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  • Writer's pictureDr. Patrick E. Crawford

Favorites of 2022

Leadership Thoughts | Issue #95

Tom Butler's blog post on December 30, 2022, of The Learner-Centered Leader, inspired me to reflect on my reading habits. Tom mentioned that he had read (or listened to) at least 50-60 books a year since 2013, so I set out to estimate how many books I have read in 2022. Here's what I found out.

  • Purchased 15 new books (read 11)

  • Kindle – purchased 18 (read 11)

  • Audible – purchased 20 (listened to 12, did not complete 8)

  • Re-read – complete (read 4) from my personal library

I keep a list of my fifty favorite books, which I regularly update. It is sometimes difficult to remove a book to add room for another, but I've managed to keep the list at fifty. If I read a book from cover to cover, it has to be worth my investment of time. So often, my best book is the last one I read. But for this article, it would be interesting to share five favorite books I read (or listened to) this year.

My Five Favorite Books Read In 2022

1. Immunity to Change

Robert Kagan and Lisa Laskow Lahey

This book was a must-read for me as I studied change and why most innovations in education fail. It was helpful because it helped me to understand why people resist change. It is divided into three parts: Uncovering a Hidden Dynamic in the Challenge of Change, Overcoming the Immunity to Change in Organizations, Individuals, and Teams, and Over to You: Diagnosing and overcoming immunities in Yourself and Your Organization.

2. Managing Transitions

William Bridges and Susan Bridges

I read the fourth edition of this best-selling book while researching change. With over 650,000 copies sold, I knew it was a must-read.

What grabbed my attention was the emphasis on the fact that it takes an emotional connection for people to abandon their old habits and embrace new ones. Everyone has a personal connection to their work, so for change to occur, a link must resonate with them. The authors state, "it isn't the change that will do you in; it's the transition." They explain the transition as a three-stage procedure that people progress through before they are open to implementing an alternative way of doing things: letting go of the old identity, experiencing an intermediary phase when the old is gone, but the new is not yet operational, and eventually, it comes out of it and starts anew.

3. Simple Truths of Leadership

Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley

This book from Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley - Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust (Making Common Sense Common Practice) - caught my eye. Blanchard and Conley recommend considering and following what is sensible when attempting to serve others. Becoming a leader requires using common sense. Trust is a consequence of servant leadership. The authors use 52 vignettes to present a powerful message on leadership and trust.

4. From Reopen to Reinvent

Michael Horn

Michael Horn is the confounder of Clayton Christensen and the author of numerous books on the future of education, including the most recent one, From Reopen to Reinvent. He shares five significant points of advice.

  1. Rather than categorizing students by their learning level, why not meet each child where they are?

  2. Make learning the constant and allow time to be the variable, leading to guaranteed mastery and student success.

  3. Rather than giving grades, a better plan would be an agreement on what students should learn and how to demonstrate said knowledge.

  4. Teaching should be a collaborative endeavor where multiple people share various responsibilities.

  5. Work with parents to meet their needs and make schools more accommodating for them.

5. The Fifth Discipline

Peter Senge

I first encountered this book in the 90s when it was published. It was academically rigorous to read but still captivating. When I began studying processes of change or stagnation, I revisited the 2006 edition.

The primary theme of this book is introducing the five disciplines: system thinking, shared vision, personal mastery, mental models, and team learning. Senge was inspired by Ed Deming's framework when he wrote this book and posited ways to work together in organizations that reaped the rewards. When it first came out in 1990, The Fifth Discipline was ahead of its time, and between 1990 and 2006, his ideas of forming learning organizations were proven correct.

Bonus – All-Time Favorite Books

Motivational speaker, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones once told me that three things would shape your life: the people you meet, your experiences, and the books you read. I can attest to the truth of his statement. Of the many books that have influenced my life, I continue to read and study the Bible and Total Leaders by Charlies Schwahn and William Spady. The Bible shapes my life as a Christian, and Total Leaders provides the framework for my leadership.

2023 Reading Goals

I'm changing the way I read in 2023. Rather than zipping through books, hoping to remember the essential points, I'll read fewer books with more focus. Francis Bacon wisely said,

"Some books are to be tasted, others swallowed, and a few chewed and digested."

I want to find the few that require chewing and digestion and take my time comprehending and applying them to leadership thoughts. I plan to read books about a variety of topics and make more comparisons and contrasting of ideas. I'll check in with you later to let you know how it's going. Read well!


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