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Executive Excellence: 8 Titles that Inspire

Executive excellence is examined regularly in publications of all kinds. Some stand out because they cut to the chase on an essential ingredient that will not be ignored. I selected these book titles because they contribute directly to executive excellence.  See if you agree with me.  If you have additions or comments, please share in the Comments Section below.

Executive excellence can be described as the ability to lead a group of senior executives who aren’t tolerating poor performance any time soon.  They are people who, from any distance and as evidenced by the metrics, are leading a company to breakaway success.  They are people who provide and exemplify leadership growth and development.  In other words, they produce exemplary results effectively through other leaders because they guide, instruct and delegate effectively.  These are books I have read, absorbed, taught from and believe in their messages.

Here we go.  Let this be a mirror.

  • Start with Why (Simon Sinek). If an organization is heading for breakaway success in such a visible manner that it can’t be missed, the metrics speak for themselves.  Think Apple.  Simon Sinek used Apple throughout the book to amplify a focus on purpose rather than result, and the result was evident.  Charisma can be quietly inspiring (Bill Gates) and is different from energy or exuberance (Steve Ballmer).

Is your organization purpose-driven?

  • Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan, Charles Burck).  If the purpose is clear, if the strategy is solid does not matter, if a leader and his or her team cannot execute.  Actions speak louder than words; a picture is worth a thousand words.  Show me a leader who knows how to execute and I will show you results.

Are you executing on that great strategy?

  • The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything (Stephen M.R. Covey).  You can FEEL it when you enter a business where people don’t trust one another.  That discomfort lives in the context or background, and that context is defining!  By that I mean the energy, the dynamics that are palpable even if no one says a word.  This discomfort is sometimes referred to as “the elephant in the room.”

Do you foster trustworthiness by your words and deeds?

  • What Got you Here Won’t Get you There  (Marshall Goldsmith).  Executive Excellence requires continually setting a higher bar for self and those who follow you.  Being open to the journey will mean you are in uncharted waters often.

Will you take coaching from a rock?

  • Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor (Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman, James O’Toole).  My copy of this book is dog-eared and often quoted to my executive clients.  I have been known to gift it.  It contains three essays including one on speaking truth to power.

Do you create space for your stakeholders to give you difficult feedback, and are you an invitation for the truth even when it hurts?

Do you share the load AND the ownership for results, privately AND publicly?

  • Reflections on Character and Leadership (Manfred Kets de Vries).  You can succeed (in superficial terms) without having character or nurturing character in others, but you cannot be an excellent executive without it.

Do you ask the hard questions of yourself and others?

  • Good to Great (Jim Collins).  Some of the most humble of executives have inspired some of the most successful companies.

Are you striving for the legacy as well as the reward?

Pamela Stambaugh, seasoned advisor to executives and their teams, offers assessments (Harrison Assessments and others), coaching, and team facilitation addressing 3 P’s:  Performance, Productivity and People.



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