Weekend Leadership Reading: 2/9/18

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Weekends are time when things slow down a little. Your weekend shouldn’t be two more regular work days. That’s a sure road to burnout. Take time to refresh yourself. Take time for something different. Take time for some of that reading you can’t find time for during the week.

Here are choice articles on hot leadership topics culled from the business schools, the business press and major consulting firms. This week there are articles about Executive hubris, accelerating workgroup performance, where today’s cities of opportunity are, Amazon becoming a university, and how to get great at something.

From Carter Cast: Avoiding the ‘Hubris’ Pitfall

“We live in an era of participation trophies and a business environment that has become largely focused on identifying and celebrating strengths. But there is new and growing evidence that personal weaknesses, the things we don’t know about ourselves as leaders, are the most likely to cause our career to go off track.”

From John Hagel: Accelerating Performance One Workgroup at a Time

“Improving performance. For many leaders, it’s always top-of-mind. Yet, for all the attention it gets, a big opportunity may be being missed: There’s a new approach that can not only improve performance, but accelerate it. This approach allows companies to break out of the trap of diminishing returns—in which a single-minded focus on cost-cutting finds less and less to cut—to a performance curve of increasing returns, where targeted efforts lead to better performance, which in turn fuel even better performance.”

Book Suggestion: The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion by John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison

From Joel Kotkin: The New Opportunity Boomtowns

“A century ago Detroit was a boomtown and Los Angeles a sleepy refuge for sun-seeking Midwesterners. A half-century later, L.A. was the fastest-growing big city in the high-income world, while Detroit was beginning its long tailspin. In the ’70s, New York was the ‘rotten apple’ and seemed destined for further decline. But for the past 20 years it has enjoyed an enormous surge of wealth, as have many of the countries’ dense, culturally creative cities.”

Book Suggestion: The Human City: Urbanism for the Rest of Us by Joel Kotkin

From Amy X. Wang: Amazon is quietly becoming its own university

“The e-commerce/retail/food/books/cloud-computing/etc company made another move this week that, while nowhere near as flashy as the above efforts, tells of curious things to come. Amazon has hired Candace Thille, a leader in learning science, cognitive science, and open education at Stanford University, to be ‘director of learning science and engineering.’ A spokesperson told Inside Higher Ed that Thille will work ‘with our Global Learning Development Team to scale and innovate workplace learning at Amazon’; Thille herself said she is ‘not really at liberty to discuss’ her new project. What could Amazon want with a higher education expert?”

From Atul Gawande: Want to get great at something? Get a coach (TED Talk)

“How do we improve in the face of complexity? Atul Gawande has studied this question with a surgeon’s precision. He shares what he’s found to be the key: having a good coach to provide a more accurate picture of our reality, to instill positive habits of thinking, and to break our actions down and then help us build them back up again. ‘It’s not how good you are now; it’s how good you’re going to be that really matters,’ Gawande says.”

Book Suggestion: Gawande’s Checklist Manifesto is probably his best-known book among business readers. I loved it and recommend it, but my personal favorite is Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance.

A Note of Personal Sadness

As I was writing this post, have done all the research for it on the net, I received the news that John Perry Barlow has died. The world is a poorer place now. There is nothing I can say about Barlow that can’t be said better by others, but I can point you to LifeHacker’s tribute which reproduces Barlow’s “25 Principles of Adult Behavior.” One more chance for Barlow’s wisdom to be absorbed into ours.

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