Good Reads from 2009: Part 1

“I think of life as a good book. The further you get into it, the more it begins to make sense.” – Harold Kushner

In 2009, I made a commitment to read 100 books and keep track of them in LibraryThing.* As my last post of 2009 and my first post in 2010, I’d like to share 10 books that I think were worth the time and money.

While not all of the books are project management specific, their ideas will help you be a better project manager. I’ve grouped the books into two categories.  Books that can help:

  • Improve your Personal Effectiveness
  • Shift your attitude

This week I’ll share the books that can help Improve your Personal Effectiveness. Next week, the books on Attitude. Up first…

Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-making

Over the course of a year, a project manager is dropped into hundreds of situations where they are expected to facilitate. If you’re like me, no one ever explained what a good facilitator does or how they get groups to respond positively. The following book is an excellent place to learn how and why a project manager needs to be a good facilitator.

Key Quote:
“The facilitator’s job is to support everyone to do their best thinking. To do this, the facilitator encourages full participation, promotes mutual understanding and cultivates shared responsibility. By supporting everyone to do their best thinking, a facilitator enables group members to search for inclusive solutions and build sustainable agreements.”

Advantages to Owning this Book:
Great reference to use to refresh your memory or prepare for meetings and workshops.  It leans hard on the “how-to” steps and building blocks to hold meetings and facilitate teams of all sizes.

Why is this a good buy for a PM?
Because PM’s live in meetings where we need people to do their best thinking and develop solutions.

Good in a Room

I checked this book out of the library based on a recommendation and within 17 pages knew that I needed to buy the book. The advice on how to put together a pitch and sell yourself before and during an interview were very helpful.

Key Quote:
“It happens all the time. The ideas, products and services that are pitched more effectively win. That’s jut how the game is played. No sense getting upset over it. Instead, let’s accept the challenge and learn the strategies and tactics that will allow us and our ideas to succeed.”

Advantages to Owning this Book:
Owning the book makes it easier to walk through the steps of developing a pitch whenever you have to prepare for an interview or a presentation.

Why is this a good buy for a PM?
Because PM’s need to be able to pitch their ideas to others and get their buy-in.

Making Sense of Leadership

This book opened my eyes to see potential areas of growth and gave tips on how to improve.  This book explains that leaders can have very different styles and still be effective.

Key Quote:
“Leaders don’t all have to be highly dominant people; they don’t all have to be interpersonal wizards. It’s not essential for all leaders to be electrifying speakers and leading-edge thinkers.  Neither is it essential for every single leader to be superbly organized…but it does help to be at least some of these things. And leaders have to learn to develop the right mix of role to match their personality, the organizational situation and the people around them.”

Advantages to Owning this Book:
The authors provide detailed descriptions of each leadership style and advice on how to incorporate aspects of each style into your daily behavior. A good book to reference.

Why is this a good buy for a PM?
Because PMs should understand their primary leadership style and how to use aspects of other styles to be effective.

The Randori Principles

I love books that claim to align eastern philosophy with leadership principles.   At a minimum, I’ll pick them up and look at the first few pages. The Randori Principles takes the principles of aikido and provides solid advice on how to be a better leader.

Key Quote:
“A leader must also develop an ability to choose the right approach, with the right timing, and the appropriate use of power.  Leadership should not rely on using a cookie-cutter approach to this fast-changing global business situation. Good judgment, part of which we call randori, is as valuable as core leadership skills.”

Advantage to Owning this Book:
This is not a book to be read once and put down. This has made it to my list of books that need to be reread, to learn what I missed before and to refresh my memory. It’s like having a mentor on a shelf.

Why is this a good buy for a PM?
Because learning how to be a better leader should be a constant aspect of your growth plan.


My biggest surprise when reading this book was how many of the tweets within it could provoke serious thought and change to move you out of your comfort zone.

Key Quote:
There are so many good quotes. Here’s #36:
“Who is ONE person that can change who you are for the
better? How can you be an OPPORTUNITY for him/her?

Advantage to Owning this Book:
As you might have noticed, I like to have books around that I can reread to refresh my memory or provoke new thinking. This book is another resource to keep you motivated toward change.

Why is this a good buy for a PM?
Because the brief tweets are short and quick to read, but are useful in reminding you to add value to your team and your network.

Next week I’ll recommend books from 2009 that helped me stay positive throughout the year. Leave a comment, send me a tweet, my id is jgodfrey.

* P.S. As of this post, I have two books left to read, which shouldn’t be a problem with vacation days next week.


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