Inspired by fellow blogger Ade McCormack music playlist for CIOs, I thought I’d share with you my recommended reading list for CIOs.

Through coaching senior executives, I am often asked or drawn to offer books that help a client better understand a certain issue or topic. The areas that come up frequently are work/life balance, team dynamics, change and stepping into authentic leadership that inspires other people. The books I list below go some way to cover that broad range of topics.

The Power of Less
Leo Babauta
Work/life balance shows up frequently for my coaching clients and this little book provides some great practical tips from a man who has himself turned his life around. Some years back, he was a smoking, overweight coach potato with no formal qualifications. Through applying and developing his own techniques, he quit smoking, lost weight, became vegan, wrote a few books, took up running (and has ran several marathons) and now runs one of the most popular blogs on the internet.

The book is not about his renaissance but rather a range of  pragmatic tips that work. I’ve adopted his approach to tasks – called MIT – with a huge positive impact. If you are fed up with imbalance between what you get done and what you want to do, this book is well worth a read.  

The five dysfunctions of a team
Patrick Lencioni

Through a corporate fable, Lencioni explains his framework for unpacking and addressing the dysfunctions in teams. It’s a simple framework without being simplistic and covers trust, conflict, commitment and accountability. The book includes some useful exercises that you can undertake with your team (or with help from outsiders), as well as a tool to ‘diagnose’ where your team might have challenges. If you are new to leadership, or struggling with your team dynamic, this book provides an easy to understand lens on your situation. Recommended for experience and inexperienced leaders.

Author:Ellen Langer

Ellen Langer is the grandmother of mindfulness and this book was first printed in 1989. Given she is a social psychologist at Harvard university, this is not the book you might expect on the topic that has garnered such mainstream coverage in 2014. She introduces the reader to concepts such as premature cognitive commitment – also known as mindlessness to you and I. And in so doing, makes a case for mindfulness that will appeal beyond those interested in yoga and yoghurt. The book provides an intriguing look into how we take on new information, how we solve problems and how to be more effective. This is a refreshing book on a rather overworked subject.

Crossing the unknown Sea – Work and the shaping of Identity
Author: David Whyte

If you haven’t read any of David Whyte’s prose, now is a good time to start. I’ve spent a few decades in corporate world never hearing about this man. It turns out he’s a bit of a legend (a large big 4 consulting house has him present a course as part of their UK leadership program). Much of his work is poetry but it is his prose that I find compelling. He has such a beautiful way with words and a breathtaking ability to reflect back what he sees as the corporate experience. In this book, he covers middle age and cycles, vulnerability, leadership, ambition and desire.  My book is full of earmarked pages encouraging me to go back to be inspired by his perspective on the world. If you get a copy, I expect yours will look similar by the time you’ve finished it.

Team up – Applying lessons from neuroscience to improve collaboration, innovation and results 
Author: Lori Shook and Frode Svenson

The authors share current systems thinking and neuroscience to help the reader better understand why changing ourselves and our organisations is just so hard. Change is not just about applying proper process or in the case of personal change, trying harder. The books shares nuggets like the fact that there is five times more circuitry dedicated to the fear of threats than the desire for sustenance. Every change initiative will create uncertainty and perceived threats, its’ no wonder as humans we avoid change – or in the case of corporate change, attempt to sabotage it.  If you have any responsibility for change in your company, this book is an eye-opener.