Book Beat


Issue: March 2011



Community: The Structure of Belonging (©2008, Berrett-Koehler Publishers), by Peter Block, explores ways that communities emerge from fragmentation. How is community built? How do we transform the isolation and self-interest in our communities into connectedness and caring for the whole? What fundamental shifts are involves? What can individuals and formal leaders do to create a place they want to inhabit? Block outlines six kinds of conversations that will create communal accountability and commitment and describes how we can design physical spaces and structures that will themselves foster a sense of belonging. He suggests we seek conversations where the following is true:


  • An intimate and authentic relatedness is experienced;
  • The world is shifted through invitation rather than mandate;
  • The focus is on the communal possibility;
  • There is a shift in ownership of this place; even though others are in charge;
  • Diversity of thinking and dissent are given space;
  • Commitments are made without barter.
  • The gifts of each person and our community are acknowledged and valued.


Positive Leadership: Strategies for Extraordinary Performance (©2008, Berrett-Koehler Publishers), by Kim Cameron, PhD, presents strategies for executives who want to achieve spectacular results at their organizations. Cameron shows that to go from successful to exceptional, leaders must learn how to create a profoundly positive workplace environment that builds on strengths rather than focusing on weaknesses. Four conditions that must exist in order to crate positive energy in the workplace are: positive climate (fostering emotions, like optimism, compassion and gratitude); positive relationships (building positive energy networks and developing strength-based activities); positive communications (fostering best self-feedback and supportive communications); and positive meaning (helping people find profound purpose and a sense of calling).



What’s the difference between a not-for-profit that is chronically under-funded and understaffed and one that is the go-to group on its issues, the place to work, and the leader in its field? The organization that will fold under the growing financial crisis, and the one that will weather the storm? It is a common belief that great organizations result from charismatic leadership—the presence of a talented and persuasive person who runs the show and inspires others to act. Shirley Sagawa and Deb Jospin, authors of The Charismatic Organization: 8 Ways To Grow a Nonprofit (©2008, Jossey-Bass), suggest that charismatic leaders may produce disappointing, even disastrous outcomes, through poor management and alienation of key stakeholders. Charismatic organizations, in contrast, achieve powerful results, tell their stories effectively and attract growing networks of friends and followers. Jonathan Tisch, chairman and CEO of Loews, writes in the books’ Foreword: “By highlighting the power of social capital and challenging us to think specifically about the charismatic organization rather than the charismatic leader, they [the authors] have started an exciting conversation.”



David Seaman shares how to build buzz for your brand, company, or even yourself, in Dirty Little Secrets of Buzz: How to Attract Massive Attention for Your Business, Your Product, or Yourself (©2008, Sourcebooks Trade). The book outlines how to use social networking sites, blogs, and viral videos to create a media sensation and includes 61 secrets for generating maximum buzz. The book goes beyond traditional marketing avenues to help readers take advantage of the cheap and endless possibilities of building buzz in the digital age.

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