1. Turn the Ship Around!
By David Marquet
When Marquet took command of the most dysfunctional nuclear sub in the Navy, the USS Santa Fe, he ditched the command-and-control management style used in the military. Rather than bark orders, he created a submarine of leaders who took the Santa Fe from worst to first. This is the best how-to manual anywhere for managers on delegating, training, and driving flawless execution.
2. Uncommon Service
By Frances Frei and Anne Morriss
Do you have the guts to disappoint customers? Many businesses don’t — and lose money kowtowing to demands. Great companies dare to make profitable tradeoffs rivals won’t risk, argue the authors. For example, despite its rock-bottom interest rates on savings accounts, Commerce Bank (CBSH) saw deposits rise in 2012. Why? It keeps many branches open seven days a week — a perk patrons love.
By Peter Diamandis
A jolt of Diamandis’s java is the perfect antidote to the latest depressing headlines you’re reading on the economy. In this well-researched book, the polymath futurist — he’s an MD, a trained astronaut, and an entrepreneur — will introduce you to the technological changes transforming every industry. The trick is to react to these unstoppable trends before the competition — and prepare to make the most of them now.
4. The Only Way to Win
By Jim Loehr
Attaining big goals won’t make you happier if all you’re ultimately pursuing is personal glory. Yet our individualist culture lures many of us into that trap. In the best indictment of the self-esteem movement I’ve read in years, Loehr, a psychologist who has coached top performers, from tennis legend Andre Agassi to elite execs, shows how to build the self-control, discipline, and character that drive meaningful achievement.
5. Inside Apple
By Adam Lashinsky
I realize I’m plugging a book by a writer at Fortune, but I can’t ignore this excellent deep dive into the daily practices that Steve Jobs used to turn Apple (AAPL) into the world’s most valuable business. (Did you know he ate lunch every day with his lead designer, Jonathan Ive?) Even if you’re nothing like Jobs, you’ll come away with great ideas for multiplying the value of your own company.
–Verne Harnish is the CEO of Gazelles Inc., an executive education firm.