As an executive coach, I am often asked by my clients for books that will provide them with tools or insights into specific development topics. Leadership is a difficult skill to master as an individual and in the workplace. The right book can shape how a leader thinks and how they will lead.

Highlighted in this blog are three books that will lead to further success in your leadership journey: Trailblazer, Crucial Conversations and Crucial Accountability. I hope this blog inspires you to read or listen to more books.

1. Trailblazer by Marc Benioff

In this 2019 book, founder and co-CEO of Salesforce Marc Beinoff walks through his leadership ideas and more. Through Marc’s leadership, Salesforce executed many great ideas. Some of his implementations include 1-1-1, V2MOM, building an impactful culture and the importance of all stakeholders.

1-1-1 is the action of setting aside 1% of the equity, product and employee time for charitable causes. As a coach for many Salesforce employees, I have personal insight into whether this idea truly happens in the real world. During a call, a VP coaching client shared a story where his boss called him and heard background noise. My client was outdoors volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. His boss told him he should not answer his home while volunteering and they set up a time to talk the next day. This sends a very strong message from an SVP that volunteering is important.

V2MOM is the framework process for the organization and each department. It includes:

  • Vision – What do you want?
  • Values – What’s important to you?
  • Methods – How do you get it?
  • Obstacles – What is preventing you from being successful?
  • Measures – Who do you know you have it?

Every Salesforce executive I worked with uses this process to communicate and measure their goals.

Marc takes a deep dive into culture. He shares that the decision made in 1999 to determine the culture around values was more important than the business model or software decisions. He intentionally designed a culture that was synonymous with doing good in order to thrive in a world where the company is only as strong as the principals it adopts. Examples of using the values to make very difficult decisions are shared.

Stakeholders are not just stockholders. Stakeholders include customers, employees, shareholders, the environment and the communities in which staff live and work. This directly ties into the vision for a different kind of company that would change the way the world does business.

It a valuable book that gets into culture and leadership. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

2. Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler

Crucial conversation is defined as a discussion between two or more people where the stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong. We tend to avoid them, face them and handle the situation poorly or face them and handle it well. In the best companies, everyone holds others accountable regardless of their level or position.

The authors lay out the process of how to conduct a crucial conversion:

  • Start with your own heart – Know what you want and clarify what you really don’t want.
  • Learn to look and notice when safety is at risk – Learn to spot the moment a conversation turns crucial and look for safety problems.
  • Make it safe to talk about almost anything – If you make it safe and find mutual purpose, you can talk about almost anything and people will listen.
  • Master your stories by staying in dialogue when angry, scared or hurt – The best at dialogue aren’t held hostage by their emotions, nor do they try and hide or suppress them.
  • State your path speaking persuasively, not abrasively – It is important to blend three ingredients: confidence, humility and skill
  • Listen when others blow or clam up – Use process of agree, build, and compare
  • How to turn crucial conversations into action and results – The two riskiest times in crucial conversations tend to be at the beginning and the end.

These skills are critical at every level of managing. It is a skill that requires practice and knee scraping to get better. If you are looking to develop your management and leadership skills, this book and coaching may help you get there quicker. Please share your thoughts or examples of approaching a crucial conversion.

3. Crucial Accountability by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler

Accountability is one of those leadership skills that makes the difference between efficient and effective execution and frustrating inefficiencies and effectiveness. Too often commitments are not defined and/or kept.

They introduce a CPR process:

  • Content – the first time infraction occurs, talk about the content,
  • Pattern – the next time the infraction occurs, talk about the pattern
  • Relationship – as the problem continues, talk about the relationship

It’s important to know what you want for yourself, for the other person, and for the relationship. The impact of stories is addressed. Too often, we see what that person did and then tell ourselves a story about why he or she did it, which leads to a feeling, which leads to our own actions.

They share the 6 sources of influence based on motivation, ability, personal social and structure with guidance in each of the sectors. They also add simple and practical tips like, “If you don’t have the plan completed by next Tuesday at noon, let’s meet and discuss ways to speed things along.”

Please share your thoughts on the importance of accountability and the tools they offer to become more effective at creating accountability.

Russ Elliot will help you accelerate your influence and leadership. I can customize coaching packages to meet your needs. Please let me know if you want a complimentary 30 minute “good fit” conversation by reaching out to me at [email protected]

Russ is an experienced executive coach who accelerates the leader’s capability further than they thought possible. As the “leadership co-pilot”, he brings out the best in the client professionally and personally by creating a safe container and deep connection. Russ’ natural style of exceptional listening and his gifts of valuable insights at the right time create a powerful transformational experience for all levels and teams of leaders. Russ serves as a consultant, executive coach, educator, trainer and speaker.