Leader as Teachers

Edward Betof

ASTD Press

We have been lucky enough to see Ed Betof speak on this topic several times. We have enjoyed both his passion for the subject and his complete belief in the soundness of using your organization's best leaders to carry the learning message. The book is an extension of those presentations that moves beyond why it is a great idea to how to make it work. Obviously, Betof can call on the success at Becton Dickinson and Co., where for 10 years he served as vice president for talent management and chief learning officer. He is now using that thinking in academia, as the director of Wharton Executive Education's Executive Program in Work-Based Learning Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania. Betof reminds readers that "leaderteachers are often found in places you least expect. I have recruited [them] in board rooms, classrooms, offices, hallways on airplanes. The point is to be a constant advocate for your program."

The Carrot Principle: How the Best Managers Use Recognition to Engage Their People, Retain Talent, and Accelerate Performance

Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

Free Press

In this re-release, the authors use a series of case studies from iconic organizations - such as Disney, Pepsi, KPMG, and others - to show that the relationship between employee recognition and improved performance is not only a good idea, but it can produce measurable and predictable outcomes. This is all well and good, but one wonders exactly why we need a full-blown book to make the case. When does employee recognition cross over into something smarmier? The book presents simple steps to becoming a "Carrot Principle manager" and establishing a recognition culture in your organization. And if that doesn't work? Is there a book for "The Stick Principle"?

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein

Yale University Press

Another re-release of a popular title gives us an opportunity to recommend this book. In an online interview, the authors are asked about the decision architecture that often affects our lives, and the small "nudges" that can create big results. The authors explain: "By a nudge we mean anything that influences our choices. A school cafeteria might try to nudge kids toward good diets by putting the healthiest foods at front. We think that it's time for institutions, including government, to become much more user-friendly by enlisting the science of choice to make life easier for people and by gently nudging them in directions that will make their lives better." "Academics aren't supposed to be able to

write this well," notes Steven Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. We would agree with that assessment.

The Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of an Irrational World

Tim Harford

Random House

Yet another fine publication that recently became available as a trade paperback. Readers of Slate and other works may be familiar with Harford's off-beat style and subjects, but he seldom disappoints. Publishers Weekly notes: "Arguing that rational behavior is more widespread than most people expect, Harford uses economic principles to draw forth the rational elements of gambling, the teenage oral sex craze, crime, and other supposedly illogical behaviors to illustrate his larger point." Maybe most importantly, Harford suggests that rational behavior doesn't equal socially accepted outcomes. We have heard this book suggested as one that would appeal to those who liked Blink and Freakonomics. We're not sure we buy into that; it is much more relaxed and a bit more interested in human behavior.