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Powerful leadership learning and current thinking on coaching

Welcome to our book reviews

Take a look at the books that have stood the test of time in leadership and coaching.  

You'll find reviews and author interview clips below.

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Bob Hughes, Forton Group CEO & Creator of the Leadership Book Club

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We interview authors in our Leadership Book Club.  You're welcome to join our discussions - find out more here.

Bob Hughes PCC is the CEO, The Forton Group.  He works globally with clients to improve the way they lead and manage, such that organisations can be more successful and their people can feel more fulfilled in their work.

The Myth of the Strong Leader by Archie Brown

The Myth of the Strong LeaderThis is a fascinating look at leadership in the political world, spanning democracies and authoritarian regimes, and exploring leadership in many contexts. The lessons to be learned and the parallels to the world of organisations are many and varied.

The book opens with a useful discourse about the quality of strength and why it seems such a common property we want to ascribe to our leaders – how often do we say we need weak leadership? There are many qualities that political leaders need above and beyond the ability to look strong.

You can listen to a facinating interview with Archie Brown below:

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Trust by Anthony Seldon

Trust by Anthony SeldonI am intrigued by the concept of trust, how it is earned, how it is lost, what the impact of a shift in levels of trust is and how it applies to the world of coaching and leadership. Here at the Forton group we have a set of principles that we believe support great coaching great leadership. One of these is trust - trust that the person you are working with is creative, capable, wise and good. This holds true for coaches and leaders. So I was fascinated to read what perspective on this Mr Seldon would bring.

This book was written some years ago and the author speculates about whether 2010 was a point in history where trust was at its lowest ebb. He cites many examples where trust had been eroded; politicians, journalists, police officers and many more. Clearly a time that inspired him to think through some of the key questions around trust and the author comes up with some good models and some practical ideas in different communities that would support the rebuilding of trust and create longevity of trust.

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Conversational Intelligence by Judith E Glaser

ThConversational Intelligencee concept of multiple types of intelligence was pioneered by Howard Gardner in the 1980s. It has always appealed to me and it is increasingly apparent in the new world of work that we reside in that intellectual intelligence alone is not sufficient.

In an hierarchical organisation during the Industrial Revolution, commands flowed down from the top and people were told to make more widgets and they did. The outputs required from most workplaces have shifted in the last two centuries but the organisational structures and the leadership styles have not changed at the same pace.

There is a desperate need for leaders to be more flexible in their styles and for organisations to change structures. Judith's book makes a great contribution to this need. She focuses on the skills required to conduct conversations that build trust and partnership. By analysing both the structure of our conversation and the impact that we have on the brain, drawing on new insights from neuroscience, she provides a mechanism for leaders to be more effective in transforming their teams and organisations

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The Velvet Revolution at Work by John Smythe

The Velvet RevolutionThe revolution that John refers to in this book is a revolution in leadership style, from a command and control to a more inclusive approach. In addition, he makes a compelling social case for employee engagement alongside the more traditional business case. The book is full of stories, case studies, well-honed arguments and tips.

He explores the topics in three main parts; explaining the Velvet Revolution, looking through the lens of the people and then the lens of the leaders to show how to achieve this.

There’s a useful discussion on the distinction between outcomes and drivers, or causes, of engagement; a distinction not always made so clearly in comparable literature. John makes the valid point that complex organisations inevitably have many drivers of engagement and hence lists key levers and enablers which he believes will make the biggest impact and are therefore the most valuable areas to focus on.

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The Vital Edge, by Louis Collins

Forton Leadership Book Club September 2014 The Vital Edge People often draw parallels between the world of leadership and the sporting world.

So what is different about this book?

Well, I enjoyed the greater depth that Louis has provided around the role of the brain.  I liked his focus on emotional intelligence, as well as some of the new learning from neuroscience.

I also found the discussion about the differences between team and individual sports an interesting angle.  The sporting anecdotes that he uses are both entertaining and relevant.

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