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Book Recommendations

Dare to Lead

Dr. Brene Brown has studied vulnerability and leadership for over 20 years. Her research has led to Dare to Lead. The three main lessons from the book are:

  1. To be a daring leader, you need to be vulnerable
  2. Being transparent with your team creates respect
  3. Sharing values builds trust throughout a team

Higher education staff and faculty can benefit from learning from Dr. Brown by being more vulnerable and transparent with our teams and departments while building trust through shared values.

The Leadership Challenge (sixth edition)

This should be the first leadership book in any professional’s library. states the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership(R)--the model that Jim and Barry derived from studying personal-best leadership experiences--continues to prove its validity as a clear, evidence-based path to achieving the extraordinary for individuals, teams, organizations, and communities. Real-life examples of the behaviors that all leaders at all levels demonstrate when they are at their personal best are provided, and the book clearly shows that leadership is not about personality; it's about an observable and learnable set of skills and abilities. The Leadership Challenge, Sixth Edition, turns the abstract concept of leadership into easy-to-grasp actions and behaviors that can be learned by anyone willing to step up and accept the challenge to lead.

Crucial Conversations

Tools for talking when stakes are high

Difficult conversations occur in our professional lives as well as our personal lives. How we communicate during those conversations is critical to getting the message across as well as being heard. This book provides tools to more effectively communicate during difficult conversations.


Crucial Conversations gives you the tools you need to step up to life's most difficult and important conversations, say what's on your mind, and achieve the positive resolutions you want. You'll learn how to:

  • Prepare for high-impact situations with a six-minute mastery technique
  • Make it safe to talk about almost anything
  • Be persuasive, not abrasive
  • Keep listening when others blow up or clam up
  • Turn crucial conversations into the action and results you want

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace

As we think about increasing engagement within our teams, we must put a strong emphasis on motivating our employees which can be a difficult task. The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace can give you insight into individually recognizing your employees, thus contributing to a more engaged workforce.

At work, people express and receive appreciation in different ways. If you try to express appreciation in ways that aren’t meaningful to your co-workers, they may not feel valued at all. This is because you and your co-workers are speaking different languages. In, Dr. Chapman and Dr. White will help you identify the five languages of appreciation in order to:

  1. Express genuine appreciation to co-workers and staff — even on a tight budget.
  2. Increase loyalty with the employees and volunteers in your organization.
  3. Reduce cynicism and create a more positive work environment.
  4. Improve your ability to show appreciation for difficult colleagues.
  5. Convey the language of physical touch in appropriate ways.

The Oz Principle

The Oz Principle defines personal accountability and how one can contribute to the success of an organization through their Steps to Accountability Model: See it; Own It; Solve It; Do It.

This is the first book of three and focuses discussion around the power of personal accountability. This book sets the foundation for the next book in the series, Change the Culture, Change the Game, which addresses how personal and organizational accountability can impact your organizational culture and ultimately help you effectively achieve your goals. The final book in the series is How did that happen? Holding People Accountable for the Results the Positive Principled Way.

While the book was written for the corporate sector, the concepts are easily adaptable for Higher Education and provide the opportunity for engaging discussions with your team.

Change the Culture, Change the Game

ODE recommends Change the Culture, Change the Game (2012) by Connors and Smith. This book is perfect for any organization that is seeking to change their culture in order to get different results. This book demonstrates how to implement a culture of accountability within your organization. You'll discover how to help encourage a shift in thinking to get the game-changing results you want and explore the steps and tools needed to sustain such changes.

It easily applies to education and the concepts can be adopted by teams, departments or entire colleges who are seeking different results. For example, Lone Star College-University Park in Houston, TX utilized the concepts from this book in their effort to increase student graduation rates. Individual teams can also adopt the concepts from the book to increase engagement and personal accountability.

How Did That Happen?

Holding People Accountable for Results the Positive, Principled Way

This book is the third and final book in the accountability series by Connors and Smith. “peels back the onion on achieving sustained accountability." -Jeff Brundage, senior vice president of human resources, American Airlines. In this book, the authors base their tools to increasing accountability on three basic axioms: “the accountability assumption,” “the accountability fallacy,” and “the accountability truth.”

Higher education is often hesitant to have discussions about accountability, However, the three books, beginning with the The Oz Principle followed by Change the Culture, Change the Game and now How Did it Happen, lead us to examine our organizational culture and help provide a framework for discussion, for example on topics like increasing graduation rates, alumni participation, and efficiency in student services.