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Top "10" Professional Reading List for Educators - 2013 Version

by Joseph M. Crozier, GWAEA Chief Administrator
For the past 11 years, I have published the “Top 10” professional reading list for educators. Our endless pursuit of knowledge and life-long learning is enhanced through professional literature.


This “Top 10” list provides thought provoking and motivating learning for administrators, teachers, coaches and building leadership teams.


This list is in no particular order. I hope this provides resources for your personal and professional growth. All of these books will be available in the Grant Wood AEA Media Center Professional Library. Happy Reading!




“Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All” by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen
In “Great by Choice,” Collins and his colleague, Morten Hansen, rely on nine years of research, asking the question: Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not?  The focus of “Great by Choice” is on performance and the type of unstable environments leaders face today. “Great by Choice” follows ten years after his bestseller “Good to Great.”


With a team of more than 20 researchers, Collins and Hansen studied companies that rose to greatness—beating their industry indexes by a minimum of 10 times over 15 years—in environments characterized by big forces and rapid shifts that leaders could not predict or control. The research team then contrasted these “10X companies” to a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to achieve greatness in similarly extreme environments.


“The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business” by Patrick Lencioni

There is a competitive advantage out there, arguably more powerful than any other. Is it superior strategy? Faster innovation? Smarter employees? No. Lencioni, a New York Times best-selling author, argues that the determining difference between successful companies and mediocre ones has more to do with how healthy they are and little to do with how smart they are or what they know. Lencioni outlines the unique advantage organizational health provides using his vast experience and many themes outlined in his other best-selling books.


The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else” by George Anders

Anyone who recruits talent faces the same basic challenge, whether we work for a big company, a new start-up, a Hollywood studio, a hospital, or the Green Berets. We all wonder how to tell the really outstanding prospects from the ones who look great on paper but then fail on the job. Or, equally important, how to spot the ones who don’t look so good on paper but might still deliver extraordinary performance. In a tough economy, it’s more important than ever to make every talent decision count.


George Anders sought out the world’s savviest talent judges to see what they do differently from the rest of us. He reveals how the U.S. Army finds soldiers with the character to be in Special Forces without asking them to fire a single bullet. He takes us to an elite basketball tournament where the best scouts are watching the players who don’t have the ball. He talks to researchers who are reinventing the process of hiring Fortune 500 CEOs.


“Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World” by Tony Wagner

Education expert Tony Wagner provides a powerful rationale in this groundbreaking book for developing an innovation-driven economy. The author explores what parents, teachers, and employers must do to develop the capacities of young people to become innovators. Wagner profiles young American innovators such as Kirk Phelps, product manager for Apple’s first iPhone, and Jodie Wu, who founded a company that builds bicycle-powered maize shellers in Tanzania. Through these profiles, Wagner explores how adults nurtured these young innovators sparking creativity and imaginations while encouraging them to learn and persevere from their failures. Wagner identifies a pattern of play, passion and purpose—a childhood of creative play leads to deep-seated interests, which in adolescence and adulthood blossom into a deeper purpose for career and life goals.


“On Becoming a Leader” by Warren Bennis

Warren Bennis has for years persuasively argued that leaders are not born, they are made. The author, deemed “the dean of leadership gurus” by Forbes magazine, explores in this new edition the qualities that define leadership, the people who exemplify it, and the strategies that anyone can apply to achieve it. His classic work “On Becoming a Leader” has served as a source of essential insight for countless readers. In a world increasingly defined by turbulence and uncertainty, the call to leadership is more urgent than ever.



“World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students” by Yong Zhao

Zhao advocates that to succeed in the global economy, students need to think like entrepreneurs. The author unlocks the secrets to cultivating independent thinkers who can create jobs and contribute positively to the globalized society.



“The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive: A Leadership Fable” by Patrick Lencioni

Lencioni offers another leadership fable in this follow-up to “The Five Temptations of a CEO” that's as compelling and illuminating as its predecessor. Lencioni's focus is on a leader's crucial role in building a healthy organization—an often-overlooked essential element of business life that is important to sustained success. Readers are treated to a story of corporate intrigue as the frustrated head of one consulting firm faces a leadership challenge so great that it threatens to topple his company, his career, and everything he holds true about leadership itself. In the story's telling, Lencioni reveals four important key disciplines used to create organizational health.




“The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy” by Jon Gordon

Jon Gordon reveals the 10 secrets for approaching life and work with the kind of positive, forward thinking that leads to true accomplishment - at work and at home.The author infuses this engaging story with keen insights as he provides a powerful roadmap to bring out the best in yourself and your team through overcoming adversity.


“Millennial Momentum: How a New Generation Is Remaking America” by Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais

Winograd and Hais advocate that about every eight decades, coincident with the most stressful and perilous events in U.S. history, a new, positive, accomplished, and group-oriented “civic generation” emerges to change the course of history and remake America. The Millennial Generation (born 1982–2003) is America’s newest civic generation.

In their 2008 book “Millennial Makeover” Winograd and Hais made the argument that the Millennial Generation would change American politics for good. Later that year, participation from young voters helped to launch Barack Obama into the White House.
Now, in Millennial Momentum, Winograd and Hais investigate how the beliefs and practices of the Millennials are transforming other areas of American culture. The authors advocate that the Millennials’ cooperative ethic and can-do spirit are likely to continue to reshape American values for decades to come.


“Taking People With You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen” by David Novak 

Yum! Brands CEO David Novak learned long ago that you can’t lead a great organization of any size without getting your people aligned, enthusiastic, and focused relentlessly on the mission. But how do you do that? There are countless leadership books, but how many will actually help a restaurant shift manager, a Fortune 500 CEO, a new entrepreneur, or anyone in between?

Over his 15 years at Yum! Brands, Novak developed a trademarked program—Taking People with You—that he personally teaches to thousands of managers around the world. He shows them how to make big things happen by getting people on their side. No skill in business is more important. And, Yum!’s extraordinary success (at least 13 percent growth for each of the last 10 years) proves his point.

Novak knows that managers don’t need leadership platitudes or business school theories. So he cuts right to the chase with a step-by-step guide to setting big goals, building strong teams, accelerating past your targets, and celebrating after you shock the skeptics. And, then doing it again and again until consistent excellence becomes a core element of your culture.


**Summaries adapted from by Joseph M. Crozier,
Grant Wood AEA, 2/7/13.


The book covers are reproduced with the following permissions:

John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Penguin Group (USA)

Rutgers University Press

Sage Publications

Simon & Schuster, Inc.

The Good to Great Project, LLC - Office of Jim Collins

The Perseus Books Group


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