The Business Romantic Named a “Top 10 Creative Leadership Book Of 2015”
"A playful and probing book about how to re-think and re-enchant business and our engagement with work."
by David Slocum
The last 12 months have seen a wide range of new titles on leadership, teams, organizations, strategy and decision-making. We have also seen some works on creativity, talent, and the far-reaching changes underway in technology, economics, and the ways we work. Many of these books offer compelling new perspectives and constructive lessons for creative leaders. From the long shelf of research findings, analyses, provocations and toolkits published during 2015, here are my top 10.
Creative Leadership Book of the Year
Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones, Why Should Anyone Work Here?: What It Takes to Create an Authentic Organization (Harvard Business Review Press)
What are the organizational attributes that allow leaders to generate commitment and foster creativity today? Goffee and Jones, of the London Business School, offer six research-based and action-oriented keys to attracting, retaining and inspiring the best talent: Let people be themselves, practice radical honesty, build on people’s strengths, stand for authenticity (more than shareholder value), make work meaningful, and make simple rules. In doing so, the authors provide an essential guide for creative leaders wanting to transform their workplace and enable people’s best selves, including their own, to emerge.
Laszlo Bock, Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google that Will Transform How You Live and Lead (Twelve)
The longtime head of Google’s ‘People Operations’ offers a manifesto on how to think and behave differently at work to attract and grow the best talent – and, in the process, for leaders to grow themselves. Closing with a valuable ‘New Blueprint for HR’, the insight-filled book also launched re:Work, an ongoing platform of tools and lessons to address specific challenges and put people first in the workplace.
Herminia Ibarra, Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader (Harvard Business Review Press)
One of our most consistently insightful management thinkers, Ibarra has written an important book that is both ambitiously original and immediately practical. Against orthodoxy, the INSEAD professor argues for leaders to act first then to think – and to use the ‘outsights’ resulting from the experience as a basis for meaningful individual growth and empowering of people and organizations.
Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire, Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind (Perigee)
Combining current neuroscience and psychological research findings with insights from the work and lives of figures ranging from Frida Kahlo to David Foster Wallace, the University of Pennsylvania cognitive psychologist and a leading science journalist explore 10 attributes of highly creative people. The result moves beyond superficial views based in emotion or two-brain thinking to offer both an original explanation of creativity and practical steps for readers to unleash it in themselves.
Tim Leberecht, The Business Romantic: Give Everything, Quantify Nothing, and Create Something Greater than Yourself (Harper Business)
The former CMO of Frog has written a playful and probing book about how to re-think and re-enchant business and our engagement with work. Stepping away from the analytical and rational bases of prevailing management thinking, Leberecht emphasizes the role of passion and the unmeasurable in arguing that it is the recognition of the human heart of business that increasingly drives success.
Stanley McChrystal, Chris Fussell, Tantum Collins, and David Silverman, Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World (Portfolio)
Contrary to the stereotypical view of regimentation and lockstep authority, the military has actively developed new approaches to dealing with the uncertainty and complexity of the 21st Century. Here, the former commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan outlines specific and tested rules for more consistently effective leadership, such as engaging ongoing change, moving from command to team thinking, and ‘leading like a gardener.’
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time (Harper Business)
A core tenet of creative leaders is to question everything. Stanford professor Pfeffer does just that, pushing back against many commonplace approaches to leadership and management. The author of the 2010 study, Power, takes special aim at what he sees as idealistic approaches like modesty, authenticity, trust, and leaders eating last. The result is a bracing but invaluable discussion of what research shows enhances leaders’ performance.
Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future (Ecco)
A biography by the award-winning Bloomberg Businessweekfeature writer of one of the most daring entrepreneurs of our time, a ‘contemporary amalgam of legendary inventors and industrialists like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, and Steve Jobs.’ The volume traces Musk’s life and career from South Africa through PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and SolarCity and offers the fullest portrait yet of the driven and endlessly energetic creative leader.
While some of today’s most admired and creatively successful businesses, including Pixar, Whole Foods and Google, are celebrated for their openness, a fuller understanding of how their practices can work more widely has been lacking. In this volume, the CEO of Red Hat, a former Delta Airlines COO and BCG consultant, outlines how leaders can reinvent their organizations with greater transparency, participation, and community and, in the process, enhance and sustain performance.
Through three main characters – a CD pressing plant worker, an industry executive at Universal, and the German engineer who led development of the MP3 format – journalist Witt weaves a new history of digital music piracy. In doing so, he memorably describes the complex and very human re-making of a creative industry, an artform, and our everyday digital and online lives.