Being an executive in the ever-evolving government contracting industry requires a sharp mind. Every day, the industry presents new trends, technologies and challenges that impact corporate strategies, and a successful leader’s ability to generate efficient and innovative solutions comes down to one crucial trait — creativity.
A creative mind produces ideas. Ideas grow into visions and then visions, into goals. If goals are the building blocks of success, then a sustainable company depends on the creative mind of its leaders. Books provide today’s top leaders with the tools needed to sharpen their imaginations and capabilities for innovation.
GovConExec was curious to see which business-related books today’s top executives found helpful and inspirational for their businesses, so we asked seven sharp minds in industry to share their favorite titles.
Mark Vallaster, managing director for federal technology at Accenture, finds it helpful to think of his company as a single, cohesive unit when mapping out business strategies. His favorite business book, “Concept of Corporation” by Peter Drucker, is especially helpful for an executive in the constantly shifting field of technology. He explained the book presents the idea that a company is like a living, breathing organism that grows over time. “Employees become invested in the entity and tie their futures to that entity,” he told GovConExec. “Like all organisms, smaller is faster and more nimble, but requires more effort — larger is slower, but more easily sustainable.”
Ed Casey, chairman and CEO of Serco Inc., finds Larry Bossidy, Charles Burck and Ram Charan’s book, “Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done,” a great source of inspiration on how the proper integration of teamwork, strategy and operation leads to success. “In today’s challenging business environment, effective execution has become more important than ever, and this book highlights proven behaviors, techniques and principles leaders use to take their organizations to the next level,” Casey said.
For Kay Curling, the authors Debra Jacobs, Garrett Sheridan and Juan Pablo González provided valuable words of wisdom in their informative book, “Shock Proof: How to Hardwire Your Business for Lasting Success.” The senior vice president of human resources for Salient Federal Solutions told us the book gave insight into different ways of recalibrating goals and strategies to a constantly changing market. “‘Shock Proof’ offers practical insights from companies that have created nimble, resilient organizations that moved from shock prone to shockproof,” Curling said. “Authors Jacobs, Sheridan and González share examples of transformation leaders who had the courage and business acumen to ensure their organizations remain relevant for the future.”
It is not always books on business strategies that provide the most significant inspiration for industry leaders. Take the book, “The Art of Possibility” by Ben and Rosamund Zander, for example. CACI International Senior Vice President of Human Resources Gail Forrest found the message on team building inspired her to think of different ways to bring her team together. She said, “It’s a great monument to the power of positive thinking and the need for a leader to be the director that gets everyone ‘in concert.’”
Jim Payne, senior vice president and general manager of Telcordia’s (Ericsson) national security and cyber infrastructure division, finds the life of Winston Churchill to be especially helpful in exercising his ability to innovate. For him, the messages found in Sir Martin Gilbert’s “Winston Churchill: A Life” are timeless and remind him persistence is the vehicle that drives through resistance. “Winston Churchill was a remarkable man who continues to teach us all how to adapt and change in an ever-evolving world of technology and geo-politics,” Payne said.
James Reagan, senior vice president and chief financial officer for Vangent, uses the case studies in “The Road to Organic Growth” by Edward D. Hess to help shape his perspective on how other successful companies succeeded in innovation and improvement. He especially enjoyed this read “because it showcased how companies that consistently grew shareholder value did it through internal investment in customer satisfaction, employee engagement and market share gains.”
The book “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?” by Louis V. Gerstner inspires Noel Samuel, senior vice president of finance for Dell Government Services, and provides him with ideas on flexibility and innovation. “It’s a terrific book about IBM’s turnaround by one of the great business leaders of our time,” he explained to GovConExec. “Right now, we live in a time of tremendous change, and the insights offered by Gerstner can be applied to both micro and macro environments.”