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Long Reads for the 4th of July

What are your 4th of July plans? Mine include festivals, barbecues, fireworks, and catching up on some reading, the latter of which will probably be the easiest given the forecast. Whether you’ll be spending your weekend inside or outside, there are some great books to consider picking up that can offer some inspiration to take back to the office. Here are my top picks for government reads this holiday weekend:

  1. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t (Simon Sinek): With a promo that reads “Imagine a world where almost everyone wakes up inspired to go to work, feels trusted and valued during the day, then returns home feeling fulfilled,” how could you not want to pick this up? In his 2014 book, Sinek explores why certain teams function better than others, using examples from both the public and private sectors. His key to success lies mainly in what position a leader of a team envisions for himself or herself (spoiler alert: it’s not the task master who has the most success).
  2. The New Government Leader: Mobilizing Agile Public Leadership in Disruptive Times (Katherine Ryan and Abed Ali): This downloadable paper suggests that the old way of viewing leadership roles—in a strictly hierarchical, command and control way—may no longer be feasible in today’s government. Ryan and Ali argue that there are certain behaviors required for being a successful 21st century public sector leader including quiet transparency, rebel rousing, and rapid prototyping. Are you employing any of these?
  3. Holacracy: The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World (Brian J. Robertson): The management system described in Holacracy is not specifically government focused, but it is used by some major private sector leaders including the CEO of Zappos.com and the co-founder of Twitter. Robertson argues that authority should not be vested solely in those at the top of the office hierarchy, but rather distributed throughout to create a more agile, purpose-driven organization.
  4. The Open Organization (Jim Whitehurst): Frustrated by the amount of time wasted within your agency to complete certain tasks? Whitehurst, the CEO of Red Hat, argues that developing an open, transparent, participatory agency can increase the speed at which the most important work gets done, while at the same time boosting morale and empowering employees.
  5. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration (Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace): This book offers a behind-the-scenes look at Pixar Animation and how the company developed a creative, nurturing work environment, while offering techniques you can apply in your own agency. Some strategies covered include giving freedom to employees to take risks and make mistakes, encouraging open and cross-boundary communication and collaboration, and methods for building great teams.
  6. #GIRLBOSS (Sophia Amoruso): Most of the book covers the author’s rise from dumpster diving to creating the multi-million dollar Nasty Gal retailer. This isn’t a typical “how-to” management book, but is instead based on wisdom gained through Amoruso’s own life. It’s a fun, witty, read that’s great for a little inspiration.
  7. The Best of the Gallup Management Journal 2001-2007 and Decade of Change: Managing in Times of Uncertainty (Geoffrey Brewer and Barb Sanford): I’m a huge fan of books that feature thoughts, ideas, and lessons from a variety of different viewpoints. To that end, these books do not disappoint. Both offer a collection of management tales from across the spectrum, from Nobel Prize winners to military leaders and CEOs. (FYI: The Gallup Management Journal still runs amazing, insightful articles. You can subscribe here.)

What are you reading this holiday?

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