Friday, December 28, 2012

book learnings from 2012 (part 1)

this post begins my summary of learnings from these books i read this year in the order that i read them.
so today's post will be about the books i read in the 1st quarter of 2012. January - March.
& btw, every single one of these books were required reading for a spring semester class. that's how i started off the year reading - no books i chose on my own. :(

The Leader as Communicator: Strategies and Tactics to Build Loyalty, Focus Effort, and Spark Creativity - Robert Mai/ Alan Akerson     3*s
This book lays out 10 roles every leader needs to play in order to be effective. if a leader isn't playing one of these roles then the org loses out. didn't quite buy into all of it... not that i disagreed, but haven't really looked back on this one all that much. it was required for one of my leadership classes. there were some cool Evaluation tools in the book that different orgs utilized. 1 org even wrapped their peer evaluations in wrapping paper as a GIFT! because that's how peer-to-peer evals were viewed in that org culture. that's pretty cool.

The Leader's Voice: How Communication Can Inspire Action - Boyd Clark/ Ron Crossland     3*s
This was a really enjoyable book to read. it was full of great stories that were meant to inspire leaders  to throw out big vision effectively & in ways that it connects with followers. & the simple KEY to doing this is to communicate with FACTS, EMOTIONS, and SYMBOLS. most leaders don't work with all 3 because the overlook the importance of 1 or 2 of them. but it's vital because our brains are actually wired to work & think in all 3 modes simultaneously. a very creatively written book & enjoyable read.

Organizational Culture and Leadership - Edgar Schein     4.5*s
This was an incredible book. Every leader of an org should read this one. but 1st a warning - it is a VERY technical book. NOT a fun or exciting read at all... except it's fun and exciting to learn this stuff... but this Schein joker is as boring as it gets.
organizational culture is pretty much the buzz these days in leadership... or it's becoming all the rage. & RIGHTLY so because i agree with Schein = “Culture creation, culture evolution, and culture management are what ultimately define leadership. 
& THIS is the book that started it all. this is the original on organizational culture. from the head of the department at the famed MIT... this is as original & technical as it gets. foundational. great stuff.

Direct Hit - Paul Borden     1.5*s
not a good book at all. i seriously feel like i could have sat down and written this book last night. elementary stuff. basically about how to lead with vision in a church. i was dogging how elementary it was one day to a classmate & turns out the author is actually a big whig leader of his denomination and consults his church, etc...  woops.

Change is Like a Slinky - Hans Finzel     3*s
good book. very creatively written. like 30 principles of bringing change to an organization. and they ALL relate to a SLINKY. yeah, the little toy. but for real the principles are legit when leading change. very easy & fun read + very practical.

Rediscovering Paul: An Introduction to His World, Letters, and Theology - David B. Capes     4*s
i loved this book. it's the best book yet i've read on Paul in a 
technical sense. it works wonders to help us understand the world & culture of Paul & what he was actually saying when he wrote those awesome letters. 
if we don't understand the time, culture, and world Paul was living in then it's really not possible for us to understand what he was saying. we just read what he wrote with our own contextual lens. this kind of book is paradigm shifting for understanding the epistles of the NT & Paul himself who was a pretty intriguing dude.

Paul the Missionary - Eckhard Schnabel     3*s
This was a really good book about the mission strategy & principles Paul may or may not have employed. it is a MAMMOTH book which almost makes me wanna give it 2*s because i think it was like 600 pages if i remember right. BUT if it were shorter, the quality of the book was so good i would have given it probably 4*s, so we averaged out at 3*s. 
this is a very THOROUGH book. the author wrote pretty much everything there is to know about Paul & Mission. & then he went on to apply all of it in a very relevant and practical way to today. i didn't really agree with all of his application, but thankful for all the research & info & brilliant scholarly insight that got us there. 
(btw, this guy Schnabel is a German NT scholar and 1 of the top guys in the world when it comes to NT mission... like 2 weeks after i had to read his book for a class i saw that he took a position at my seminary to be a prof there instead of chi-town. in fact, he is teaching the class now that i had to read his book for. guess i just missed out.)

Shame and Honor in the Book of Esther - Tim Laniak     3*s
i took this guy's theology of leadership & this was his own book he wrote while he was at Harvard. i'm always slightly skeptical when profs have you buy & read their own book & then write a paper on it, etc... but this one was legit. no doubt. 
Shame & Honor were CENTRAL ideas in the Hebrew culture of that era (the time of Esther) & still central in many parts of the world today. 
i was fascinated by how radically different the story reads when seen through this lens of shame & honor in its original context. one of the most disturbing concepts was that in that culture 2 opposing people cannot be simultaneously honored. 1 must be shamed and the other honored. that's how it had to work. because of this dynamic, the nation of Israel could not have been relieved of their shame UNTIL Haman was executed. pretty harsh. the book didn't seem to flinch at that accepted ethic. i don't want to be culturally insensitive or ethnocentric, but i don't think that's an OK worldview to have... and i said so in my paper.

so, Schein and Capes were the 2 really really good books i read in the 1st 2 months of 2012. next i'll post the next round of takeaways from what i read this year!

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