Power through partnership: How women lead better together


Citation for Book: Polk, B. & Chotas, M.E. (2014). Power through partnership: How women lead better together. Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Recommended by:  Kerry FIerke, Ed.D., University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy

Star Rating (1-5): 3 (liked it)


The book Power through partnership: How women lead better together, Polk and Chotas describe the differences between men and women as partners.  More importantly, there aren’t many women business partner role models to show the way.  The authors describe several benefits of healthy female partnerships — flexibility, confidence, freedom, steady support, mutual accountability and happiness.   There are stories of other women who have navigated the partnership realm.

According to Polk and Chotas “the intense give- and take of partnership is a natural fit for the interpersonal, collaborative leadership skills women so often possess and tend to undervalue rather than appreciating them for the meaningful tools they are” (34).  When looking for partners, there are three qualities 1) complementary skills, talents, and interests; 2) shared values; and 3) compatibility.  These were the most consistent qualities found in the partners interviewed for the research.

The book also covers areas of decision making, risk taking, and leveraging conflict amongst partners.  It explains how women can find their own creativity outside of the partnership (known as the rubber band theory).  The authors share ways that one can take advantage of having a partner “freedom to be yourself, the incredible support, the confidence, the equity and power that can result through it, and the ability to operationalize big goals, knowing there are at least two accountable partners to keep track and do the work.”

Power through partnership shares perspectives on partnerships through real-life examples.  Stories from women who have navigated the partnership realm as artists, musicians, business owners, non profit, and other various examples.  These stories highlight the positive experiences and challenges that can take place with today’s demands on women, including ways to conduct them. The book provides a start of a foundation on how to begin the process of partnerships, an example of women working together.

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking


Citation for Book:  Cain, S.  Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.  New York, NY:  Random House, Inc,; 2012.

Recommended by:  David Fuentes, Pacific University Oregon

Star Rating (1-5): 5 Stars


Through a thoughtful and insightful examination of the differences between extroverts and introverts, Susan Cain provides readers seeking to embrace their own authenticity in the workplace with a solidly researched four-part book featuring eleven chapters and titled, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking”.

Published in 2012, the book takes the reader on journey beginning with the research behind the extrovert mentality and why this has been adopted by the mainstream in career development as the “ideal”. The second part of the series connects the concepts of introvert and extrovert to biological beginnings and discusses useful strategies whereby introverts can access their own authenticity. Challenging the reader to self-examine and self-explore, the second part reviews the science behind our identities and our unique responses to stimuli. The third part explores the qualities of the extrovert in different cultures and discusses how different cultures express their preferences for, and against, traits commonly seen in both introverts and extroverts.

The final part emphasizes tools on how both introverts and extroverts can hone their skills for maximum effectiveness. Additionally, emphasis is placed on how individuals with different dispositions can best communicate with one another though seemingly speaking a different language. The book ends with a look to the future regarding how we, as educators, parents, and leaders can cultivate the skills of our younger introverts to help them embrace their unique preferences, recognize the differences between introverts and extroverts at early ages, develop necessary skills from both categories and better navigate through their early environment to maximize their mental, social, and physical development.

Anyone seeking to enhance their effectiveness in the workplace and in life would benefit from the simple, yet powerful, messages conveyed by Cain through a review of the relevant science and literature pertaining to introverts and extroverts.

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The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace – Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People

appreciation at workplace

Citation for Book: Chapman G. White P. Revised and Updated: The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace – Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People. Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing, Inc.; 2012.

Recommended by:  David Fuentes, Pacific University Oregon

Star Rating (1-5): 5 Stars

Review: This book is for anyone seeking to maximize relationships and results in the workplace with natural extensions into one’s personal life. Chapman and White present a revised and updated work, “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” as 209 pages of reading addressing the five key areas of appreciating our colleagues in the professional realm. The concepts of this book were adapted to fit the workplace and address both the perspectives of hiring managers (or employers) and their employees as they provide a good discussion on the five different appreciation styles. Chapman and White urge us to also pay attention to our blind spots related to our least common (or comfortable) area of both giving and receiving appreciation. Finally, they end with the notion of what must be done in order to inculcate these languages in the workplace, as well as provide an overview of what the costs of not doing so may be. Books may also be accompanied by an Access code to find your own primary appreciation language to help guide your development. Overall, a quick, thoughtful and informative read.

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Filed under Instructor Resources, Personal Development, Skill Building

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

Leaders Eat Last

Citation for Book: Sinek, Simon. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t.  New York, New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2014

Recommended by: : Jack J. Chen, Marshall B. Ketchum University

Star Rating (1-5): 5

Review: Leaders Eat Last. This sums up leadership behavior. The title of the book is derived from an observation of culture in the US Marines in which the leaders eat last, placing the needs of others above their own, and illustrating that leadership privilege comes at the expense of self-interest. Another corollary example he gives is that leaders provide cover from above; allowing the people on the ground to feel safe. This instills loyalty and drives people to excel in situations.

Writing in an easy to understand manner, Mr. Sineks speaks about leadership from an anthropological voice and utilizes facts and observations to illustrate his points. Much of what is discussed relates to organic attributes (such as empathy, integrity, sense of belonging, teamwork, selfishness, distrust, and trust) and how a leader can be more in tune with these primal elements to foster an environment for a healthier organization. The title of the book resonates with me because I immediately understand it’s anthropological underpinnings. As a parent, I often eat last and provide cover from above to my family and children. As an organizational leader, the challenge will be to live up to this credo.

In this book, the anthropological and primal concept of the Circle of Safety is introduced. Leaders, by reducing the threats people feel inside an organization, allows them to focus more time and energy to protect the organization from external threats and to seize opportunities for the advancing the collective. He gives illustrations on how incentive structures within organizations can penalize employees for behaviors such as cooperation, information sharing, or reaching across the organization to ask for or offer help; behaviors that are necessary for maintaining the Circle of Safety. Mr. Sinek devotes 2 chapters on discussing and illustrating the role of neurotransmitters and molecules (e.g., cortisol, dopamine, endorphins, oxytocin, serotonin) as organic mediators of human behavior, neurocognition, stress, trust, and the Circle of Safety. Mr. Sinek then weaves these organic concepts throughout his book.

Leadership is about taking responsibility for lives and not numbers. Mr. Sinek believes this and provides corollaries to describe the modern state of business cultures in which the sheer scale of systems has made human lives, resources and services into an abstraction of numerical metrics. He provides a clarion call for managers of metrics to become leaders of people. Values alignment is heavily emphasized. If people have values consistent with the organization and they feel trusted and connected, they will excel.

Mr. Sinek speaks about the role of technology throughout the various “generations” (e.g., Gen X and Y), and how it has allowed the unprecedented “upscaling” of world and certain elements such as acquisitions, economies, performances, and processes. As I reflected, I realized that in the world of education, despite technological advances in instructional tools and delivery, our students’ inherent “learning speed” cannot be scaled up by technology (despite what we or our students think) and that time-tested, traditional methods of andragogy/pedagogy still have a fundamental place in the classroom. My students are someone’s children. Their parents worked hard to give their children an opportunity for a good life and education. As an academician, I have responsibility for that education.

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Filed under Changing Perceptions/Paradigms, Defining Leadership: Theories & Models, Instructor Resources

Mind of a Manager Soul of a Leader

Mind of a managerHickman, CR. Mind of a Manager, Soul of a Leader. New York, New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1992.

Recommended by: Michael Nelson, Regis University School of Pharmacy

Star Rating (1-5): 4

Review: As the title suggest, Mind of a Manager, Soul of a Leader explores the differences between managers and leaders and between management and leadership. At the heart of this book is the premise that any successful enterprise requires both effective managers and effective leaders, and Hickman explores how the skills of each may be best leveraged. I recommend this book to leader development instructors who are looking for ideas on how to explain the difference between leadership and management or are looking for an effective argument that both are necessary for success.

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Heroic Leadership

Heroic LeadershipLowney, C.  Heroic Leadership. Chicago, Illinois: Loyola Press, 2003.

Recommended b: Michael Nelson, Regis University School of Pharmacy

Star Rating (1-5): 4

Review: Heroic Leadership discusses leadership in the context of the “4 Pillars” of leadership principles that the early Jesuits practiced. The result was a game-changer for religious orders, in which the Jesuits became a religious order which sought to help others through solidarity and education, rather than by seclusion in a monastery. Given the times, the early Jesuits were amazingly successful at leading this change, and time has proven their sustainability as evidenced by the present-day impact of Jesuit higher education.  Lowney argues that these principles are timeless and critical to effective leadership, and that leadership is much more of a personal journey rather than learning a set of leadership tips. I recommend this book for those who would like to read a book with a refreshingly different approach to addressing timeless leadership principles.

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The End of Leadership

EndOfLeadershipKellerman, Barbara.  The End of Leadership.  New York, NY: Harper Business.

Recommended by:  Renae Chesnut, Drake University CoP

Star Rating (1-5): 4

Review: This book provides a history of leadership theories and the rise of the “leadership industry”, along with a critical assessment of the leadership courses, development programs, etc.  I found it thought-provoking as Barbara Kellerman stresses that as a society, we are spending more than ever before (~50 billion) on leadership yet, we seem to have more leadership collapses and failures than we have ever had before.

My ‘take-aways’ from the book include:

1)  The potential collapse of Leaders (note the big L) is greater today than ever before due to social media and other communication technologies. One mistake today can spread like wildfire and brand the leader as “inept or corrupt.”

2)  In our society today, the balance of power between leaders and followers has shifted, with leaders becoming weaker and followers becoming stronger. As such, we need to teach and develop followership skills in our students.

3)  The importance of including ethical foundations in any leadership course or development program are more important than ever before.

I was a bit disappointed that Kellerman did not provide more recommendations on what we as leadership educators should do to solve these issues…my guess is that those answers will be forthcoming in her next book!

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