James Rebanks – Allen Lane, Penguin Books 2020
In this engaging and warm-hearted book, James Rebanks shares his personal history of three generations of small farmers, struggling to maintain long established principles in face of intensification and economic pressure. Through sharing his life-story we learn to appreciate nature and countryside more deeply – and to question the source of our food. Read full review
Leadership as Meaning Making
John Varney – Routledge 2020
This guide to personal development explores the metaphorical relationship between the hero’s journey through unknown worlds (after Joseph Campbell) and the evolutionary principle by which people come to maturity as human beings. It takes a fresh look at leadership as a systemic phenomenon that exists between people, as they engage in meaningful endeavour. Read full review.
The Deep Blue Sea
Wilfred Drath – Jossey-Bass 2004
In this seminal fascinating book, written in 2001, Wilfred Drath explores a nine-fold matrix of the evolution and efficacy of leadership. He explains why the “great leaders”, beloved of the media, are a special and generally outdated brand. He postulates two further kinds of leadership of which relational leadership is most relevant to a complex emerging future.
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The Patterning Instinct
Jeremy Lent – Prometheus Books 2017
This is a superb easy-to-read history of human cultures around the globe from the earliest days until now with glimpses into possible future scenarios. It stimulates an off-world perspective that might help you think afresh about society in our modern era. Strongly recommended. Read full review.
The Systems View of Life
Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi – Cambridge University Press 2016
This book argues convincingly for a change of thinking from the fragmentary reductionism of popular science (what we learned at school) to integrated thinking in terms of systems. We learn how life has evolved and that living systems (including us) have co-evolved through relationship. Failure to grasp this connectedness is leading humanity towards its demise which is countered by proposals for unifying the web of life. Read full review.
Tao of Democracy
Tom Atlee – The writers collective 2003
Tom Atlee is a life-long activist, passionate about finding a better way to engage everyone in true democracy: something very different from what passes for democracy in any country today. He sets out to equip us to be more democratic, introducing the idea of co-intelligence – that collectively we can be more intelligent than any of us can be independently. He describes a multiplicity of tools and techniques that might enable us to manifest the spirit of democracy and enjoy the wisdom of co-intelligence. Read full review.
Finding Earth, Finding Soul – The invisible path to authentic leadership
Tim Macartney – Green Books 2007
Tim Macartney’s book is one man’s testimony to the need for find one’s inner wisdom and to use that to shape your life circumstances to the service of the greater good of the earth. He makes a strong plea for a different way of being and, through his own experience shows how that applies to the work of leadership. Is authenticity anything less than this? Read full review.
Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise
Peter Cook – Bloomsbury 2016
Peter Cook is a talented jazz musician who brings his love of improvisation into his observations of creativity applied in organisations to drive competitive innovation. This well-written and engaging book is full of useful know-how. The narrative is copiously illustrated with anecdotes and mini case-studies that bring the topic to life. As the title states, the book links leadership to enterprise through creativity and innovation; a continuum of fresh thinking that will benefit anyone in organisation and in life. Read full review.
Frederic Laloux – Nelson Parker 2014
Laloux spells out a whole system for understanding the evolution of organisations and describes actual case studies of those he sees as being at the leading edge. Although rather long the book has a wealth of ideas and information of interest to everyone in management today. This is an important book. Read full review.
The Leadership Dance
Richard Knowles – The Center for Self-Organizing Leadership 2002
Knowles was in the right place at the right time and made the most of his opportunities. His book, The Leadership Dance is a goldmine – He provides deep insights into the enneagram. Clearly described methods and supporting frameworks enable the reader to understand a process that worked and thus to have the means to try for themselves. A recommended read. Read full review.
The Search for Leadership
William Tate – Triarchy Press 2009
This book is very important for anyone wanting to understand leadership. In challenging the conventional view that leadership is what great leaders do, William Tate presents a well-argued case for systemic leadership. Read full review.
Man’s Search for Meaning
Viktor Frankl – Random House Group 2004
“Man’s search for meaning” is one of those must-read books and has been around fifty years. In spite of frequently coming across references to the book, I confess I had not read it until quite recently. It is an excellent read and says much about the difference between what we might crudely classify as winners and losers. It has a strong bearing on how organisations can be instrumental in helping people find meaning and fulfilment. Read full review.