10 Books You Should Read (+ how they relate to Human Synergistics)

Published on 01 Aug 2017
By Dominic Gourley

I was looking for recommendations for my next business book. I asked around the Human Synergistics team for what their best business book recommendations were - and how those books fit within the Human Synergistics develop frameworks. You might find the list useful for finding your next book too so I thought I would share it with you. Let me know what you think of the list on LinkedIn or Twitter

Ideas from Dominic Gourley

Turn the Ship Around 
by David Marquet

Turn the Ship AroundBook Blurb: Marquet was a Naval Academy graduate and an experienced officer when selected for submarine command. Trained to give orders in the traditional model of “know all–tell all” leadership, he faced a new wrinkle when he was shifted to the Santa Fe.

Almost immediately, Marquet ran into trouble when he unknowingly gave an impossible order, and his crew tried to follow it anyway. When he asked why, the answer was: “Because you told me to.” Marquet realized that while he had been trained for a different submarine, his crew had been trained to do what they were told—a deadly combination.

How it relates to Human Synergistics: This is a fantastic book which I can't recommend highly enough. Both entertaining and informative. In the Human Synergistics framework - this book addresses the Leadership/Impact of Aggressive/Defensive leaders (Command and Control) who cause their teams to behave in Passive/Defensive ways (following the impossible order). Through the book, David Marquet instead illustrates how he employs a Humanistic-Encouraging style of leadership in which he transfers ownership of decision making to his crew.

Watch a Youtube video of David Marquet talking about the ideas in Turn the Ship Around

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High
By Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

Crucial ConversationsBook Blurb: When stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong, you have three choices: Avoid a crucial conversation and suffer the consequences; handle the conversation badly and suffer the consequences; or read Crucial Conversations and discover how to communicate best when it matters most. Crucial Conversations gives you the tools you need to step up to life's most difficult and important conversations, say what's on your mind, and achieve the positive resolutions you want.

How it relates to Human Synergistics: A practical book on how to maintain Constructive behaviours and dialogue instead of going to fight (Aggressive/Defensive) or flight (Passive/Defensive) responses. Recommend reading for anyone on a personal development journey. 

Ideas from Neil McGregor

The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilised Workplace and Surviving One that Isn't
by Robery Sutton

The_No_Asshole_RuleBook Blurb: "What an asshole!" - How many times have you said that about someone at work? You're not alone! In this groundbreaking book, Stanford University professor Robert I. Sutton builds on his acclaimed Harvard Business Review article to show you the best ways to deal with assholes...and why they can be so destructive to your company. Practical, compassionate, and in places downright funny, this guide offers:
  • Strategies on how to pinpoint and eliminate negative influences for good
  • Illuminating case histories from major organizations
  • A self-diagnostic test and a program to identify and keep your own "inner jerk" from coming out
How it relates to Human Synergistics: Whilst I don’t necessarily agree with the labelling as I wrote about in a recent article on LinkedIn,  the intent of the book is essentially about the LSI Styles. It addresses not only the Aggressive/Defensive Styles but also the Passive Defensive Styles and the impact they have in the workplace.

Read the original Harvard Business Review article that the book expanded upon

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard
by Chip and Dan Heath

SwitchBook Blurb: Switch asks the following question: Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities, and in our own lives? The primary obstacle, say the Heaths, is a conflict that’s built into our brains. Psychologists have discovered that our minds are ruled by two different systems—the rational mind and the emotional mind—that compete for control. The rational mind wants a great beach body; the emotional mind wants that Oreo cookie. The rational mind wants to change something at work; the emotional mind loves the comfort of the existing routine. This tension can doom a change effort—but if it is overcome, change can come quickly.

How it relates to Human Synergistics: This is a great book about how hard it can be to change. It speaks to the Constructive Styles and their strengths and the difficulty of overcoming our defensive thinking styles. This book is particularly useful for someone trying to implement culture development, business model change or innovation.

Watch Dan Heath talk about the concepts behind Switch

Ideas from Justine Farrington

The Mindful Workplace: Developing resilient individuals and resonant organisations

By Michael Chaskalson

Mindfulness in the workplaceBook Blurb: This book offers a practical and theoretical guide to the benefits of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in the workplace, describing the latest neuroscience research into the effects of mindfulness training and detailing an eight-week mindfulness training course. Provides techniques which allow people in organizations to listen more attentively, communicate more clearly, manage stress and foster strong relationships.

How it relates to Human Synergistics: This is a practical mind training guide for leaders to develop themselves as well as how to shape their organisations culture so people can work to their full potential. The book is especially useful for building self efficacy which underlies the Self-Actualising and Achievement styles.

Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace)
By Chade-Meng Tan

Search Inside YourselfBook Blurb: With Search Inside Yourself, Chade-Meng Tan, one of Google’s earliest engineers and personal growth pioneer, offers a proven method for enhancing mindfulness and emotional intelligence in life and work.

Meng’s job is to teach Google’s best and brightest how to apply mindfulness techniques in the office and beyond; now, readers everywhere can get insider access to one of the most sought after classes in the country, a course in health, happiness and creativity that is improving the livelihood and productivity of those responsible for one of the most successful businesses in the world.

How it relates to Human Synergistics: The book encourages Humanistic-Encouraging leaders and building Self-Actualising Organisations where people are empowered and encouraged to make a difference and connect to shared values.

Ideas from Shaun McCarthy

Leadership Transformed
By Peter Fuda Ph.D.

Leadership TransformedBook Blurb: Several years ago, Dr. Peter Fuda conducted groundbreaking research of CEOs who had dramatically and measurably succeeded at transforming themselves and their organizations. This research revealed several common themes, such as using accountability as a tool to build momentum and encouraging authenticity as a means to increase trust and commitment.

Dr. Fuda organized these key similarities into seven leadership metaphors, from Fire (the motivational forces that start and sustain transformative efforts) to Snowball (how accountability can help create critical mass, reducing friction and increasing momentum), and unveiled this framework in a widely regarded Harvard Business Review article.

How it relates to Human Synergistics: The book is based around the use of the Leadership/Impact diagnostic. A great guide for coaches or for leaders who are looking to develop their own performance. Peter uses metaphors to describe leadership approaches in a memorable way - all the stories are based on real case studies of Executives.

Read Peter's Harvard Review Article Here

Organisational Culture and Leadership
By Edgar Schein

Organisational Culture and LeadershipBook Blurb: Organizational Culture and Leadership is the classic reference for managers and students seeking a deeper understanding of the inter-relationship of organizational culture dynamics and leadership.  Author Edgar Schein is the 'father' of organizational culture, world-renowned for his expertise and research in the field; in this book, he analyzes and illustrates through cases the abstract concept of culture and shows its importance to the management of organizational change.

How it relates to Human Synergistics: It's a bit of a text book ... but it is THE text book on Culture and Leadership. Edgar Schein coined the term organisational culture and is a leader in the field. If you're a student and have the patience - it's well worth a read.

You can read (or watch) an interview with Edgar Schein on the book at our US Conference

An Idea from James McLeod

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
By Susan Cain     

QuietBook Blurb: In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.

How it relates to Human Synergistics: Despite the popular belief, personality type (i.e. Introverts/Extroverts) does not determine who is or isn’t a good leader - Constructive behaviours are a much better indicator. The books looks at changing perspective of how we see introverts and how introverts see themselves. This is a great book particuarly for introverts on their own self development or leadership journey using LSI or Impact, but it also for anyone who has an introvert colleague (i.e. everyone).

An Idea from Carina Hull

Breakfast with Buddha
by Roland Merullo

Breakfast with BuddhaBook Blurb: When his sister tricks him into taking her guru on a trip to their childhood home, Otto Ringling, a confirmed skeptic, is not amused. Six days on the road with an enigmatic holy man who answers every question with a riddle is not what he'd planned. But in an effort to westernize his passenger--and amuse himself--he decides to show the monk some "American fun" along the way. From a chocolate factory in Hershey to a bowling alley in South Bend, from a Cubs game at Wrigley field to his family farm near Bismarck, Otto is given the remarkable opportunity to see his world--and more important, his life--through someone else's eyes. Gradually, skepticism yields to amazement as he realizes that his companion might just be the real thing. 

How it relates to Human Synergistics: not strictly a management book and it is definitely not a religious text on buddism but it does make you think about what is important to you in life. It’s very easy to read and if you are thinking about increasing your personal levels of self-actualizing then this may be a good start. Something to think about.

Bonus Suggestion:

Motivating Mavericks: The Secret to High Performing Teams
By Vajira Weerasekera

Motivating Mavericks

Book Blurb: In today’s business environment, no organization can escape the impact of digital disruption and transformation, or the 4th Industrial revolution as the World Economic Forum calls it. Having the right team is crucial to succeed in this next revolution. The ability to put together an agile, forward-thinking and learning team can put you ahead in the game.

Motivating Mavericks – The Secret to High Performing Teams shows you how to do just that. Author Vajira Weerasekera lets you in on the secrets to high-performing teams. With over 25 years of hands on experience in strategic planning, program management and senior executive roles, he shows you how to empower your team and lift their level of performance. He has distilled field-tested practices and lessons from notable business leaders he has interviewed and have created a practical approach with three habits and five strategies in his book.

How it relates to Human Synergistics: We are a partner on the book with Vajira. A great read for leaders of teams - particularly ones looking to be innovative. It works well together with the Group Styles Inventory to explore team dynamics. 

100% of profits from the sale of the book is devoted to supporting Shanthi Foundation build the first ever palliative care hospital in Sri Lanka and towards the work my wife Kali and I are doing to support orphaned children in Sri Lanka.

Learn more about Motivating Mavericks here