The Bridgespan Group
in-depth learning centers and career resources for nonprofits
Free Management Library
a well-organized and extensive collection of resources spanning numerous aspects of running organizations
world news from a network of international reporters testing a new business model for journalism
a magazine exploring issues of local and state government
an active blog on a range of leadership issues from the organization “Leadership Now”
Personal Democracy Forum
exploring how technology is changing politics around the world
Pew Center on the States
an organization that conducts research on nuimerous state policies
an online magazine sponsored by consulting firm Booz & Company
BOOKS AND ARTICLES
Leadership, by James MacGregor Burns, defines the differences between good leaders and transformational leaders.
The Fifth Discipline, by Peter Senge, describes a handful of disciplines that enable leaders and their organizations to keep learning and growing toward mastery.
Leadership without Easy Answers, by Ronald Heifetz, presents case studies on how a number of great leaders–for example, Mahatma Gandhi, Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King, Jr.– succeeded in some crises and failed in others–based on their capacity to perceive and adapt to changed circumstances.
A Failure of Nerve, by Edwin Friedman, focuses on how leaders can identify and move beyond the limiting assumptions of their time and culture to achieve major break throughs.
There are also several books I recommend to leaders thinking about how to drive sustainable change in their organizations. What these books have in common is an underlying assumption that there is no “one right way” to lead successful change in a dynamically complex environment. Instead, they describe a variety of approaches that promote flexible, adaptive responses.
The Long View: Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World, by Peter Schwartz, was one of the early books on scenario planning and focuses less on being right about the future than about not being wrong.
Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice and Leadership, by Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal, examines the various perspectives from which leaders can interpret what is happening in their organizations and the tools they can use to “frame” or “reframe” the choices and strategies going forward
Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution, by Paul Watzlawick, Ph.D., John Weakland, Ch.Ed., and Richard Fisch, M.D., examines how logical approaches to problem solving often fail to resolve and may even compound an existing problem. They describe a number of examples of problems requiring second-order change strategies and the paradoxical approaches that were successful in achieving the solution.
Democracy’s Discontent: America in search of a public philosophy. Michael J. Sandel (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1996)
Sandel looks at America’s political philosophy through the lens of evolving constitutional, legal and economic frameworks. In a detailed history, he argues there has been a trend toward greater recognition of individual “rights” and insistance on governmental neutrality on what is “good.” In his view, this progression has dimished our ability to maintain a shared vision of society that we can all participate in and weakens the role of citizens in our republic. This is a challenging and carefully stated argument about how “liberal” trends in judicial understanding contribute to people’s disengagement from the “republican” tradition of self-governance.
Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration. Keith Sawyer (Basic Books, 2007)
Keith Sawyer paints a very pragmatic picture of how creativity and innovation can be generated by collaboration. He debunks myths of mystical “creative geniuses,” and instead shows how new ideas develop incrementally from past achievements and combining small ideas of many people. In particular, he reviews research that shows many brainstorming techniques actually LIMIT creative thinking and provides alternatives so that people can get the most out of their work together.
This easy-to-read survey of brain science shows the physical processes that connect the rational and emotional functions of the brain, and how they help or hinder us. With compelling stories to illustrate the points, Lehrer shows that we make decisions based on past experiences using our emotions first, to great benefit, but this process gets in our way in new situations. He also surveys how our brain wiring leads us to use thinking or feeling in decision-making at inappropriate times and the predictable – and prevantable – mistakes we make as a result.
The Leadership Challenge, 4th Edition. James Kouzes and Barry Posner (Wiley Publications, 2007)
The fourth edition of this leadership classic provides several important updates. Many of the case studies of leadership are now drawn from the last decade of innovation and change, and incorporate examples that use new technologies to support leadership. They have also updated the research on traits of effective leaders and what individual want from leaders. Their five components of leadership are straightforward but useful reminders of an inclusive approach to building support, developing new ideas and achieving results. They summarize the components as: