You may be scoffing at finding time to read, but let’s face it, if you want to reach the next level you have to reach for it purposefully.  As a K-level scholar, I know my next step is managing a large research team, and I need some additional management skills to round out my skill set.  Vanderbilt’s Edge Library has been my go-to reading on the topic.  I’ve found carefully curated books that are, on the whole, easy to read at the end of the day when I just can’t take one more journal article.  It’s like having a bedtime story that prepares me for the job of my dreams.

My favorite book so far is Hardwiring Excellence.  Look past the boring cover and the outdated title. (Do we even use wires anymore?) Inside is some great, easy-to-use advice.  It uses stories and examples to make the point, and the fairly short chapters mean you can take it in small chunks.  I won’t spoil the book for you, but it gives you concrete steps for forming and growing positive relationships with members of your team or area of interest.  These are simple to implement steps that you can use right now without purchasing a thing or getting another app on your phone.

For example, the book encourages you to spread good news.  When you hear a colleague has done a good job, spend some time spreading that news and credit the person who said it.  For example, a friend says that a recent journal article used some fabulous new methods and you know the author, then let the author know that your friend was impressed.

Always the skeptic, I tried this method out in a recent series of interactions, and lo and behold, it worked!  Relationships strengthened, people made happier.  Boom.  All because of a good bedtime story.

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