Vickie Gray, a coach whose writing caught my attention a few years ago, recently became Learning Manager at the Acadia Centre for Social and Business Entrepreneurship, and she asked if I could recommend any resources. As an Instructor and Leadership Coach at the Stanford Graduate School of Business for the last seven (!) years, I've worked with hundreds of MBAs, and the books, articles and other resources below have been important tools in my efforts to help students develop their leadership and interpersonal skills (and in my private coaching practice as well.)
While I make use of these resources in my work at Stanford and my practice, almost all of them can be applied by a leader or manager within their organizations or by any individual seeking to self-coach.
The list easily could have been ten times as long, and there are plenty of great resources I hate leaving out, but a list of 20 seems more likely to actually get read and be helpful. And while I'm sure most of these are familiar to Vickie, hopefully even someone as experienced as she is will find a few new ones.
It sounds like an insult to call de Botton a "pop philosopher," but I can't come up with a better term, so I've decided to just embrace it. He's a deeply serious thinker, but his writing is readily accessible, and the three books above have influenced not only how I work with students and clients but also my own path in life.
Murphy Paul is a writer who studies how we learn. She does a great job of digesting current research for lay readers, and she ranges across topics from neuroscience to the educational system. Her regular newsletter, "The Brilliant Report," is one of a tiny number I subscribe to and actually read.
3. Brené Brown on vulnerability
Brown is an increasingly well-known professor at the University of Houston's Graduate College of Social Work, and her research addresses such topics as vulnerability, authenticity, courage, empathy and shame. This 20-minute TED talk shot in Houston in 2010 has been seen nearly 12 million times; I've seen it half a dozen times myself, and I still find it stirring.
This 2001 HBR article by Vanessa Druskat and Steven Wolff is one of the most useful readings we assign students at Stanford, and I refer to it regularly in my coaching practice. The authors make a compelling case that a group's effectiveness is based on norms that help members both deepen emotional awareness and strengthen emotion regulation (work that I view as one of the most important tasks of senior leaders).5. Carol Dweck's concept of fixed and growth mindsets
Stanford psychologist Dweck has found that we tend toward one of two "mindsets"--in a fixed mindset we view our abilities as inherent, and we view mistakes as character flaws, while in a growth mindset we believe our abilities can be developed through persistent effort, and we view mistakes as learning opportunities.
Written by David Rock (see below) and Linda Page, this wide-ranging book from 2009 explores a series of bedrock concepts (from ontology to management theory) that support "coaching pillars," which in turn underpin a "neuroscience platform."7. Dan Oestreich's blog, newsletter and tweets
Oestreich is a coach and consultant based near Seattle, and I've found his writing to be a great source of learning and inspiration. He's one of the most heartfelt and personal writers on this list, and he illustrates his blog with an assortment of stunning nature photographs--usually taken on hikes in the Pacific Northwest. I particularly like his newsletter, which typically comes out monthly and is eminently readable (and I was honored to be interviewed for it.)
8. David Foster Wallace's 2005 Kenyon College commencement speech
You can listen to the original audio, but I prefer the version published in The Wall Street Journal after Wallace's suicide. I think it's important to maintain some critical distance here; Wallace's close friend Jonathan Franzen makes clear that Wallace shouldn't be viewed as some sort of "great and gentle soul." But the failings of the messenger don't eliminate the value of the message, and I've learned much from Wallace's message here.
9. David Rock's SCARF model
Rock, a coach based in New York, studies current neuroscience research and discusses its implications for leaders and managers. In this 2008 paper Rock discusses one of his most compelling findings, a model that helps to explain the types of interpersonal situations likely to trigger a social threat.
This absurdly simple site is still the only tool I use and recommend to clients to track daily activities.
This 2011 post of mine (and a terrific response from Dan Might, a former Stanford student) has stuck with me as a reasonably concise articulation of my own leadership philosophy.
Yes, I'm one of the co-authors, so I'm hardly an objective reviewer--but note that I'm not getting royalties :-) At any rate, I still think this book is a great coaching and teaching resource, and I'm proud to be associated with the other contributors.
Edgar Schein's 2009 book is the single-best resource I know on how to initiate and sustain successful helping relationships, bar none, and while it's had a substantial influence on my approach to coaching and teaching, I also believe its message is relevant to any leader. If I could ask all of my students and clients to read one book, this would be the one.
Kofodimos is a coach and consultant in North Carolina formerly with the Center for Creative Leadership. Her pithy, straightforward posts discuss complex concepts from management theory in the context of the day-to-day challenges faced by her clients.
Judy Willis is a former neurologist who obtained her teaching credential after a 15-year career in medicine and now teaches at Santa Barbara Middle School. Willis also writes about how to apply what we're learning from neuroscience research in educational settings, and this 2007 paper has had a significant impact on my approach to teaching.
16. Peter Drucker's Managing Oneself
I came across this HBR essay, first published in 1998, while I was in business school, and it continues to influence my work with clients and students (and my own life) today.
Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatté's 2002 book explores their theory that resilience is comprised of seven specific practices, each of which we can pursure more deliberately as we seek to build our capacity to persist through difficulties, overcome obstacles and deal with setbacks.
This out-of-print book from 1978 by Karen Stone and Harold Dillehunt provides a curriculum for elementary school teachers, and yet I've found it a great source of inspiration in my work with MBAs and professional coaching clients. Stone and Dillehunt taught at the Nueva Learning Center--now known as the Nueva School--and were among the pioneers of social-emotional learning.
For this 2003 book Po Bronson interviewed some 900 people, and just over 50 of their stories made it into print. It doesn't rise to the level of Studs Terkel's majestic oral histories, but with its focus on people struggling to give their lives a sense of meaning and purpose it's a uniquely valuable resource.
In 2006 UK-based coaches Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones expanded their HBR article of the same name into a full-length book, drawing upon experiences with their clients to illustrate their core concepts. It's one of my favorite books in any field.Photo by Ron Matson. Yay Flickr and Creative Commons.