Saturday, October 29, 2016

Leadership 101

Why Leaders Fail – and 7 Prescriptions for Success – Peter B. Stark, CSP, AS, and Mary C. Kelly, PhD, CSP, Commander, U.S. Navy (Ret) – (Bentley Press)

A quick visit to the business section of any well stocked bookstore and you will encounter countless books on leadership that will offer up a myriad of thoughts on how to be a successful leader. These books will detail the prerequisites needed to guide a wide variety of business sectors; some very narrow cast for specific business, others a more broad based, and general in their approach.

Very few, if any of these books will highlight what it is that leaders do wrong and what causes them to derail and fail. Why Leaders Fail – and 7 Prescriptions for Success by Peter B. Stark and Mary C. Kelly, by leadership experts, bestselling authors and leadership development trainers tackles leadership from that perspective. While they focus on the traits of failed leaders, they also back into the prescriptive to dos that can either help leaders avoid these issues or take the corrective action needed to be a successful leader.

Stark and Kelly take a very nuts and bolts approach and don’t get bogged down in a lot of leadership theory or fantastical programs that readers will need to follow. This isn’t brain surgery; it’s what should be a common sense way to approach being a successful leader and build a high quality organization and team. As I read worked my way through the book I noticed I was creating a list of my former leaders who could have benefited greatly from Stark and Kelly’s straight forward guidance. The question becomes do I want to deliver a few anonymous gifts to these folks?

Whether you are aspiring to leadership and looking for a road map to being successful in that endeavor or a veteran of the C-Suite, Why Leaders Fail, is one of those handy tools you can keep within reach as a reminder of not only the things to do, but the things to avoid. If you are one of those folks who set out with the best of intentions and buy books on leadership to improve or advance your skillsets, but then find your interest waning as you get bogged down in the minutiae, at just over 150 pages, Why Leaders Fail, cuts out the fluff and cuts to the chase. These are actionable steps you can implement today.  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Strategic Planning for Students

The Growth Mindset Coach: A Teacher’s Month-by-Month Handbook for Empowering Students to Achieve – Annie Brock and Heather Hundley (Ulysses Press)

Growing up, my Father regularly extolled the line “you get out what you put in,” stressing to me that hard work and effort paid off. While researching student perceptions and attitudes, Dr. Carol Dweck coined the terms fixed mindset and growth mindset. Students with fixed mindsets had a tendency to self-limit their ability to succeed while student with a growth mindset, seemed to understand that their potential was limitless. Hence good old Dad and the virtues of effort.

Now, teachers; Annie Brock and Heather Hundley have developed a series of tools to help teachers cultivate and coach students to have a growth mindset. In The Growth Mindset Coach: A Teacher’s Month-by-Month Handbook for Empowering Students to Achieve, Brock and Hundley have collected practical tips, classroom anecdotes, executable lesson plans and strategies to help teachers guide students through the process and become higher achievers.

The theory is great, but this is much more of a rubber meets the road, actionable guide that teacher and even parents can put into play quickly and easily. With so much chatter and focus on education and improving results and an outcry for a more business-like approach to the education process, this really strikes me as a strategic plan for student.

While theories can sound great they can easily slip off into the weeds never to return. That is not the case with The Growth Mindset Coach, which has a much more plug and play feel to it and has a real bias towards action.