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Books

Have you ever thought how great it would be to have a leadership mentor? Some wise hand who's seen it all before and can speak to exactly your point of need?  Well we're pulling together some of the most useful reads on leadership and teams and every one of these books has the potential to be a mentor to your personal development.

We've linked each title to a buying option through Blackwells Books, where you can find many of these titles discounted. Even better, if you're in a hurry and pressed for time you can read our synopsis of each title & our thoughts on who would most benefit from each title and why. Click on the link for our summary notes on each book which will give you an abridged snapshot of the key content. 

 As we add more books we'll catergorize the titles to help you more easily navigate to titles that interest you.  We will have sections on leadership, teams, performance, decision-making and culture.  In the meantime we'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback on any aspect of this page as well as any comments or recommendations for titles you would like to see here.  Email us at info@metrisleadership.com Happy reading!

     
 

Nerve: Poise Under Pressure by Taylor Clark

A thorough, well written and researched examination of the impact of fear and how to cope with it.  Using a host of examples from sport the military & medicine Clark takes the reader through the status of current research and examines how it applies to anyone who wants to get better at performing under pressure.  Its not about dispelling fear but learning to ride the beast.

 Buy here  | Read Notes

 

Boyd - The Fighter Pilot who Changed the Art of War by Robert Coram

Colonel John Boyd was a brilliant maverick who is undoubtedly one of the most important strategic thinkers of the twentieth century.  An exceptional fighter pilot he revolutionized how the Air Forces thought about air combat, when he wrote the 'Aerial Attack Study'.  He developed the Energy-Maneuverability Theory which revolutionized the design and build of fighter aircraft and finally produced a briefing entitled Patterns of Conflict which transformed the US approach to ground operations.  Never an easy subordinate he made innumerable enemies as he challenged partisan service interests.  Not just for those interested in military strategy this is a study in character, integrity and leadership and what can happen in large self-interested bureaucracies.

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Grit - The Power of Passion & Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

A professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Angela Duckworths's research is in many respects a synthesis of earlier studies on mental toughness, passion and perseverance. Popular and influential particularly among education professionals this is a summary of her research findings looking at what marks out high achievers special.

 Buy here | Read Notes

     
 

The Right Kind of Crazy by Adam Steltzner & William Patrick

The story of how a team of engineers led by Adam Steltzner designed and built the technology to put the Mars Rover vehicle onto the surface of Mars as part of NASA's Mars robotic exploration programme.  The complexity of the challenge is breathtaking and the team work required to make it work was world class. 

Buy here  |  Read Notes

     
 

An Everyone Culture by Robert Kegan & Lisa Laskow Lahey

The authors are both research academics and Harvard, the book looks at 3 companies who have developed a culture of individual learning and development which they see as intrinsic to their success as organizations.  Anyone interested in how to build a high performance culture at work should consider this essential reading.

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The Rocket Model - Practical Advice For Building High Performance Teams By Gordon Curphy & Robert Hogan

A how to guide for developing high performance teams.  The book looks at 7 facets for delivering results; context, mission, talent, norms, buy-in, power and morale and provides guidance and exercises to benchmark and develop the team.  Certainly not the holy-grail its authors might claim but none the less of value to anyone interested in developing high performance organizations.

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Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

The contention of this book is that the greatest obstacle and adversary to our success is our own Ego.  The book explores what ego is and the damage it causes us with a host of historical and contemporary anecdotes.  The aim of the book is to help us replace ego with humility and true self-confidence.  Valuable to anyone seeking success.

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7 Keys to Being a Great Coach By Allistair McCaw

Allistair McCaw is a renowned coach with over 20 years of experience coaching elite level athletes across a wide range of individual and team sports.  His clients include a string of world and Olympic champions, grand slam tournament and league winners. This book sets out his philosophy and the principles of his approach.  Relevant not just to athletic coaches but in anyone interested in how to develop pursue and sustain high level performance excellence.

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You Learn By Living by Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt revolutionised the role of First Lady during her tenure from 1933 to 1945.  She became one of the most beloved figures of the twentieth century.  At the age of seventy six she penned this simple guide for living a fuller life.  It is based on responses that she sent to people who wrote to her for advice.  You Learn by Living is a powerful volume of enduring common-sense ideas and heartfelt values.  Informed by her personal experiences as a daughter, wife, parent, and diplomat.  It is a trove of timeless wisdom that resonates in any era. Themes include: Fear, How to get the best out of people, facing responsibility, uses of time and the difficult art of maturity.

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Peak by Anders Ericcson & Robert Pool

Ericcson is a Swedish research psychologist internationally renowned for his work exploring expertice and human performance.  This work is a laymans synopsis focused primarily on the idea of 'deliberate practice' - specifically defined in the book and in Ericcson's research the secret to all expertise (& the source from which Malcom Gladwell popularized the myth of 10,000 hours). 

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The Pressure Principle by Dr Dave Alred MBE

Dave Alred is a performance coach and pioneering performance psychologist famous for his work with the England Rugby World Cup winning team and with Jonny Wilkinson in particular.  This book is the story of his experience working with elite sportsmen in a wide variety of sports and examines what it takes to develop the mindset to continue to perform even under the most extreme pressure.

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Elite Minds by Dr Stan Beecham

Stan Beecham is an American sports psychologist with decades of hands on experience working with professional sports men and women in a multitude of sports.  This is a well written quick and comprehensible read that gives both an insight into how our beliefs inhibit our potential and performance but how we can address our thought process in order to unlock our potential.

Buy here   |    Read Notes

 
   

Winners & How They Succeed by Alistair Campbell

Alistair Campbell will need little introduction to most people.  Chief spokesman for Tony Blair, a key New Labour strategist at the heart of PM Blair's government he is well qualified to reflect on what defines those individuals and team's that win.  Looking at key themes in the winning cocktail such as strategy, leadership and teamship the book is unique for the host of top performers used to illustrate the book.  From world leaders, politicians sportsmen and women and their coaches to business men and successful entrepreneurs.  Useful read to any leader and anyone interested in developing potential and performance.

 Buy here  |  Read Notes

 
 

Social Physics How Good Ideas Spread by Alex Pentland

Alex Pentland is a Professor & Director of the Human Dynamics Lab, which aims to use the collection and analysis of big data to better understand society in order to use social networks to address a range of social policy challenges.  This book is important for anyone interested in team performance because of the insights his research is providing into how the best teams communicate and develop ideas.

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How to Perform Under Pressure by Hendrie Weisinger & J.P Pawliw-Fry

Hendrie Weisiger is a noted psychologist and his co-author JP Pawliw-Fry who works at the Institute for Health and Human potential are both research experts in the field of performance psychology.  Based on a wealth of research and the authors own studies the book first examines the nature of pressure and what actually happens to us in a biological and psychological sense when we try to perform under pressure.  The second part of the book before looks at practical coping strategies and how to apply them in order to better resist the impact of stress.  Excellent for any interested in the science oof why we struggle to perform under pressure and what we can do to improve.

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Superforecasting by Philip Tetlock & Dan Gardner  

Born out of a US government funded research project into the process of predictive analysis, this book about the mental processes and habits of a rare group of analysts who are able to make accurate predictive forecasts.  None of these individuals is a professional analyst or the custodian of any particular expertise these were simply volunteers with a curiosity and an approach that turns out to be far more accurate than the predictive powers of most 'experts' or agencies. Anyone interested in the analysis of complex situations should read this for its invaluable insights into how to approach problems, use analysis in an effective and insightful way and synthesize multiple points of view into a reasoned judgement.

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Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

This is a book about leadership, what leaders do and organizational culture.  Good leaders create a circle of physical & psychological safety within which every member of the team can flourish.  Watching Officers eat last on a visit to a Marine Corp unit he reflects on how leaders who put their own needs last in order to protect and serve the group create flourishing teams and organizations.  He goes on to connect this to the drivers of our behaviour and the neurotransmitters that have shaped our evolution.  The second part of the book looks at a wide range of corporate cultures - good and bad before ending with a plea for more leaders who can build cultures that allow their staff to flourish whilst acting with integrity.

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Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

Jocko & Leif were US Navy Seal Officers leading a Seal Task Force in the battle of Ramadi in Iraq.  A period of intense sustained combat in a built up area. The book is about the mindset and leadership lessons they learned in the Seals and perfected in combat. Their distillation is designed to be applied to any team or business context where performance matters. The title refers to the principle of individual accountability for every aspect of the team's mission. Plenty of interest and value here for military and business leaders alike.

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The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande is a General and Endocrine surgeon as well as an Associate Professor at the Harvard Medical School. The book is about the search to find a simple reliable method for improving surgical outcomes in the face of ever increasing complexity and specilization.  A problem that is far from being confined to medcine.  The solution, a checklist and a culture that recognizes experience does not make us infallible.  In fact it often creates the conceit of omnipotent competence which is frequently the genesis of careless oversight. Essential reading for anyone interested in decision-making.

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Legacy by James Kerr

Leadership lessons from the All Blacks, New Zealand's Rugby Team, statistically the most successful sports team in any sport ever.  Given that remarkable record there is much to pay attention to here as the All Blacks have found a way to institutionalize success, a system that is greater than any individual or coach.  Like similar successful organizations, the right culture, learning, humility and the pursuit of excellence at the heart of what they do.  Great read if your interested in teams and high performance regardless of any interest in rugby.

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Leading with Honor by Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis was a US Air Force fighter pilot.  Shot down over Vietnam he was kept captive for five and half years.  This is the story of how he and his fellow prisoners survived and the leadership lessons they applied to endure and cope as a coherent team.  Forged under the most extreme pressures the book is about conquering the fear and helplessness of being a prisoner and goes on to distill this experience into a set of principles and a mindset that can be applied to business.

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The Will of Heroes by Colin Robertson

Colin Robertson is a researcher and writer on performance psychology.  This book is about willpower and the role it plays in helping us to achieve our goals.  Using examples from Motzart to J K Rowling the author looks at the science of willpower and how it can be developed and harnessed to improve personal performance.

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How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer

Author and journalist Jonah Lehrer is a contributing editor to Wired magazine.  This book is a 101 of both the neuroscience and  psychology of how we make decisions.  It explores the constant biological tension between our emotional impulses - driven by the limbic system and the neurotransmitter dopamine which are broadly responsible for most of our decision-making and our ability to rationalize and control our emotional instincts.  The book explores how by understanding our own biology and the impact our blood chemistry has on our behaviour we can learn to make better, more self-aware decisions.  Excellent primer for anyone wishing to understand how biology influences decision-making.

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Team of Teams by General Stanley McChystal

General McChrystal was the the US Joint Special Forces Commander with responsibility for all US Special Forces Missions.  This book is in part based on his experiences of how US and Allied Special Operations Force units evolved to counter the asymmetrical networked threats of terrorist groups in Iraq.  The teams of teams that resulted, fast flat and enabled by a twenty first century communications architecture and a culture of mission command were dramatically impactful against Al Qaeda.  This same organizational design is how McChrystal and his co-authors argue business can best prepare and be successful in an ever more competitive, fast paced global environment.

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The House of Lancaster by Neil Squires

Biography of former England head coach Stuart Lancaster and his role in rebuilding and developing the England team after the 2011 World Cup. The book explores his philosophy and vision for the team. Heavily influenced by famous American sports coaches such as John Wooden (UCLA Basketball) and Bill Walsh (49's Football) both of whom took weak teams and transformed them into consistent winning machines. Another story about being deliberate about a culture and setting out to build the right culture for long-term success. Lots of parallel lessons for business on performance & culture.

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The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh

Bill Walsh was the head coach of the 49's from 1979-89 & took them from being the worst team in the NFL to winning three Super Bowel Championships as well as leaving a legacy that saw the team go on to win two further titles in the years after he left. The book is about his approach to coaching, a relentless focus on preparation and a defined 'standard of performance' for every conceivable drill and process. Many useful comparisons and experiences for anyone interested in developing and leading teams.

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Coaching for Performance by John Whitmore

John Whitmore along with Tim Gallway was a pioneer of performance coaching for business.  This book introduces the principles of effective coaching to help individuals fulfill their potential.  The book covers the GROW model as a framework for coaching conversations; goals, reality, options & wrap up and lays down a great foundation for anyone working to understand coaching as a process for unlocking and developing performance.

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The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday

Beloved by a host of NFL coaches and players, the book looks at how the philosophy of stoic thinkers such as Seneca and the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius is as relevant today as it ever was, where philosophy has its original meaning of being a guide to life.  Stoicism focuses on what is within your power to change - for example your attitude and your approach to circumstance, accepting it for what it is neither good or bad.  This book is a great read for anyone interested in resilience and the development of character, through stress and adversity.

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Turn the Ship Around By David Marquet

One of two books I would recommend or gift as an initial 101 primer for leadership in the 21st century to any leader regardless of seniority.  David Marquet's story is about his time in command of a US Navy nuclear submarine and how he and the crew turned around the worst boat in the fleet to become the best on every metric.  His revelation was to switch his style from the autocratic top down command and control  - the normal culture of the Navy to one that empowered and engaged the crew by developing them as leaders.

Buy here  

 
Super Better  

Super Better by Jane McGonigal

Jane McGonigal is a game designer and psychologist whose  research focuses on how the positive characteristics of gameplay, such as focus, determination, resilience and persistence can be applied to real life challenges.  The book describes both the research science and the game methodolgy 'SuperBetter', which is designed to help participants maximize their personal potential by applying the psychology and mindset of gameplay to real life challenges.

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Effective Modern Coaching by Myles Downey

Myles Downey is a leading executive coach with over 25 years of experience in the business.  This book is a great distillation of why coaching works and makes such a difference in unlocking the performance potential of individuals and teams as well as being an effective how to guide for those wanting to develop their own coaching skills.  Fundamentally based around the GROW model Downey adds the benefit of years of practitioner experience to provide a hands on practical framework for shaping and delivering coaching sessions that drive change.

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The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander & Benjamin Zander

Benjamin Zander is the conductor for the Boston Philharmonic orchestra and his wife Rosamund is a family therapist.  This is a fantastic book on leadership, richly illustrated with anecdote and examples from Zander's extensive teaching and conducting career.  For any leader interested in how to inspire and get the most out of people to connect with their potential and to help unleash that.

Buy here   |   Read Notes

 
 

Wooden On Leadership by John Wooden

John Wooden is more or less a household name in the US after a 40 year coaching career in basketball in which his success was astonishing.  As coach of the University of California UCLA his teams won 10 National championships in twelve seasons, seven of them consecutively!  His relentless focus on teaching good habits and on the process  - leaving the score to take care of itself, have inspired generations of sports coaches since.  This is a book not just for sports fans but for anyone interested interested in the cross-over lessons that apply to leadership, team and performance development that are to be gleaned here.

Buy here  |   Read Notes

 

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