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Career Success
APR 27, 2018

Three Books for Your Golden Week: Team Players, Better Conversations, and Understanding Each Other

With Kenya Yoshino, Tsuyoshi Shimada, Toru Takahashi

Looking to catch up on your reading during Golden Week? Here are three books to understand yourself, your co-workers, and your future (by looking at the past).

The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues

Author: Patrick M. Lencioni; Recommended by Kenya Yoshino

Have you ever just wanted to figure out exactly what is going on with your team? For example, perhaps each member is talented, motivated, and/or has a great personality, but your team just doesn’t get along or come together. Well, this is the book to read to find out why teamwork is not as prevalent as you want. Or from a recruiting perspective, you can find out how to hire an ideal team player.

Patrick Lencioni shares three adjectives that describe the ideal team player: humble, hungry, and smart. It sounds so obvious, yet insightful. These are the three virtues you need to develop in your members and what you need to look into for your next candidates.

In many cases, people who are not humble, hungry, or smart do not realize their situation, or they (unconsciously) hide these qualities in front of their supervisor or potential employer during an interview. Lencioni explains these virtues in detail, using a story of a young CEO who happened to take over his uncle’s construction company. The company was not in perfect condition, and the young CEO struggled to make it through by figuring out the real virtues that a team player possesses. 

An ideal team player must have all three virtues. It doesn’t work if you only have one or two of them. If you are only humble and hungry, you could be an accidental mess maker. They mean well but could rub people the wrong way. If you are only humble and smart, you could be a lovable slacker. They just can’t get the things done! If you are someone who is only hungry and smart, you could be a skillful politician. They can be dangerous people to hire or keep you company. 

We want sufficiently humble, hungry and smart people. These points are quite obvious, but the best part of the book is that Lencioni also gives practical advice on how to seek out these three virtues from a candidate in an interview, or develop them in your own team members. 

A very easy to read yet deep insights which you can apply right at work with your team members. Enjoy the read!

Breaking Through Gridlock: The Power of Conversation in a Polarized World

Auhor: Jason Jay and Gabriel Grant; Recommended by Tsuyoshi Shimada 

“Why don’t you understand me?” is the Japanese title for this book and it is an apt one. Many people worry about why they are not understood, but this doesn’t mean that the other person is wrong. Actually, you yourself may be mired in stereotypes, which can often lead to conflict. This book provides hints to help us reflect and change ourselves, helping to resolve conflicts and even trigger innovation. A key phrase I found interesting is “dynamic authenticity.” Otto Scharmer’s famous “Theory U” is also discussed. Changing yourself is not easy, but this book makes it easier with some helpful exercises. This book will give you some stimulus to help you become a new person. 

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow and Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Author: Yuval Noah Harari; Recommended by Toru Takahashi

This is a book we need to read now. Human beings will be facing the huge changes due to evolving technologies including artificial intelligence, genetic medicine, etc. The bigger the change in the future, the more we must learn from the great flow of the history. During Golden Week, please enjoy the great spectacle of human beings in all our history. You will find why we have become like we are today by learning the essence of the progress of human beings. We should take a moment to think about who we are, which will give us great insight for our future! Wise men learn from history!

Photo by Katya Austin