Last year a client and I were excitedly talking about leadership books we were reading while we set up for a workshop with her team, and this was the genesis for our ‘Leadership Book Club’.

There are ten of us; we read a book broadly connected to leadership each month, and then meet via Zoom to discuss it. We have read some fantastic books that we enjoyed, and have been challenged by fabulous conversations. Here are three of my must-reads so far, and my interpretation of what they are about.

Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience, Brené Brown (2021)

Through her research and writing, Brené Brown has taught us so much about what it is to be a human (and a leader). Her 2010 TED Talk The Power of Vulnerability is in the top 5 most watched TED Talks ever, with over 62 million views.

In ‘Atlas of the Heart’, she labels and explains (including some cool science) 82 human emotions and experiences, with the hope that we will become more ‘emotionally fluent and connected’. This book gave me new language for feelings that I knew but did not have the words to express.

Brené’s intention sums it up: ‘I want this book to be an atlas for all of us, because I believe that, with an adventurous heart and the right maps, we can travel anywhere and never fear losing ourselves.’

The book is beautifully presented: a coffee table piece. I also enjoyed the audiobook narrated by the author – listening to it felt like being in conversation with Brené.

The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity, Lynda Gratton & Andrew J. Scott (2020)

When I turned 50, I had a ‘half-way party’ (I plan to live until 100) so this book speaks straight to me! Written by two professors from London Business School, it’s part futurist, part science, part health and part financial savvy. The premise is that we (western middle class in particular) will live longer, so instead of thinking that means being ‘old’ longer, we need to rethink life trajectories. The model of a ‘three-stage’ life – education, work and retirement – no longer suits, and instead we need a ‘multistage’ life. Think career breaks, portfolios, updating your skills, and working longer in ways that suit you, with more breaks in between.

The concept that got me thinking most was ‘intangible assets’ – like relationships, health, knowledge, balanced life. I am in a privileged position to be confident in my ‘tangible assets’. In my intangible assets, less so. Hence, after reading this book I did an ‘audit’ and put some changes in place.

This is THE BOOK that has most impacted my thinking and my conversations both in and out of my professional context. If you want to live a long and productive life, this is a MUST-READ! #goalto100

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, Daniel Coyle (2019)

Even though I am still processing this book, and diving back in to re-read parts, I am using key concepts with client groups, and drawing on it as a framework for considering culture.

Central to this book is the idea that weak group cultures are the result of focusing on skills and neglecting relationships and interactions. To create a strong culture, the focus needs to be on safety, vulnerability, and purpose.

Daniel Coyle tells stories of teams and organisations to illustrate his points, and references recent research. I most like his notion of ‘belonging cues’ – things like eye contact, mimicry, physical proximity – to understand group dynamics.

If building team or organisational culture is your focus, please read this book. Everyone in one executive team I am currently working with are now reading it, with a plan to discuss it together once complete.

What books are you finding thought provoking? If you have a book to add to our reading list, please let me know. And if you read one of these and enjoy it, I would love to know that too.

Go Fearlessly – Corrinne

PS Choosing only three was impossible, so I will do another blog soon with my other three current favs.


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