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  • Richard Spilg

Time to catch up on reading

One of the benefits of the Covid-19 lockdown is that we should have more time to catch up on some of those things that we’re too busy to do in our ‘normal’ working lives. If reading is one of those, I thought it may be helpful to mention some of the books that I typically refer to in my coaching – and ones that I know provide clients with valuable insights.

The First 90 Days [Michael D. Watkins] is one of the most practical guides for any leader moving into a new role either within or outside of his/her current organisation. The importance of preparing properly for this critical first period lies in the fact that actions (whether taken or not) and behaviours have a disproportionate impact on perceptions, credibility and results

Primal Leadership [Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee] links the underlying competencies of the four pillars of Emotional Intelligence to six different styles of leadership. I find this of particular value to younger leaders who are figuring out what authentic leadership means for them. It is also a useful guide when interviewing candidates and trying to establish what style of leadership they will bring to your organisation

Your Brain at Work [David Rock] provides creative insights on how the brain affects how, why and what we do in a work setting. Using two fictional characters, the book explores what actions they take in certain pressured situations, the scientific reasons for those actions and how, on reflection and with a better understanding of how the brain works, different actions would yield much more positive outcomes

Conversational Intelligence [Judith E. Glaser] expands our narrow view of conversations and the importance of language. The book explores the way that conversations evolve and impact the way we connect, engage, interact with, and influence others. Conversational intelligence is what separates those who are successful from those who are not – in business and in relationships

The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Midlife [James Hollis] based on Jungian psychology, the book explores four passages in our lives with the focus on disruption in our middle years – the ‘midlife crisis’. The book is particularly instructive for clients who are struggling to find meaning in their work, or are at a stage in their lives where their values are disconnected from what they are doing

Flow [Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi] introduces the phenomenon of ‘flow’ – a state of joy, creativity and total involvement, in which a person’s attention is completely absorbed by the activity. Where time flies as a consequence of the particular activity neither lacking challenge (creating boredom) nor being unachievable (creating anxiety). Of recent interest to me has been the concept of ‘micro-flows’ where mundane tasks (such as ironing!) if done well can provide a sense of satisfaction but, more importantly, can also provide moments of insight into completely unrelated things

Ikigai [Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles] the Japanese concept roughly translates as the joy of being busy and/or your reason for being. The book provides a deceptively simple model for combining what you’re good at doing; what you can get paid for; what you enjoy doing; and what society needs – the confluence of those being your ‘Ikigai’. But more than that it also explores the importance of relationships, community and finding peace in simple things. It’s a really easy read and is great for those who may be stressed out and wanting to regain a semblance of work/life balance

On another note if, like me, you suspect that Mother Earth is giving us a heads-up on what she can do if we carry on messing with her, Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold [Stephen Fry] is fun to read or listen to. Written (and read) with his customary humour you can discover what Gaia (Mother Earth) is capable of (she can be vengeful!) and other age-old wisdoms contained in the various mythologies

Like everyone else, I wonder how work habits will change post this crisis. Now that we know that remote working is possible and that tools like Microsoft teams, Zoom, etc. provide effective ways to communicate, I hope that we don’t revert to ‘business as usual’. There are lots of discussions starting around this at #futureofwork if you’re keen to join the conversation

Happy reading and stay safe

Richard Spilg

March 2020

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