The Advancing Leadership Blog

October 2014 #Shelfie

Toronto TEC Chair, Brian Brennan, is our next contributor to the #shelfie series and shares reading recommendations from his bookshelf that inspire him as a business leader and mentor. Share your own #shelfie with us on Twitter @TECCanada


How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

I first found this classic on my father’s book shelf. What can be more fundamental to being a successful leader than connecting successfully with people? This book is a guide to doing exactly that! Carnegie makes the skills required very accessible to us.

I have yet to find a book that combines such effectiveness with such basic and impactful advice such as: smile, show a genuine interest in other people and my favourite – listen.

This is a must read for every leader!

Leading Change – John P. Kotter

Kotter is certainly a leader in the field of change management. Change is often treated as an “event” in organizations and in that context is doomed to failure the majority of the time.

In this book Kotter identifies practical processes for introducing and sustaining change successfully in organizations. I did not interpret this as a “how to” guide so much as advice on processes you can follow to bring positive and impactful change to organizations.

I especially connected with the idea of “Generating Short-Term” wins. We make change overwhelming by thinking of the gigantic task ahead of us. His advice is to take smaller steps and fuel the organization with the momentum of success created with each win. That is something we can all do.

The Seven Habits of highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey

This book is a classic read that I think every leader should dive into at least once. It is packed with great information and concepts that are applicable to all of us.

I particularly like the notions of the “Circle of Influence”, “Begin with the End in Mind” and “Seek first to understand, then to be Understood”.

What I found intriguing in this book was the realization that great leadership takes patience. By my nature, I am the type of individual who likes to jump in and take on things as they arrive. Many of us are the same. This book made a great deal of sense to me and delivers a great message that we need to be thoughtful and strategic about our actions and relationships in order for us to be as effective as we are capable of being. Timeless!

Open, an autobiography – Andre Agassi

Tennis is a personal passion of mine. I am quite involved in the sport in several ways. It appears to many that this is a sport of “individuals”. I have come to see it much differently.

We can learn a lot about great leadership and team development from this sport. Andre Agassi provides some great insights about the journey to becoming a champion and “Hall of Famer” in the sport of tennis. The more I learn about champions the more I understand that they need a high performing and engaged team around them to become and maintain their elite status.

This book also reminds me that we need to take time to read for pleasure. Having said that it amazes me how “leadership” show up in most everything I read.

Neuromarketing – Patrick Renvoisé & Christophe Morin

This book speaks to basic human behaviour and connection points. When I was first exposed to the basic principles of the “primitive brain” I was intrigued. What intrigued me most was that everything was true. We have some responses that override everything else when we are faced with new situations or information.

The authors identify the concepts, processes and words etc. that we all connect with so easily and offer advice on how to harness that information to improve our personal effectiveness. They focus on the process of selling. This is different but I have found it to be highly effective.

Stretch your mind and incorporate some of the principles into your leadership style.

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