Founder Chats: Our 2022 Reading List
Series: From the Desk of Co-Founder, Christina Greenberg
Over the past couple of years, as Edgility has more than quadrupled in size, my business partner and Edgility co-founder Allison Wyatt and I have spent a lot of time reflecting on our roles as business leaders and managers of people and teams. While we have a cadre of close colleagues and advisors that we call on for advice, we have also been leveraging wisdom from a variety of books related to people management and business practices including hiring, managing, marketing, sales, and finance. Here are a few of the books on our list from 2022.
Do you have some favorites that aren’t included below? Send us your recommendations and we can include them in future posts.
Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman
This summer, my cousin, who trains and consults with sales teams, told me this is the #1 book he recommends to clients and colleagues. Gino Wickman shares entrepreneurial secrets, or EOS, to strengthen key components of your business and provides a practical approach to growing organizations. Our leadership team read it this fall and has already started putting several of its systems and practices in place.
The Leadership Pipeline by Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter, and James Noel
Last winter, we revamped the structure of leadership at Edgility, and as such, we had a number of folks building teams and taking on new and expanded responsibilities. This book illustrates how companies can develop leadership throughout an organization and offers a model for planning leadership succession and development. An external colleague, Scott Gaiber, led a training series for our Partners and Associate Partners centered on it, which we found incredibly helpful as we thought through our new roles.
Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager’s Guide to Getting Results by Alison Green and Jerry Hauser
Alison Green and Jerry Hauser teach nonprofit managers the fundamental skills of management with a clear guide to the most effective management skills in this incredibly useful book. Quite a few of our staff participated in the Management Center’s two-day online training series of the same name. Although the book is targeted at nonprofit leaders, the principles outlined in it are relevant to all businesses and are particularly aligned with our work as a social venture that centers equity and inclusion in our values.
The Service Profit Chain by James Heskett, W. Earl Sasser, Jr., and Leonard A. Schlesinger
As Allison and I were trying to sort out the ways in which customer and employee engagement (and longevity) could be utilized as a way to evaluate Edgility’s health, one of our business coaches recommended The Service Profit Chain at just the right time. This path-breaking book, written by world-renowned Harvard Business School service firm experts, helped us reframe what we thought of as “profit” to be something we look at over the long term versus a more limited short-term view with case studies from some of the world’s most successful companies including American Express, Southwest Airlines, and Ritz-Carlton Hotels.
Who: The A Method of Hiring by Geoff Smart and Randy Street
As a talent-focused business, how we screen and help clients hire people is a core function of our service offering. In this book, Geoff Smart and Randy Street provide a simple four-step framework for evaluating candidates based on their demonstrated track record and experiences instead of who they might be, hypothetically, as leaders. Our recruitment team leverages these principles regularly as we design and carry out different elements of our search screening process.
Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading by Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky
Edgility Associate Partner, Ron Rapatalo and I recently reminisced about our introduction to Heifetz’s work, which came more than 15 years ago when we both worked at New Leaders. Though it was released in 2002, the ideas are evergreen, and I picked it up again this year to refresh my understanding. Leadership on the Line shares personal stories from leaders from all walks of life and provides tools to navigate “the perilous straits of leadership”. A definite highlight: the concept of adaptive vs. technical leadership is one that needs to be forefront in any leader’s mind, for themself and as they mentor others.
Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into A Sales Machine with the $100 Million Best Practices of Salesforce.com by Aaron Ross and Marylou Taylor
Sales can feel like a dirty word, especially to many folks from the mission-driven sector. And yet, it is the engine that fuels our ability to support our clients in having a transformational social impact. This “sales bible” will help you learn how to meet financial goals without constant focus and attention. Learning from these authors about how to increase the effectiveness of outbound sales without relying heavily on cold leads or other mass marketing strategies has been informative for us as we develop our sales function.
Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message so Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller
For an organization like ours, in order to spread awareness of the work we do, we need to be able to tell a compelling story about our process and impact. Then we can connect that back to our broader brand. New York Times best-selling author, Donald Miller’s process has helped many companies engage with customers to give them a powerful advantage. Building a StoryBrand helps leaders like us frame what we do and how we do it in a way that our key audience can understand.
Professional Services Marketing: How the Best Firms Build Premier Brands, Thriving Lead Generation Engines, and Cultures of Business Development Success by Mike Schultz, John E. Doerr, and Lee W. Frederiksen, Ph.D.
Professional Services Marketing uses insight from successful consulting firms to provide a research-based approach to marketing and client development for professional services firms like ours. It covers critical strategies for creating a marketing and growth strategy to establish a brand, attract leads and win contracts. It has particularly helped us think about how to organize and staff our sales and marketing team to get the best results.
Financial Intelligence Set: What You Need to Know to Succeed by Harvard Business Review
This 5-item collection from Edgility favorite, HBR, includes Data Analytics Basics for Managers, Finance Basics for Managers and Financial Intelligence: A Manager’s Guide to What the Numbers Really Mean. It is a great set of practical, easy-to-understand resources for anyone responsible for a bottom line to build their finance and data analytics muscle and arms managers with strategies for improving their company’s financial performance.