Summer Reading 2019

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Catch up on some worthwhile guides to enhance your leadership.

Summertime is great for relaxing at the beach and spending time with family.  It’s also an opportunity to catch up on your reading.  I always seem to have a few books on my nightstand that I don’t get around to while my kids are in school, so I use vacation as a chance to read and to learn about something outside of medicine that is still applicable to the job.  Below are some great books to throw in your beach bag that may help you become more effective at work.


The Unthinkable – Who Survives when Disaster Strikes and Why

by Amanda Ripley

Although this book is over 10 years old, it’s just as relevant today.  After all, shootings in public places such as schools, malls, bars and hospitals, are an unfortunate part of our life. A nurse manager friend of mine heard a gunshot in his ED and took off running towards the ED before realizing he had no idea what he was walking into and slowed down to assess the situation.  A colleague ran and wrestled (along with other staff) a patient who pulled out a knife.  Recently, we’ve seen a high school and a college student confront active shooters, while most people are running away.

We may not know what we’d do in any situation until it actually occurs.  My wife is a government employee who has been through active shooter training and our kids drill different scenarios in school.  Although there are hospitals contracting with agencies to provide this kind of training, it’s not commonplace.  This quick reading paperback combines history, science, real life examples and simulations to help understand why some people panic or become paralyzed, while others become heroes.


One chapter that really hit home was on risk assessment. The authors use Hurricane Katrina as one of the examples and I often think of my friend, Matt, who lost his house in Katrina, but stayed at his hospital to care for patients after evacuating his family. And you may gain enough insight to become more comfortable with our everyday risks and even perform better during a disaster, which could save your life.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0

by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

Our IQ is fixed, but our emotional intelligence (EQ) can continue to improve.  Since EQ is a predictor of professional success, it’s always good to find strategies to increase our self-awareness and help with relationship management, thus improving our EQ.  This book provides step-by-step strategies to improve the four core EQ skills. It also provides a self-test to assess your EQ prior to and then after reading the book.

There are 66 strategies discussed, with case examples, broken down into sections on self-management, self-awareness, social awareness and relationship management. If you’re involved in a leadership position, maximizing your EQ is a must and this is an excellent tool to employ. This could end up being the most important book you read when it comes to developing your career.


The Influencer

by Grenny et al

Leaders must have a vision and often achieving that vision involves influencing others to change.  Whether you’re developing a stroke program or working to reduce your door to doc time, you need to influence your team to get buy in.  This book is also a great complement to Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and you’ll know the authors from the classic book Crucial Conversations.

This book is a study on leaders in diverse industries who are successful through their abilities to influence others in order to achieve a high-performing culture.  Interestingly enough, some of the case studies involve business leaders who have been highlighted in other books I’ve recommended so you may recognize some of the characters. The Influencer is a step-by-step approach to improve your leadership skills by learning how to motivate and influence your team.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

by Daniel H. Pink

Last year, I highlighted a book by this author on the science of timing.  This year, he’s arguing that we should throw the incentives and carrots out the window and instead get our teams focused on their purpose. For example, Pink might argue that fulfilling our purpose of saving lives and providing a medical safety net of medical care is more important than a large paycheck. I’m not suggesting throwing out our compensation models, but having docs focus on the impact they make on patients can reduce burnout and have us feeling good about our job.  Pink also stresses that leaders need to teach the skill set to accomplish the job so I’d challenge every director to make sure your team has the skills to juggle patient arrivals and acuity.

What Are Your Blind Spots? Conquering the 5 Misconceptions that Hold Leaders Back

by Jim Haudan and Rich Berens

Effective leadership requires a combination of skills.  Leaders are human and just like we have a variety of strengths, we also all have faults. Most books on leadership advocate focusing on our strengths, but this book asks us whether we’re aware of our faults, are they holding back the team we’re leading and can we minimize our “blind spots.” Leadership styles have changed yet may leaders have not changed with the times and therefore may be using outdated practices to motivate their team.  Today’s teams may respond better when driven by purpose. The authors identify the five most common leadership blind spots that hamper success: Purpose, Story, Engagement, Trust, and Truth and provide real world examples where you can see how the blind spots limit success. Like many of the books I recommend, I want to learn something about myself and walk away with tools that I can bring back to my job. This book accomplishes that.

HBR Guide for Women at Work and HBR’s 10 Must Reads On Women in Leadership.

I’ve loved pretty much everything I’ve ever read from the Harvard Business Review.  These are quick, to the point, and inspiring reads.  These two books came to me via Dr. Judy Tintinalli and I think they’re great for both men and women. Evidence shows that the work place is not always fair, so men need to understand how to eliminate their biases and the barriers that women face in the workplace and to understand the difference between competence versus confidence. Women can learn how to better advocate for themselves, understand gender stereotypes, and how to successfully benefit from mentors and sponsors.

Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?: (And How to Fix It)

by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic

Like other books I’ve recommended through the years, this book started as an article for the Harvard Business Review. The author asks the questions: Why is it so easy for incompetent men to become leaders and why is it so hard for competent people, especially competent women, to advance? Using research, the author points out that women leaders typically outperform men and that many of the traits that people recognize as “leadership,” such as overconfidence, don’t translate well into a leadership role. 

The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance

by Steven Rogelberg

I remember a budget meeting I had with a CFO that I didn’t particularly like. I was dreading the hour that was blocked on the calendar.  Fortunately, the meeting took 15 minutes, proving that it’s possible to have the necessary small talk that’s part of working as a team (despite our very different views on the budget) and successfully get the work done. If you’re an ED administrator, you spend a lot of time in meetings, some of which are probably not worth your time and some that frustrate you due to their inefficiency.

The author is a researcher who studies teamwork and meetings and suggests evidence-based practices to make meetings more meaningful.  Topics include meeting length, making agendas more effective and ways to improve discussion on new ideas.  Even if we still go to a lot of meetings that aren’t great, at the very least, the meetings we’re responsible for running should be effective and efficient.


Grab a beach chair, your sunscreen and a cold beverage and enjoy, while gaining tips to make you better at work.


EXECUTIVE EDITOR Dr. Silverman is Chair of Emergency Medicine at VHC Health. He also taught a leadership development course for over a decade. Dr. Silverman’s practical wisdom is available in an easy-to-use reference guide, available on Amazon. Follow on Twitter @drmikesilverman

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