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Recommended Readings

Recommended Spring 2018 Readings for Creative Leaders

January 25, 2018

The New Year brings with it a new shelf of valuable books for creative leaders, recommended by Berlin School Faculty Director, David Slocum. Spanning topics from 'smart working' to A.I., the following titles, being published over coming months, are all valuable reads for those committed to transforming themselves and their creative businesses.


Ed Batista, The Art of Self-Coaching (Harvard Business Review Press, April 17)

The executive coach, co-author of the Harvard Business Review Guide to Coaching Employees, and Stanford GSB instructor has written an essential guide for those seeking a structured approach to managing their professional growth and development. With characteristic humanity and insight, his topics include Beginnings, Change, Emotion, Happiness, Resilience, Vulnerability, Unhappiness, Vice, Success, and Endings.


Ram Charan,‎ Dominic Barton,‎ and Dennis CareyTalent Wins: The New Playbook for Putting People First (Harvard Business Review Press, March 6)

Reinventing talent and HR leadership is at the heart of successful creative business today. With examples ranging from BlackRock, Haier, and ING to Tata Communications, Telenor, and Volvo, the renowned corporate governance advisor and author, the Global Managing Partner of McKinsey, and the Vice Chair of Korn Ferry offer a helpful discussion of how to nurture talent, inspire creativity, and lead effective teams.


Nicholas Clarke, Relational Leadership: Theory, Practice and Development (Routledge, February 23)

The EADA Business School Professor of Organisational Behaviour examines leadership centered in the relationships that form between both formal and informal leaders and those that follow them. Citing recent research as well as successful case examples, Clarke explores trust, respect, and mutuality as well as specific forms like shared leadership, responsible leadership, global team leadership, and complexity leadership.


Daniel Coyle, The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups (Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, January 30)

Building safety, sharing vulnerability, and establishing purpose are fundamental behaviors of successful leaders and groups in Coyle’s new book. The author of the bestselling 2009 The Talent Code focuses here on how ongoing learning, genuine collaboration, thoroughgoing trust, and sustainable change can contribute to better innovation and problem-solving.


Matthew A. Cronin and Jeffrey Loewenstein, The Craft of Creativity (Stanford Business Press, April 17)

Management professors from George Mason University and the University of Illinois have written an engaging, evidence-based, and useful overview of the creative process. Emphasizing the importance of the journey of creativity – particularly as practiced in organizations and business – they demonstrate the limitations of focusing on outcomes and offer valuable insights to leaders wanting to foster creative excellence more consistently.


Paul R. Daugherty, H. James Wilson, Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI (Harvard Business Review Press, March 20)

A practical approach to understanding Artificial Intelligence, its impact, and how to respond to the changes it poses. The Chief Technology and Innovation Officer of Accenture and the Managing Director of IT and Business Research at Accenture Research outline six types of hybrid human + machine roles that companies can develop as well as five crucial principles required to become a successful AI-driven business.


Stephen Denning, The Age of Agile: How Smart Companies Are Transforming the Way Work Gets Done (AMACOM, February 8)

The Forbes columnist, consultant, and author of eight books, including the excellent 2010 The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management, has now provided an important and useful ‘leader’s guide to agile today.’ In doing so, he illuminates agile mindsets, metrics, teams, organizations, customers, and networks. Denning also helpfully addresses several of the most common traps encountered by those that try to implement agile.


Virginia Eubanks, Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor (St. Martin’s Press, January 23)

A well-researched and bracing study of how high-tech surveillance and monitoring, data mining, policy algorithms, predictive risk models, and decision-making systems are extending social inequality. The University of Albany, SUNY, Political Science professor examines the impact of the ‘digital poorhouse’ increasingly institutionalized by these automated systems and how to dismantle it.


Morten Hansen, Great at Work: How Top Performers Work Less and Achieve More (Simon & Schuster, January 9)

The author of the invaluable Collaboration and co-author (with Jim Collins) of Great by Choice conducted a major, multi-year analysis of more than 5,000 managers and employees of what distinguishes top performers. His conclusions, summarized in ‘Seven Work Smarter Practices,’ are cogently explains here and can be applied by anyone looking to maximize their time, effort, and performance.


Todd Henry, Herding Tigers: Be the Leader That Creative People Need (Portfolio, January 16)

A hands-on guidebook for leaders of creative people from the consultant and author of The Accidental Creative and Die Empty. Placing emphasis on understanding the needs and unleashing the performance of teams of creative talent, Henry lucidly describes the mindset and the mechanics that make for trustworthy and empowering leaders and, in turn, produce more consistent creative excellence. 


Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter, The Mind of the Leader – How to Lead Yourself, Your People and Your Organization for Extraordinary Results (Harvard Business Review Press, March 13)

The founder and the North American Director of the Potential Project thoughtfully and helpfully elaborate the idea of human-centered leadership across the multiple dimensions required to shepherd a business. Prioritizing the three major qualities of mindfulness, selflessness, and compassion, they offer a valuable approach to more successful individual development, team performance and the delivery of client value.


Barbara KellermanProfessionalizing Leadership (Oxford University Press, March 2)

Extending her indictment of today’s ‘leadership industry’ from The End of Leadership, the James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School and author of many other books, presents here an alternative scenario. In it, she turns to the fields of medicine, law, and finally the military to provide a template for preparing leaders and transforming leadership from dubious occupation to respectable profession.


Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and‎ Thomas Ramge, Reinventing Capitalism in the Age of Big Data (Blackstone, February 27)

The Oxford professor and author of the bestselling Big Data, and the brand eins technology editor and The Economist correspondent, have written a thoughtful volume about the digital and data-driven future. From data replacing money as driver of market behavior to small groups and flexible individual actors replacing big finance and big companies, their vision emphasizes the human choices and market and societal opportunities that data will enable.


Patty McCord, Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility (Silicon Guild, January 9)

The former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix, who produced with CEO Reed Hastings the company’s legendary Netflix Culture Deck, illuminates how to build a culture of radical honesty and to rethink HR practices. Covering topics including employee motivation, vigorous debate, compensation, and saying goodbye, the result is a helpful playbook for creating and sustaining more open and human business organizations.


Daniel H. PinkWhen: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing (Riverhead, January 9)

Consider the basic patterns of timing in life: when to start, how to stay motivated at midpoints, succeeding with endings, taking breaks, synching our individual timing with others in groups. The bestselling author of Drive and To Sell Is Human makes a lively yet scientific case for ‘time-hacking’ that both enhances productivity and allows each of us to recover and retain our energy.


Baba PrasadNimble: Make Yourself and Your Company Resilient in the Age of Constant Change (TarcherPerigee, February 20)

Being more nimble, agile, and resilient allows us to anticipate and adapt to an increasingly chaotic world. The management consultant and Wharton School Fellow sketches out

five types of agility – analytical, operational, innovative, communicative, and visionary – that can help individuals and firms to thrive in times of great change. In the process, he underscores how the most enterprising leaders are often the most unselfish and giving.


Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life (Random House, February 27)

The author of the bestselling The Black Swan and Antifragile has written an important new book about how the willingness to accept one’s own risks and pay for one’s own losses is an essential attribute of heroes, saints, and flourishing people in all walks of life. Challenging long-held beliefs about politics, religion, finance, and personal responsibility, Taleb incisively shows how symmetry and risk-sharing – and having skin in whichever games we participate in – is necessary for both profit and social justice.