Book Summary: A better lens on leadership and group performance.

DAC Book Cover

Direction, Alignment, Commitment: Achieving Better Results Through Leadership, Second Edition

by Cynthia McCauley and Lynn Fick-Cooper, Center for Creative Leadership

This book aims to help us refine our perspective on group performance by deepening our understanding of “leadership” and its impact on collective success. It encourages us to move beyond instinctively blaming individual leaders for poor performance. Instead, it urges us to recognize that leadership is a social process involving factors across the group, extending beyond the person in charge. As a result, a “leadership” problem isn’t always a “leader” problem. Effective leadership yields three outcomes within the group: direction, alignment, and commitment (DAC). We can enhance the overall success of the group by assessing and improving DAC variables in a holistic manner.

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Book Summary: How trust and purpose unleash performance.

Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies

by Paul J. Zak

Stewarding the organization’s culture and operating environment are among the most important leadership functions. And trust is one of the most crucial factors in that environment. Trust profoundly influences everything from employee retention to the organization’s ability to achieve its most crucial goals.

In the Trust Factor, neuroscientist Paul Zak uses his original research to reveal insights for building high-trust organizations. He explains how brain chemicals affect people’s behavior, how trust is undermined, and how you can stimulate it.

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Book Summary: Amazon’s ideas can make your organization smarter.

Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon

by Colin Bryar and Bill Carr

Whatever you think about Amazon, it’s impossible to ignore the impact that it’s had on so many aspects of the business landscape, from retailing to publishing to entertainment and even cloud data services. Working Backwards, written by two early and senior executives, describes some of the notable business practices behind Amazon’s growth and impact. Mostly these are ideas that organizations of any type or size can use or adapt.

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Book Summary: Make better decisions.

Creating Great Choices book cover

Creating Great Choices: A Leader’s Guide to Integrative Thinking

by Jennifer Riel and Roger L. Martin

Conventional wisdom says that trade-offs are inevitable when making hard choices. But settling for the least bad option is a lousy way to make a big decision. This book proposes a “third and better way” to make important choices using proven, repeatable processes to create better answers to problems, sidestep our built-in biases, and avoid trading off one stakeholder group’s needs for another.

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Book Summary: Be the leader your team loves.

Progress Principal book cover

The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work

by Teresa Amabile, Ph.D. and Steven Kramer, Ph.D.

This book uncovers the real ingredients of productivity that lead to high-performance teams and organizations. It’s principally based on research involving 238 employees in seven companies who provided daily diary entries (nearly 12,000 of them) that revealed the ups and downs of their “inner work lives” and the impact on their performance.

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