Book Club

Participating in at least two book clubs is part of the commitment for the 2015-16 cohort. Below are the book selections. Each book club will be lead by someone in the division. 



Contrarian's Guide to Leadership by Steven B. Sample

Dr. Sample is the tenth president of USC. The book is a 190 pages and a fairly quick read. It is similar to other "how to" books on leadership that offer the top 10 leadership characteristics. However, it is more insightful and written from a university perspective. This was required reading in the LEAD 21 training. 

Reframing Academic Leadership by Lee G. Bolman and Joan V. Gallos

In this book, Bolman and Gallos offer higher education leaders a powerful, provocative and pragmatic guide for

  • crafting dynamic institutions where the whole is greater than the parts,
  • creating workplace/campus environments that facilitate creativity and commitment,
  • forging alliances and partnerships in service of the mission of education,
  • building shared vision and work cultures that unite and inspire,
  • serving the larger goals of the academy and society and
  • challenging self to continually grow, learn and re-energize as a leader

The reader will find many examples and stories that are real, and may cause one to laugh or even want to cry at times. So if you are brave, and want to understand the messy world of higher education, this is the book for you! You will be a better person and leader for the time invested. 

Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy

There just isn’t enough time for everything on our “To Do” list—and there never will be.  Successful people don’t try to do everything.  They learn to focus on the most important tasks and make sure they get done.

There’s an old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that it’s probably the worst thing you’ll do all day.  Using “eat that frog” as a metaphor for tackling the most challenging task of your day—the one you are most likely to procrastinate on, but also probably the one that can have the greatest positive impact on your life.  Eat That Frog! shows you how to zero in on these critical tasks and organize your day.  You’ll not only get more done faster, but get the right things done. 

The Five Dysfunctions of Teams by Patrick Lencioni

Lencioni’s book is an “…astutely written fictional tale to unambiguously but painlessly deliver some hard truths about critical business procedures.” (The quote is from an editorial review.)   The author walks the reader through a hierarchy of team dysfunctions moving up through trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and, ultimately, results.  The book is well-written, easy to follow, and includes specific suggestions for improving the functioning of teams (and lots of examples).  For a sneak preview see the video at:

Great by Choice by Jim Collins

This incredible book tackles the question of why in spite of uncertainty, chaos and market volatility, some companies thrive and others flounder.  Collins tackles this question by comparing companies who out performed their competitors by a factor of 10 (he calls them 10Xers) given a similar timeframe and set of variables. Collins research unearths three remarkably profound, yet simple characteristics of the leaders of these 10Xers and they make up the framework for the book.

  • 10X leaders have Fanatical Discipline
  • 10X leaders have Empirical Creativity
  • 10X leaders have Productive Paranoia

Each chapter contains numerous case studies and anecdotes, which are priceless and should be read by anyone who considers themselves a student of leadership, or simply wants to get better at what they do. 

Heroic Leadership by Chris Lowney

What can a 16th-century priest tell a 21st-century business executive about leadership? Plenty, believes this author, who points out that from a 10-man "company" founded by St. Ignatius Loyola in 1540, the Jesuits are now the world's largest religious order, with 21,000 professionals. In this absorbing, lucid book, Lowney, who left a seven-year stint as a Jesuit seminarian to become a managing director at J.P. Morgan, explores how the Jesuits have successfully grappled with challenges that test great companies-forging seamless multinational teams, motivating performance, being open to change and staying adaptable. As he takes the reader on an engaging romp through slices of Jesuit history, Lowney references four Jesuit pillars of success: self-awareness (reflection), ingenuity (embracing change), love (positive attitudes toward others) and heroism (energizing ambitions). Despite the emphasis on the four pillars, this is no formulaic "12-steps-to-success" tome. Rather than focusing on what leaders do, Lowney shows how the Jesuit approach focuses on who leaders are. His conversational voice draws the reader in as he unfolds leadership lessons from some unlikely Jesuit role models, including explorer Benedetto de Goes, linguist Matteo Ricci and mathematician and astronomer Christopher Clavius. Lowney's passion for history is appealing, and he is careful not to sugarcoat his historical role models. Professionals looking for a One-Minute type of business book won't find it here, but more reflective businesspeople of faith will find Lowney's insights a breath of fresh air. 

From Bud to Boss: Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership by Kevin Eikenberry

Bud to Boss focuses on the challenges faced by novice leaders and speaks to the complexity of leadership because of the people factor. Leadership is not easy or simple but it can be extremely rewarding. Kevin believes leadership is not management, a position, or a gift from birth. Leadership is action, responsibility and an opportunity. 

Kevin covers basic leadership principles of communication, persuasion, coaching, team-building, conflict resolution and goal-setting. He advocates for a strong “leadership toolbox” so one has the skills needed to deal with what comes along. Since no one situation will be the same, a leader must identify the best approach to use in any particular environment. 

Transitioning to a leadership position can be challenging. A change of roles and responsibilities may affect relationships with friends, peers and former bosses.  Kevin helps manage this transition. In leadership, one may also need to adjust old habits. For example, when people are accustomed to doing tasks themselves and now need to get things accomplished through other people. While sometimes frustrating, it takes time and patience to connect, inspire and coach others.  In his book, Kevin also addresses the nature of change, performance evaluations, collaborations, keys to successful meetings and the importance of attitude when achieving goals. 

Disruptive Innovation: A series of publications

Clayton Christensen’s broadly applied theory of disruptive innovation, (Christensen, 2000; Christensen & Eyring, 2011), suggests that technologies which simplify complex processes and products aimed at meeting the needs of a segment of the public not currently served—or underserved—by  existing providers can transform an industry, with older producers giving way to new competitors. Are Outreach and Engagement as practiced at Land-Grant universities such as Oregon State  forms of disruptive innovation with the potential to reach what Christensen calls non-consumers—those not currently being served by Extension?

Learning and innovation is critical to long-term progress and success. This is no less true for a public institution than a business or a nation. The Land Grant System is an innovation (disruptive at the time) that embodies innovation in its origin and its mission. Our three-way focus on learning, discovery and engagement and the integration of these activities continues to be unique. However, the learning/discovery/information domain has changed dramatically since the origins of the Land-Grant system. The issue is can this “learning/innovation” institution adapt and adjust to the new information age? And what role might Extension and Engagement play in facilitating and even leading this transformation?

The readings will include:

What is disruptive Innovation?

Why me as a disrupter?

What about education and disruption?

Background for attached ACE paper on Post-traditional Learners.

Engaged University and the Land-Grant system

Presentation for the Western Extension Directors Association

Series of  articles from the Journal of Extension 

Share this