Fodder for Thought:

Ten Great Reads for 2020

Here we are on the cusp of the roaring twenty-twenties, a new decade of unprecedented change, challenge and opportunity. What’s in store is anyone’s guess. A long list of business gurus are postulating about the past and forecasting the way forward.  At WorkTango we’ve pulled together some favourite must-reads to add to your list for 2020.

Louder Than Words: Ten Practical Employee Engagement Steps That Drive Results

In one of the world’s best selling employee engagement books since its release in 2010, thought leader and speaker Bob Kelleher distils vital employee engagement principles, culled from his many years of experience, into ten practical and transformative steps that will help companies maximize employee engagement – the key to capturing discretionary effort. While highlighting win-win engagement solutions,  Kelleher makes a case for creating and maintaining a corporate culture that attracts and retains the most productive and creative people. Throughout the book, specific best in class employee engagement and leadership company examples are shared, including those from Oracle, The Timberland Company, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, ENSR, and AECOM. Chock full of take-away practical tools and examples to help engage employees, Louder Than Words is a must-read for anyone who manages people.

The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Act More & Change the Way You Lead Forever

In The Coaching Habit, coaching becomes a regular, informal part of your day so managers and their teams can work less hard and have more impact. Drawing on years of experience training more than 10,000 busy managers from around the globe in practical, everyday coaching skills, Michael Bungay Stanier reveals how to unlock the potential of people. He unpacks seven essential coaching questions to demonstrate how – by saying less and asking more – you can develop coaching methods that produce great results. A fresh innovative take on the traditional how-to manual, the book combines insider information with research-based in neuroscience and behavioral economics, together with interactive training tools to turn practical advice into practiced habits. Witty and conversational, The Coaching Habit takes your work and your workplace from good to great.

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

Tony Hsieh, the visionary CEO of Zappos explains how an emphasis on corporate culture can lead to unprecedented success. Pay new employees $2000 to quit. Make customer service the entire company, not just a department. Focus on company culture as the #1 priority. Apply research from the science of happiness to running a business. Help employees grow both personally and professionally. Seek to change the world. Oh, and make money too. Sounds crazy, right? It’s all standard operating procedure at Zappos, the online retailer that’s doing over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually. After debuting as the highest-ranking newcomer in Fortune magazine’s annual “Best Companies to Work For” list in 2009, Zappos was acquired by Amazon in a deal valued at over $1.2 billion. Hsieh shares the different lessons he has learned in business and life, from starting a worm farm to running a pizza business, through LinkExchange, Zappos, and more. Fast-paced and down-to-earth, Delivering Happiness shows how a very different kind of corporate culture using happiness as a framework can produce profits, passion, and purpose both in business and in life.

Brave New Work: Are You Ready to Reinvent Your Organization?

Imagine a bank that abandoned traditional budgeting, only to outperform its competition for decades. An appliance manufacturer that divided itself into 2,000 autonomous teams, resulting not in chaos but rapid growth. A healthcare provider with a headquarter of just 50 people supporting over 14,000 people in the field—that’s named the “best place to work” year after year. And even a team that saved $3 million per year by cancelling one monthly meeting. Their stories may sound improbable, but Aaron Dignan’s latest book Brave New Work examines exactly how they and other organizations are inventing a smarter, healthier, and more effective way to work. Not through top-down mandates, but through a groundswell of autonomy, trust, and transparency. Organizations aren’t machines to be predicted and controlled. They’re complex human systems full of potential waiting to be released. Dignan reports how nearly everyone, from Wall Street to Silicon Valley, points to the same frustrations: lack of trust, bottlenecks in decision making, siloed functions and teams, meeting and email overload, tiresome budgeting, short-term thinking, and more. Brave New Work reveals Dignan’s proven approach for eliminating red tape, dissolving bureaucracy, and doing the best work of your life.

Great Mondays: How to Design a Company Culture Employees Love 

It’s no secret that a toxic work culture can drive away employees and drive down profits. Creating a dynamic work culture that promotes both employee and business growth is key to ensuring an organization’s success. However, culture is a moving target and hard to get right. In Great Mondays, brand strategist Josh Levine introduces a proven formula for building and managing a workplace culture that maximizes employee engagement, performance, and retention for long-term business success.

Written in a punchy, outcomes-driven style, Great Mondays reveals the six components for driving culture change in any type of organization: purpose, values, behaviours, recognition, rituals and cues.

With real-life case studies drawn from Silicon Valley heavy hitters, prominent nonprofits, major corporations, and respected universities, Great Mondays gives leaders of all levels expert guidance and proven strategies they can use to create a dynamic culture where employees thrive and business grows.

The Infinite Game

How do we win a game that has no end? Finite games, like football or chess, have known players, fixed rules and a clear endpoint. The winners and losers are easily identified. Infinite games, games with no finish line, like business or politics, or life itself, have players who come and go. The rules of an infinite game are changeable while infinite games have no defined endpoint. There are no winners or losers—only ahead and behind. The question is how do we play to succeed in the game we’re in? From the New York Times bestselling author of Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek’s new book The Infinite Game offers a framework for leading with an infinite mindset. On one hand, none of us can resist the fleeting thrills of a promotion earned or a tournament won, yet these rewards fade quickly. In pursuit of a “Just Cause” Sinek believes we’ll commit to a vision of a future world so appealing that we’ll build it week after week, month after month, year after year. Although we don’t know the exact form this world will take, working toward it gives our work and our life meaning. Leaders who embrace an infinite mindset build stronger, more innovative and more inspiring organizations. Ultimately, they’re the ones who lead us into the future.

10 Great Reads for 2020

Employee Engagement 2.0: How to Motivate Your Team for High Performance (A Real-World Guide for Busy Managers) 

New York Times bestselling author Kevin Kruse is a former Best Place to Work winner and serial entrepreneur. He’s advised dozens of organizations, from Fortune 500 companies like SAP, to startups and non-profits, to the US Marines. His book Employee Engagement 2.0 is the result of both massive research and real-world experience. This step-by-step guide looks at what employee engagement is (it doesn’t mean happy or satisfied). How engagement directly drives sales, profits, and even stock price. The secret for making people feel engaged and how to quantify engagement even if you have no budget. Seven questions to ask that will identify your engagement weakness. What to say to facilitate a team meeting on engagement.  What a successful communication approach looks like that ensures rapid, two-way information flow and makes your strategic vision memorable and “sticky.” And ultimately, what you can do to implement a complete employee engagement plan in only eight weeks. Be a great leader who drives massive passion, commitment and engagement by following the step-by-step Employee Engagement 2.0. plan that doesn’t take a lot of time or a big budget.

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.

Four-time #1 New York Times bestselling author Brené Brown has spent two decades studying the emotions and experiences that give meaning to our lives, and the past seven years working with transformative leaders and teams spanning the globe. She’s found that leaders in organizations ranging from small entrepreneurial startups and family-owned businesses to nonprofits, civic organizations, and Fortune 50 companies all ask the same question: How do you cultivate braver, more daring leaders, and how do you embed the value of courage in your culture? Daring leadership in a culture defined by scarcity, fear, and uncertainty requires skill-building around traits that are deeply and uniquely human. The irony is that we’re choosing not to invest in developing the hearts and minds of leaders at the exact same time as we’re scrambling to figure out what we have to offer that machines and AI can’t do better and faster. Whether you’ve read Daring Greatly and Rising Strong or you’re new to Brené Brown’s work, Dare to Lead is for anyone who wants to step up and into brave leadership. Brown uses research, stories, and examples to answer these questions in the no-BS style that millions of readers have come to expect and love.

What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture

Leading venture capitalist, modern management expert, and New York Times bestselling author Ben Horowitz combines lessons both from history and from modern organizational practice with practical and often surprising advice to help executives build cultures that can weather both good and bad times.

In What You Do Is Who You Are, he turns his attention to a question crucial to every organization: how do you create and sustain the culture you want? To Horowitz, culture is how a company makes decisions. It’s the set of assumptions employees use to resolve everyday problems: should I stay at the Red Roof Inn, or the Four Seasons? Should we discuss the color of this product for five minutes or thirty hours? If culture isn’t purposeful, it will be an accident or a mistake. What You Do Is Who You Are is a journey through culture, from ancient to modern. Along the way, it answers questions fundamental to any organization. Who are we? How do people talk about us when we’re not around? How do we treat our customers? Are we there for people in a pinch? Can we be trusted? Who you are is not the values you list on the wall. It’s not what you say in company-wide meeting. It’s not your marketing campaign. It’s not even what you believe. Who you are is what you do. This book aims to help you do the things you need to become the kind of leader you want to be―and others want to follow.

Rules of Engagement: Building a Workplace Culture to Thrive in an Uncertain World 

Look around the typical workplace. People are overwhelmed. They’re unengaged, or worse, disengaged. At home and at work, the world is changing too fast, and people simply can’t cope. No matter how skilful someone is, faced with a barrage of new information, unstructured data, and “disruptive” technologies, they simply don’t get the opportunity to leverage those skills, let alone “shine” in their role. Now add into that mix markets in turmoil, an ever-shifting competitive landscape, and increasingly sophisticated and demanding customers. In Rules of Engagement, Carolyn Swora draws on 20 years of experience as a senior leader in a highly volatile industry to present a new way of thinking, leading, and working that addresses the complexity and overwhelm of modern working life so that your employees can develop new skills to thrive in this workplace of the future that has rapidly become the workplace of today.

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