The Politics of Trauma by Staci K. Haines
This book is for therapists and social activists who understand that trauma healing is not just for individuals–and that social change is not just for movement builders. Just as health practitioners need to consider the societal factors underlying trauma, so too must activists understand the physical and mental impacts of trauma on their own lives and the lives of the communities with whom they organize. Trauma healing and social change are, at their best, interdependent.
Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt
It has been suggested that this is the one book every nonprofit leader needs. Hyatt is a leadership guru and his work is very actionable – focusing on planning and goal setting. If you follow the recipe in this book, you’ll get more done in less time and you won’t fill the time you save with more work. Does your to-do list have tasks on it that you feel will suck the life out of you? This is one of the best antidotes to the nonprofit leader’s most challenging affliction – an inability to prioritize. It also comes with downloadable worksheets – super helpful.
Good to Great in the Social Sector by Jim Collins
The Hedgehog Concept is developed in the book Good to Great. A simple, crystalline concept that flows from deep understanding about the intersection of three circles: 1) what you are deeply passionate about, 2) what you can be the best in the world at, and 3) what best drives your economic or resource engine. Transformations from good to great come about by a series of good decisions made consistently with a Hedgehog Concept, supremely well executed, accumulating one upon another, over a long period of time.
Turning the Flywheel: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great by Jim Collins
Joan Garry’s Guide to Non Profit Leadership
Nonprofits leaders are optimistic by nature. They believe with time, energy, smarts, strategy and sheer will, they can change the world. But as staff or board leader, you know non profits present unique challenges. This book can help renew your passion for your mission and organization, and help you make a bigger difference in the world.
This book presents realistic strategies for leaders looking to optimize organizational achievement while avoiding the common non profit burnout. With a uniquely holistic approach to non profit leadership strategy, this book functions as a handbook to help leaders examine their existing organization, identify trouble spots, and resolve issues with attention to all aspects of operations and culture.
Give and Take by Adam Grant
This is bigger than just your role as a leader. It’s a book about who you want to be in the world. Grant identifies three kinds of people – ‘givers,’ ‘takers,’ and ‘matchers.’ Those who give generously and freely of their time and expertise may not start out as the most successful but they end up at the top. They learn by solving others’ problems and they develop extraordinary social capital. This one is a great staff offsite read or a gift for your senior team or board chair.
Changing Minds by Howard Gardner
Gardner is a groundbreaking educator who teaches us that we each have multiple intelligences that lead to different learning styles and a diversity of skills across society. He understands how the mind works and thus what it takes to change a mind. This is the work of the nonprofit sector – to move someone to consider something differently so that it matters in a new way to them. Don’t be daunted by how long ago it was written. Like all good leadership books should be – this one is evergreen.
Difficult Conversations by Stone, Patton, and Heen
In our work, we frequently contend with conflict. Although we are in the business of talking about difficult subjects, it can be difficult to have tough conversations with staff and hold them accountable. This book teases out the “why”, and provides action tools.
Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Heath
This is a must read. And an easy one. The biggest takeaway for nonprofits is that leaders love their work and want everyone to love it. So they over-tell and try to cover everything. The Heath Brothers talk about cutting through the clutter and “the curse of knowledge” – we know so much about our organizations that we get into detail that listeners don’t understand. They say that we can’t un-know what we know so we have to transform how we communicate to those who don’t know about our work.
Start with Why by Simon Sinek
Most leaders start by talking about what their organization does. But Sinek argues it’s not the what or the how that drives great staff candidates, five star board prospects or donors. It’s the why. Sinek gave a great TED talk if you don’t have time to read the full book.
It’s Your Ship by Mike Abrashoff
I’ve actually never heard of this one, written by the former US Navy captain of the USS Benfold. His practical recipe? Lead by example; listen aggressively; communicate purpose and meaning; create a climate of trust; look for results, not salutes; take calculated risks; go beyond standard procedure; build up your people; generate unity; and improve your people’s quality of life. Sounds like a great nonprofit leader to me.
Getting Things Done by David Allen
This is one of the biggest productivity books of the last two decades.
How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work by Kegan and Lahey
This book tackles the inherent human resistance to change. One reader wrote, “Most of the time, when confronted to change, a little voice inside us will tell us why not to change.” The authors write that this voice speaks with 7 tongues. One could even say that these “voices” make us immune to change. Luckily, for each of the 7 languages, this book offers a powerful antidote.”
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