Knowledge Exchange

1 Leadership and Sustainable Development

‘Presence: An Exploration Of Profound Change In People, Organizations, And Society’, Peter Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski and Betty Sue Flowers, 2005

A thought provoking introduction to the Otto Scharmer’s ‘U’ process. Presences uses stories to explore what kind of leadership is needed to address climate change and sustainability challenges. Repays a second or third reading.


‘The Unfinished Global Revolution’, Mark Malloch-Brown, 2011

Part auto-biography, part summary of what Malloch-Brown has learned from high profile jobs in the UK government and at the United Nations, this is simply the best book I have read about global leadership for sustainable development. He emphasises the need for cross sector partnerships and global agreements. Read this!


‘The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals and Organisations Are Working Together to Create a Sustainable World’, Peter M Senge et al, 2010

Case studies on how businesses are addressing sustainability changes in different countries. What Senge wrote next after ‘Presence’


‘Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet’, Tim Jackson, first edition 2009

Like many other people, Jackson believes that ever-increasing consumption adds little to human happiness. He argues that we will have to devise a path to prosperity that does not rely on continued growth.


The Positive Deviant: Sustainability Leadership In A Perverse World, Sara Parkin, 2010

Contains practical leadership theory and models, as well as the visionary stuff. Perverse/dp/1849711186/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343829284&sr=1-1


‘Here on Earth’, Tim Flannery 2011

I bought this book on strength of (shortened) review in the Financial Times “How lucky we are to be alive ... Tim Flannery tells this extraordinary story ... he brings together planetary history, evolutionary biology, his own practical experience ... a triumph of interdisciplinarity ... deserves to be widely read. (Crispin Tickell Financial Times )”. Flannery covers the tension between competition and collaboration and he is good at explaining science to people like me who tremble at the sight of an equation.


If you like ‘Here on Earth’ try this: ‘The Revenge Of Gaia: Earth’s Climate Crisis And The Fate Of Humanity’, 2007 James Lovelock. I found Flannery’s explanation of Gaia theory very helpful.


‘Eating Animals’, Jonathan Safran Foer, 2011

This book persuaded me to go (almost) vegetarian. Foer writes from his own experience. He is thoughtful and challenging but does not preach. We can learn from Foer how to communicate messages about sustainable development.

‘A World without Bees’, Allison Benjamin and Brian McCallum, 2009

A timely investigation into the decline of the bee population worldwide and the implications of living without bees.


‘Six Degrees: Our Future On A Hotter Planet’, Mark Lynas, 2007

Most people don’t know what a difference a few degrees will make. Want to know? Mark Lynas explains in chilling detail.


‘Silent Spring’, Rachel Carson, 1962

A landmark work in the history of sustainable development that shows courage and vision.


‘Understanding Organisations’, Charles Handy, Fourth Edition, 1993

Leadership for sustainable development is not confined to organisations. However, if you do work in an organisational setting, and want to make it work better and more sustainably, you will learn a lot here about organisational structure and culture. If you work in the not for profit sector you might also want to read ‘Understanding Voluntary Organisations’, also by Charles Handy

2 Developing Yourself and Others

‘Strengths Finder’, Tom Rath, 2007

What are your leadership strengths? Want to find out? Each book comes with a code that gives you access to an on-line self assessment questionnaire. Once you have completed the questionnaire, you received an electronic report that tells you what your top five strengths are, and what they mean.


‘The New Leaders: Transforming the art of leadership into the science of results’, Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee. First published 2002

Goleman has made a significant contribution to the conversation about what makes an effective leader. His focus is emotional intelligence. Goleman believes that the best leaders understand the powerful role of emotions in the workplace. This book will make you think about leadership and the importance of personal awareness.


‘Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography’, Walter Isaacson, 2011

Months after finishing this book, I would bore colleagues by asking ‘What would Steve Jobs do or say in this situation?’ I found this book compelling, even although I did not always like what I was reading. Highly recommended.


‘Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking’, Susan Cain, 2012

Introverts can be leaders too. Susan Cain shows how the brain chemistry of introverts and extroverts differs, and how society misunderstands and undervalues introverts. Many people have their best ideas alone, and extraverts don’t always have the best ideas. They are just better at promoting themselves. Think about it!




‘Time to Think: Listening to Ignite the Human Mind’, Nancy Kline, first published 1999

I discovered Kline’s book on the reading list for a coaching course that I am taking. At first I could not get on with her, but then I saw the light. We talk too much! Kline’s framework for a thinking session is extremely powerful. I use her incisive questions all the time. The best £6.99 I have spent all year (on Amazon). 


‘Coaching for Performance: GROWing Human Potential and Purpose - the Principles and Practice of Coaching and Leadership’, John Whitemore, Fourth Edition

Leaders need coaching skills and this is probably the best, most practical guide to problem solving coaching. Includes the GROW model that we use in the LEAD Coaching module.


‘How Managers Can Develop Leaders’, Alan Mumford, first published 1993

A practical and easy to read book on learning and how managers can support and encourage team and individual learning. Don’t be put off by the date of publication. The content of this book is still relevant.


‘Change management for sustainable development - a workbook’, Penny Walker, 2006

The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), Practitioner Volume 8

I have worked with Penny Walker and I admire her work as a facilitator. This is a very practical book on change management in the context of sustainable development and climate change. Packed with tried and tested practical theories and models that leaders can use to help people work toward sustainability goals.


Harvard Business Review Collection of articles on ‘Leading through Change’, 2006

Includes ‘Lead Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail’ by John P Kotter


‘The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable’, Nassim Taleb, 2008

Original approach to managing risk and often quoted by columnists like Gillian Tett who works for the Financial Times.


Harvard Business Review, collection of articles on Leadership 1990-1998

Includes very well known piece b y John P Kotter entitled ‘What leaders really do’ and also Henry Mintzberg on ‘The Manager’s Job: Folklore and Fact’. You might not agree with Kotter’s definition of the difference between leadership and management but this is a good starting point.

3 Systems Thinking

‘Thinking in Systems: A Primer’, Diana Wright and Donnella H Meadows

This book is the best introduction to systems thinking and how to apply systems thinking to solve problems on scales ranging from the personal to the global. It’s based on the late Donnella Meadows work, and updated by Diana Wright.



If you like ‘Thinking in Systems try also Limits To Growth: The 30-Year Update, 2004’ by Donella H. Meadows, Jorgen Randers And Dennis L. Meadows  and ‘The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge


‘Johan Rockstrom: Let the environment guide our development’ TED talk

Essential introduction to the 9 planetary boundaries.


‘A safe operation space for humanity’, Johan Rockstom and colleagues, NATURE|Vol 461|24 September 2009

Essential introduction to the 9 planetary boundaries. Identifying and quantifying planetary boundaries that must not be transgressed could help prevent human activities from causing unacceptable environmental change, argue Johan Rockstrom and colleagues’


‘The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organisation’, Peter M. Senge, 1990

Good introduction to systems thinking and the concept of a learning organisation. Senge believes that organisations that can learn their way out of difficulties are more likely to survive and become sustainable. A classic text for people who work in business, and it is also relevant to other sectors.


‘The Power of Ten’ Charles and Ray Eames Video made for IBM This short clip will give you a different perspective on the world.

4 Virtual Leadership and Creativity

‘We-Think: Mass Innovation, Not Mass Production: Mass Innovation Not Mass Production’, Charles Leadbeater, 2008

A collaborative work, developed on-line, because Leadbeater wanted to demonstrate the power of working in collaborative, virtual teams. Innovative, forward-thinking, and extremely relevant to anyone who needs to work in a virtual team. Think LEAD! Think about your LAP project.


‘The Rise of the Creative Class Revisited’, Richard Florida, 2012

I’ve not read this but it was very well reviewed in the Financial Times in August 2012. “First published in 2002, "The Rise of the Creative Class" weaved storytelling with reams of cutting-edge research to trace the fundamental theme that runs through a host of seemingly unrelated changes in society: the growing role of creativity in our economy. Now completely revised and updated, "The Rise of the Creative Class Revisited" takes a deeper look at the forces reshaping our economy and provides a provocative new way to think about why we live as we do today - and where we might be heading.”


‘Imagine: How creativity works’, Jonah Lehrer 2012

‘How do you measure the imagination?’ Intriguing subject, made more so following revelations that the quotations from Bob Dylan are invented. Nevertheless this book was well reviewed when it was published and it reads well.

 ‘The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of leaderless organisations’, Ori Brafman and Rod A Beckstrom, 2007

Tired of reading about what makes a good leader? Try this unconventional book about what drives organizations like Wikipedia. I like the chapter on the ‘hidden power of the catalyst’ that includes a list of ‘Catalyst’s Tools’ 

5 Decision-Making and Ethics

‘Blink: The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking’, Malcolm Gladwell, 2006

 How much information do you need to make a decision? Maybe only three things, Gladwell suggests. A fascinating insight into how we make decisions – or do we?!


‘Thinking, fast and slow’, Daniel Kahneman, 2012

Decision making is easy – but what is the right decision? Some decisions are evidence based, and others simply because ‘it feels right’. This book covers similar territory to ‘Blink’, but in a more depth.


‘Wait: The Art and Science of Delay’, Frank Partnoy, 2012

Sometimes it better to wait before taking a decision, and sometimes you just don’t have time to wait.


See also ‘In praise of procrastination’ inThe Economist’, a Schumpeter column that reviews Partnoy’s book.


‘The Ethics Of Climate Change: Right And Wrong In A Warming World’, James Garvey, 2008

As a non-philosopher I found this book very helpful. Garvey explains why time and distance weaken our ability to care about what is happening on the other side of the world.  Knowing this, what can leaders do to create effective messages about climate change?


‘Justice: What’s the right thing to do?’ , Michael Sandel , 2010

I bought this after hearing Michael Sandel speak on the radio. This is an excellent introduction to ethical decision making. Full of examples and gently challenging.


‘The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values’, Sam Harris, 2011

I bought this on strength of good reviews, but I have not yet read it! Let me know what you think.


‘Gray’s Anatomy: Selected Writing’, John Gray, 2009

Britain’s foremost philosopher? Includes articles on globalisation and green conservatism.


‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, Harper Lee, 1960

Much loved novel and film. The hero, Atticus Finch, is a leader and a change maker. He knows his values, is authentic and ‘walks the talk’. The film with Gregory Peck is well done and has a great title sequence.


6 Advocacy, Influencing, and Behaviour Change

‘Influence, The Psychology Of Persuasion’, Robert B. Cialdini, 2001

The first and best book on influencing skills. Describes the ‘6 weapons of influence’ that a senior official at the European Commission recently described to LEAD Europe Associates. Essential reading if you want to improve your advocacy skills.


‘Nudge’, by Richard Thaler And Cass Sunstein, 2008

Must read book on benevolent paternalism, that has been taken up by the Obama Government in the USA, and the UK Coalition. Thaler and Sunstein believe that it is possible and desirable to influence people’s decisions by ‘nudging’ them in a direction that will be beneficial for them in the long run. Whether or not you like ‘nudge theory’, if you are interested in behaviour change, this is the book for you.


The Hidden Persuaders, Vance Packard, 1957

The original book about the American advertising industry.


‘The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference’, Malcolm Gladwell, 2002

Everyone has read this book - or pretends to have. Very good examples of behaviour change e.g. how creating the illusion of a safer urban neighbourhood (by replacing broken windows and making buildings look cared for) can actually make it a reality.

‘ilobby.Eu, Survival Guide To EU Lobbying’, Caroline De Cock, 2010

How to lobby in the European Union.


‘Machiavelli in Brussels: The Art of Lobbying in the EU’, Rinus Van Schendelen, 2002

Good preparation for the Brussels module will focus on advocacy, lobbying and negotiation skills. A new edition will be published soon (November 2012)


7 Cultural Diversity, Language, and Communicatio

‘Identity and Violence’ Amartya Sen, 2007

I liked the chapter on identity, and how we can choose to have different identities depending on the situation. Think global complexity, and cross cultural communication.


‘Outliers: The Story of Success’, Malcolm Gladwell, 2008

The ‘must read’ chapter of this book is about cross cultural communication leading to an avoidable Korean Air crash.


 ‘Riding the Waves of Culture: Understanding Cultural Diversity in Business, Fons Trompenaars, 1997 (Revised Edition)

Does what it say on the tin. But I suggest you complement it with other reading and learning from experience.


‘Globish: How the English Language became the World's Language’, Robert McCrum, 2010

 I’m including this book because it links with globalisation. I’d give it 3 out of 5 because although he has some interesting things to say about language he also spends a lot of time talking about history.


‘NLP Solutions: How to model what works in business to make it work for you’, Sue Knight, 1999

Sue Knight is one of the foremost NLP practitioners, and she writes extremely well. There are some very good examples of how to be a more effective communicator. You don’t have to buy into every aspect of NLP to learn from their approach. Sue Knight also has a newer book called ‘NLP at Work’ which I have not read, but I am sure it will be good.


‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, Steven R Covey, New Edition 2004

Excellent chapter on communication skills. I resisted reading this book when it was first recommended to me. I was wrong. Covey died in 2012.

8 Organisational learning and knowledge management


Harvard Business Review Collection of articles on Organizational Learning (1994-2001)

Includes articles on Communities of Practice and Knowledge Management.


Harvard Business Review collection of articles on Knowledge Management (1997-1998)

Includes Drucker ‘The coming of the New Organisation’ and Garvin on ‘Building a Learning Organisation’.

See also ‘The Fifth Discipline’ by Peter Senge in Section 3


9 Happiness, Well-Being, and Values


‘How much is enough? The Love of Money and the Case for the Good Life’, Robert and Edward Skidelsky, 2012

I thoroughly enjoyed a talk that Skidelsky gave at the LSE in June 2012. Father and son (who co-authored the book) are quite radical in their views e.g. forbidding people to work more than a certain number of hours per week. They ask questions like ‘what is a good life?’ and ‘What is the purpose of education? To prepare people for work or to lead a good life?’  I have not yet read the book but Amazon says: Robert and Edward Skidelsky argue that wealth is not an end in itself but a means to the achievement and maintenance of a 'good life', and that our economy should be organised to reflect this fact. The book includes a definition of the 'good life', discusses the relevance of 'Happiness Studies' and the environmental impact of our ever-growing need to consume.


‘What Money Can’t buy: The Moral Limits of Markets’, Michael Sandel, 2012

Michael Sandel teaches philosophy at Harvard and you can watch his lectures on youtube. He is a brilliant facilitator /lecturer. He makes talking about sensitive ethical issues seem easy. For the last 2 years or so he has been working to engage the public in conversations about philosophy e.g. “Should a banker be paid more than a nurse?’ ‘Should we pay people to lose weight?’ 

See also ‘Justice: What’s the right thing to do?’ Michael Sandel , 2010 in Section 5, ‘Ethics and Decision-making’


The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better’, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, 2009

Evidence based book which paints an alarming picture of the links between inequality, poor health, poverty and violence. The research is compelling.


‘Affluenza’, Oliver James, 2007

This book really made me think about consumer society and personal values.  Oliver James travels to different continents (but not to Africa) studying how people live, what they value, and what individuals think makes them happy. The link to sustainable development is behaviour and values. James introduced me to the concept of commoditisation – treating and valuing yourself and your friends as commodities because they might be useful to your career or for building your self esteem. Horrible!


‘Do Good Lives Have To Cost The Earth?’ , Andrew Simms and Joe Smith,  2008

Easy to digest collection of essays on different sustainability topics by a diverse group of people, some of whom may surprise you with their ideas.


‘The Shrink and the Sage: A Guide to Living’, Julian Baggini and Antonia Macaro, 2012

Thought provoking collection of short essays about leadership related questions, such as ‘What does it mean to stay true to yourself?’ and ‘Must we fulfil our potential?’. I look forward to the authors’ column which appears about every fortnight in the Financial Times Weekend Magazine.


‘How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in one question and twenty attempts at an answer’, Sarah Bakewell, 2011.

Prize-winning account of Montaigne based on his essays. Thought provoking stuff about perceptions, values, and how to cope with uncertainty.


‘Flourish: A New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being - and How To Achieve Them’, Martin E. P. Seligman, 2011 Fairly recently published, middling reviews.

See also the New Economics Foundation which is well known for its work in the area of Happiness and Well-Being.


 ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ Viktor E Frankl, new edition 2004

The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust.


10 Economics and the Financial Crisis


‘The New Economics: A Bigger Picture’, David Boyle and Andrew Simms, 2009

An essential guide to understanding new economics from an innovative and respected UK think tank.


‘Whoops!: Why everyone owes everyone and no one can pay’ John Lanchester, 2010.

Highly recommended account of the financial crash in 2008. I bought this because I read a review in the Financial Times.


‘Why nations fail: The origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty’  Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, 2012. Another book that is on my ‘books to read list’! Included in the Financial Times Summer Books 2012 list, according to which “The authors start in Tahir Square and reach conclusions that should be comforting to a crisis-hit Europe and an anxious America: sustained prosperity is much harder without strong institutions, nurtured by a democratic society”


11 Europe and Leadership

‘The Crisis of the European Union: A response 2012’, Jurgen Habermass

In my experience, finding a good read about Europe and leadership is quite difficult. The Financial Times recommended this book in June 2012 saying: “Habermas, one of Europe’s leading political philosophers and a passionate proponent of European unification, identifies the key weaknesses in the European construction: the fact that it has been an elite project, built over the heads of ordinary citizens”.


‘Dream on Europe’, Article, Gillian Tett, 13 July 2012, Financial Times (FT) Managing Editor

An anthropologist by training, Gillian Tett writes a weekly column in the FT magazine which is frequently about social, economic, communication and governance issues in the USA and beyond. In ‘Dream on Europe’, Tett regrets the lack vision in Europe, currently.


Tett’s training means that she tends to bring an anthropologist’s lens to social and economic issues. Worth buying the FT week-end edition just to read Tett’s column, in my opinion. You can read more of Gillian Tett’s columns here


‘The EU needs more democracy—and yet the European Parliament is flawed’ Article, 17 March 2012, The Economist: ‘For all its flaws, the European parliament is here to stay’.

 Very typical Economist opinion piece on the European Union. You can find more like this on The Economist Website.


‘The European Dream: How Europe’s Vision of the Future is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream’, Jeremy Rifkin, 2004

A very interesting American perception of the differences in vision and values between America and Europe. This book has possibly been overtaken by events but nevertheless the differences are thought-provoking. The introduction alone is worth reading.