Five Book Recommendations for Leaders
This week, I decided to give myself a break from writing on controversial topics like racism and same-sex marriage, so I'm offering a different sort of fare: some book recommendations. Only one has been publshed in the past year. But these resources keep coming up in my conversations (FYI: only two are overtly Christian):
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg
I first learned of Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, when she did a riveting TEDTalk on Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders. It has now received more than two million hits. She gave some good career advice for women in business to “sit at the table” and pursue their goals with passion. I liked her style of using personal anecdotes combined with hard stats to back up her arguments.
Recently, one of my young male colleagues told me I simply must read Sandberg’s book, Lean In. What seemed to impress him most was her 35 pages of endnotes. Again, she has based her arguments on overwhelming research.
Thirty years after the USA reached the 50-50 mark of male/female college grads, men still hold most leadership positions in government and industry. Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled—and it’s not just because of sexism. Often women sabotage their own careers by “leaving before they leave.” She goes on to give specific steps that both women and men can take to support women in the workplace and at home.
I especially liked her section on how to pursue a mentor. Hint: Not by asking someone to mentor you.
Sandburg notes something I’ve also noticed: Sometimes those standing in the way of women’s progress is other women. Jealousy of other up-and-coming females who are smarter/sharper/younger/cuter/fill-in-the-blank-er can keep other women from cheerleading for others. Decide you will not be that person and determine, instead, to create an environment that supports and champions others.
Culture Care: Connecting with Beauty for our Common Life, by Makoto Fujimura
Available only through the artist’s web site (you can’t get this on Amazon)
I am a huge fan of Mako. Of this work, he writes, “This is a book for artists, but artists come in many forms. Anyone with a calling to create—from visual artists, musicians, writers, and actors, to entrepreneurs, pastors, and business professionals—will resonate with its message. This book is for anyone who feels the cultural divide, especially those with a desire or an artistic gift to reach across boundaries with understanding, reconciliation, and healing. It is a book for anyone with a passion for the arts, for supporters of the arts, and for ‘creative catalysts’ who understand how much the culture we all share affects human thriving today and shapes the generations to come.”
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, By Susan Cain
A few years ago, Quiet hit the stands, and people have been talking about it ever since. This work changed both how I taught women's Bible study (smaller groups), as well as how I interact with students during class time to draw out the introverts.
I heard about this book from Karla Zazueta, who drew on it in her master’s thesis about the ideal size of small groups for producing true life change. She concluded that big groups were fine for extroverts, but introverts wouldn’t compete.
You can read Karla’s conclusions in her book (#4), Discipleship for Hispanic Introverts: Providing a Cross-Cultural Context for Life Change. A lot of her research is transferrable to any group, not just Hispanics.
And finally, because it is summer, and hopefully you’re taking some time off, I’m going to recommend a “summer read” (#5). Though I read Gone Girl (meh) and The Girl on the Train (the best-seller to date this year and a real page-turner), my number-one choice is the book that won the Pulitzer for fiction: All the Light We Cannot See. You can read the review on my blog if you want to know more of my thoughts about it. But suffice it to say… Holy cow! This author writes breathtaking prose. Do you ever slow down so you won't finish a book too fast? This is that book. Enjoy!