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The Leap Team loves a good book or two or ten. If you peeked at our book purchases, you’ll see the diversity of our interests. We figured our newsletter readers would like to see what we have been reading and using in our work with our clients. Enjoy this year’s Team Leap Book Club selections! Reading a book is a good thing to do and with the ability to read, listen and sometimes even watch a book or story on stage or on a screen, it is time to make your next selection. Here are some of ours…


Books reviewed in this issue of our newsletter:

  • The Imperfect Board Member
  • The Heart Led Leader
  • Personal and Executive Coaching-The Complete Guide for Mental Health Professionals
  • Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
  • No Ego
  • The AAA Way to Fundraising Success

By Jim Brown
Publisher: Jossey-Bass
ISBN-10: 0787986100

By Chuck McPherson ~ This book provided a rather quick and easy read while providing some key insights for Board Members. CEO’s, Executive Directors and Management could also have valuable takeaways. Through his story telling, Jim Brown outlined clear roles and responsibilities using the terminology of a straight line meaning that each has clear reporting relationships and “end arounds” need to be managed. Most board cultures are developed by fault and not by design which is why it is common to have the 80/20 rule whereas 20% of the board does most of the work. The whole board needs to be informed before key strategic decisions are made and the have-to-have time to process the information. He suggests that information go out to the board well in advance of the meeting for time to read and process because board members are very busy with their business life outside of the board they sit on. There were a few key elements, but I want to be careful not to give it all away since I am suggesting this to be a future read of yours.

To Direct and Protect, the board must:

  • Connect- Get to know each other’s strengths, biases, etc.
  • Expect- Have a shared understanding about what directors and the board are expected to do
  • Correct- Deal with breaches of expectations to keep board performance high
  • Boards do not ask for or accept recommendations. A recommendation is a decision in disguise
  • Boards do however ask for options with pros and cons so they can make informed decisions
  • Make time for the whole board to be properly informed
  • Consider a one-page progress at a glance report

There are many more little nuggets in this book that can help support an old, seasoned board member or a person who is new to a board. The best boards work together as a team, capitalizing on the strengths that each director brings to the table and demanding full engagement.


By Tommy Spaulding
Publisher: Currency

By Jen Chelini ~ New York Times Bestselling author Tommy Spaulding, a world-renowned leadership speaker spotlights how leading with your heart and focusing on looking inward can transform your life in his Heart Led Leader: How Living and Leading from the Heart Will Change Your Organization and Your Life.

More remarkable than degrees on a wall or a title behind your name – it’s our values and principles that guide our lives and shape our ability to lead others. Authentic leaders live and lead from the heart.

Drawing on qualities such as humility, vulnerability, transparency, empathy, and love we can effect true transformational change. What do these qualities mean? Spaulding speaks to those – and in addition, opens one’s eyes to the 18-inch journey from your head to your heart rather than from the space between your head and your mouth! Spaulding’s book is full of inspirational stories that illustrate heart-led leadership and how it can bring real change in oneself and touch the lives of others.


By Jeffrey E. Auerbach, PhD.
Publisher: Executive College Press
ISBN-10: 0970683405

By Tracy Emmerich ~ Personal and Executive Coaching – the Complete Guide for Mental health Professionals may be a good book for anyone considering or just beginning a career coaching people.   Although therapy and coaching may use similar skills, coaching is a process of helping people achieve personal or professional goals or helping with performance or developmental goals.

The first part of the book is geared toward licensed therapists transitioning to coaching.  Thereafter the book gives a step-by-step process for coaching clients, including case examples, which are great stories showing the processes and techniques in real-life scenarios.

My favorite chapter in the book was on Emotional Intelligence and Coaching.  How many times have we had an employee who just seems oblivious to the feedback they are given, making us wonder if we are being direct enough?  Dr. Auerbach provides some great coaching suggestions and techniques.  One technique I seem to use a lot when managing conflict is to encourage my client to see the other person’s perspective and to focus on the behavior or the issue, not the person.

I have often been called a therapist by friends, co-workers, and some clients, but after reading the book, I understand and embrace my role as a coach. “Aid your clients in learning to work with people to find win-win solutions, when possible,” a motto I have lived by for much of my HR career.  This book would be beneficial for anyone wanting to get into executive coaching but also has some good tips and reminders for anyone already in the field.


By Malcolm Gladwell
Publisher: Back Bay Books
ISBN-10: 0316010665

By Jonna Dye ~ Blink explains what happens when you listen to your gut feelings, why these snap judgments are often more efficient than conscious deliberation, and how to avoid your intuition leading you into wrong assumptions. Different professions and disciplines often have a term to describe the gift of reading deeply into the narrowest slivers of experience. Author Malcolm Gladwell writes that in the military, brilliant generals are said to possess “coup d’ oeil” meaning “the power of the glance”, which is the ability to immediately see and make sense of a battlefield. Napoleon had coup d’ oeil, so did Patton. In Blink, Gladwell refers to this rapid cognition as “thin-slicing” and explains how it works in everyday life.  Often having a little information about a situation is enough to come to a correct conclusion.

Gladwell presents the “locked door” idea, which suggests while people are good at making snap judgments, they are also bad at explaining why they can make them. The key idea is explained as sometimes what is stated as desirable is not always what we find desirable. Gladwell goes into detail describing speed dating cases where people had listed specific traits they were looking for in potential partners but ended up being attracted to someone who didn’t have those traits. There are subtle environmental triggers that we aren’t aware of which can lead us to these snap judgments.

There are also negative effects of thin-slicing, for example, the Warren Harding error. This is when we make unconscious assumptions about someone and continue to cling to these assumptions even when presented with evidence to the contrary. Millions of Americans voted for the attractive 29th U.S. President based on his good looks; however, he turned out to be one of the worst presidents in history. Gladwell calls the Warren Harding error “the dark side of cognition” and states that it is a major cause of prejudice.  However, he reveals that people can detect the Warren Harding error and make efforts to make unbiased decisions.

Blink illustrates how thin-slicing can be useful for making effective decisions. Such as when rapid cognition is used during auditions in classical music orchestras, which eliminates such factors as age, gender, race, and appearance, from the decision-making process. Gladwell describes blind auditions in the National Symphony Orchestra which resulted an increase of female musicians. Gladwell states that some people look like they perform better, while others look awful when they play despite sounding wonderful. Blind auditions take distracting factors out of the thin-slicing and allow only ears to judge.

Blink is an interesting read and can help us understand when thin-slicing is useful and when analytical thinking should be relied on instead.


By Stephen R. Covey
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN  1982137274

By Rosa Reynoza ~ There is so much you can learn from this book both in your personal and professional life. As a person who is involved with so many organizations, I want to make sure that my time is spent being as productive as possible. Part of my success is connecting with people and I always thought my listening skills were very strong, but this book took me to another level.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

I was very drawn to the way he describes deep listening. Deep listening really is powerful. It is one of the biggest tools we have to really connect to a person and really hear what they are asking for.

Another great topic was on perception. How you see or perceive a situation will make a huge difference in the way you react to that situation and feel about it.


By Cy Wakeman
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, New York, NY
ISBN: 9781250144065

By Tracy Long ~ Cy Wakeman is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and consultant and is well known in the Human Resource world for her Reality-Based Leadership. As a drama researcher, she helps organizations eliminate emotional waste in the form of workplace drama and infuse it with fact-based accountability.

No Ego is about how ego-driven emotions highjack our thought processes and cost organizations billions of dollars annually in lost productivity, reduced motivation, and low morale. These unproductive behaviors take the form of gossip, blame, dealing with hurt feelings, resistance to change, defensiveness, lack of buy-in, lack of ownership / accountability, and projecting made up stories instead of focusing on facts.

I found Cy engaging my ego when she pointed out that HR has been sold a bill of goods when it comes to employee engagement. HR professionals have long touted (from other researchers) that employees leave managers. Cy believes that this thinking makes employees passive and victims of circumstance rather than learning lessons about how to work with people they find challenging. While managers may not be responsible for work-place happiness, I think they can be responsible for workplace unhappiness.

Your circumstances are not the reason you can’t succeed;
they are the reality in which you must succeed.

Regarding her thoughts/research on engagement surveys, I thought she made a sound argument for limiting participation to those employees who were accountable. Why would we not want feedback on how to improve the business from those that contribute to customer satisfaction, improve processes, and solve problems rather than from those who are not meeting expectations, yet demanding more flexible hours and more paid time off?

Additionally, engagement surveys that focus on employee satisfaction rather than accountability might get you highly engaged, low accountable employees who will not sustain your business. Accountability must be a core value and disengagement is not an option.

Engagement without accountability creates entitlement

Rather than focusing on dated Change Management philosophies (which she thinks should die since they are out-of-place for the pace of change we live in now), Cy embraces Business Readiness. Instead of minimizing the disruption of change for workers, she has adopted a mind-set (pyramid) which changes the focus and the goals to awareness, willingness, advocacy, active participation, and driver. Ego by-passing questions such as, “How do you intend to step up and help get this done?”, are designed for self-reflection as opposed to reaction in a shared responsibility between employees and leadership. This is not to say that leaders don’t have responsibilities. By having transparency and clear expectations/deliverables, employees become partners with leaders in change instead of victims.

Change is hard only for the unready

Lastly, the book provides a Reality-Based Leadership Ego Bypass Toolkit in the appendix. One of my favorite self-reflection questions from the toolkit is, “If you didn’t have the story you’re telling yourself right now, who would you be?” Checkmate.


By Kay Sprinkle Grace
Publisher: Whit Press
ISBN-10: 0972020594

By Judy Coffey ~ Being involved in several Non-profit Boards, I see firsthand how many board members desire to be engaged with their non-profit’s programs and progress. However, many find it challenging to fundraise. The AAA book by Kay Sprinkel Grace is a tool to help boards understand how to transform into a “fundraising force”.

In this book, the author explains, if boards feel empowered and engaged in the fundraising program, they will become motivated and confident. The AAA program of fundraising has three vital components; the Ambassador, the Advocate and the Asker. Each role offers the board member an opportunity in fundraising and philanthropy. Most board members are motivated to “serve “and be involved.  The AAA approach offers board members the opportunity to choose which role is best for them.

The Ambassador: This is a role each board member needs to play; it is critical to cultivating prospective donors. The Ambassador should be informed of the non-profit’s mission and vision, make friends, and create and nurture relationships. This role is one of cultivating generous philanthropists. This stewardship helps make it easier for the Askers to do their job.

The Advocates: This is often a more formal role; the information they share is more strategic. They are advocates for the organization; they make the case and share the “why” of the non-profit. These individuals are engaged with the strategic plan, and are confident in the non-profit’s success. As an Advocate, the individual can get quickly to the message and negotiate partnerships. They can increase broader recognition of the organization.

The Asker:  This role is straight forward; they all enjoy asking; they are well informed and often are matched with like-minded individuals. They are good listeners and are very confident that the philanthropy dollars given are used and invested in the non-profit’s overall mission. The Asker will need to be prepared to answer the hard questions.

Some key innovation principles, according to AAA fundraising success:

  • People give because the organization meets needs
  • A gift is really for the community
  • Fundraising is about shared values

Grace’s book is a great management tool which can support stable current and growing boards. It makes a board member’s role a bit easier when it comes to building relationships, understanding financial resources, and building confidence in their outreach.

Organizations cannot go it alone. Communities and the public benefit sector can together identify opportunities, problem solve, and in partnership their board can create a very successful non-profit to enhance the community they serve. The AAA Way to Fundraising Success maps out a way to work together to accomplish this task.





Leap Solutions is a diverse group of highly skilled management, organizational development, and human resources, and executive search and recruitment professionals who have spent decades doing what we feel passionate about helping you feel passionate about what you do. Our HR specialists can help you get a handle on the ever-changing COVID-19 guidelines, programs, and legislation that may impact you and your employees. We are available to work with you to develop practical solutions and smart planning decisions for your organization’s immediate, near, and long-term needs.

To print this article, click here


The Leap Team loves a good book or two or ten. If you peeked at our book purchases, you’ll see the diversity of our interests. We figured our newsletter readers would like to see what we have been reading and using in our work with our clients. Enjoy the first-ever (and hopefully more frequent), Team Leap Book Club selections. Reading a book is a good thing to do and with the ability to read, listen and sometimes even watch a book or story on stage or on a screen, it is time to make your next selection. Here are some of ours…


Books reviewed in this issue of our newsletter:

  • Who Moved my Cheese?
  • The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues
  • No Pain, No Gaines
  • The Employee Experience
  • The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear
  • Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard
  • Atomic Habits


By Dr. Spencer Johnson
Publisher: Vermilion
ISBN-10: 0091816971

By Chuck McPherson ~ We all experience change in our lives. It can be distressing or rewarding, depending on our approach. “Who Moved My Cheese?” is a classic parable that demonstrates in practical terms how to better handle change and avoid pitfalls by practicing a few key principles: anticipate and prepare for change, overcome fears, envision success, and enjoy change. By depicting simple, memorable characters and scenarios, the parable gives you a framework for responding to change successfully.

Teams going through change could benefit from the easy lessons this book has to offer and guiding principles can be key discussion points for the team to work with as they go through change or prepare to go through change.


By Patrick Lencioni
Publisher: Jossey-Bass

By Tracy Emmerich ~ This is an easy and fun book to read!  The first half of the book is based on a character (Jeff Shanley) who leaves the high-tech business behind to learn and eventually take over his uncle’s construction business (based on a fictional company in Napa!).  Jeff has business smarts but knows nothing about construction.  Jeff has been working with his uncle learning the ropes for about two months when his uncle informs him that due to health reasons, he must step away from the family business. He assures Jeff that he has faith in him to run the business.  Oh, and by the way, the company just landed two large projects, they don’t have the staffing, and cash flow is short because of delays and problems on one of their projects.

The book follows Jeff and his executive team in the way they process issues they have faced, including high turnover and project delays. The team determines that successful employees all have the same “virtues” that make them strong team players (Hungry, Humble, and Smart about people). They evaluate current employees to clarify who on their team has all of these virtues; if they don’t have these virtues, can they be taught? If not, they show how to help them find a job that does not require being a team player.  They also make it clear that the company embraces these virtues and if someone does not have these or is unwilling to improve on these virtues, then they will not like working for this company because it is who they are; it is their culture.

The second half of the book gives examples and suggestions on how to apply the team player virtues when hiring and evaluating current employees, how to develop an employee who is lacking in one or more virtues but most important, embedding the model into an organization’s culture.

If the culture of your organization aligns with the three virtues identified in the book – humility, hungry, and smart and you are looking to build or enhance your team with this type of team member, the book gives examples of interview questions and outlines how to evaluate and develop your team players to build the desired culture you want for your organization.


By Chip Gaines
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN-10: 0785237914

By Susana Morales ~ I love meeting new people and learning from them. When I go to a network event, which we all know has been a long time since that has happened, I meet people and ask about their stories. I believe networking is about building relationships that stand the test of time which is why I picked up Chip Gaines’ book on networking, No Pain, No Gaines. My interpretation of the book is that he talks about finding your purpose and charting your own path in search of your authentic self. And once you know who you are, you can create your network. A strong network, as defined by him, is a set of relationships that stand by you in the good times and especially in the bad times. There are many nuggets of cool information in the book; I chose a few that resonate with me to share with you:

  • Success is not just about working hard it is more about what you are working towards.
  • There will be seasons that are scary but none scarier than not living life on your own terms.
  • Don’t be a comfortable connector and only hang out with the people who are exactly like you. Be a radical connector, be fearless, and be okay with the possible awkwardness of letting new people into your circle.
  • Have a strong circle/network.
  • The currency we should be offering one another should be vulnerability and understanding not, “What can you do for me?”
  • Don’t let fear limit your potential and ask yourself what great things would come to you if fear wasn’t part of the equation.

How do you start building a strong network? Funny thing about creating your network, it’s advice which I think we all know. If you are the most driven in your network, you need a new network. If you are the strongest leader in your network, you need a new network. If you are the smartest in your network, you need a new network. You need to surround yourself with people who will challenge you to reach your full potential all of the time and every time.


By Tracy Maylett, EdD & Matthew Wride, JD
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
ISBN-10: 1119294184

By Tracy Long ~ Attracting and retaining great talent has always been an issue, but even more so with the recent challenges of a post-COVID recession and trends like the “Great Resignation.” It’s not enough to have competitive pay and benefits when there are so many companies vying for a small talent pool. Organizations looking for a competitive advantage would do well to embrace the research and insights from The Employee Experience.

“A well-designed Employee Experience is about creating a better future, rather than focusing obsessively on keeping employees from becoming dissatisfied through perks, employee bonuses, and the like.”

Building upon their success with MAGIC: Five Keys to Unlock the Power of Employee Engagement, Tracy Maylett and Matthew Wride guide us through three critical components of the Employee Experience (EX):

  • Expectation Alignment
  • The Three Contracts
  • Trust

Expectation Alignment
Disengagement (and turnover) results from unclear or unmet expectations and, according to Maylett and Wride, this misalignment increases over time unless the gap between what an employee has been promised and what the employee thinks has been promised has been identified and aligned.

“In the absence of clearly defined expectations, we find or create expectations to fill the void.”

The book explores the symptoms and causes of expectation alignment dysfunction and offers five proven preventative measures and a framework to improve the misalignment.

The Three Contracts
Contracts are the implicit and explicit expectations between relationships. The Employee Experience takes this further by diving into the subcontracts of the Brand Contract, the Transactional Contract and the Psychological Contract and looks at warning signs that the contract is in jeopardy.

Simply stated, the brand contract is your public face and is made up of all the implied promises of your brand messaging. This message helps attract candidates. The transactional contract is an explicit agreement about the terms of the relationship which can be written or verbal. The psychological contract underscores the unstated expectations and beliefs in a relationship and has the most potential to affect the EX. In the absence of clear messaging and alignment in the first two contracts, employees assume the psychological contract rules. When it is violated, employees disengage.

According to Maylett and Wride, when a “Moment of Truth” happens (something that tests the validity of the contracts) employees will learn whether their employer/supervisor keeps their promises or not. The reward for increased trust is agility; a prized quality in any organization.

This book provides clear, real-world organizational stories and research to highlight the lessons which makes it very relatable and easy to read. In working with managers, I find that unclear or misaligned expectations are the root of many employee relations issues. This book provides managers with tools to understand the connection between expectation alignment and employee engagement, to identify and correct violations of the three contracts, and to build trust so that employees have a meaningful experience, which in turn, creates high-performing, loyal, mission driven employees. I highly recommend it for all managers.


By Gay Hendricks, Ph.D.
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN-10: 100061735363

By Jen Chelini ~ Gay Hendricks speaks to the ultimate life roadblock – the “Upper Limit Problem”, a negative emotional reaction that occurs when anything positive enters our lives, not only preventing happiness but stopping us from achieving our goals. Gay Hendricks addresses this problem through a simple program that identifies four fears that prevent us from reaching our upper limit, guides us in learning a new set of powerful skills and habits, and eventually frees us to reach our true potential. Hear from rock stars to Fortune 500 executives who identify their fears and break through their limitations to achieve their true greatness and enjoy financial, love and life successes.


By Chip Heath & Dan Heath
Publisher: Crown Business
ISBN-10: 0385528757

By Scott Ormerod ~ Built on the concept of a Rider, Elephant, and Path, the Heath brothers bring to light how individuals manage change through their rational side (The Rider), their emotional side (The Elephant), and their journey to change (The Path). Our rational side helps us to find the bright spots within ourselves and our work life, it shows us how to script our critical moves, and it points us to the destination where we want to head in the near-future. When our emotional side is engaged, we will find the feeling of the change, shrink the change to make it manageable, and grow our people to be part of the change. Finally, with the path side of change, we can tweak the environment, build habits to support the change, and form systems and processes to keep the change going. With each element of the change model, the authors delight the reader with relevant stories and the outcomes individuals and organizations have experienced as they walk through the change model.

This book is a wonderful tool to help your organization and yourself understand change AND it also helps you create the path for successful change. The approach and applications can fit any organization and serve as an inspiration during a change experience.

Another aspect that I particularly appreciate is the many tools the Heath brothers have developed to support the reader and teams to implement the change model. Their website resources page (click here) contains downloadable tools that you will appreciate and use.

Personally, I have used this book many times to support our clients as they navigate the path of change. Read it and see how you can affect change in yourself and your organization.


By James Clear
Publisher: Penguin Random House
ISBN-10: 0735211299

By Judy Coffey ~ When working with clients many will acknowledge their less-than-ideal habits, and how difficult it is to change the routine. According to the author, individuals do not rise to the level of their intended goals, not because they don’t want to change, but because they have the wrong system for change.

An atomic habit or routine is small and easy to accomplish. The change you make might seem unimportant at the time, but if you are willing to stick to the simple changes, one can see remarkable results going forward.

For example, one individual was unable to focus the team on financial performance, their goals were not aligned and meetings were spent arguing whose program would need to be eliminated or changed. According to the book, it is a simple two-step process: decide what type of leader you want to be, make small changes and prove to yourself a win. This individual built better habits around meetings, agendas and ultimate outcomes.

The book discusses:

  • An atomic habit is easy and an incredible source of power
  • Bad habits repeat themselves again and again
  • Changes made to habits will compound into remarkable results

Five Big Ideas for better results:

  1. Habits are the compound of self -improvement
  2. If you want better results focus on your systems
  3. The most effective way to change your habits is to focus on what you want to become
  4. Understand the Four Laws of Behavior: make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy, and make it satisfying
  5. Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior

Atomic Habits will help reshape the way you think; gradually your habits become associated with the entire context surrounding the behavior and the context becomes the “cue”. Whether you are an athlete looking to win a championship, a leader hoping to achieve maximum efficiency within your organization, or an individual looking to reduce or eliminate bad habits, this book will give you tools and techniques to support transforming your habits.





Leap Solutions is a diverse group of highly skilled management, organizational development, and human resources, and executive search and recruitment professionals who have spent decades doing what we feel passionate about helping you feel passionate about what you do. Our HR specialists can help you get a handle on the ever-changing COVID-19 guidelines, programs, and legislation that may impact you and your employees. We are available to work with you to develop practical solutions and smart planning decisions for your organization’s immediate, near, and long-term needs.

To print this article, click here