Having been a manager myself, and of course having been managed many times as well, I have come up with a list of books that pass on some important information and messages. The best managers inspire people, help them grow into their professions or bloom into another and they remain calm when the sea turns rough. There is little room for ego if you want to be an inspiring leader so as Voltaire said “Il faut cultiver notre jardin” (in English: “We must cultivate our garden” – Candide). He meant that we should leave metaphysical problems aside and work on the things we can change: creating a better world.
Having said that it isn’t easy being a manager and we all need a little help sometimes. At some level we are all managers in the workplace too. I found a lot of peace, support and wisdom in the following books. Food for thought is always good. Before we manage others. we must be good at managing ourselves.
1 – The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint Exupery)
“Grown-ups like numbers. When you tell them about a new friend, they never ask questions about what really matters. They never ask: “What does his voice sound like?” “What games does he like best?” “Does he collect butterflies?”. They ask: “How old is he?” “How many brothers does he have?” “How much does he weigh?” “How much money does his father make?” Only then do they think they know him.”
This particular quote stays with me always. It reminds me to ask myself whether I am asking the right questions, the questions that matter. Understanding and knowing the people we work with is so important.
2 – The Miracle of Mindfulness (Thich Nhat Hanh)
“If you are motivated by loving kindness and compassion, there are many ways to bring happiness to others right now, starting with kind speech.”
“When we cannot communicate, we get sick, and as our sickness increases, we suffer and spill our suffering on other people.”
“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.”
“Smile, breathe and go slowly”.
This little book is just packed full of reminders for us on how to be better people. Everything begins with kindness. Being aware of how we speak to people and making sure that we are sensitive to how they are feeling right now helps overcome seemingly huge issues easily. In his book Thich Nhat Hanh describes how plants don’t thrive in conference rooms or in places where there is conflict. We should all be able to deal with disagreement respectfully and in good humour. Disagreement is good, if you’re on the side of the majority it’s time to start asking some questions.
3 – The Prophet (Kahlil Gibran)
“An eye for an eye, and the whole world would be blind.”
“Perplexity is the beginning of knowledge.”
“The eye of a human being is a microscope, which makes the world seem bigger than it really is.”
There is a lot of wisdom in this little book, definitely worth the read. Sometimes we need to step away from a situation and remember that the world is bigger than this problem. With perspective the solutions appear obvious, and we need to step aside to gain perspective sometimes. Also being perplexed is a good thing, the cogs are starting to turn.
I have also found that how people handle others says a great deal about how they handle themselves. If you have a bad manager, it’s probably because they’re suffering at some level too. To be able to be kind and have a positive effect in others lives, you must be able to do that in your own first.
This is a very inspiring talk by a very inspiring manager. She says “leaders blur boundaries” – enjoy & happy reading