‘Leaders are readers’

‘Leaders are readers’

Recommendations for standout business books read in 2019.

December 19, 2019

Some of the best business books leaders read during 2019 feature themes around the need for execution, the value of humility, and the benefits of being “loud and proud.”

Here are business book recommendations from several credit union leaders.

► Send us your recommendations: Tell us about your favorite business book and what you learned from it.

“Our new chief lending officer gave all of our employees two books to read over the last few months.

“Who Moved My Cheese? is an oldy but a goody, and it takes 20 minutes to read. It’s a reminder that change will always be present.

QBQ! The Question Behind the Question is about practicing accountability in your work and personal life.

“Other than that, everything I’ve read has been textbooks. I’m studying strategic communications with a digital emphasis.”

AMY McGRAW, vice president of marketing and chief experience officer, Tropical Financial Credit Union, Miramar, Fla., and a member of the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Executive Committee.

“I just finished Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg. It’s about how her husband’s death from a heart attack affected her work and personal life, and how she got through that.

“It had personal meaning for me. My son is very ill, and it has helped me in how I’m dealing with balancing work with my personal life.

“It gives the lesson that you don’t always know what others are going through. And everyone deals with hardships differently.

“Another lesson: It’s OK to share what you’re going through, even if it’s at work.”

SANDI CARANGI, president/CEO, Mercer County Community Federal Credit Union, Hermitage, Pa., and a member of the CUNA CEO Council Executive Committee.

“I’ve been sleeping with and marking up The Four Disciplines of Execution. I call it my bible.

“We get caught in the “whirlwind,” or the day-to-day stuff. While we have to do the day-to-day stuff to keep the lights on and generate the revenue we need, we have wildly important goals we want to obtain to evolve.


“A lot of times we get caught in the whirlwind and not the execution of the actual goal. We need to have the discipline to execute on those ideas.

“The book’s 4DX Model shows how to come up with great ideas and make sure we capitalize on the right ones. We have to say no to some good ideas,  so we pick our goals and we stay in that whirlwind.”

IDREES RAFIQ, vice president of IT consulting, Credit Union Resources Inc., and a member of the CUNA Technology Council Executive Committee.

“One book I really liked is Humility is the New Smart by Edward Hess and Katherine Ludwig. The underlying theme of the book is being a more empathetic leader by self-appraisal: acknowledging you can’t have all the answers, remaining open to new ideas, and committing yourself to lifelong learning.

“I still go back and look at my highlighted sections once in a while when I feel like I need to re-center my internal compass. It was literally life-changing for me both from a professional and personal standpoint.

“I’m a big believer that leaders are readers. I don't care how long you've been in a leadership role or how many degrees or certifications you have hanging on the wall, you always need to spend some time slowing down with a book. It’s a respite from the craziness of the day or the week.”

PATRICK LA PINE, CEO, League of Southeastern Credit Unions.

Secrets of Six-Figure Women. It’s about finding your self-worth as a financial leader. Some women downplay what they do and feel guilty about asking for more and getting what they need in the marketplace. I know I’ve done that in my own career.

“In reading about these women who make six-figure incomes and more, you realize they went through the same struggles and overcame them.

“One point in the book is to be “loud and proud” about what you do. Don’t feel like you have to underplay it to make other people feel better.

“When people ask what I do, I used to say, “I work in the accounting department at the credit union.” Now I say I’m a vice president. I worked hard to get here, and it’s OK that I do what I do.”

CHRISTINE MESSER, vice president of accounting, Heritage Family Federal Credit Union, Rutland, Vt., and a member of the CUNA Finance Council Executive Committee.

“Simon Sinek’s Start With Why. We went through that exercise with our entire organization with an outside facilitator.

“We’re also looking to bring The Outward Mindset: Seeing Beyond Ourselves into our organization as well.”

NICOLE COLGAN, chief people/culture officer, TwinStar Credit Union, Lacey, Wash., and a member of the CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council Executive Committee.

“I’m working through The Anticipatory Organization: Turn Disruption and Change into Opportunity and Advantage, by Daniel Burrus.

“It addresses strategies to accelerate innovation and transform. During rapid change, anticipating the disruption can give you a real advantage.

JULIE LINCH, senior vice president, retail delivery, Directions Credit Union, Toledo, Ohio.

Crucibles of Leadership by Robert Thomas.

“This isn't a new book by any means. I skimmed it a few years ago and then went back and read it more deeply. It's not a light book, but I’m using it in my mentoring of people in the organization.”

JAN JOHNSON, executive vice president, organizational agility, Royal Credit Union, Eau Claire, Wis., and a member of the CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council Executive Committee.

“One of my all-time favorite business books is Great by Choice by Jim Collins. It’s the sequel to Good to Great.

“One thing that resonated with me was the analogy in the book that talked about shooting bullets before cannons. Back in the pirate days, if a couple of ships were going to do battle, they would shoot their bullets first to hear the ping on the side of the ship.

“Once they hit their target, then they would shoot the cannon. The theory was that they had more bullets than cannons, and the cannon would take out the enemy.

“The business analogy is that we need to try new things. Instead of investing a ton of money in something, let’s try it first—shoot that bullet. If we miss, we move on and shoot another bullet.

“If it works, go ahead and shoot it like a cannon.”

SHARI WEBER, CFO, Honor Credit Union, Berrien Springs, Mich., and a member of the CUNA Finance Council Executive Committee.