Work of Leaders supplemental readings

Work of Leaders supplemental readings

Updated Sept. 2021

Before assigning the Everything DiSC Work of Leaders you might want to try this assignment. Have participants read through this collection of leadership quotes (.ppt). Ask them to pick one or two that reflect their own leadership strengths. After they’ve reviewed their profiles, ask participants to choose another quote that reflects what they want to work on in the next year.

Use the readings below to provide additional resources for some of the areas your leaders want to work on. Do they agree with the articles? Can they come up with examples from their own lives to support or contradict the position the authors take? Are these articles really about leadership or are they about management?

Editor’s note: This post is periodically updated. Leave your suggestions for updates in the comments.

Introduction to Work of Leaders Concepts

The surprising traits of good remote leaders, BBC, September 2020
“Strong in-person leadership skills don’t necessarily translate to being a good virtual leader. Instead, organisation and competency reign supreme.”

4 Traits of Great Leaders, Inc., January 2012
“To achieve your greatness, you must aspire, plan, inspire, and execute.”

10 Things Extraordinary Bosses Give Employees, Inc. August 2013
“Employees will only care about your business after you first show you care about them. One of the best ways is to show that while you certainly have hopes for your company’s future, you also have hopes for your employees’ futures.”

Rometty on Vision


Introduction to Vision

Can Your Company’s Vision Fit in Your Pocket? Here’s Why It Should, Forbes, Oct. 2019
“A great vision also means much more than beautiful wording. It has to mean something. Beth has seen teams cling to, say, a gorgeously alliterative tagline that contains no real substance underneath those words.”

Millennials Want Workplaces With Social Purpose. How Does Your Company Measure Up? CLO Media, Feb. 2018
“Social purpose is a commitment to social good that is woven into the fabric of a corporate culture. At the core, a social purpose business is crafted to achieve its economic and social goals together; the social mission and the goal of making money are indivisible from each other.”

Leadership Vision: You Can’t Be a Real Leader Who People Want to Follow Without Vision, The Balance Careers, June 2018

How ‘Transcendent Leaders’ Keep Their Employees Laser-Focused on the Company Mission, Inc., May 2018

Leadership: Will Your Vision Continue Without You? Club Solutions, March 2018

The Flip Manifesto, Daniel Pink, February 2012
“Establish a Department of Why.”

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action, TED Talks VIDEO, posted May 2010
“Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?” His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers …”

Exploration: Remaining open, prioritizing the big picture

As A Leader, How Do You Think ‘Big Picture’? Leaderonomics, February 2018
“Cultivated as a habit, big picture thinking can help manage people and time with grace, and help turn challenges into opportunities.”

Why Simple Budgeting Needs Big-Picture Leadership, Associations Now, July 2018

Learn to Walk With Beggars and Kings, New York Times, March 12, 2011
“Romil Bahl is president and chief executive of PRGX, a data mining and recovery audit firm in Atlanta. He says his father helped to teach him to keep an open mind — and to remember that the best ideas can come from anyone, anytime.”

Boldness: Being adventurous, speaking out

Here’s why bold leaders are more successful, SmartBrief, February 2018
“Bold leaders move toward obstacles and do not let hesitation or doubt impede their progress.”

Is Your Boss a Bold Leader or a Flaky Bureaucrat? Psychology Today, Feb. 2013
“A new study led by Kevin Wilde, Chief Learning Officer at global food-maker, General Mills and author of Dancing with the Talent Stars, found that managers who excel at a) providing clear strategic direction and b) taking bold, decisive action are eight times more likely to be excellent leaders.”

Innovative executives deliberately put themselves into situations where they may be unexpectedly wrong, unusually uncomfortable, and uncharacteristically quiet.

Testing assumptions: Seeking counsel, exploring implications

How to Test Your Assumptions, MIT Sloan Management Review, Winter 2018
“Identifying the assumptions is the first step. The second is determining a sequence for testing them. Each step should resolve a critical unknown. And each resolution should spur the entrepreneur to continue, change direction (in other words, “pivot”), or, in the worst case, abandon the enterprise. The core of this method is prioritizing assumptions according to three factors: severity, probability, and cost of resolution.”

For Better Decision-Making, Unpack and Stress Test Assumptions, Art Petty, October 2017

Bursting the CEO Bubble, Harvard Business Review, March/April 2017
“If you’re a leader, you can put yourself in a good-news cocoon.”


5 Reasons Your Employees Don’t Understand Your Company’s Vision, Harvard Business Review, September 2021
“‘We don’t have a north star.’ Despite hours of work developing a business’ visions, mission, and strategy, executives are often surprised by this comment from their employees. Often these senior leaders jump right back into off-site, trying to finesse statements and make things clearer, only to discover the problem still exists.”


How to help your employees own your strategy, strategy+business, September 2021
“Shifting from cascading information to chartering teams can generate the clarity and commitment your new strategy requires.”

Clarity: How Smart Leaders Achieve Outstanding Performance, Skip Prichard Leadership Insights, March 2018

“Clarity, in contrast, feeds an organization in the same way that fertilizer feeds soil.” -Karen Martin

7 Traits of Leaders Who Turn Clarity into Reality, Suzanne Waldron, October 2017

Before You Make a Tough Decision, Imagine How You’ll Have to Sell It, Harvard Business Review, August 29, 2016
“Testing for resonance can help you make a good decision and also raise the chances it will be implemented effectively.”

Make Your Innovative Idea Seem Less Terrifying, Harvard Business Review, October 2013
“New ideas tend to evoke fear and anger – we are programmed to prefer the comfort and safety of established norms. Much as I want to believe that a glaringly good idea will stand on its merits, I have come to realize that just like any product or service, ideas require good marketing if they’re going to reach their intended customers.”

9 Things Great Leaders Say Every Day, Inc. February 2014
“Your words are among your greatest tools. They’re a window into your vision, your values and your abilities.”

A leader needs a message that can be identified, understood, and incorporated by the constituency you're trying to lead.


Digital Is All About Leadership Dialogue, EgonZehnder, December 2017
“To make the right choices for their company, leaders need to engage in an intensive dialogue with their customers, peers, external experts – and even competitors.”

Don’t Make Decisions, Orchestrate Them, Harvard Business Review, August 2013
“The reality, however, is that decision-making often is not a solo activity, but rather an orchestrated process by which the manager engages other people in reaching a conclusion. Doing this effectively not only improves the quality of the decision, but also ensures that everyone is more committed to its implementation.”

Making a Big Decision? Don’t Wait for Everyone to Agree, Inc., July 2013
“When I’m working with executive teams suffering from consensus-gridlock, I encourage them to make an overt, agreed, formal shift to defining consensus as a 100 percent acceptance of the majority decision. It works like this:…”


Simon Sinek: How Do Great Leaders Inspire Us To Take Action? TED Radio Hour, May 2018

7 Effective Leaders Who Embrace Storytelling and Why, EchoStories, January 2018
Article includes several videos showcasing leaders telling great stories.

As a leader, who inspires you? How do you inspire others? BiZJournals, February 2018

Use Storytelling to Explain Your Company’s Purpose, Harvard Business Review, November 24, 2015
“But activating purpose is impossible without storytelling, at both the corporate and individual levels.”

How to Bring People to the Common Good: What Authentic Leaders Learn about Higher Purpose,  Creating and Sustaining Positive Organizations, May 2013
“A major determinant of total commitment among the troops is their perception of their leader’s commitment to the group. No matter what the leader says or does, the troops can tell if the leader is authentic, and if the leader is willing to do what the leader is asking them to do. If the leader is willing to die for the group, the troops are more likely to make the same commitment.”

Learn to be Charismatic, Harvard Business Review, November 13, 2012
“The advice, “Go be charismatic” is about as useful as “Go be inspiring.” So what does it actually mean to be charismatic as a leader? From my experience observing and coaching hundreds of leaders, and analyzing data on thousands more, here is what I’d suggest is the constellation of qualities that constitutes charismatic leadership.”

Good Leaders Get Emotional, Harvard Business Review, August 2013
“Emotions are critical to everything a leader must do: build trust, strengthen relationships, set a vision, focus energy, get people moving, make tradeoffs, make tough decisions, and learn from failure.”



Momentum as a management strategy, SmartBrief, April 2018
“Momentum could be the 17th-century solution to 21st-century business challenges”

The Art of Momentum: Why Your Ideas Need Speed, 99U
“When we lose momentum, we become vulnerable to distraction, self-doubt, and apathy. A look at how constant motion is crucial to idea execution.”

Dysfunctional Momentum Can Undermine Company Values, S+B Blogs, February 17, 2016
“Every company has the potential to get caught up in a whirlwind of activity — short-sighted compromises or conflicts of interest that temporarily raise profits, but in the long run damage customer relationships, employee engagement, stakeholder trust, and the value of the business.”


How to Create the Perfect Meeting Agenda, Harvard Business Review, Feb. 2020

Create KPIs That Reflect Your Strategic Priorities, Harvard Business Review, Feb. 2020
“Here was an organization with nearly 7,000 staff but none of its 29 KPIs related to employee satisfaction, safety, turnover, productivity, or innovation.”

Effective Leadership Communication Creates Effective Teams, Training Industry, April 2018

The Leadership Communication Model, The Humphrey Group
This is a downloadable 70-page manual.

Why CEOs Should Commit to Many Small Battles Instead of a Single Big One, Harvard Business Review, Dec. 2016
“Ultimately, micro battles restore your company’s ability to learn and then actually get stuff done. Growth comes not from targets set on high, but from lessons learned directly from customers and the front line.”

A Fighter Pilot’s Guide to Effective Communication, Harvard Business Review, October 26, 2010
“As a business leader, do you have a “comm plan” with your employees and colleagues? Are you taking the time to brief your missions to ensure all your wingmen are on the same wave length and understand their roles, responsibilities, and objectives? Finally, are you aware of those who might be on the wrong frequency or off course? What’s your plan to get them back on target?”


Being A Great Leader Means Giving And Receiving Feedback, Forbes, January 2018

Great Leadership Teams Are Feedback Rich, Chief Executive, February 2018

4 Ways to Get Honest, Critical Feedback from Your Employees, Harvard Business Review, November 2017

That Was Horrible! What Makes Feedback Work… or Not? Psychology Today, March. 2013
“When giving feedback, use behaviorally specific language.  We have a tendency to be vague with our language when giving feedback.”

9 Ways To Get Over Your Feedback Fears, Fast Company, August 14, 2012
“Why is feedback so powerful and essential to our success? We often fail to see in ourselves what is perfectly obvious to others. The following is a set of 9 steps that any individual can take to learn how to accept and effectively implement feedback.”


Please share additional readings you use in your leadership training.

by Kristeen Bullwinkle and the team


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