The Advancing Leadership Blog

April 2015 #Shelfie

Vancouver TEC Chair Joyce Groote is our next contributor to the #shelfie series and shares reading recommendations from her bookshelf that inspire her as a business leader and mentor. Share your own #shelfie with us on Twitter @TECCanada

I spent many of my earlier years trying to read in class when I thought the teacher wasn’t looking – until my books were taken from me so I could refocus on the lessons of the day. I still love to read, although no one takes my books from me anymore unless they’re anxious to be next in line to read them. My interests are varied and range from pure pleasure fiction and fantasy, to biographies, business and human interest topics. Below are some of the more current books I’ve read that either help people I am working with, help me personally, or that I just plain enjoy!

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Business Alliances Guide: The Hidden Competitive Weapon – Robert Porter Lynch

So many companies are looking at acquisitions, mergers, or strategic alliances as the next stage to compete and grow, or possibly even as their personal exit strategy. I’m finding in my own practice that a lot of the detailed discussions necessary to this process are not happening. To be successful, there are critical factors that need to be assessed and managed, including strategic synergy, great chemistry, win/win, operational integration and so many other things that are often overlooked. This book helps people understand their own needs so they can have the right conversations to come up with the right alliance strategy for them.  It also discusses how to get started, find partners and manage the details – which is often not a natural strength. While many entrepreneurs are used to running their companies using innate talent and intuition, this situation requires structured thinking and discussions to be successful.

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Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Harari 

Where do we come from? Has the progress of humankind made us any happier? Harari takes us back about 70,000 years to when humankind went through a cognitive revolution – which he maintains was our first revolution – through to the agricultural revolution about 12,000 years ago when everything sped up, to the scientific revolution of today that may finish us off as a species before it’s through. This is a fascinating book on game-changers throughout human history. While it’s not my typical read, Yuval’s ability as an objective and entertaining master storyteller held me entranced. He has strong views about modern man that, even if you don’t agree, make you think twice about your own views. I first heard him on an interview on CBC and was immediately taken in by his turn of phrase and his ability to articulate difficult concepts about how we evolved and where we’re going. A fascinating read!

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Fierce Conversations – Susan Scott

I read this book when I first became a TEC Chair and its lessons have stayed with me ever since. It provides excellent real-life examples and tools to help us deal with the difficult conversations we would usually try to avoid. Our avoidance of these conversations is really due to fear of conflict, which ironically is often the end result of the avoidance. Susan Scott has found a way to help us navigate the difficult, but important conversations that can have a big impact on our relationships with family, friends and in business.  It always surprises me how many of the people we all consider successful dislike conflict and avoid the difficult conversations at all costs, the end result being that dysfunctional relationships continue for too long while no one benefits. I’ve made this a ‘must read’ for some of my members and they’ve benefited as enormously as I have myself in personal and business situations.

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