2013 Best Summer Reads

Summer is fast upon us. For many people, work life might just slow down enough to let summer reading pick up. Perhaps this year you’ve been extra busy, and need to catch up on some of 2013’s good new releases. Or maybe you’re looking out to what books are on the horizon. In either case, here are some of our picks for the best summer reading in leadership, innovation, and strategy.


Managers as Mentors: Building Partnerships for Learning. by Chip Bell and Marshall Goldsmith. Bell’s book on how leaders must take charge of their people’s development is a great read. So good, in fact, it’s been re-released as a third edition with even more content. It’s worth picking up a new copy and checking out what you might be missing.

Own the Room: Discover Your Signature Voice to Master Your Leadership Presence by Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins. Leaders need to connect with all of their people and communicate their vision. In this new book, Su and Wilkins reveal how to develop a voice that is both powerful and authentic.


Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity by Keith Sawyer.  Innovation is rarely a linear process. Creativity moves and cycles through various stages as it zig zags from idea to innovation. Sawyer covers those stages and provides exercises for leveraging each one for maximum creativity.

Creative Conspiracy: The New Rules of Breakthrough Collaboration by Leigh Thompson. Despite all those pictures of solitary innovators like Tesla working alone on big ideas, innovation really happens in teams. Thompson takes a deep study of the most creative teams and shares some surprising findings about how innovation happens.


The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business by Rita Gunter McGrath. The business landscape is changing, and odds are the strategy you’ve crafted needs to change as well. McGrath discusses why the best strategies are ones that can change with the landscape and outlines how to keep your strategy moving.

The Collaboration Economy: How to Meet Business, Social, and Environmental Needs and Gain Competitive Advantage by Eric Lowitt. Lowitt’s approach is less a strategy of how to position against your competitors and more a peak at the future of the economic landscape and how continued prosperity relies more on collaboration with other organizations than a single-minded focus on competition.


  1. Matt says

    By there description, it seems the two strategy books are contradicting in the area of competitive advantage. Which one would you suggest reading first?

    • says

      Well, Rita’s comes out June 4th so that might solve it for you. They’re not exactly contradictory..for the most part they focus on different aspects of strategy. (Although I secretly think every strategy book has to have competitive advantage in the subtitle..so that doesn’t help but cause confusion). Thanks!

  2. Thom Zaugg says

    I put Michael Raynor’s book ‘the Three Rules’ on the list. It’s must read for anyone on the Leadership Team or consulting with them. With the help of a Big Data crunchier they studied 44 years of financial results for 25000+ companies. April HBR article scratches the surface. The book lays it out in great detail, with the tables, charts and graphs to back up their work! “Better before cheaper; revenue before cost” is not and has not been the practice of the huge majority. The difference in performance between the Miracle Workers and Average Joe’s is just too significant to ignore. Happy reading!

  3. James says

    if one wants a deep transformational summer read, with the kind of scholarly rigor that is missing from most of today’s books that claim to be serious, then what’s missing here is Mutiny and Its Bounty: Leadership Lessons from the Age of Discovery http://www.amazon.com/dp/0300170289

  4. says

    I’ll join in with another “must read” on leadership. It’s L. David Marquet’s Turn the Ship Around! How to create leadership at every level. A great story from a former navy submarine captain about how traditional leadership approaches don’t work if you want to bring out the best in people. Captain Marquet took a submarine crew with the worst performance record to the best — and a high proportion of his crew went on to help create even more high-performing crews. Talk about lasting change!