Recommended Reading

For me to recommend a book, it must be very beneficial to leaders and CEOs. Books of this caliber help us understand strategy and tactics that will make us and our companies better.

Since Vondrell Leadership is about people, my focus here is on creating extraordinary organizations through talent development, individual and organizational. I feel these books are well worth the read. And even better when we actually use them to implement a tactic or strategy that brings us success.

Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose
by Rajendra Sisodia

A Firm of Endearment is a company whose decisions are made with social consequences in mind. They operate with a love for their customers, employees, and partners. This relationship is mutually beneficial to all stakeholders involved. Hundreds of “Firms of Endearment” researched by the authors outperformed S&P 500 companies 1,111% to 123% over the prior 10 years. This is a profitable argument for doing well by doing good.

Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work
by Chip and Dan Heath

Make better decisions by using the Heaths’ “WRAP” framework – four key strategies to exponentially improve your decision-making. Through stories and examples, the book helps you see the traps that led others to poor decisions. It gives you insight into the strategies and tactics that will make a huge difference in the quality of your decisions. Warning – Spoiler Alert – the book will convince you that it’s hard to make good decisions without others (coaches, mentors or advisors) helping you along the way.



Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High
by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler

This book has improved my communication ability to a very high level, and it can for you too. If these skills are ingrained in the culture of your business, they will not only radically change your business, but they will change your life. The book provides easily understandable methods and skills that will give you the courage to talk to anyone about anything. Good accountability cannot happen without good communication. Use this as your personal guide.



The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business
by Patrick Lencioni

I love the argument this book successfully makes. There is so much truth here that just goes unnoticed or avoided by most leaders because the people side of business is just more difficult than anything else. This stuff should be obvious but it isn’t. Leaders must create healthy teams in their organizations, and their people will take care of the business. The quality of your people is so much more important than the strategy of the business for two reasons. First, people need to implement the strategy and can’t do so if they aren’t the right people. And secondly, the right people will help you set the best strategy. If we get the right people working together in a healthy way, the rest of the business disciplines will work as a true team.



Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
By Daniel H. Pink

This is an important book. Not because the information is new, in fact, most of it has been around for decades; but because Pink puts together an entertaining and convincing argument on workplace motivation. He explains brilliantly the different effects intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can have on long-term and short-term performance. This helps us understand how to build a high-performing culture rather than incentivizing short-term gains. If you understand the intrinsic motivators of your employees, you will be more successful building an organization that performs consistently long-term. Bonus: I can help you utilize an assessment to understand the motivations of your employees or job candidates before you even hire them.



First, Break All The Rules: What The World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently
By Marcus Buckingham and Curt W. Coffman

Management is about execution and nothing of value happens without good management. If you want to learn how to manage your employees better, or want your managers to do it better, this is the book for you. This isn’t just the opinion of a few people, but the opinions of tens of thousands – since these authors were employed by Gallup, and they did the surveys to accumulate the data in this book. It takes great leadership to know that good management is the key to any good business. I suggest that you take time to understand this book (or hire me) if you want better managers.



The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide To Personal Freedom
By Don Miguel Ruiz

On the surface this may not seem to be a book on business or leadership, but I have found building your character to be an extremely important component of both. Character can be about being accountable to your word; about any number of attributes that make a great leader. Working on yourself as a leader is the most important part of growing an organizational culture that performs at a high level.

Understanding Ruiz’s concept of “domestication” is a key part of some of the coaching processes I have created – because we are all taught what to think as children, but need to overcome our childhood conditioning and unlearn poor habits if we want others to follow us.

If you master Ruiz’s four agreements, you are guaranteed to be much more successful in any of your pursuits.

10% Happier: How I Tamed The Voice In My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, And Found Self-Help That Actually Works — A True Story
By Dan Harris

I found this book a refreshingly honest view on the topic of meditation. Full disclosure: I am a strong believer in meditation and the real-world positive effects of the discipline, whether you connect it with a spiritual discipline or not. I have seen it work in my life, the lives of my family (young and old) and in the lives of some of my clients. Although I don’t agree with Dan Harris on everything, he has written an easy read that is an entertaining, insightful, and practical review of the practice of meditation. Remembering that Emotional Intelligence is proven to be very highly correlated with success and meditation, this book will give you a perspective on mental toughness that helps you to be more focused.

Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?: Inside IBM’s Historic Turnaround
By Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.

Gerstner is speaking my language in this book. After working with IBM on the biggest turnaround in corporate history, he said “I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game — it is the game.” I think most executives know this in their hearts, but rarely ever focus on culture because it is difficult. Gerstner’s focus and diligence to do the hard things, the cultural things, is what made the turnaround at IBM successful.

Working on the people and culture is not easy! This is precisely why we must do it, because that is where success lies. Businesses are team sports. You can’t do it alone, and yet you must be personally accountable to do the hard things the business requires.

I believe we can work to change culture as a group but we must also work on it one individual at a time. Individual actions by leaders are what really change cultures. If changing a corporate culture is like teaching an elephant to dance, then the leaders have to be the ones to dance first.

Co-Active Leadership: Five Ways To Lead
By Karen and Henry Kimsey-House

This book is a quick read that gives a simple and yet elegant model on how to be a leader in all situations. No matter what you do or where you are in your life – a parent, a follower, a colleague or a CEO – you be effortlessly responsible by responding with your ability to act in the moment. That is not necessarily easy but there is something to ponder and act upon in this book. A philosophy that, for the right person, will rock your world. If it doesn’t, move on and know that there are many other leadership models that may rock you.