Top 11 Favorite Books of 2011

Books are a great way to learn.  They spark new ideas.  I have always enjoyed reading and learning.  Being in the Masters in Global Leadership program at Azusa Pacific University has challenged and stimulated my learning this year.  Here are my top 11 reads for 2011:

  1. The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of the Teacher’s Life, by Parker Palmer: The book is built on this premise: “good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.”  Great teachers teach from who they are, according to Palmer.  They are great connectors: they connect with their students and with their subject; they are available, vulnerable and passionate about the subject; this passion is contagious and weaves a thread that joins all the learners into “the grace of great things”.    Palmer contrasts two models of teaching:  the objectivist myth of knowing model which is linear, static and hierarchical  and the more effective community of truth model which is circular, dynamic and interactive.
  2. Jesus, the Teacher: Examining His Expertise in Education, by Herman Horne:  Horne examines Jesus’ expertise in education and concludes that He was a world-class and model teacher.  The author’s mode of presentation permits the reader to share in the process of discovery by raising questions that stimulate thinking and allow the reader to formulate a tentative response.  Horne finally presents additional insights from his own study to help the reader arrive at a more studied conviction. In both theory and practice, Jesus set the standard for andragogy today.
  3. The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at all Levels, by Michael Watkins:  Watkins provides a flexible framework for any leader in his first 90 days in a new job that he can use to diagnose his situation and develop a personalized learning plan.  Though the book is focused to business leaders who are changing jobs, the principles apply to a leader who transitions to different ministries or cultures.
  4. Cross Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility, by Duane Elmer:  Elmer quotes, “Servanthood is revealed in simple, everyday events. But it’s complex because servanthood is culturally defined-that is, serving must be sensitive to the cultural landscape while remaining true to the Scripture. That is both the challenge and burden of servanthood-and of this book.”
  5. Leading with Cultural Intelligence: The New Secret to Success, by David Livermore:  Livermore contributes an overall model for developing skills for leading effectively cross culturally. The book is a field guide or map to help the leader traverse the diversity of the multicultural terrain in order to understand and develop cultural intelligence in himself and other leaders around him.  His evidence based principles help a leader develop perspective and competencies that result in more effective leadership.
  6. Crucibles of Leadership: How to Learn from Experience to Become a Great Leader, by Robert Thomas:  The central theme of Thomas’ book is how a leader can harness the power of crucible experiences for personal growth and how organizations can effectively use experience to accelerate leadership development.  The greatest actionable insight is the development of a Personal Learning Strategy.  Great leaders have developed and continue to benefit from a Personal Learning Strategy based on insights gained through reflection on crucible experiences and a passion for learning.
  7. Learned Optimism:How to Change your Mind and Your Life, by Martin Seligman:  Dogs in a laboratory experiment accidently kick-started Seligman’s (2006) insightful psychological theory on learned helplessness in people.  After more study, experiments and interaction with other learners, he developed a ground breaking antidote:  learned optimism. Explains pessimists and optimists, includes assessments to evaluate where you are.
  8. Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence, by Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee:  What makes great leaders?  What are characteristics of great teams?  How would one describe the culture of a great place to work?  These are three vital questions Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee (2002) answer in Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence.  They argue that the fundamental task of leaders is to lead with emotional intelligence that produces good feelings in their followers, teams and organizations.  This in turn creates resonance, which brings out the best performance in people.
  9. Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach: The Power of Dialogue in Educating Adults by Jane Vella:  Vella outlines 12 key elements for designing effective learning experiences. Extremely practical and helpful for any teaching environment from a mentoring relationship to a small group to more formal, classroom instruction.
  10. Connective Leadership: Managing in a Changing World, by Jean Lipman-Blumen:  Two antithetical forces have dramatically altered the global environment and demanded a new style of leadership: interdependence and diversity.  In today’s multicultural world, connection with diverse cultures is inevitable and inclusion is critical.  Lipman-Blumen’s model of connective leadership claims to take into account these two contradictory tensions.  Her model is a nine-faceted conceptual tool that gives the leader a repertoire of behaviors and skills for this new connective era.
  11. When Cultures Collide: Leading Across Cultures, by Richard Lewis:  After defining culture and how it develops, Lewis categorizes countries into linear-active, multi-active and reactive cultures.  Includes insights into use of time, communication styles and mannerisms; also includes a section on managing and leading in different cultures including team building, motivating and negotiating.  A third section gives practical advice for effective cross cultural interactions for more than 60 countries from every region of the world. (MaturitasCafe blog has good summary of the book)
  12. BONUS BOOK:  Ministering Cross Culturally: An Incarnational Model for Personal Relationships, by Lingenfelter and Mayers:   Ministering and leading effectively cross culturally requires soft skills of relationships. To succeed in transition to and engage a different culture requires a repertoire of relational skills.  Lingenfelter and Mayers offer a Scriptural model of basic values that teach how Christians ought to relate to others and explores practical behaviors that can be applied in diverse cultural settings.

What books would you recommend from your reading this past year?  What books do you plan to read in 2012?

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