Books for Leaders

Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices

By Paul R. Lawrence and Nitin Nohria

Review by Alice Waagen, Workforce Learning

As a student of what drives people, I can honestly recommend “Driven,” an engaging an insightful book that can help managers and leaders who are wrestling with motivating their workforce.

The authors, both professors at Harvard Business School—Paul Lawrence is a professor of Organizational Behavior and Nitin Nohria is a professor of Business Administration—are seasoned academicians with impeccable credentials.

Their goal in writing “Driven,” they explain, was to come up with a unifying theory of motivation that would apply to all humans everywhere. By synthesizing previously divergent models of human behavior from evolutionary biology with the various behavioral sciences (economics, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and political science), the authors have given us fresh insight into this murky area.


Hidden Value: How Great Companies Achieve Extraordinary Results with Ordinary People

From Harvard Management Update
Reprinted with permission

Managers’ common reluctance to delegate responsibility is a topic that has long intrigued Jeffrey Pfeffer, coauthor of Hidden Value: How Great Companies Achieve Extraordinary Results with Ordinary People.

Pfeffer says that there is mounting evidence that giving people more responsibility for making decisions in their jobs generates greater productivity, morale, and commitment. Yet despite these benefits, many managers are reluctant to cede control. We recently asked Pfeffer, whose research helps explain the reasons for such reluctance, what companies can do to overcome it.


Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most

164Review by Dr. Alice Waagen

Despite our best attempts to stay calm, cool, and collected when dealing with a workplace conflict, certain talks still cause us anxiety.

No matter how much we plan, rehearse, and promise to stay unemotional, these discussions often degenerate into battles that make an already bad situation that much worse.

It’s no wonder that our natural instinct is to avoid these workplace confrontations.


Love Is the Killer App

By Dr. Alice Waagen

I was delighted to find “Love Is the Killer App,” by Tim Sanders, the director of Yahoo’s in-house think tank.

Working from the premise that success in business comes more from being a nice guy than a mad dog, his book explains why love is the crucial element in the search for personal and professional success.


Five Minds for the Future

144Review by Dr. Alice Waagen
Workforce Learning

I thought it fitting in this issue on learning to review a book by my favorite scholar/researcher, Howard Gardner. A professor of cognition and education at Harvard Graduate School of Education, his background is in psychology, and he is best known for his groundbreaking work on multiple intelligences.


What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures

128What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures
By Malcolm Gladwell
Little, Brown and Company, 2009

Review by Dr. Alice Waagen

I find Malcolm Gladwell to be one of the most entertaining and provocative writers today. His groundbreaking books, Tipping Point, Blink and Outliers challenge our assumptions and give us new ways to look at and think about the world around us.


The Essential Performance Review Handbook

Book by Sharon Armstrong

Sharon Armstrong has done the world of management a great service. She has compiled a book that shows us exactly how to develop and deliver top-notch performance appraisals.

As stated in the introduction, the purpose of the book is to “cut through the anxiety and make the process more productive and less unpleasant.” That’s an admirable goal for a book dealing with the single most dreaded managerial task in the workplace today.


Maslow on Management

111June Book Review:
By Abraham Maslow
John Wiley & Sons, 1998
Review by Dr. Alice Waagen

On the anniversary of Abraham Maslow’s death (June 8, 1970), I revisited his classic book, Maslow on Management.

I return to it periodically because this transcription of the journals he kept while touring a factory in southern California in 1960, provides us with a unique view of management that applies today.