My 5 top business books for 2023 reflect these three trends:
- Leadership is becoming more science based, thanks to more research and available data.
- Authors—in the case of these five books all teams of two except for one solo writer—tend to share frameworks, exercises, and examples of suggested actions; they’re not dictating to readers what to do.
- If readers want to put into practice what they read, they’ll need to rewire their brain. And thanks to neuroplasticity–the brain’s ability to rewire itself–which was my major focus in 2023, that’s achievable.
A short summary of these five books follows along with each book’s big contribution from my point of view. For three of the five books, I wrote blog posts earlier in the year. If you’re interested in my musings, check out the included links.
1.The Power Code: More Joy, Less Ego, Maximum Impact for Women (and Everyone Else) by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. They’re the writing duo from the best seller The Confidence Codeand its spinoffs. The book features new evidence-based research that tells a new, alternative story about power, namely that women look at and use power differently than men do.
The book’s big contribution: Women prefer having “power to” rather than “power over” because “power to” implies purpose and respect. And when you’re focused on “power to,” you can share power; you don’t see it as a zero-sum game in which one has to lose for the other person to win, as many men view power. Yet, many women, especially those in heterosexual relationships still have regular power struggles and imbalances with men, namely their husbands, not their bosses, in figuring out how to divide at-home responsibilities.
2. Permission to Speak: How to Change What Power Sounds Like, Starting with You by Samara Bay. This unconventional book about public speaking encourages readers to stop trying to conform to traditional ways of speaking and presenting and instead start embracing our voices the way they are. She also encourages us to listen more to nontraditional voices. By doing so, we’ll start to make and hear different sounds that will change power dynamics.
The book’s big contribution: The author explains why so many people, especially women, have challenging relationships with our voice. It’s not us. It’s the system that makes us feel or even tells us that we’re not good enough or powerful enough to talk. She shares a number of tips, techniques and pep talks – namely, giving us permission to speak in a way that’s authentic for each individual who reads the book. Her expectation is that we’ll feel empowered to reclaim our voice and be heard.
3. Real-Time Leadership: Find Your Winning Moves When the Stakes Are High by David Noble and Carol Kauffman. These two expert leadership coaches believe that the hardest part of leadership is managing the inevitable high-risk, high-stake challenges leaders continually face. “The best leaders, in the biggest moments, know how to read the situation, respond in the most effective way possible, and move forward,” they write. To do this, they explain that leaders need to learn how to create a space in real time to choose how to respond to fit the current situation they’re facing. Making the space to think gives you a head start (yes, pun intended), but it isn’t enough to muscle through today’s complexity.
The book’s big contribution: Rather than tell you how to move, the authors share their MOVE framework, which is made up of many smaller frameworks within a larger structure. The authors’ expectation is that you will try out the various elements within MOVE, explore which ones work best for you as you encounter new situations, and adapt as needed. The concept is like improv. The basic rules serve as guardrails, and you decide how to flex to fit your situation.
4. Tomorrowmind: Thriving at Work with Resilience, Creativity, and Connection—Now and in an Uncertain Future by Gabriella Rosen Kellerman and Martin Seligman. The authors’ point of view is that the workplace, with its automation, globalization, and downsizing is an urgent, inescapable reality that threatens our mental well-being. To respond and help us adapt to the future, we need to rely on our own psychological powers to counter the threats. Interestingly, our ancestors who were hunters and gatherers honed these powers centuries ago. But more recent generations suppressed them during industrialization.
The book’s big contribution: The authors offer practical tips supported by data to explain how to strengthen five specific psychological powers. They are 1) resilience; 2) social connections; 3) creativity; 4) meaning and mattering; and 5) foresight, that is, contemplating and then preparing for the future.
5. The End of Leadership as We Know It: What It Takes to Lead in Today’s Volatile and Complex World by Steve Garcia and Dan Fisher. These two authors, like the authors of Tomorrowland, believe the world has forever changed, becoming more complex and volatile. To manage, Garcia and Fisher suggest actions for leaders to take based on data as well as their experiences in coaching and advising leaders and their teams. Mainly, be aware of what you’ve done in the past, intentionally let it go, and adopt new, more meaningful and effective ways to work.
The book’s big contribution: The authors advise leaders to look to complex, adaptive systems that thrive for ideas on how to lead today. For example, building resilience is more valuable than striving for efficiency. Efficiency can get you stuck trying to save time and money and you risk losing sight of continuing and sustaining your progress toward your goals. Also, leaders need to remember that building resilience requires you to be more self-aware and more willing to practice self-care. If you’re not physically and mentally fit, it’s hard to be resilient.
What are you reading, watching, or listening to that you recommend? Please share!
Happy New Year! And happy reading!