Being A Better Leader

I really enjoy reading about leadership and other business related topics. A book I found very helpful towards FIRST was Tribal Leadership. I read this back in 2008 and used it with help of other mentors on 33. I think the principles really helped us turn the corner relative to Chairman’s. Logan and King researched many organizations and modeled them as tribes with 5 levels of intereaction. Here is a TED talk that briefly covers the subject. Zappos found the book so influential, that they sponsor the Audio version so you can download it for free here.

Ironically, IMO, the 2008 through 2010 time period was when FIRST HQ went from a Stage 5 culture and regressed back to a Stage 4 culture as an organization. I will say with new leadership FIRST appears to be more of a Stage 5.


Another book Jim Z recommended that I enjoyed was Influencer.
This book can help explain why when trying to change culture, we often fail. It says in order to change culture, you need to address 6 areas whereas we often only hit 3 or 4 of the 6 areas. The 6 areas are really a 2x3 matrix of Ability and Motivation crossed with Personal, Social, and Structural. As engineer’s we may often work on the structural aspects without addressing personal and social motivations. Take scouting for instance:
Frequently someone on the team ends up making some sort of scouting sheet/system/database and then trains students on it, but then it fails because the students do not have personal and social motivations. When i was with 33, we addressed this by making the Scouting lead a key and respected position. The scouting team was always congratulated when they did the work and created a great pick list. These created social as well as personal motivations, and the kids prided themselves on improving their abilities. Other teams have used betting systems as a structural solution to the personal motivation issue. This motivation then incentivized the students to improve their personal abilities.

I think this book is incredibly important because without understanding the 6 areas, you can put in a lot of work to develop a new documentation system, but the team just won’t buy into it until you connect it on the personal and social levels.

There are a ton of other great books out there, but if you exercise these two, I think you will find a giant increase in your leadership abilities.