Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

‘Complete: Leadership Lessons from America’s Favorite Coach’, by Monica Aldama

When the Netflix Documentaries Juig first aired in 2020, it has become (along with Tiger King), one of the big hits of the early pandemic. Juig followed the Navarro College’s Texas cheerleading team in the months leading up to their biggest competition, with drama on and off the mats. The breakaway was his tough but fair coach, Monica Aldama.

The program, which returns for a second series this month, shows Aldama’s experience of getting the best out of the talented teens on her team. In Full, Aldama, an accompanying leadership book and memoir, provides insight into how she approaches her role and manages work and family life.

She’s honest about what she’s wrong with. She and her husband, who met in high school and married straight out of college, found the pressure too much and divorced when their children were young. They are now remarried, and – as Aldama repeatedly emphasizes through anecdotes about her work and her home life – the key to problem solving is good communication.

“You can achieve every aspect of your life when you know how the people around you feel and when you express your own feelings to them. Learning to communicate with Chris made me a better coach, ”she writes.

The book is not going to be a key text for those trying to transform a failed team or business. But it’s an informative read for anyone who wants to know more about Aldama, who originally planned to work on Wall Street (she has a degree in finance and an MBA).

The homemade wisdom can sometimes rasp, but Aldama often makes the same points that obscure finer writers with jargon. “The safer I can make each student as an individual, the better we do as a team,” she writes. Others may call it psychological safety. For Aldama, it’s the way to win trophies.

‘The Wall and the Bridge: Fear and Opportunity in Disruption’s Wake’, by Glenn Hubbard

In this book, Glenn Hubbard’s “walls” are the barriers to change, while the “bridges” are the things that prepare people for participating in a dynamic economy. This preparation – and reconnection – is something he believes we have failed to do together.

Hubbard writes that the book is about “remark” and ideas to address structural disruptive changes that accompany economic progress. Economist Adam Smith – who saw the economy as a moral system, not just a way to generate income – is a central figure in this book.

Much of it focuses on the broader economic and political picture, but former President George W Bush’s former economic adviser does address businesses as bridge builders. For the most part, Hubbard believes that businesses have left the bridge building to local communities and governments. “But businesses can – and should – now help build bridges,” he writes.

Hubbard thinks business now acknowledges this, while also emphasizing that Milton Friedman’s idea that “the business of business is business” does not mean that the only stakeholders worth worrying about are shareholders.

He reminds readers that Friedman does not advocate short-termism; some critics, he says, argue it is the companies themselves that have tended to sacrifice long-term goals, and that one solution is to compensate executives and directors with stock options that cannot be sold until a year or two after they have not left their company.

Given the tight global labor market, its points on worker training – which benefits corporations in the long run by investing in the development of their workers – are timely.

The result is that we all have to build bridges to thrive. Government policy must play a central role, while businesses must invest in its people and communities.

‘Getting Started: Starting to Do Something That Matters’, by Michael Bungay Stanier

Timing is a key component in the success of any new venture, and this is probably why the publication of How to get started – a self-help book on how to get started with a new project – has been penciled in for January, the moment when people are most likely thinking about making something new happen.

This book is a learning guide for those who need motivation to tackle a new “worthy goal,” as author Michael Bungay Stanier puts it.

He writes from personal experience, having successfully created several books and podcasts on his pet topic: coaching. He also founded Box of Crayons, a training company for wannabe coaches.

Bungay Stanier shares a lot How to get started, not least about how he worked through the difficult decision to retire after 20 years as CEO of Box of Crayons.

The book could be a volume from the For Dummies series of practical how-to books. It’s easy to read, with exercises to take your next venture from an idea to a fully formed plan of action.

‘Jerk at Work: Toxic Colleagues and What to Do About Them’, by Tessa West

We have all encountered them at work for a while, but how do we deal with them so that they do not take away all our energy and make life miserable?

Tessa West, a social psychologist who has studied how people communicate for 20 years, charts in her book the different “jerk” personality types, which motivate them to act the way they do, and the research-based strategies that can be used to manage their impact on your work life.

Getting your hands on “jerk” – which she categorizes into personality types such as “credit theft”, “micromanager” and “gaslighter” – is, she writes, a bit like profiling a serial killer. “You have to get in your bullshit’s head to learn what makes them type. How do they choose their victims? How did they avoid capture? Do they have a boss who (secretly) benefits from their behavior? ”

West also denies some myths about periods at work, such as the misconception that only inexperienced people suffer from them. This is wrong, she argues: even the most experienced employees can become victims. The crooks are also not bitter employees with no real abilities – their skill, she writes, is that they are good “social observers”.

Problems with a work ethic “could be the death of a team”, West adds, but her strategies can help anyone reduce the impact of their behavior. There is also a quiz to determine if you are the jerk at work.

‘(It’s Linked: How to Stay Human in an Online World’, by Emma Gannon

Emma Gannon, podcast host and author of The Multi Hyphenation Method, a best-selling book on career building outside mainstream corporate institutions, is an expert in creating a personal brand online. In this short guide, she takes a step beyond that area and suggests ways we can reconnect with each other – and more importantly, with ourselves.

Gannon was raised on the internet and this guide is aimed at her peers, those in their twenties and thirties for whom a life unplugged is unthinkable. She is very well aware of the phenomenon of “overwhelming, of to-do lists, decision-making fatigue, paralysis of choice, of the growing number of applications on our phones and the growing number of pressures placed on us”.

The solution to this, Gannon suggests, is to learn to live better with ourselves – taking breaks from social media and taking our phones and “learning to live less urgently”. She offers incentives and tips to help people disconnect – and reconnect with ourselves and friends. Some are pretty obvious (take yourself out for a day to a museum or cafe), but there are plenty here for the overwhelmed to perform – many of them to slow down and think twice before using call everyone who comes in your inbox or DMs uninvited.

Many of these are aimed at digital natives, but Gannon has an easy writing style, contains many personal anecdotes, and has great advice for readers of any age, including the art of reliving proper conversations. “It’s amazing what happens when you let someone speak fully and do not fight to be heard.”

‘You Coach: How to Overcome Challenges and Take Control of Your Career’, by Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis

The authors of Squiggly career is back with a second installment designed to help us manage the change and uncertainty that come with a modern career. This guide teaches the reader to coach themselves, because one-on-one career coaching can be prohibitively expensive and inaccessible to many.

Tupper and Ellis are both qualified coaches and write that anyone with the right mindset and motivation can practice self-coaching to overcome career challenges.

Chapters explore topics such as time, self-belief and resilience, with each divided into two parts. The first talks about how to improve in that particular area (part one of the chapter on resilience, for example, aims to develop your resilience reserves, even if you are not experiencing a difficult time at the moment). The second explores how to overcome the challenges you may now face.

The book provides a framework that anyone can work with and a brief guide on how to get the most out of it. However, the authors emphasize that “learning to coach yourself is not something you tick off your to-do list. It is a skill that you practice, and, like any skill, the more you practice, the better you become ”.

As careers develop, so will the insights, and Tupper and Ellis recommend returning regularly to the exercises and tools. This is a thorough, practical guide. However, it requires long-term investment from its reader “to keep developing and discovering new opportunities to grow your skills”.

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