Top Ten Books – 2023

Bill’s Top Ten Books of 2023

“Leaders are Readers”

Richard Sheridan

Chief Joy Officer

CAVEAT:  These books are in no particular order of preference.  They all have illuminated my thinking, added to my repertoire of strategies, and have helped me focus on what is important and preferable.  As a result of doing this, I will create another ten in a week or two.  Bill

Hidden Potential – Adam Grant

If you are in education, read this book.  All of Grant’s book are extremely valuable. This book had major implications for education, leadership, and organizational development. He writes about the foundations that support learning, not test prep.  Assessments are important to see progress.  They were never designed nor intended to be the rating scale for students, schools, and community.  (Read the Manufactured Crisis by Berliner and Biddle, 1995 for more)

Performance Paradox – Eduardo Briceño

Eduardo’s reframing what education is about offers a new look at preparing students for life after high school.  For decades we have focused on test scores, performance if you will.  This book helps reframe education to be about learning. Superintendents and principals can use this book to teach the public what is needed for a future which is unknown to us.

Rising Together – Sally Helgesen

Her first book, ‘How Women Rise,’ provided very useful information about differences between men and women being in leadership positions. Read a summary at

Sally is the premier women’s leadership expert for many years.  Companies lead by women outproduce and outperform most organizations lead by men.  Find out how by reading both books. She gave me lots to think about in my own male perspective.

A Time to Lead – Craig Dowden

Dowden combines real stories about leading organization using Marshall Goldsmith, Alan Mulally, and turnaround projects for businesses.  These specific strategies can be used in schools and districts to accomplish better results. The research from Folkman Zenger will give you reasons to coach leader’s strengths.

Disrupting the Teacher Opportunity Gap – Jon Saphier

One thing I know is if Jon Saphier wrote it, I can take it to the bank.  Jon is one of the most ethical people I know and a consummate researcher.  His organization, Research for Better Teaching offers many trainings.  All by knowledgeable and skillful practitioners.  This last book identifies specific processes for State Departments, District, Sites, and Teacher Leadership.  This book can guide processes to develop strong leadership.  Thank you, Jon.

Bury My Heart in Conference Room B – Stan Slap

The stories and activities in this book are worth the investment to buy this book.  The value exercise has been a huge success in helping people work together.  The story of Florence Taylor will help frame the values driven leadership we need in schools and businesses.  Stan presented several years ago at our Learning Omnivores learning event.  His work is straight forward and real.  Highly recommended for those of us who go to meetings and wonder why. His second book, ‘Under the Hood’ is also very enlightening.

Becoming Coachable – Marshall Goldsmith,

Marshall’s previous works are all helpful.  Start with ‘What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.’  With two other authors they address the question, ‘Are you coachable.’  When I am asked in workshops, ‘can anyone coach?’ my answer always is ‘are you coachable.’  I do believe you can’t give what you don’t have.  Read Mojo, Earned Life, etc.  Positive processes for a great work life and personal life.

Ego is the Enemy – Ryan Holiday

Chris Coffey, who has since passed, said this in a SCC (Stakeholder Centered Coaching) workshop.  “Too Much Ego, Amigo.”  I never forgot this.  To be coachable and successful three things are required.  Courage, Humility, and Discipline.  If a leader doesn’t believe they can get even better, coaching probably will not help.  The star performers in every area have coaches.  Holiday addresses the ego problem that many leaders fall prey to.  I read his book ‘The Daily Stoic’ every day.  As a coach, I have my coaches also buy the book and read a page a day.

Right Kind of Wrong – Amy Edmondson

Let’s change the “f” word to feedback from other familiar possibilities.  I have learned more from plans that didn’t work than processes that did.  Failure and my response to it provides a great opportunity to learn and expand my own learning.  Along with her previous books, ‘Teaming’ and ‘Fearless Organization’ she remains the go to person to learn about psychological safety which is a precursor to maximizing learning.

Myth of Normal – Gabor Maté

Watch Gabor on You tube, videos, and read his book. There is a lot of traumas in the world.  Schools: students, staff, parents, and community are experiencing an increase in trauma and traumatic events.  For common sense responses from a medical doctor based in Vancouver, BC, Gabor offers some hope. Dr. Maté has clarity which is refreshing.  My belief is that schools will be the place that must lead the way to reduce the effects of trauma.  (yes, one more thing) AND very important.

Thank you for reviewing some of my best picks.  More to come. Bill


“So many books

So little time”

Frank Zappa