National Read A Book Day must love a challenge. Encouraging people to grab a book and spend the day reading, in the same week that most of us are returning from summer break and frantically trying to catch up, seems a long shot to me. But even if whiling away an entire day with your nose in a book might be beyond reach – I can’t deny that I love the day’s sentiment and learning something new from a great book, so in homage to that, I’m sharing five of my favourites. If you’re keen to develop yourself professionally, then these are worth ordering this National Read A Book day - even if you can’t get to them right away!
The best news is that they’re all available as audiobooks. If, like me, you’re passionate about the power of the voice and how to use it to best effect then, as well as learning from the content, you’ll also experience voice artistry at its best, through each book’s professional narration. And who doesn’t want someone to read them a great story when they are on the move or reach the end of a long day with tired eyes?
So, in no particular order, here are my five recommended reads:
1. Herminia Ibarra's 'Act like a leader, think like a leader’. I’ve long been an admirer of Herminia's work. She’s without doubt a leading voice on gender policy, and leadership and career development. She’s widely published, but in this book focuses on how managers wanting to morph into leaders need to change how they act today, to secure the leadership mindset they need to win tomorrow. It’s an easy read, containing immediately implementable advice.
2. Chris Voss and Tahl Raz’s ‘Never split the difference’. I must admit, I love it when I see people taking insight that’s proved successful in one environment, translating it to benefit another. It’s what drove me to adapt the voice training I learned at one of the world's most prestigious speech and drama schools to help business professionals feel, look and sound more confident. But can the learnings of a former FBI kidnapping negotiator be relevant to the corporate world? Yes, it seems they can because negotiation, regardless of setting, starts with the premise ‘I want…’ This book is a fascinating read about using ‘listening as a martial art’ to convey empathy and gain competitive edge in any negotiation.
3. Helen Morrissey's ‘A good time to be a girl’. How could anyone fail to be impressed by Helena Morrissey? She’s got nine children (yes, nine maternity leaves) and still managed to make it to the top in business. In 2010, in addition to her corporate CEO role, she set up the 30% Club to get more women on boards – that’s something very close to my own heart, which is why I’ve been freely gifting some of my time as a coach to the 30% Club for the last five years. In this book Helena sets out why women shouldn’t copy the dominant masculine model of leadership but rather change the system to succeed in their own way.
4. Julia Gillard's ‘My Story’. Gillard became Australia’s first female Prime Minister in 2010. This book, about her political tenure as PM, isn’t the easiest read for those outside Australia who are unlikely to be familiar with the politicians referenced or the inner workings of their government. Nevertheless, if you can see past that, this is an astonishing account of how one woman finds herself thrown, somewhat unexpectedly, into the leadership spotlight and has her resilience and leadership tested to the max from the outset. This personal story offers great insight into the ‘politics’ female leaders face - with both a big and small ‘P’.
5. James Kerr’s ‘Legacy’. Just when you thought the books I suggest couldn’t come from any further away, Legacy, is about New Zealand’s All Blacks - the world’s most successful sporting outfit. Don’t be fooled though, this isn’t a book about rugby, it’s 15 practical lessons business professionals can learn from the team’s long-standing success. Beautifully written and broken into digestible chunks - if you haven’t yet read it yet, you are in for a treat.
This year's National Read A Book Day takes place on Friday 6th September.
Susan Room is a former corporate leader, turned professional coach. One of the rare few qualified to provide voice and executive coaching, her unique blend of experience now sees her helping others feel, look and sound confident – positively improving their professional performance and happiness at work. www.susanroom.com