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The Corporate Culture Survival Guide by Edgar H. Schein Schein, a leading thinker in organizational culture and change management, clearly explains what corporate culture is and why it matters. His methodologies and models provide guidance for people who want to influence a group’s culture.

Paradoxes of Group Life: Understanding Conflict, Paralysis, and Movement in Group Dynamics by Kenwyn K. Smith and David Berg Smith and Berg provide a new perspective on group dynamics and the forces that often paralyze groups. They explain how by embracing inherent paradoxes, a group can increase its effectiveness.


Coaching Evoking Excellence in Others by James Flaherty. This book combines rigor and wisdom. The concepts and models are based on a deep understanding of human development. Copious examples help readers understand the approach. If you only read one book on coaching, it should be this one.

How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work:Seven Languages for Transformation by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey
Kegan and Lahey present a profound but simple approach to helping people overcome their immunity to change. Their methodology is based on years of research in adult development. The book walks you through the methodology and therefore reading this book has the potential to change you. They also present recommendations for influencing a group’s culture through specific types of language.

Action Inquiry: The Secret of Timely and Transforming Leadership by William R. Torbert and Associates
This book outlines how people can spur their development by simultaneously acting, observing themselves, and adjusting their actions. It presents Torbert’s developmental framework, details each development stage, and illustrates how to facilitate movement between stages.

Leadership Without Easy Answers by Ronald A. Heifetz
Heifetz’s theory of leadership is quite relevant to China’s current situation. He distinguishes between “routine” and “adaptive” problems. He presents how leading a group to resolve an adaptive challenge involves (a) defining the problem, including the values at risk; (b) creating the emotional and organizational space to address the issue; (c) keeping the group focused on the right issues; (d) giving the work back to the people.

Theory in Practice: Increasing Professional Effectiveness by Chris Argyris
Argyris did much of the foundational research on identifying and addressing the gaps between what we want to do and what we actually do. This book illustrates how to apply “double-loop learning” to individual development.

The Power of Mindful Learning by Ellen J. Langer
Langer presents the case that learning is most powerful when the learner is “mindful” or fully engaged. This involves putting learning in context, bringing more of our thoughts and emotions into the process, and having learners seek answers themselves instead of focusing on the “right answer.” Her findings have extensive implications for Asian learners.

In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life by Robert Kegan
In this book on adult development, Kegan explains how the roles we play in modern life involve a level of development that many adults never reach. This book is insightful, but dense and not for the faint of heart.

Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future by Peter M. Senge, Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, Betty Sue Flowers
This book presents a new approach for creating the “future that wants to emerge.” It details the journey the team went on in developing this approach and talks about the skills needed. It is a powerful book.

SQ: Connecting With Our Spiritual Intelligence by Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall
We’ve heard of IQ and EQ. Zohar and Marshall present the case for SQ, Spiritual Intelligence, which they say enables people to be creative, change the rules, and pose fundamental and powerful question about why we are here. The authors bring hard scientific data to this soft topic by explaining the physiology of the brain.


The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently - And Why by Richard E. Nisbett
Nisbett outlines the predominant “thinking systems” in Asia and the West. He makes links between these cultures and how people within them think (e.g., contextual versus objective).

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