No matter how busy I get, I always make time to read.

I’ve found that many of the best ideas I’ve had in business were sparked by an insight I came across in a book – often completely unrelated to pensions.

That’s why I like to read eclectically, about leadership… change…. business… customer service… public policy issues…. Anything I can get my hands on, really.
So, which books have had the biggest impact on me during 2018? And which would I unhesitatingly recommend to you – to enjoy yourself, or perhaps even to share with your team?

I’ve put together a list…

Read on to discover my top books of 2018.

(Please note these weren’t necessarily published this year, I just read them this year!)

top books of 2018


1.       Leadership Blind Spots and What To Do About Them by Karen Blakely

We all suffer from blind spots, but when leaders have them it can have dire consequences for the organisation.

Karen’s research has identified the different types of blind spots that stop leaders learning on the job and making good decisions, and suggests practical steps to manage them.

I was recently introduced to Karen, who is Head of the Centre for Responsible Management at Winchester University Business School, and I believe that all leaders should read and reflect on how they can use the tools she provides.

2.       The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick Lencioni

Patrick is my favourite writer about business because of his easy style of writing, which uses story-telling to get his point across. Last year I recommended his book, Getting Naked, which is about inspiring customer loyalty.

The Advantage focuses on the value of organisational health, which in practical terms means minimal politics, minimal confusion, high morale, high productivity, and low turnover among good people. If you can achieve this, Patrick argues, you will have an unparalleled advantage in the market. He provides the model for how to do it.


3.       Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

How do you champion new ideas, even when they go against the grain, and how can leaders fight group-think?

This book by Adam Grant – a professor at Wharton who previously wrote the bestselling Option B with Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg - explores how to reject conformity and disrupt the status quo, drawing on examples and anecdotes from a dazzling range of industries and time periods.

But it’s not just about business. The ideas apply equally to our work environment and to our home life.  You don’t have to be planning a trip to the Dragon’s Den to make this a valuable read!


4.      Black Box Thinking: Marginal Gains and the Secrets of High Performance: The Surprising Truth About Success by Matthew Syed

This is a very popular book which is well worth revisiting, even if you’ve already read it. 

Matthew looks at the logic of failure, arguing that we should change our attitude to it, and treat failure as the building block for success.

I loved the way he compares the way failure is treated in the US healthcare system, versus the way it is treated in the global airline industry. The former stigmatises mistakes, and the result is that preventable medical mistakes remain endemic. The latter has turned flight into one of the safest ways of travelling, by learning obsessively from mistakes.

Syed recommends that like the airline industry, we record and analyse our mistakes instead of turning them into a blame-game.

This is a very practical guide to dealing with failure, written in a very easy style which draws you in.

5.       Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way by Dan Buettner

Thrive is not a business book, but one for yourself.

Dan has researched what makes people happy in Denmark, Singapore and Mexico – some of the happiest nations on earth – and identifies some small steps we can all take to build a happier and more content life.  

This probably makes it the perfect book for the New Year!

So what books have left their mark on you in 2018?  I’d love to hear your recommendations, so please do email me and let me know what books I should be reading next.

And in the meanwhile, Merry Christmas.

Posted by Steve Butler

Topics: Friday Fun

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