8 Books That Will Inspire Your Workplace Culture

The team at gothamCulture recently put their heads together to curate a list of book recommendations that will inspire your workplace culture and leadership development. Consider choosing one of these for your office book club. We hope you find these helpful!

The Culture Code: Daniel Coyle explores the question, “How is it that some groups add up to be greater than the sum of the parts, and others do not?” The book is based on research over a period of four years, looking at some of the best/most successful team cultures. The discussion is organized into a presentation of three skills known for generating high-performing groups: (1) Build safety, (2) Share vulnerability, and (3) Establish purpose.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard:  a book about how to change things when change is hard. It can be about you, a job, friends, or even family. Change is very difficult and hard to do without a little motivation. The book helps you to look at things in a different way than you had before. Seeing the good things about why you should change and why it was better before.

Seven Strategy Questions: A Simple Approach for Better Execution:  Successful business strategy lies not in having all the right answers, but rather in asking the right questions, says Harvard Business School professor Robert Simons. In an excerpt from his book Seven Strategy Questions, Simons explains how managers can make smarter choices.

Conversations Worth Having: ‘Conversations worth having’ are affirmative, appreciative-based conversations that add value, as opposed to ‘critical’ or ‘destructive’ conversations that are statement-based (and devalue).

Changing on the Job: Developing Leaders for a Complex World: Developing professionals, especially leaders, who can understand and effectively navigate the complexities of twenty-first-century organizational life—a central aim of many adult educators, school administrators, professional coaches, and organizational consultants—is a daunting and critical task. In her book Changing on the Job: Developing Leaders for a Complex World, Jennifer Garvey Berger explains how attending to one often-overlooked dimension of human diversity—what she calls form of mind—offers the potential to increase the impact, reach, and longevity of programs and practices aimed at promoting such development.

Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success: Adam Grant emphasizes the importance and impact of interaction, and how different interaction styles can either enhance or take away from productivity or performance. He encourages outwardly-focused, positive interactions, but recognizes the need to balance the roles of “giver” and “taker.”

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover: Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonders if she’d traveled too far if there was still a way home.

Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity: Radical Candor is a simple idea: to be a good boss, you have to Care Personally at the same time that you Challenge Directly. When you challenge without caring it’s obnoxious aggression; when you care without challenging it’s ruinous empathy. When you do neither it’s manipulative insincerity. This simple framework can help you build better relationships at work, and fulfill your three key responsibilities as a leader: creating a culture of feedback (praise and criticism), building a cohesive team, and achieving results you’re all proud of. Radical Candor offers a guide to those bewildered or exhausted by management, written for bosses and those who manage bosses. Taken from years of the author’s experience, and distilled clearly giving actionable lessons to the reader; it shows managers how to be successful while retaining their humanity, finding meaning in their job, and creating an environment where people both love their work and their colleagues.

The Unseen Backpack

Man with backpack

I was driving down the street the other day, dutifully following the GPS instructions, which wended me through neighborhoods, built-up areas and a variety of other places.  At one point, a driver suddenly pulled out in front of me and proceeded to move forward at no more than ten miles per hour.  I couldn’t see the driver and I felt for a moment that I should get irritated that someone had the audacity to hold up my very important (or so I thought) trip.

Then I saw the building the person had pulled out from.  It was a local hospital.  My mind shifted from some level of irritation to a feeling of embarrassment and compassion.  The driver might have just left the bedside of a loved one, or received a diagnosis that was life-threatening.  Or maybe a relative, friend or neighbor might have just passed away.  I thought about such times in my life and instantaneously wrote a narrative of understanding and empathy for the driver.

In life and the business world, we often don’t get such stark reminders of our own need for emotional intelligence, appreciation, and understanding of another person.  So we are prone to draw conclusions that are judgmental, perhaps giving us a high level of justification for our own feelings and a near-certainty that the other person might just not care or is oblivious to our needs or the needs of the business.  Doing so can serve as a sort of misplaced validation of our own importance or our own instincts, I suppose.  At least I know I have felt that way at times. Read More…

Why Your Kid Needs A Side Hustle

Kids side hustle

This year, my son gave me the best gift an entrepreneur could ever ask for. Of course, my second grader, like nearly every other eight-year-old in America, has mastered the ability to influence others to get what he wants. With summer kicking off in full swing, these talents typically revolve around spending an inordinate amount of mental capacity figuring out how to get more screen time. Last week, rather than vying to get a few extra minutes of screen time or finding creative ways to get out of practicing his guitar, my son convinced his friend that they should start a business.

After some cajoling, his friend agreed and they went through the process of deciding what type of business they should embark on. A short while later, the boys settled on a car cleaning business (interiors only mind you). After dedicating their attention to touting the virtues of such a business and the benefit that it would bring to the local community, the boys turned their attention to creating posters and fliers that they attached both to their wagon as well as the community mailboxes in our neighborhood.

Loading up their wagon with their (read my) supplies: a shop vac, dash cleaner, leather cleaner, Windex, paper towels, and rags and were ready for business. They quickly realized that not only did they need something to keep their millions in as they moved from house to house but that they needed a pricing structure. Without missing a beat, they immediately dove in and made it happen.

In order to make sure they had their act together, they asked if my wife and I would be willing to let them practice on our cars, something we promptly agreed to. And then it happened. Something in my son sparked. While I intentionally minded my own business, all the while keeping a rather close eye on them as they worked, I could see a sense of pride swell up in the boys. They were doing something for other people. They were taking great pride in ownership and they were making sure we were satisfied with their work. As they worked, they chatted and their conversations were both surprising and inspiring.

After a short while, our cars were clean and the boys added their first revenues to their kitty, a mason jar with a handwritten sign on it sitting haphazardly in their wagon. With beaming smiles, they began their trek from house to house, knocking on doors and pitching their potential customers. With the confidence only an eight-year-old can have, they let rejection slide off their backs with ease, they took future appointments (which they noted on a small pad), and they moved on to the next house- each stop an opportunity to perfect their pitch.

We’re now a few days into their business and they are still going strong. They have made a surprising amount of money and with summer vacation rapidly approaching, they are already strategizing how to expand their operation into other neighborhoods as well as hiring and training new employees in order to expand.

Why am I telling you this?

It is not uncommon for young children to start a business. Lemonade stand. Mowing lawns. Manicures. (Yes, manicures). It almost seems like a right of passage for many kids in America. I recall multiple businesses that I myself ran as a child with fond memories. All of them, opportunities to develop skills and practice new behaviors that I could take with me the rest of my life.

Masterful Leaders – The Leader as Coach, Mentor and Teacher

Graphics Courtesy of Fuller Design

Among the many attributes a leader must possess, the most important is the ability to effortlessly transition from one leadership approach to another, in effect gliding between styles that best serve the developmental needs of those individuals they serve.  Truly masterful leaders know how and when to bring those approaches to bear.

A leader can be a mentor some of the time, a coach on other occasions, and a teacher when it is useful.  Think of the three attributes – Mentor, Coach and Teacher – as some of the most powerful tools in your leadership toolbox.

Each can serve the needs of others.  And notice that I intentionally don’t use the word “subordinate,” because we often are serving the needs of colleagues or team members and even bosses that have a desire to grow.  It’s an important distinction, especially considering that sometimes those we serve end up being in positions that might later have a higher “rank” in the chain of command.  In effect, we take turns leading others, but if the habits are there to help others on their developmental journeys, does it really matter what position she or he holds?  In that regard, I often use the famous Chaucer quote, “And gladly would he learn and gladly teach,” to remind myself and clients of that philosophy.

Read More…

Courage For Brands 2.0

Courage

Our current principle Run Farther Together represents how valuable it is to bring others along with us on the journey unified around a clear purpose. The benefit is not just better results, but a deeper, positive impact on the people and the world around us. But it takes courage and uncommon sense to expect more and define the destination beyond the normal measures of success.

Courage for brands

Without courage, leaders of companies today, like individuals, live in a place of permanent uncertainty and weakness. Without bravery, perseverance and honesty there is little hope for change in circumstance and zero chance of achieving one’s full potential. Those who live in a state of fear wait endlessly for others to make the next move and operate with uncertainty, reacting to others. They are relegated to miserable vulnerability and insecurity.

Courage is the essential ingredient for both survival and growth, and as Winston Churchill so eloquently put it, “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees all others.” It’s evident at birth and embedded into the first steps that an individual or a company takes, or it’s found as a result of hardship and circumstance. Without courage, we go nowhere.

Read More…

Leadership is The Sum of All Parts

Leadership

According to the dictionary definition “leadership is the action of leading a group of people or an organization”.  Perhaps we should look at leadership from a different perspective. Leadership is the cooperative action that is demonstrated through the talents and skills of people either in a family, community or by employees at all levels of a corporate organization.

Without the collective performance of an orchestra, a conductor has no music and an audience is cheated out of a symphony.

When people think of a leader, generally pictures of a single person appear. Some are feared while others are admired. Shifting perspective to view leadership from the group or the team—in which each person, member of a company works to achieve an overall goal through individual contributions using their talents, skills to innovate or serve others—creates incredible results every day. Both the leader and the team share a more expanded view of what leadership is and is more likely to consider the contributions of all members of the enterprise.

Read More…

Assume Capability Not Intent

Assume Capability

“Assume capability, not intent,” is part of a military maxim used in intelligence.  While somewhat more arcane when employed in intelligence, its shortened form can serve as an effective and simple reminder of how to approach those with whom we interact in the business world.

Have you ever sat in a meeting and watched the people around the table and started writing your own narrative about them? Your thoughts range from:

“He doesn’t care,” you say about one person.

“She has an agenda she’s trying to push,” you smugly say to yourself about another.

And then there is the inevitable, “He’s lazy and doesn’t want to get the job done.”

What’s the common denominator of such narratives?  They are all judgment based and blindly come to conclusions about the intent of each individual, based on nothing more than opinion and feelings.  As such they do nothing to enhance our personal and professional relationships and thus materially contribute to distrust, making them detrimental to how a team operates.

Read More…

Chris Cancialosi on Imparting Knowledge to Younger Workers

Tony Lee and Chris Cancialosi discuss imparting knowledge to younger workers, viewing knowledge as intellectual capital, the variables to consider when preparing for a transition in a company, pre-emptive knowledge transfers and what Chris’ deployment to Iraq taught him about the process of transferring knowledge. Listen to the podcast below and read the article here: How to Prepare for Leaders Leaving

imparting knowledge to younger workers

Working With Difficult People

Working With Difficult People Podcast

In every organization, there will be people that you find to be “difficult”. The question is how to navigate these people in a productive way and that doesn’t cause excess stress for you or your team. What can you do? What you do say? What do you ignore? gothamCulture’s Chris Cancialosi discusses this topic with Wanda Wallace on VoiceAmerica Business Channel. Click here to listen!