The beach, BBQs and bliss in your plans for your summer break? Just in case you think you can sneak a book or two into the mix, here’s a round up of leadership readings. Where they exist, I’ve provided links to the long version (the book), the short version (the article), and the ‘you-don’t-even-have-to-read-it’ version (Ted talk, Youtube) – it is summer after all!

1. All about you

My current go-to author is Amy Cuddy, of power posing fame. Her book, Presence, will be published 22nd December. In the meantime, watch her Ted talk, check out the research behind it all, ponder its application for women, and see 2016 in with greater focus, confidence and presence.

Jennifer Garvey-Berger’s Changing on the Job: Developing Leaders for a Complex World uses theories of adult development and adaptive leadership to help leaders become more thoughtful and adaptive to uncertainty. I find Jennifer’s work particularly helpful when coaching leaders who are making transitions, during which time their sense of their own authority is often challenged, providing powerful opportunities for growth. Concepts of adult development, perspective-taking, and authorizing are particularly helpful to reflect on either for our own development, or to assist others in their’s. A brief article outlines how to become more adaptable to change. Just-published Simple Habits for Complex Times takes these ideas further, focusing more on developing three habits of mind to better adapt to complexity and lead change. Read the short version here.

Marshall Goldsmith’s ‘feedforward’ is a great idea for leaders to help keep their development on track, as well as engage others in the development process. Instead of asking for feedback on what has happened in the past, ask for specific suggestions about what you can do to improve in the areas of your development goals over the next month. Watch his Youtube explanation.

There’s plenty around and about on the value of mindfulness practices, so to keep it brief, here’s a couple of quick, high quality articles, from Natalia Karelaia at INSEAD and Jutta Tobias at Cranfield.

2. What about them?

Adam Grant’s Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives our Success has been around for a couple of years: it categorizes people as givers, takers or matchers, and catalogues some remarkable stories of effective givers (Youtube introduction). And stay tuned for his next instalment on givers, due for release in February 2016, Originals: How Non-conformists Move the World.

Adam’s prior research found that workers’ motivation increased when they were able to see how their own work was beneficial to other people, and is described in a chapter in Jane E. Dutton & Gretchen M. Spreitzer’s How to be a Positive Leader: Small Actions, Big Impact. The book is filled with evidence-based yet practical advice for being a more effective leader. There’s a chapter by Amy Wrzesniewski on job crafting: I use her methodology for helping people reshape existing roles to create more meaning, and create new roles, or to consider future roles they aspire to. It’s both practical and inspirational. Here’s an earlier version you can download from HBR, or watch her great introduction to jobcrafting on Youtube.

Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer’s The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work also continues to inspire me. Check out the one page version, where the framework was listed as a breakthrough idea in 2010, or The Power of Small Wins which is the in-between version, HBR article size. And a 20 minute Youtube version focuses on the value of tracking ‘small wins’. While 2010 might seem a while back now, there is a richness to the ideas for those of you seeking to increase engagement and build a more productive and genuine culture.

I  enjoyed Jim Whitehurst’s recent and very brief HBR blog Create a Culture Where Difficult Conversations Aren’t so Hard, based on his book The Open Organization which is on my summer reading list.

Another HBR blog explores the coaching manager’s mindset, advocating for managers to spend more time coaching. For more on this theme, see Edgar Schein’s Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling, which focuses on building relationships based on curiosity and interest, at the heart of coaching relationships and styles. Coaching Questions: A Coach’s Guide to Powerful Asking Skills, while written for professional coaches, is a practical library of good coaching questions for any situation. Emily Hoole and Douglas Riddle provide a very useful analysis of the difference between a leader’s coaching behaviours/style, and what it takes to build a coaching culture in an organization, which is currently emerging as a key interest for many organizations.

3. And then there’s us

When it comes to working well together, it’s hard to go past the works of the late J Richard Hackman and the practical works of Patrick Lencioni.

A body of evidence is emerging around collective or group intelligence: here’s a couple of readable summaries, and check out the Center for Collective Intelligence at MIT for further papers and updates. They describe their primary research focus as ‘How can people and computers be connected so that—collectively—they act more intelligently than any person, group, or computer has ever done before?’ Sounds like fun. And Michael Schrage, also from MIT, reminds us that if we want team behaviour, it pays to reward team performance.

An if you’re looking to increase inclusion in your team and make the most of its diversity, my book can help.

What’s on your reading list this summer?