Visit the NEW Book Club each month for best-selling business books of special interest to executive women. You’ll get great insights and great savings—and a portion of each sale will support NEW’s education and networking programs.
Decoding Generational Differences
Fact, fiction...or should we just get back to work?
by Stan Smith
Deloitte LLP, 101 pages, 2008, paperback, $25
If you want to wake up a leadership meeting just ask the participants how to deal with the newest generation in the workforce – the Millennials, writes Stan Smith, Deloitte principal and national director of the firm’s Next Generation Initiatives.
The subject of generational difference can generate more heat than light. Work-oriented leaders from the Baby Boom generation accuse Millennials of being under-trained slackers with a sense of entitlement. Millennials think Baby Boomers are out of touch, out of balance and technologically inept. While there is a bit of truth in both assessments, these attitudes miss the point, Smith says. Boomers cannot manage Millennials the way they were managed. Millennials want flexibility in their working conditions, respect for their fresh ideas and challenging work assignments. They respond poorly to an authoritarian leadership style (they are, after all, children of famously permissive Baby Boom parents) and are more interested in doing work they like than making money.
Smith’s research shed light on a subject critical to American business. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the Millennial Generation born between 1982 and 2001 includes approximately 80 million individuals in the U.S. alone. The Millennials already outnumber Baby Boomers today, and their ranks will continue to grow in importance right as the Baby Boomers head into retirement. That’s a wave you don’t want to miss.
Letters from the Cocoon
by Monica Ewing
The Nirvana Institute, 78 pages, 2003, paperback, $15
Most books for working women offer advice on how to succeed. This powerful little book addresses a larger question: What is your life’s real purpose and how can you live it?
Letters From the Cocoon is a book about faith and how to get the courage to find it. It provides healing for contemporary women who are trying to be so many things to so many people (and losing themselves in the process).
The book is built around a beautiful and effective metaphor: The caterpillar, whose metamorphosis into a butterfly is one of the most fascinating processes in nature. Ewing explains how most women undergo a similar transformation in their middle years, and offers help to make the transformation and emerge from their cocoons stronger and more beautiful than before.
The author has taken the journey yourself and understands the difficulties. But she urges readers to let go of their old fears and assumptions so they can finally fly.
Mass Career Customization
Aligning the Workplace with Today's Nontraditional Workforce
by Cathleen Benko and Anne Weisberg
Harvard Business School Press, 230 pages, 2007, hardcover, $19.77
Change is the norm in business but the revolution in the American workforce is unprecedented, according to Cathleen Benko, a keynoter at this year’s NEW Leadership Summit and Deloitte’s vice chair for talent. In just two short generations the American workforce has changed completely. Women outnumber men in the managerial and professional class. The Baby Boom generation has started entering retirement. The skilled talent pool is shrinking. And changing family structures are radically altering the nation and its workforce.
These sweeping changes in the way we work, live and build careers are here and here to stay, writes Benko and fellow Deloitte executive Anne Weisberg. In this thoughtful book, the authors outline a new workplace where the corporate ladder is replaced by the “corporate lattice” and business is built around the needs of people, not vice versa. “Many knowledge workers are already building lattice-like careers by moving in and out of organizations, or up and down hierarchies, even without support from their employers,” the authors say.
Mass Career Customization proposes ways for business to attract and retain knowledge workers who are in increasing demand and decreasing supply. Part wake-up call and part action plan, the book says flexible work arrangements are a short-term solution to a long-term issue. The real solution is career customization that allows each employee to shape their career paths in ways that fit each stage of their life.
What Happy Women Know
How New Findings in Psychology Can Change Women’s Lives for the Better
by Dan Baker and Cathy Greenberg
St. Martin’s Griffin, 252 pages, 2008, softcover, $13.95
What Happy Women Know opens with this question: “How happy are you right now? Do you even know?” The authors write that while most women know what makes their partners, children or friends happy, they often come up short when defining happiness for themselves.
The authors outline the science of happiness, including gender differences in the brain, the trap of perfectionism, and the myths and burdens of affluence. Other chapters focus on co-dependency (“I’m nothing without him”) the pitfalls of resentment, how to transcend loss, and the role of happiness and health. A chapter on work titled “Circling the Career Track” opens with a wry quote from Gloria Steinem: “Some of us are becoming the men we wanted to marry.”
The last section of the book outlines the “10 Qualities of Happy Women.” They include knowing yourself, finding your “true north,” having courage, helping others, sharing wisdom and “carrying on.”
What Happy Women Know, written by a psychologist (Baker) and an executive coach (Greenberg) offers solid, accessible advice for women who want more enjoyment from life. As the book says, “It’s not the woman who dies with the most shoes who garners the prize, it’s the one who had the most fun dancing in them.”
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