10 Books Successful Kiddie Academy Leaders Highly Recommend


Looking for an informative read? Whether you’re an entrepreneur looking at 2018 as your opportunity to start a new business, enhance your leadership or hone your business skills, we offer enlightening options for your consideration. A recent article featured on Inc.com spotlights book recommendations from top executives, including Kiddie Academy’s Executive Chairman, Michael J. Miller. We are excited to share additional top picks submitted by high-performing leaders at Kiddie Academy’s Headquarters!

1. The Servant by James C. Hunter

The Servant takes a deep dive into the leadership style known as ‘the true essence of leadership.’ It makes the argument that in order to lead and flourish, individuals need the support, and not authority, of a traditional boss…completely turning leadership around. It explains as leaders of an organization our only responsibility is to support (be the servant) to everyone else in the organization by empowering others to lead. Being a servant leader creates an opportunity for individuals to reach their peak potential within your organization. The theory makes sense to me–it’s the same way we treat customers, so why not our employees.”

–Michael J. Miller, Executive Chairman 

2. The Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

The Blue Ocean Strategy  illustrates how to move beyond standardized competition, how to seize new growth by changing the game and generating opportunity through differentiation and creativity. It provides a step-by-step guide how to take your organization from a red ocean crowded with competition…to a blue ocean of uncontested market space.”

–Greg Helwig, President

3. The Leadership Gap by Lolly Daskal

The Leadership Gap helps leaders at any level–whether leading a small team or an entire organization–identify their leadership style and then define the internal barriers and impediments of that particular style.  The book presents seven archetypes of successful leadership and the weaknesses that shadow each archetype.  Different situations require different leadership styles. The book helps to identify both the correct style for a certain situation and the shortcomings of that style that can lead to failure if not kept in check.”

–Greg Goodwin, Chief Technology Officer 

4. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini

“Unlike some business books that focus solely on strategies for the workplace, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion is one of those time-tested books that will help in every facet of your life. It goes beyond theory to outline scientifically tested principles on how and why people react to their environment. It delves into the six psychological principles that unconsciously drive our behaviors every day (reciprocity, consistency, social proof, liking, authority and scarcity) giving practical, useful insights backed by research.  Dr. Cialdini provides countless thought-provoking ideas and interesting studies that will help you better analyze your everyday actions and become a more balanced decision maker.”

–Nicole Salla, Vice President of Marketing

5. The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service by Robert Spector and Patrick McCarthy

The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service is a handbook for implementing great service in one’s organization. The Nordstrom Way focuses exclusively on doing whatever it takes to create a satisfied customer. The underlying philosophy and culture of the Nordstrom Way is a simple one; use your own initiative to provide customers with exceptional levels of service. It also focuses on the basic concept to treat others as you would like to be treated; when you treat a customer right, they will be a customer for life. Successful companies have a culture which extols exceptional acts of customer service and stresses employees are free to use their initiative at all times in all situations; to act as if they were entrepreneurs in business for themselves. The result is that employees find innovative and appropriate ways to provide customers with exceptional levels of service. The Absolute Excellent Service training I do for franchisees and directors includes elements from this book.”

–Richard Peterson, Vice President of Education

 6. The Reinventors by Jason Jennings

The Reinventors emphasizes the need for companies, leaders and employees to embrace innovation to succeed and remain competitive. Change is constantly happening in business and if we aren’t constantly innovating, we’ll become obsolete.”

–Joshua M. Frick, Chief Development Officer 

 7. The Golf in the Kingdom by Michael Murphy

Golf in the Kingdom is a fun read about the real life experience of a young man traveling back to India by way of Scotland.  The origins of golf have been widely debated but if you were to ask a Scotsman, they would leave you with little doubt golf began in Scotland. While playing on some of the most fabled courses in Scotland, the traveler experiences the mystical feel and its history.”

–Chris Commarota, Vice President of Construction

8. True Alignment: Linking Company Culture with Customer Needs for Extraordinary Results by Edgar Papke

“In our role as a franchisor, we strive to provide solutions to meet the unique needs of our customers. True Alignment discusses how companies can develop a business code, so that all members understand the what, why and how behind their organization’s mission and vision, and how each are intertwined. Papke provides a framework for communication, cooperation and collaboration that spur innovation and creativity, which in turn define the brand and promote team culture for organizational growth.”

–Renee Thompson, Director of Curriculum

 9. The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stainer

The Coaching Habit distills the daunting task of coaching your team members to seven practical core questions. By saying less and asking the right questions, you can grow your team to greater levels of efficiency and autonomy. I immediately started asking my teams the questions and continue to refine the delivery to make them part of my coaching habit.”

–Ben Lieb, Vice President of Technology

 10. The Go-Giver by Bob Berg and John David Mann

The Go-Giver uses a very readable story format to demonstrate that changing an individual’s mindset from being a ‘go-getter’ to becoming a ‘go-giver’–putting the interests of others first while continually adding value to their lives–leads to unforeseen personal and professional benefits. This message of actively seeking ways to help others seems especially relevant in the Community Begins Here® mindset of Kiddie Academy.”

–Kevin Shaffer, Vice President of Finance

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