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3. "The 11 Secrets of Highly Influential IT Leaders", Marc J. Schiller
While reading this book, I had a professional epiphany. I had been pushing toward an IT-business partnership within our organization for some time, and this book outlined some tangible and realistic to-do items toward that goal.
For example, it underscores that IT needs to understand how each business unit works, beyond reciting a few high-level "bullet points." The author offers steps on how to dig deeper in understanding the business's workflow and, in doing so, how this can affect deeper relationships across the enterprise.
As a second perspective, Larry Bonfante's "Lessons in IT Transformation" is a fantastically engaging read that also highlights methods toward a more healthy and integrated IT.
[Editor's note: Carroll's recommendations are personal ones and do not represent those of her employer, the United States Golf Association.]
Doug Ross, CIO, Western Southern Financial Group, Cincinnati
4. "Good to Great", Jim Collins
From a leadership perspective, this book's concept of a Level 5 leader (one who blends "extreme personal humility with intense professional will") resonated for me. Its message -- that having a laser focus on the success of the business and not your own personal aggrandizement -- is critical. There's a vignette about Vice Admiral James Stockdale, who survived a Vietnam prison camp. When asked how he did it, he said it was because he was a realist. The optimists said, 'By next Christmas, we'll be out,' and they'd fall into a funk when that didn't come true. But he was laser focused on the facts of his reality and just getting through it. So, the message is about humility and having the best interests of the firm in mind vs. the alternative approach of the typical cut-throat executive.
Like a lot of typical office cultures, we always tend to have a few business books circulated - "The Elements of Power" (by Terry Bacon) and "The Game Changer" (A.G. Lafley and Ram Charan) are typical of this type. "The Designful Company", by Marty Neumeier, is a quick read that talks about the nature of design and the role it's played for Apple becoming such a monstrously successful company. Today, if you visit a company's Web site, first impressions make a big impression. That's where customer experience and design come in, and every company should be concerning themselves about that to some extent.
Casey Biddle, Technical Analyst, State Farm, Bloomington, Ill.
5. "StrengthsFinder 2.0," Tom Rath
I haven't read too many books on career advice, but the most recent was this short little book. I have read a few books from Dale Carnegie classes and would recommend any Dale Carnegie class or webinar. They revive you, keep you positive and give you contacts you would not otherwise have in the workplace and industry.
In addition to books, here are some other avenues through which IT professionals are gaining professional development guidance and enrichment.