“What’s on Your Shelf” is a fun icebreaker to help people get to know each another better. The participants each share a shelf of books that reflects who they are and what has influenced them in their lives. Some people just show the book jackets; others decorate their shelf with family photos or keepsakes from their real shelves.
Every time I’ve participated in this exercise, it’s been a glimpse into who people are and I discover aspects of their lives that I haven’t seen at work. I also discover some great reads.
Today I’m asking, “What’s on Your Shelf?” What books influenced who you are and how you manage? I invite you to share between five and seven choices, and explain how they influenced you.
Here’s my shelf:
If you were a manager in the ’90s, you probably read this book. My copy, like so many others, is dog-eared and highlighted, and the spine is cracked (true confession: I actually own two ragged copies: one lives at work and the other at home). I still reach for it regularly to explain the concepts of urgent vs. important, the emotional bank account, and seeking first to understand.
One of my first favorites because it’s all about eliminating TPP reports and other unproductive make-work. As a young manager, I once gave this book as a gift to my inner circle at work as a holiday gift to explain why I was being such a pain in the neck.
I discovered this book on the shelf of an L&D colleague. I love its approach to communicating not only on a corporate level, but also on an individual level. For a while I recommended it to every new member of my team. I still pull it down from time to time for a refresher.
My favorite, also dogeared and highlighted, about managing change at work. After devouring this book and reading Bellman’s other books, I emailed him, and asked What is this stuff and how to do I learn more? …And ended up with an MS in Organizational Change Management. I recommend this to every new manager or wanna be manager, because — as any parent will tell you — even when you’re the boss, you’re never really in charge.
I discovered this book when I was working closely with IT to develop our proprietary store systems. It’s another title I shared with colleagues because it so beautifully describes how the design process can go wrong and what to do instead. Although it is overtly discussing IT design, the concepts also apply to change management, communications design, conference design, and communications systems design.
You may be familiar with a book called, Strengthfinder 2.0 which was originally titled, Now Discover Your Strengths. That original title is because it was the sequel to this book (as in First, do this; Now, do that), which talks about what makes a place great to work at. Based on data from Gallup surveys of thousands of employees, this book provides insight for managers on getting the best out of a team – and is a useful book to read if you feel unhappy at work and can’t figure out why or what to do about it.
That’s what’s on my shelf and why. I invite you to create your own shelves and share why you chose those titles.