August 2011Reading List

Three Books Offering Groundbreaking Insights

Take some time this summer to revitalize your thinking. Three recent books by Wharton faculty and Executive Education leaders tackle big-picture issues, offering highly actionable advice that can bring powerful results. Whether it's becoming a more effective leader or realizing outstanding profits by maximizing customer value, your thinking — and your performance — will be enhanced.

Book One

Title: The Leader's Checklist
Author(s): Michael Useem
Publisher: Wharton Digital Press

Wharton Exec Ed Connection: Michael Useem is the William and Jacalyn Egan Professor of Management at Wharton and director of the Center for Leadership and Change Management. He serves as faculty director of and teaches in (among a number of programs) Wharton Executive Education's The Leadership Journey: Creating and Developing your Leadership and Creating and Leading High-Performing Teams.

The 25-Second Elevator Pitch: Through years of development work, research interviews, and observation, author Mike Useem has identified a set of mission-critical leadership principles that create a clear road map for navigating any situation. Stressing that effective leadership can be learned, The Leader's Checklist explains each principle and how to customize them. It also includes an Owner's Manual that helps you put them into practice. The Leader's Checklist will develop your ability to make good and timely decisions in any situation.

Golden Nugget: "Organizational leadership has its greatest impact in times of uncertainty and change. … It is when uncertainty becomes the norm and turbulence more commonplace that a Leader's Checklist becomes more consequential — a time, that is, much like the present."

You'll want to read this if you're … a leader in any organization, large or small, seeking to up your game and prepare for inevitable turbulence ahead.


Book Two

Title: Strategy from the Outside In
Author(s): George Day and Christine Moorman
Publisher: McGraw-Hill

Wharton Exec Ed Connection: George Day is the Geoffrey T. Boisi Professor, Professor of Marketing at Wharton, where he is also the co-director of the Mack Center for Technological Innovation and director of the Emerging Technologies Management Research Program. He teaches in Wharton Executive Education's Strategic Marketing Essentials, Competitive Marketing Strategy, Growing the Top Line: Full Spectrum Innovation Strategies, and Advanced Management Program.

The 25-Second Elevator Pitch: The companies that have best weathered the recent challenging economic environment, who have built value over the long term and profited handsomely for it, have something in common: they start with the market when designing strategy. In other words, their focus is "outside in," and that focus permeates every part of the organization, with a goal of achieving, sustaining, and profiting from customer value. Day and Moorman have studied these companies, and derived a set of four actionable Customer Value Imperatives that will help others emulate the success of these market leaders by building and reinforcing customer value creation and profitability.

Golden Nugget: "Only companies that operate with an outside-in view from the C-suite to the front lines can expect to maximize and profit from customer value."

You'll want to read this if you're … a CMO who wants to champion a new strategy for building and sustaining customer value; a senior executive whose organization needs to deliver greater value to customers — and profit from it; a marketing manager who wants to improve your success rate with buy-ins.


Book Three

Title: As One
Author(s): Merhdad Baghai and James Quigley
Publisher: Portfolio

Wharton Exec Ed Connection: Jim Quigley, a senior partner and former CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, leads a "CEO Insights" session in the Wharton Executive Education Advanced Management Program.

The 25-Second Elevator Pitch: How can leaders improve the ways people work together collaboratively toward a common goal? The As One theory, based on a two-year global research study of multiple industries, asserts that by empowering and supporting the individual, greater collaboration can be achieved. Debunking the myth that leadership follows either the traditional command-and-control model or the newer collaborative model, As One identifies multiple styles of leadership, and reveals how each may lead to more effective collaboration.

Golden Nugget: "Working 'As One' represents the pinnacle of collective leadership, or leadership that results in a cohesive group of people working together effectively toward a common goal or purpose."

You'll want to read this if you're … charged with leading a team or group of teams to work better together; a business unit leader, product manager, or account team leader who seeks to improve individual performance and job satisfaction while achieving better overall results.