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
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
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
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).