Books for Leaders

Retire Retirement: Career Strategies for the Boomer Generation

48Review by Alice Waagen

Book by Tamara Erickson

Publisher: Harvard Business Press, 2008

I love a book with a simple, relevant message. Such is the case with Tamara Erickson’s new book, Retire Retirement.

Erickson explains that baby boomers in their Baby Trend Expedition-Jogger-Stroller now will live two or even three decades beyond the traditional retirement age of 65, and as a result will be able to find work more easily during the so-called third phase of their lives.


The Essential HR Handbook: A Quick and Handy Resource for Any Manager or HR Professional

39Review by Alice Waagen

Book by Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell

Publisher: Career Press, 2008

One of the toughest jobs in the business world is that of the middle manager. Whether the job title is supervisor, team lead or director, these positions are sandwiched between the front lines — the people doing the work day after day — and the organization’s leadership, those looking ahead and giving direction. Too often, these two constituencies do not see eye to eye and middle managers need to buffer and cajole both upward and downward.


The Next Level: What Insiders Know about Executive Success

10Review by Alice Waagen

Book by Scott Eblin

Publisher: Davis Black Publishing, 2006

To me, the hallmark of a good book is its ability to bring simplicity to deep and complex topics. Scott Eblin’s The Next Level does just that. His premise is simply this: As one advances to the executive level, he/she must embody certain characteristics and behaviors and delete those that provide little value.


Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits

9Review by Alice Waagen

Book by Leslie R. Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant

Publisher: San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008

One of my first consulting clients was a small, struggling nonprofit. Being recently sprung from a career in the for-profit corporate world, I was certain that I could “fix” this organization’s internal issues. After all, I had a long career solving workplace issues for large businesses and believed the nonprofit world would certainly benefit from all this wisdom and experience.


A Whole New Mind

8Review by Alice Waagen

Book by Dan Pink

Publisher: Riverhead Books, 2005

In the spirit of full disclosure, I admit that I am a fan of Dan Pink’s work. I started reading his articles years ago when he was a regular contributor to Fast Company magazine. Then, in 2001, he published Free Agent Nation — shortly after I began working as a free agent myself. Reading that book made me feel like a part of something big and current, not just a loner who was crazy enough to leave the ranks of corporate America and venture out on my own.



7Review by Alice Waagen

Book by Malcolm Gladwell

Publisher: Back Bay Books

Recently I read a curious book called Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell is the author of the wildly popular book The Tipping Point. In Blink, which is subtitled The Power of Thinking without Thinking, he uses research from neuroscience and psychology to explain how our brains can “thin slice” the available data to make remarkably accurate, nearly instantaneous decisions even before our logical minds kick in.


The Human Side of Enterprise

6Review by Alice Waagen

Book by Douglas McGregor

Publisher: McGraw-Hill, 1960

When I was struggling as a manager many years ago, participatory management was considered a new and revolutionary way to manage people. A participatory manager served more as a partner and enabler than as a director of work and tasks. We were to “empower” team members and encourage all to be involved in what had previously been considered exclusively management’s decisions. High-performing work teams were our Holy Grail.


The Principles of Scientific Management

5Review by Alice Waagen

Book by Frederick Winslow Taylor

Every now and then, I enjoy mixing my two interests in history and business by rereading a book from the past. One great classic that is still an enlightening read today is The Principles of Scientific Management by Frederick Winslow Taylor – known as the inventor of time and motion studies.


The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

4Review by Alice Waagen

Book by Sloan Wilson

Publisher: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1955

I recently had the pleasure of reading The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, a classic novel that became a metaphor for the corporate employee of the 1950s — one reduced to an insignificant cog in a soulless corporate machine, toiling endlessly on minutiae. Together with William Whyte’s 1957 study The Organization Man, these books came to represent how big business can rob the individual of self and identity, forcing him into conformity and uniformity.


The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

3Review by Alice Waagen

Book by Patrick Lencioni

Publisher: Jossey-Bass, 2002

When I first looked at Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, I felt it had two major obstacles to earning a place on my “Books to Recommend” list. First, it is a book about teams and second, it is a book about leadership. That’s a double-whammy right out of the gate: given the plethora of written material on leadership and teams, I find it a rare occurrence when an author can present new information on these topics.