A Technology Leader's Bookshelf

In this post, we continue our practice of providing curated resources from the ATLIS Think Tank, an advisory group for ATLIS publications and professional development programming. Larry Kahn, Chief Technology Officer at Trinity Valley School in Fort Worth, Texas, shares his go-to resources on the topic of leadership. -- SD

[10-minute read]

Guest Blogger: Larry Kahn, Chief Technology Officer, Trinity Valley School, TX

These days, given the plethora of books, articles, podcasts, and audiobooks on leadership, finding content that speaks to the specific concerns of technology leaders in independent schools can be difficult. Here is a list of resources, old stand-bys, really -- several books, one TED talk, and one podcast -- that, over the years, have influenced me as a leader. I hope you find them helpful.

Tech Leader's Bookshelf


My favorite books on leadership:

  • In Search of Excellence, Tom Peters
    I read this book when I was first starting my career in the business world back in 1982. While I no doubt learned many things from reading it, the most important lesson that has stuck with me all these years is about “managing while wandering around.”  That’s how you really get the pulse of what’s happening. You don’t get that by staying in your office.

  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni
    We have all seen dysfunctional teams, unfortunately. In this book, they are depicted extremely well, almost uncomfortably well. You will recognize all too many of the situations presented in this book. Lencioni provides stories of how teams become dysfunctional, along with steps leaders can take to remedy these problems and make their teams work well and accomplish great things. Doing this kind of leadership work is never easy or pleasant, but it is necessary. This book has served me very well over the years.  I also commend Lencioni’s book, Death by Meeting, on properly running meetings properly.

  • Good to Great, Jim Collins
    This is a terrific book that provides many insights into leadership. Sadly, many non-profits, including schools, tried applying parts of the book that were never intended for non-profits. That fact led Jim Collins to write an important addendum, Good to Great for the Social Sectors. Appropriately applying principles from both the book and addendum in my work has been most helpful in helping move initiatives forward.  

  • Tribes, Seth Godin
    “You don’t need a keyboard to lead… you just need a passion to make things happen.”  Any questions? This book is an extremely quick read with terrific insights regarding the importance of being a generous and authentic leader..  I also highly recommend Seth Godin’s terrific manifesto on education, Stop Stealing Dreams.  Godin is so passionate about this that he shares his insights on the Internet for free.

  • Daring Greatly, Brene Brown 
    To be a great leader, you must be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is extremely hard, even harder than it sounds. Fortunately, Brene Brown provides a terrific roadmap for doing that hard work in this important read.

My favorite TED Talk on leadership:

My favorite podcast on leadership:

  • How I Built This with Guy Raz
    Interviewing leaders from many different kinds of organizations, Guy Raz invites s us to listen to their compelling stories in their own voices. Often these leaders have overcome huge obstacles along the way -- and they have learned many lessons about leadership in the process. I believe you will enjoy learning from them, as I have.  

Please share your own favorites in the comments, so we all can learn from you as well.

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