One of the things we love about our president, Dr. Lindsay Whorton, is that she is always reading and sharing insights with those around her. As you compile your summer reading list, consider Lindsay’s recommendations to help you deepen your leadership – and also give your brain a rest.
Author: Peter Senge
Quick summary: How to rid your organization of learning “disabilities” that threaten productivity and success
Lindsay’s take: The idea of a learning organization is very powerful to me. Fundamentally, the problems we are trying to solve in any organization that involves humans – kids in particular – are big and complicated. Solutions do not come in the form of heroic individuals or technical fixes. The ability to learn as an individual is important, but the ability to learn as an organization is the critical piece. Over time, a learning organization will solve the problem together.
Lindsay’s tip: If you don’t have time to read the whole book, start with Personal Mastery, then read Team Learning and Shared Vision. Check out the Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization for ready-made activities you can do as an individual or with your team.
Author: Ken Segall
Quick summary: How simplicity influences the CEOs of The Container Store and Whole Foods and drives the worlds of fashion, automobiles, entertainment, and technology
Lindsay’s take: This book draws lots of lessons with Apple’s obsession with simplicity and how it drove a lot of innovative products. In education, the work we are doing is complex. We are up to our elbows in the details and data, and we love it. But the trick in leadership is figuring out how to break down that complexity so that others can quickly grasp the vision. To be effective, you’ve got to have a simple, powerful message about your mission and the results you’re driving toward.
Author: Daniel Coyle
Quick summary: Explore some of the world’s most successful organizations (U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team Six, IDEO, and the San Antonio Spurs) to find out what makes them tick.
Lindsay’s take: This is an inspiring read about the power of creating effective groups and teams. He tells a lot of stories about what it looks like for teams to operate with safety, trust, vulnerability and purpose. It is a tangible picture of what we all want to be true in our teams and organizations.
Lindsay’s tip: For Spurs fans, Coach Gregg Popovich is highlighted in Chapter Four. The Spurs don’t win championships because of showboat players, they win because Coach Pop is a master team builder.
Author: William Isaacs
Quick summary: Practical guidelines for learning how to talk together in honest and effective ways
Lindsay’s take: In Western culture, we talk to win the argument. This focus on competing in conversation can stunt our relationships and our ability to learn and grow. This book digs into the idea that dialogue is a skill you can learn and practice. It pushes us to pay attention to how our default way of communicating is shutting us off from connecting with people. We can learn from people who have different ideas if we learn to truly open our minds and listen.
Whatever feeds your soul
Lindsay’s take: We don’t always need to be reading things that are connected to skill building and personal growth. I’m reading new works from my favorite poet, Christian Wiman. If you love a good murder mystery or the newest fiction, give your brain a break and read whatever brings you joy.