My book clubs are starting up again tomorrow for the January to June cycle. For the first set of calls, our books are:
Emerging Leaders: The Servant Leader, by James Autry
Advanced Leaders: The Wisdom of Crowds, by James Suroweicki
I love both of these books, and have recommended them to dozens of audiences over the past year or so. The Autry book is very, very practical. He describes his philosophy of servant leadership (you work for the people you supervise and serve them so that they can do their jobs) which I completely agree with, and then goes into very, very hands on applications of the theory. What do you do with employees who are having an office romance? What about an employee who is undergoing chemotherapy and wants to work, but whose presence is upsetting other workers? How do you lay off someone well?
Really good stuff.
Surowiecki lays out the premise that crowds (in most cases) make better decisions than a few experts. Through story after story he shows you that getting input into your decisions is worth the effort. I also agree with this, but it's important to remember not to just take a poll--as a leader you have to make the final decision---and live with it.
Excellent reading, and neither is overly long. The Servant Leader you can read easily on a snowy afternoon, or a long plane ride. Wisdom is a little denser, but just as fascinating.