15 Must-Read Books for Healthcare Quality Leaders
Just in time for your summer beach reading season, we’ve compiled a list of the best books for healthcare leadership with one caveat: these books aren’t actually about healthcare.
Instead, these books are about the universal good habits that all the best leaders embrace, from selling your bold ideas to your biggest dissenters to running meetings that your co-workers actually enjoy.
And best of all, most of these “healthcare leadership books” don’t feel like homework. They’re filled with enough fantastic real-life stories, super-practical tips, and healthy dashes of humor to keep you turning the pages. So, grab a beach chair and a pina colada and get ready to unleash your healthcare leadership potential.
Alchemy: The Magic of Original Thinking in a World of Mind-Numbing Conformity by Rory Sutherland
What Amazon Says: In many crucial areas of our lives, reason plays a vanishingly small part. Instead, we are driven by unconscious desires, which is why placebos are so powerful. We are drawn to the beautiful, the extravagant, and the absurd – from lavish wedding invitations to tiny bottles of the latest fragrance. So, if you want to influence people’s choices, you have to bypass reason. The best ideas don’t make rational sense: they make you feel more than they make you think.
Why You Should Read This: As a quality leader, data is your bedrock. But getting organizational buy-in requires more than facts and figures. Guided by decades of behavioral science research, Sutherland (who is a “Mad Men"-level legend in the advertising world) shows you how letting go of the logical and embracing the irrational can lead your team to brilliant ideas—and get others on-board with you.
The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker
What Amazon Says: Priya Parker argues that the gatherings in our lives are lackluster and unproductive--which they don't have to be. At a time when coming together is more important than ever, Parker sets forth a human-centered approach to gathering that will help everyone create meaningful, memorable experiences, large and small, for work and for play. The Art of Gathering will forever alter the way you look at your next meeting, industry conference, dinner party, and backyard barbecue--and how you host and attend them.
Why You Should Read This: You probably feel like you spend 75% of your day in meetings. So why do we settle for the same-old, same-old meeting format every single time? Parker’s book is amazing at giving you easy-to-apply, real-world tips for making meetings and conferences not only productive, but events that your team can actually look forward to. Bonus points: reading this will make you a better party host, too.
What Amazon Says: If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.
Why You Should Read This: Because creating positive change is easier than you think—and James Clear will show you how. Chock full of helpful tools like cheat sheets and templates, this book gives you the power to map out your own easy-to-digest, step-by-step plan for continuous improvement. The daily results may seem minor at first—but stick with it and the snowball effect will be joyfully staggering.
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
What Amazon Says: In a world where “never enough” dominates and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It’s even a little dangerous at times. But nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as standing on the outside of our lives looking in and wondering what it would be like if we had the courage to step into the arena—whether it’s an important meeting, the creative process, or a difficult family conversation. Daring Greatly is a powerful new vision for letting ourselves be seen.
Why You Should Read This: If you’ve never given Brown’s bibliography a whirl, this is a good place to start. Brown posits that vulnerability—in other words being courageously authentic and empathetic—is the key to getting what you want out of your career and your life. Her stories and tips could reshape your interactions with everyone from your significant other to your senior administrators.
Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
What Amazon Says: Does IQ define our destiny? In his groundbreaking bestseller, Daniel Goleman argues that it is not our IQ, but our emotional intelligence that plays a major role in thought, decision-making, and individual success. Self-awareness, impulse control, persistence, motivation, empathy, and social deftness: all are qualities that mark people who excel, whose relationships flourish, who can navigate difficult conversations, who become stars in the workplace.
Why You Should Read This: In today’s world, organizations that rely only on traditional definitions of intelligence—like medical credentials and job titles—risk falling behind. Widely considered to be the gold standard in modern leadership thinking, Goleman’s book will help you understand and nurture the keys to emotional intelligence so you can become the successful leader your team, your organization—and even your family—needs. P.S. Oprah loves Goleman’s work too!
Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions by Guy Kawasaki
What Amazon Says: Enchantment, as defined by bestselling business guru Guy Kawasaki, is not about manipulating people. It converts hostility into civility and civility into affinity. It changes skeptics and cynics into believers. Kawasaki argues that, in business and personal interactions, your goal is not merely to get what you want but to bring about a voluntary, enduring, and delightful change in other people. By enlisting others’ goals and desires, by being likable and trustworthy, and by framing a cause that others can embrace, you can change hearts, minds, and actions.
Why You Should Read This: How many times have you had a meaningful idea, only to be met with resistance, opposition, or even straight-up hostility? In quality improvement, it kind of comes with the territory. Kawasaki’s book is a how-to guide to making even the grumpiest members of your organization fall in love with your ideas.
Get Out Of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior by Mark Goulston and Philip Goldberg
What Amazon Says: Self-defeating behavior is the single most common reason that people seek psychotherapy. It is a poison, preventing us from achieving the love, success, and happiness we want in our lives. And what really drives us crazy is feeling we have to change and not knowing how—or knowing how but being unable to stick with change. Get Out of Your Own Way is an antidote—it explains why we sabotage ourselves and offers proven steps of action to transform behavior from self-defeating to life-enhancing.
Why You Should Read This: Ever feel like your own worst enemy? Snap out of it! You’re amazing! This book gives you practical, proven steps to transform 40 common self-defeating behaviors, including procrastination, envy, obsession, anger, self-pity, compulsion, neediness, guilt, rebellion, inaction, and more. Consider it a 175-page therapy session.
What Amazon Says: Research shows that happy people are more productive, more creative, and better problem solvers than their unhappy peers. Drawing on his original research—including one of the largest studies of happiness ever conducted—and work in boardrooms and classrooms across 42 countries, Shawn Achor shows us how to rewire our brains for positivity and optimism to reap the happiness advantage in our lives, our careers, and even our health.
Why You Should Read This: This book is the antidote is the stress and negativity that drag down most workplaces (and, let’s face it, the world). Achor is an energetic, humorous thinker who will make you realize the secrets to personal and professional happiness aren’t that mysterious: it really boils down to basic habits you can easily build into your daily routine. And if you’re on the fence, check out his TED Talk; it’s one of the most popular of all time for a reason.
What Amazon Says: In his work with organizations around the world, Simon Sinek noticed that some teams trust each other so deeply that they would literally put their lives on the line for each other. Other teams, no matter what incentives are offered, are doomed to infighting, fragmentation, and failure. Why? Great leaders are willing to sacrifice their own comfort—and, in the case of the military, even their own survival—for the good of those in their care.
Why You Should Read This: Does your workplace culture seem to be fueled by cynicism, paranoia, or self-interest? Then this is a must-read. With examples from all types of organizations (not just the military), Sinek will show you how to build a “Circle of Safety” that separates the security inside your team from outside challenges in order to foster a new culture of trust, cooperation, and mutually rewarding success.
What Amazon Says: The daily barrage of e-mails, texts, and meetings distract you and stress you out. The simultaneous demands of work and family are taking a toll. And what's the cost? Second-rate work, missed deadlines, smaller paychecks, fewer promotions—and lots of stress. Gary Keller shows you how to cut through the clutter, achieve better results in less time, dial down the stress, and master what matters to you.
Why You Should Read This: We’ve all been conditioned to believe that multi-tasking is the pinnacle of productivity. But is there a different—and better—way to work and live? Keller, who is one half of the multi-billion-dollar Keller-Williams real estate name, says yes there is, and is here to show you how to get more of what you want by actually focusing on less. Yes, please.
The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Era of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin
What Amazon Says: The information age is drowning us with an unprecedented deluge of data. At the same time, we’re expected to make more —and faster—decisions about our lives than ever before. But some people become quite accomplished at managing information flow. Daniel J. Levitin uses the latest brain science to demonstrate how those people excel—and how others can use their methods to regain a sense of mastery over the way we organize our homes, workplaces, and time.
Why You Should Read This: As quality leaders, we are both the victims and purveyors of Too. Much. Data. This book will help you identify your personal organizing patterns and better manage the flow of data around them, while also giving you the tools to deliver information that’s better received and more easily digestible for the diverse personalities and learning styles in your organization.
Presence by Amy Cuddy
What Amazon Says: Have you ever left a nerve-racking challenge and immediately wished for a do over? Brilliantly researched, impassioned, and accessible, Presence is filled with stories of individuals who learned how to flourish during the stressful moments that once terrified them. Every reader will learn how to approach their biggest challenges with confidence instead of dread, and to leave with satisfaction instead of regret.
Why You Should Read This: Kick that imposter syndrome to the curb! Harvard professor Amy Cuddy is the woman behind the famous “power poses” TED Talk. With this book, she shares more simple techniques to tweak your body language, mind-set, and behavior in order to own the room like the boss that you are.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
What Amazon Says: This beloved classic presents a principle-centered approach for solving both personal and professional problems. With penetrating insights and practical anecdotes, Stephen R. Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity—principles that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.
Why You Should Read This: As a leader, you probably crave more than success metrics. You want to build a legacy of integrity and inspiration—a legacy of being a leader that others love to follow. There’s a reason countless presidents and CEOs have sworn by this classic for more than 30 years. If you only pick one book on this list, you owe it to yourself to read this one.
Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know by Adam Grant
What Amazon Says: Organizational psychologist Adam Grant makes it one of his guiding principles to argue like he's right but listen like he's wrong. With bold ideas and rigorous evidence, he investigates how we can embrace the joy of being wrong, bring nuance to charged conversations, and build workplaces and communities of lifelong learners. You'll learn how an international debate champion wins arguments, a Black musician persuades white supremacists to abandon hate, a vaccine whisperer convinces concerned parents to immunize their children, and Adam coaxes Yankees fans to root for the Red Sox.
Why You Should Read This: In quality improvement—and in life—knowing what we don’t know (and not being afraid to admit it) is the path to wisdom. Grant will teach you the critical art of what he calls “rethinking”: learning to question your opinions and open other people's minds. It’s an essential skill for anyone who wants to stay curious, avoid the comfortable trappings of the status quo, and be a champion for authentic learning and understanding.
You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy
What Amazon Says: Despite living in a world with constant digital communication and opportunities to connect, it seems no one is really listening or even knows how. And it’s making us lonelier, more isolated, and less tolerant than ever before. Kate Murphy makes accessible the psychology, neuroscience, and sociology of listening while also introducing us to some of the best listeners out there, including a CIA agent, focus group moderator, bartender, radio producer, and top furniture salesman.
Why You Should Read This: Any great salesperson will tell you that the key to closing the deal is authentically listening to the customer. The same goes with achieving quality improvement. Murphy will help you re-learn how to listen to your clinicians, your senior leadership, and your patients so that you can build win-win solutions that make everyone feel heard.
More Stories to Inspire You
Need more leadership inspiration? At Medisolv, our clients love sharing how they’ve overcome common workplace challenges in their roles as healthcare quality leaders. Check out some of their personal stories now:
- Salem Regional Medical Center: A Decade of eCQM Lessons Learned
- Grady Health: Surviving Big Changes as a Quality Team
- Anthony Regional Hospital: Using Data to Unlock Quality Improvement Mysteries
- Citizens Medical Center: How to Stay Ahead of the Reimbursement and Ratings Curve
Medisolv Can Help
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