June Books for leaders looking to be inspired

Bill Gates “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”

Our book choices this month all focus on leadership skills and how they can benefit you and your business. All the books featured appear on Bill Gates’s blog and are books he would personally recommend.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck

In this great book, world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck shows how success in almost every area of human endeavour can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities.

Individuals do not think alike, each and every one of us is different. Some of us are optimists, other pessimists. Some are happy by nature, others not so. Some have a glass half full, other a glass half empty. Philosophers, psychiatrists, psychologists, and a wide range of scientists have been working for centuries to shed light on why we are the way we are.

Dr. Carol Dweck is one of the most influential scientific minds when it comes to human thought. Her work over many decades has led to what she calls “mindset theory” – that all people have either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. In this book, Carol explores what it means to have either a fixed or growth mindset; how your mindset affects your work, relationships, and success in general; whether organizations can also be said to have mindsets; and how you can change your mindset if you don’t like your current one.

This book will provide you with

  • An introduction to Dweck’s main concepts
  • A 30-second summary of the entire book
  • Time-saving chapter summaries
  • Discussion questions and commentary
  • A guide to additional resources

In his blog, Gates notes, “If you mistakenly believe that your capabilities derive from DNA and destiny, rather than practice and perseverance, then you operate with what Dweck calls a ‘fixed mindset’ rather than a ‘growth mindset.’ Gates says, “One of the reasons I loved Mindset is because it’s solutions-oriented.”


The Art of Being Unreasonable: Lessons in Unconventional Thinking, by Eli Broad

The author, Eli Broad’s embrace of “unreasonable thinking” has helped him build two Fortune 500 companies, amass personal billions, and use his wealth to create a new approach to philanthropy. The book shares the “unreasonable” principles–from negotiating to risk-taking, from investing to hiring–that have made Eli Broad such a success.

He has helped to fund scientific research institutes, K–12 education reform, and helped to create the Frank Gehry–designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and The Broad, a new museum being built in downtown Los Angeles. His investing approach to philanthropy has also led to the creation of scientific and medical research centres in the fields of genomic medicine and stem cell research.

By contrast, “reasonable” people come up with all the reasons something new and different can′t be done, because, after all, no one else has done it that way.

This book shares the “unreasonable” principles from negotiating to risk-taking, from investing to hiring that has made Eli Broad such a success. If you feel you are stuck in a rut or If you′re stuck doing what reasonable people do and not getting anywhere this book will show you how to be unreasonable, and see how far your next venture or challenge can go.


Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation, by Tim Brown

This great book introduces the idea of design thinking as a human-centred approach to problem-solving that helps people and organisations become more innovative and more creative.

Bill Gates notes, “So many of the women and families I meet already have the potential to lift themselves out of poverty. Design thinking reminds us that to unlock this opportunity, we have to first enlist their help.”

Change by Design explains design thinking, the collaborative process by which the designer’s sensibilities and methods are employed to match people’s needs, not only with what is technically feasible, but what is viable to the bottom line. Design thinking converts need into demand. It’s a human-centred approach to problem-solving that helps people and organisations become more innovative and more creative. This book is not a book by designers for designers; it is a book for creative leaders seeking to infuse design thinking into every level of an organisation, product, or service to drive new alternatives for business and society.


The Myth of the Strong Leader, by Archie Brown

Renowned Oxford politics professor Archie Brown challenges the widespread belief that ‘strong leaders’, dominant individual wielders of power, are the most successful and admirable. He challenges the belief that strong leaders–meaning those who dominate their colleagues and the policy-making process–are the most successful and admirable.

Drawing on extensive research and decades of political analysis and experience, Brown illuminates the achievements, failures and foibles of a broad array of twentieth-century politicians. Within authoritarian regimes, a collective leadership is a lesser evil compared with a personal dictatorship. Within democracies, although ‘strong leaders’ are seldom as strong or independent as they purport to be, the idea that just one person is entitled to take the big decisions is harmful and should be resisted.

In his book, Brown, examines Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mikhail Gorbachev, Deng Xiaoping and Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair amongst many others. In this landmark study, Brown pinpoints different types and qualities of leadership. Overturning the popular notion of the strong leader, it makes us rethink preconceptions about what it means to lead.


Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World With OKRs, by John Doerr

John Doerr reveals how the goal-setting system of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) has helped tech giants from Intel to Google achieve explosive growth and how it can help any organisation thrive.

Bill Gates notes, “I’d recommend John’s book for anyone interested in becoming a better manager (and I’d say that even if I hadn’t been interviewed for a super-nice chapter about the Gates Foundation).”

In the fall of 1999, John Doerr met with the founders of a start-up he’d just given $11.8 million, the biggest investment of his career. Larry Page and Sergey Brin had amazing technology, entrepreneurial energy, and sky-high ambitions, but no real business plan. For Google to change the world (or even to survive), Page and Brin had to learn how to make tough choices on priorities while keeping their team on track. They’d have to know when to pull the plug on losing propositions, to fail fast. And they needed timely, relevant data to track their progress–to measure what mattered.

Doerr taught them about a proven approach to operating excellence: Objectives and Key Results. He had first discovered OKRs in the 1970s as an engineer at Intel, where Andy Grove (“the greatest manager of his or any era”) drove the best-run company Doerr had ever seen. Later, as a venture capitalist, Doerr shared Grove’s brainchild with more than fifty companies. Wherever the process was faithfully practised, it worked.

The rest is history. With OKRs as its management foundation, Google has grown from forty employees to more than 70,000–with a market cap exceeding $600 billion.

In the OKR model, objectives define what we seek to achieve; key results are how those top-priority goals will be attained with specific, measurable actions within a set time frame. Everyone’s goals, from entry-level to CEO, are transparent to the entire organisation. The benefits are profound. OKRs surface an organisation’s most important work. They focus on effort and foster coordination. They keep employees on track. They link objectives across silos to unify and strengthen the entire company. Along the way, OKRs enhance workplace satisfaction and boost retention.

In this book, Doerr and co-author Kris Duggan share a broad range of first-person, behind-the-scenes case studies, with narrators including Bono and Bill Gates, to demonstrate the focus, agility, and explosive growth that OKRs have spurred at so many great organizations. This book will help a new generation of leaders capture the same magic.


We hope you enjoy this month’s choices, all of which have all been sourced from Amazon and are available to purchase to help you with your leadership skills and thought processes in 2018.