having your own assumptions challenged. What’s interesting is, without using the word coaching, it consistently recommends coaching styles/techniques. The overall message is very much around treating team members as individual people. Something we all know but all benefit from the reminder!
2. Be More Pirate: Or How to Take on the World and Win by Sam Conniffe Allende
This book was great fun. The concept is around looking at the values and ways of working of pirates and reflecting this in modern society, whether it’s in work or growing a movement. The book claims that history has painted a negative picture of pirates, but that we can learn a great deal from them. In the ultimate “us against the world” story, pirates actually championed equal pay, equal rights, democracy and work-based compensation.
The foundation of the pirate way is developing shared charters, fair distribution of pay and reward and the ultimate in teamwork. This is a great book for anyone trying to work with others to challenge the system and make things fairer.
I think in local government, as we talk more and more about working closer with our communities and voluntary sector, this book challenges us to lose some of our structure and bureaucracy and look at how to inspire others around equality, fairness and distribution of power.
3. Pig Wrestling: The Brilliantly Simple Way to Solve Any Problem…and Create the Change You Need by Pete Lindsay and Mark Bawden
Disclaimer alert: I do know Mark and Pete and they are brilliant! This is a short book, around 150 pages, and tells the story of a young manager wrestling a problem. He shares his frustrations with a barista in a local coffee shop who guides him through a technique of problem solving. The name comes from the George Bernard Shaw’s quote “I learned long ago, never to wrestle a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it”. We all have problems we are wrestling that don’t seem to go away, and the more we wrestle them the more stuck we feel.
This book provides a framework for thinking through problems that helps to change perspective and clean up our thinking. It doesn’t take long to read and has a great analogy that’s difficult to forget! Mark and Pete also run training on the technique in the book which you can look at here.
These have been the books that have stuck in my mind most over the last few weeks. Well these and Stephen King’s latest “The Institute” which I devoured in a week if you’re more of a fiction person!
Next on my reading list:
- Radical by Hilary Cottam (recommended to me by several people)
- The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle (recently recommended to me by one of our associates)
Have you been reading lately? Get in touch to recommend them, and if you’ve read the above ones let me know what you think!
If you’d like to review a book which would help others in the public sector then let me know and we can feature your review in future articles.