The U.S. economy is back on its feet, with unemployment dropping (down to 6.3% in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) and consumer spending rising steadily. And business management publishers appear to have experienced a parallel recovery. Hollis Heimbouch, v-p and publisher, Harper Business, says, “The business category has strengthened as the job market and the economy in general have stabilized after the 2008 economic crisis. The appetite for all manner of business insights and business narratives is growing again.”
While a few years ago, in a weaker market, publishers of business management books were offering advice on how to negotiate uncertain terrain, these days they seem to be once again operating on the more traditional principles that businesses need strong leaders, and there’s a new focus on advice for those at the helm.
One example: Later this month, Oxford University Press will publish The Virtues of Leadership: Contemporary Challenges for Global Managers by Armenio Rego, Miguel Pina e Cunha, and Stewart R. Clegg. The $29.95 paperback covers the key qualities that leaders need and also explores corporate responsibility and the role of multinational companies.
In November, AMACOM will publish The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership: Classical Wisdom for Modern Leaders by Michael A. Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas. In October, the same press will offer Primal Teams: Harnessing the Power of Emotions to Fuel Extraordinary Performance by Jacqueline A. Barretta.
In October, Crown Business will publish Take Command: Lessons in Leadership: How to Be a First Responder in Business by Jake Wood, founder and CEO of Team Rubicon and a former U.S. Marine who applies leadership lessons learned on the front lines to the perhaps less physically risky work of running a company. Team Rubicon has a popular blog and more than 50,000 Facebook and Twitter followers.
Erika Heilman, cofounder and publisher of Bibliomotion, says, “The most prevalent theme we’re seeing is the need for businesses to respond to the voices and desires of their customers, partners, and employees. In The Social Leader: Redefining Leadership for the Complex Social Age (Sept.), authors Frank Guglielmo and Sudhanshu Palsule discuss the new structure of organizations where ‘everyone has a megaphone,’ helping leaders build competencies to address that; their approach is based much more on the style of a constituency-building mayor than a command-and-control general. Tracy Brower, in her book Bring Work to Life by Bringing Life to Work (Sept.), addresses the growing voice of the employee who is juggling the demands of work with life and not often gracefully. She urges leaders and HR and OD specialists to move beyond the myth of work/life balance and instead construct creative solutions with employees, so that the line between work and life is more fluid, resulting in more engagement and higher productivity. Perhaps the group with the most prominent voice is the Millennial crowd, which Lee Caraher tackles head-on in Millennials & Management: How to Make It Work at Work (Oct.). The fresh take in this book is that she does not degrade one group or pit one generation against another, but rather advocates for co-creating a middle place that, in her experience, can translate into a vibrant, successful workplace rather than one rife with frustration and resentment.”
In other trends, Heilman points to Rob Sher’s Mighty Midsized Company: How to Overcome 7 Silent Growth Killers (Sept.) and The Conscience Economy: How a Mass Movement for Good Is Great for Business by Steven Overman (Oct.) She says the latter “shines a light on how businesses and consumers are adjusting everything from supply-chain decisions to purchasing decisions en masse for positive social impact, a trend that used to be in the margins and has now moved to the mainstream, enough so to redefine our global economy going forward.”
Millennials (expected to comprise close to half the workforce by the year 2020) in leadership positions are also targeted by a September Harper Business title, Becoming the Boss. Author Lindsey Pollak (who reached out to the same generation in Getting from College to Career, now in its second edition) guides new leaders and explains the results of recent demographic, economic, and technological shifts. The same house’s October title Rookie Smarts by Liz Wiseman explores the differences in attitude and performance between workplace rookies and veterans based on a survey of more than 1,300 professionals. Wiseman, author of Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter (Harper Business, 2010), a Wall Street Journal bestseller, claims that lack of experience can sometimes be a plus.
In January, SelectBooks/Midpoint published the latest from Alan C. Fox: People Tools: 54 Strategies for Building Relationships, Creating Joy, and Embracing Prosperity. The title landed on the New York Times, USA Today, and PW bestseller lists. In October, the house will publish a business-focused take on the topic: People Tools for Business: 50 Strategies for Building Success, Creating Wealth, and Finding Happiness. SelectBooks publisher Kenzi Sugihara says, “SelectBooks quickly identified the series potential for People Tools. The concise ‘tools’ presentation with the author’s unique ability to write a large number of witty and meaningful anecdotes made this decision easy. Deciding the topic for the next title was also simple. While Alan is a man of a broad range of accomplishments, his most spectacular success has been in the business world. People Tools for Business uses the same formula of direct simplicity that delivered success to the first People Tools book.” People Tools for Relationships and People Tools for Parenting are in the works for 2015 and 2016, respectively.
Bosses trying to elicit creativity from their workers will turn to Creativity on Demand: How to Ignite and Sustain the Fire of Genius, due in September from Sounds True. Author Michael J. Gelb published How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci (Delacorte) in 1998; that title was translated into 25 languages and appeared on the Washington Post, New York Times, and Amazon bestseller lists. Creativity on Demand includes exercises that rely on the principles of QiGong to stoke the fires of creativity. Sounds True editor Jennifer Holder says, “Just as in life, in business people are coming around to the fact that we can’t ignore the body and its role in our performance. The standing-desk craze points to this—everything begins in the body, especially creative and out-of-the-box solutions or innovations. Gelb’s new book is so revolutionary and forward-thinking because hardly anyone else in business is even considering one simple fact that Eastern sages have tested and proven over thousands of years: success in any endeavor begins with cultivating physical energy.”
In last month’s $25 hardcover Elevate: The Three Disciplines of Advanced Strategic Thinking (Wiley), author Rich Horwath, president and CEO of the Strategic Thinking Institute, provides tools and advice that executives can use to give their companies a competitive advantage and lift themselves above the fray.
In October, Gotham Books will publish Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message by Tara Mohr, designed to help women—including, but not limited to, female executives—make their voices heard as a means to achieving their goals.
In February, Viking published the first book from longtime business blogger Megan McArdle: The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success, which argues that mistakes are always the first steps toward success. In June, Little, Brown will publish Rock Breaks Scissors: A Practical Guide to Outguessing and Outwitting Almost Everybody by William Poundstone, whose previous titles include Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?, How Would You Move Mount Fuji?, and Fortune’s Formula.
Da Capo Press senior editor Dan Ambrosio says, “As a general trade publishing house, we’re not limited in what we publish on business, management, and leadership. We don’t have to focus on what the folks at Wharton are discussing. Readers today seem to be seeking out more practical, down-to-earth advice from top thought leaders who can guide them to take control of their careers and communicate more effectively in the workplace. Both The Power of Positive Confrontation: The Skills You Need to Handle Conflicts at Work, at Home, Online, and in Life (July) by Barbara Pachter, a popular communications expert, and James Canton’s Future Smart: Managing the Game-Changing Trends That Will Transform Your World (Feb.), written by a global futurist pinpointing the most vital trends in the workplace, technology, health, and the economy over the next three decades and beyond, fall in that category.”
Electronic and Digital Impact
The digital world continues to intersect with the business world in multiple ways, with employees at businesses large and small expected to understand everything from social media to nitty-gritty computer technology and companies in the computer field often breaking ground in terms of corporate culture.
John C. Martin, editor at Sound Wisdom, says, “As the growing digital economy gives life to a competitive, evolving workforce, the solitary entrepreneur must quickly find an edge to be successful. The continued development of information technology has resulted in enormous amounts of available knowledge and tools. A professional will learn how to cut through the distractions, embrace new perspectives, and find motivation to give direct value. At Sound Wisdom, among other mediums, including audio and video, we offer business books that not only educate and inform, but also motivate and inspire. The latter two ideas are becoming an increasingly important part of leadership strategies among the workforce of the digital economy.” Sound Wisdom’s latest release is Shift Your Brilliance, by Simon T. Bailey (April).
Jeff Sutherland’s Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time (Crown Business, Sept.) explains how to use the project management tool of the same name (the moniker derives from a rugby formation in which the entire team locks arms to gain control of the ball). Sutherland is the co-creator of Scrum, which typically doubles productivity of businesses that employ it, and this is the first book on the tool for a general audience.
In Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Business (Harper Business, Sept.), Shane Snow traces the way successful companies often innovate by following the thinking of computer hackers, identifying unconventional approaches—the titular “smartcuts”—that allow them to leap-frog ahead of others while still remaining ethical.
Bibliomotion is launching its Insights Lab series in November with Search: How the Data Explosion Governs What We Think and Do by Stefan Weitz, director of search at Bing/Microsoft. Bibliomotion’s Heilman reports that the title “examines the story of search and how it has moved at warp speed to categorize and personalize data in ways that most of us don’t see coming. Every one of us can relate to being swayed to action or thought by search results, and this book explores the long-term implications of that.”
Answering to a Higher Authority
When looking for guidance from successful leaders, it makes sense to examine the practices of the man who runs what is widely assumed to be the wealthiest institution in the world—the Catholic Church. In September, AMACOM will publish Lead With Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis by Jeffrey A. Krames. AMACOM senior editor Stephen Power deems the title “the rare book where every element is ideal. The author, who’s written successful books on Jack Welch and Donald Rumsfeld, knows exactly how to pull out the most useful lessons from the Pope’s thoughts and actions. The subject, the Pope, is demonstrating the type of leadership everyone dreams of: kind, helpful, and meaningful, not just concerned with those at the top. On top of that, there’s enormous foreign rights potential, given the success abroad of books by Jeffrey and about Pope Francis.”
In other religion-related business management offerings, in February Bethany House published Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches, and in November it will issue the paperback of The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters by Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, which sold 30,000 copies in hardcover.
Andy McGuire, acquisitions editor of Bethany House, says, “Each of these titles come at leadership in an unusual way. The Conviction to Lead isn’t about management or even specific leadership strategies as much as it is about the attitudes of the head and the heart that go into making a good leader—namely, having passionate beliefs that transform the culture of an organization and withstand pressure from without and within. Somewhat similarly, Mission Drift, by Peter Greer and Chris Horst, is also about creating a culture. The authors studied numerous organizations—focusing particularly on Christian ones—to better understand what made some of them drift from their original missions and others remain ‘mission true.’ The book focuses on being diligent and withstanding the pressure every organization faces to conform to what others want it to be.”
Put Me In, Coach!
Sports are almost by definition competitive, so it should come as no surprise that the world of sports and coaching is having impact on the business management category—and vice versa. In July, Gotham Books will publish The Leadership Playbook: Creating a Coaching Culture to Build Winning Business Teams by Nathan Jamail. Lauren Marino, v-p, editorial director of Gotham, says, “The Leadership Playbook lays out the difference between leaders who ‘manage’ and leaders who ‘coach’ and says that the time and energy invested in coaching employees rather than just managing them is the difference between success and failure for a company. Jamail has been a top consultant to Fortune 500 companies and has turned them around. His self-published books on sales leadership have sold over 70,000 copies, all through his own efforts.”
According to Oxford University Press senior acquisitions editor Ann West, The Sports Strategist: Developing Leaders for a High-Performance Industry (Sept.) by Irving Rein, Ben Shields, and Adam Grossman, “provides insights about critical determinants of success for a sports organization—things like designing an identity, mastering new technologies, developing public support, and effectively managing crises. How do you account for the passionate fan loyalty to the Boston Red Sox during their long World Series drought? Credit (at least partly) Red Sox management’s respect for its customer base and their ability to build an enduring brand on the history and mystique of the Red Sox experience.”
Christian Purdy, director of publicity at Oxford, reports that the three authors of The Sports Strategist are “plugged in to the sports communities” and will have a strong social media presence, and that author Grossman recently wrote a blog post about erstwhile Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling that led to an interview on NPR’s All Things Considered. Purdy notes, “There is no lack of opportunity to tie this book into events that affect the various sports communities and their many owners, managers, players, and fans.”