As we all know, we seldom have time to read professional books about our practice during the school year. We pile up books on a credenza that we can’t wait to crack open, but we just don’t have the time or energy as dedicated instructional leaders. Summertime is our opportunity to select a book or two that we can read with ease on a beach, plane or in the comforts of our backyard. Here are three highly recommended leadership books that will lift your spirits, re-ignite your mind and maybe make you curious about exploring a new hobby.
If you like sailing then I would suggest you start your summer reading with Roland Barth’s book, Lessons Learned: Shaping Relationships and the Culture of the Workplace, from Corwin Press. In his book, Roland compares the rules of being an effective sailor to being a compassionate leader in a school. He draws upon his expertise and shares his stories of being a loyal friend, a life-long learner, and a team player. It is a heartwarming story filled with wit and humor with relationship lessons on every page for the reader. An easy and insightful read for teachers and administrators, with several take away lessons:
- Every story and storyteller has value.
- Pay attention.
- Laugh with others often, audibly and visibly.
- When non-discussable topics are discussed, progress will be made.
- If you want to have your say, you’ve got to be present for the conversation.
- Acknowledge and applaud not only accomplishments but also effort.
- To perform like a team, act like a team together.
- To achieve excellence, one must want to become good enough bad enough.
Over the past several years, there’s been a strong movement in spirituality and meditation. Whether in a yoga class, on a meditation walk, or during a guided visualization exercise, so many are seeking to connect their personal journey with life purpose and their work.
In its first edition, Leading with Soul: An Uncommon Journey of Spirit, authors Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal use a parable to drive home that the meaning of life and that one’s work is not focused just on the bottom line and high salaries, but on something more meaningful. That something more is revealed with compassion, joy and contribution for the greater good.
This timeless book is even more powerful today; in light of terrorism, bullying and economic crises in our global society. As Lee and Terry explain, “Soul is personal and unique, grounded in the depths of personal experience. Spirit is transcendent and all embracing. It is the universal source, the oneness of all things.” Now in its 3rd edition, Leading with Soul: An Uncommon Journey of Spirit calls upon leaders to transform themselves into fearless leaders in our offices and schools.
The last book I would suggest as a great summer read is Tom Rath’s book Strengths Finder 2.0, published by Gallup Press. You can read the book from cover to cover during a day at the beach. Listed as a number one bestseller by both The Wall Street Journal and Business Week, it has stirred global conversations in the business world. So why not in our schools?
I recommend this book for anyone who wants to identify their top five talents and further hone their strengths. What I loved most about the book is the online assessment that identifies your strengths and how to best hone and utilize them in your personal and work life.
As educators, we oftentimes facilitate summer reading groups or book talks. I highly recommend any of these titles as your next book. Not only will there be meaningful conversations, but there are clear take away learning for everyone. These books will inspire you and your colleagues be the best version of yourselves.
Until next time, happy teaching and learning.