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Lessons learned in developing
Leaders Without Limits

After over 15 years of developing Leaders Without Limits, it’s time to share some of the big lessons we’ve learned and a few of our favorite leadership resources. Our hope is that you’ll find some inspiration and new ideas to take your leadership to the next level.
    
Rebecca Zucker | Next Step PartnersRebecca Zucker
San Francisco
Mindset
Carol Dweck
This book shares research findings and illustrates applications of the growth versus fixed mindsets in many different contexts: business, leadership, sports, academics, parenting—every parent, manager and leader should read this book. If I could only recommend one book to all of my clients, this would be it.
Shari Cohen | Next Step PartnersShari Cohen
New York
Predictable Success
Les McKeown
This book has been very influential for me and for clients in crystalizing the ways in which organizational stages of development intersect with individual leader growth. It is evocative and easy to understand. Once you have looked at your organization through this frame, you can better understand what you are really facing as a leader and how to move ahead.
Michael Melcher | Next Step PartnersMichael Melcher
New York
Coaching Across Cultures
Philippe Rosinski
Instead of describing (or caricaturing) specific cultures, Rosinki lists a number of choices that cultures make around thinking, doing and being, and then examines how these show up – for instance "business before relationship" vs "relationship before business," or "I control my destiny" vs. "life is something that happens to me." These give the reader a set of variables to examine in any cultural context to demystify what might be at play.
Melissa Karz | Next Step PartnersMelissa Karz
Los Angeles
Confidence Code
Katy Kay + Claire Shipman
I love the way that the authors break down the meaning and importance of confidence. They outline how women often don’t project confidence until they feel fully competent and how that works against them. Also, how their self-doubt and dwelling on past mistakes can be paralyzing and unproductive. The authors stress the importance of giving yourself permission to make mistakes and fail, realizing that these are breakdowns on the way to breakthroughs! Most importantly, they share how to achieve confidence!
Heather Corcoran | Next Step PartnersHeather Corcoran
San Francisco
Individual Directions Inventory
Management Research Group
Developed over 30 years, this assessment provides a nuanced insight that helps people see clearly where they derive their greatest energy and what depletes them. In addition, it is a good companion to any leadership competency tool because it indicates the behaviors that are consistent with a leader’s emotional goals and, therefore, easier to develop, and those that are more of a stretch.
Jordan Stark | Next Step PartnersJordan Stark
San Francisco
Immunity to Change
Robert Kegan + Lisa Lahey
I use this book, written by two Harvard professors, with all of my clients. It explains how beliefs and assumptions can keep people locked into old behavioral patterns, even when they are highly motivated to change, and lays out their methodology for helping leaders make these important shifts. I suggest reading the introduction and chapters 2, 5 and 9 which explain how to identify your own anti-change “immune system” and provide lots of real-life, helpful examples.
Loren Margolis | Next Step PartnersLoren Margolis
New York
Triggers
Marshall Goldsmith
This practical book examines both the environmental and psychological triggers that can derail a leader's effectiveness. The premise is that our thought processes and reactions to events don't occur in a vacuum, but rather are a result of habit and unnoticed triggers. I use this book with coaching clients as a practical resource for understanding their source of triggers and to develop greater self-awareness and mindfulness in responding to stressors. It combines emotional intelligence, mindfulness and a straightforward approach that helps clients enact meaningful change.
Hanna Hart | Next Step PartnersHanna Hart
San Francisco
FYI For Your Improvement
Lombardo and Eichinger | Korn Ferry
This handy reference guide to leadership competencies is structured in a very user-friendly way to help identify and target specific behaviors. You can look at a cluster of competencies that relate to a larger context and pinpoint the area of breakdown. They also provide helpful suggestions for on-the-job practice. It's a great resource for coaches to use with clients and also for clients to use as a development resource with their teams.
Kimberly Togman | Next Step PartnersKimberly Togman
Philadelphia
HBR's 10 Must Reads on Emotional Intelligence
Articles by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, Annie McKee and others
The starting point for any leader looking to grow and develop is awareness. Emotional intelligence is a set of competencies around awareness and management of oneself and others. Articles selected include classics like Goleman’s "What Makes A Leader" and "Leadership That Gets Results", and Goleman, Boyatzis, and McKee's Primal Leadership. The 10 articles, together, provide a well-rounded education on what makes emotional intelligence mission critical, and tactics for developing the reader's own competence.
Terra Winston | Next Step PartnersTerra Winston
Chicago
Hogan Leadership Forecast Series
Hogan
The Hogan Leadership assessment gives leaders a unique view of themselves. It shares how they "may" be perceived by others based on survey responses. This makes it easier for them to overcome resistance to some of the feedback and process the information thinking about the impact that they have on others. Each part of the series provides valuable insight to help improve performance, make career decisions and increase overall life fulfillment.
Anne Moellering | Next Step PartnersAnne Moellering
San Francisco
The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership
Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman and Kaley Klemp
If there's only one book I recommend to the leaders I coach, especially founders in Silicon Valley, it's this one. Why? Because it's essentially a "best of" anthology of the world's foremost leadership theories, all wrapped in methods for leading in a SUSTAINABLE (read non-burn-out) way. In it, you'll find they key nuggets from other fantastic reads ranging from Carol Dweck's Mindset, Bob Kegan and Lisa Lahey's Immunity to Change and Gay Hendrick's The Big Leap. You'll also learn ways to build play, mindfulness and productivity practices into your world so that you stay engaged, positive and healthy as you grow yourself and your company. Priceless.
Michael Dolan | Next Step PartnersMichael Dolan
San Francisco
The 9 Types of Leadership
Beatrice Chestnut
As a practitioner of the Enneagram, I've been finding myself handing this book to leadership coaching clients lately. The Enneagram is an ancient system of understanding personality type and development paths which has been brought back into the mainstream in the past couple of decades. While there is a lot of complexity to understanding the Enneagram, Bea does a great job of translating the themes and development ideas for each type for a business-minded audience. Great for getting an initial understanding of your type, what might be under the surface driving your behavior, feelings, and thought process, and how to grow as a leader.
Kate Neville | Next Step PartnersKate Neville
Washington DC
Difficult Conversations | How to Discuss What Matters Most
Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen, and Roger Fisher
The gurus behind "Getting To Yes" expand their concepts to provide guidance on how to initiate and conduct effective conversations that help clients distinguish between accomplishing their goals and being right. They demonstrate how to use Emotional Intelligence tools and ask clarification questions to get to the heart of the issue in ways that are useful in providing and accepting feedback, dealing wtih challenging colleagues and supervisors, and reframing perspectives on problems throughout an organization.
Agnès Le| Next Step PartnersAgnès Le
San Francisco
The Relationship Cure
John Gottman + Joan DeClaire
Based on his 20 years of research on relationships, Gottman reveals the key elements of healthy relationships, emphasizing the importance of what he calls “emotional connection" and introduces the powerful new concept of the emotional “bid,” and “turning toward, away from, and against.” I use this concept in my work with clients when it comes to crucial conversations, helping them to pay attention to the emotional connection level in addition to the content level of a problem/situation.
Duncan Drechsel | Next Step PartnersDuncan Drechsel
San Francisco
Know Yourself Forget Yourself
Marc Lesser
As we move through life as leaders, managers and parents, we face many contradictions. Our mindset determines how we ultimately work with or against these paradoxes. Lesser brings his life experience as a CEO (currently of Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute), Zen priest, father, husband and son to present five core truths that we all face as leaders. This book is a favorite of my clients because it reframes the way we understand and navigate the conflicts and paradoxes of being in relationship, how we engage our work, and how we are present in our everyday life.
Jennifer Chow Bevan | Next Step PartnersJennifer Chow Bevan
Los Angeles
The Trusted Advisor
David Maister
While written for client service professionals, this really is a leadership book. Leadership in its essence is about building trust and having impact and Maister's book very simply breaks down the components of both as well behaviors that diminish each. He talks about building relationships through deep connections and active listening as ways to build trust, while having too much self-orientation (or me-focus) diminishes that trust. I often share with clients Maister's "trust equation" to help raise awareness of their own behaviors and develop the skills to deepen connections and build influence.
Jill Fahlgren | Next Step PartnersJill Fahlgren
Chicago
Crucial Conversations
Kerry Patterson + Joseph Grenny
Wondering how to stay calm and focused in a conversation when the stakes are high? This is a helpful guide for getting the outcome you want in important and difficult conversations. I’ve used what I learned in this book in both my career and my personal life. It helped me transform how I am able to show up in conversations and leave feeling good about the outcome.
Natalie Shelpuk | Next Step PartnersNatalie Shelpuk
Princeton
MBTI Step III
Meyers+Briggs Foundation
Unlike the tool that many experience in team-building events, the MBTI® Step III™ is private and deeply focused on development. By eliciting how effectively an individual uses perception and judgment, it cracks open resistance to deep-seated and unhelpful patterns. Insight comes from an individual’s reported responses and deep coaching dialog, not observations by others (and how fascinating when they match….). It helps shift perspective and release the motivational energy needed to address blind spots.
Lisa Blosser | Next Step PartnersLisa Blosser
San Francisco
Reinventing Organizations
Frederic Laloux
Are we on the verge of new ways of working together and building organizations of the future? Ones that are more uplifting, human-centered, soulful and fulfilling? At the core of his research, Laloux asks: "If we continue to yearn for more, are there radically better ways to be in organizations?" He begins by taking us through each evolutionary stage transition, up until today's emerging paradigms. Teams and organizations can "find themselves" in his desciriptions and consider the advantages and limitations of their current stage. If you've ever wondered why organizations are arranged the way they are, or questioned whether or not there are other systems that might work better ... this book will give you some rich food for thought.
Kully Jaswal | Next Step PartnersKully Jaswal
New York
7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Stephen Covey
Stephen Covey shares his seven success principles that apply to business, sports and life in general. The book provides a practical and solid framework for personal, professional, and family success. My clients can use the workbook and apply the 7 habits to everyday challenges to create new habits that enable greater success and more productivtiy / overall effectiveness.
Sarah Stamboulie | Next Step PartnersSarah Stamboulie
New York
The New Job Security | The 5 Best Strategies for Taking Control of Your Career
Pam Lassiter
In The New Job Security, Pam Lassiter doesn't claim that we can inoculate ourselves against ever losing our job, but she does show us five steps we can take to insure our career. People with "career insurance" don't worry too much if they lose a particular job or client, as they are confident that they have 1.) the skills and qualities employers are looking for, and 2.) an abundance of good will and respect within their industry. This book has played a key part in my clients' journeys to real job security.
Marie-Claude Lapalme | Next Step PartnersMarie-Claude Lapalme
Montreal
Radical Candor
Kim Scott
This is a favorite of mine because it's the feedback provider's responsibility to find a way for the feedback to actually be heard. I like the way that she demonstrates how to challenge very directly and boldly without getting personal. I also like the fact that she points out that caring while not challenging someone directly is actually ruinous and does not serve the other person.