Books About Humans
Some time ago a friend asked me for a list of good startup books. I spent a few hours writing down the list, and eventually sent it on to him, to which he replied that “the list is nice but I don’t have time to read all of these”.
So I started a long-term project to distil some of the good books I’ve read into 1-2 sentence summaries. After I started the project, I found out that someone had beaten me to it. Luckily the overlap is not too big.
Due to the somewhat lengthy nature of the list, it is split into a number of themes. Today’s theme is Humans.
Most of interpersonal conflicts can be resolved by simply focusing on seeing other people as people with feelings, needs and desires, rather than objects that need to be manipulated to achieve your own objectives.
Leaders are primarily responsible for the well-being of their team, with results being merely the ancillary benefit of a team’s well-being. This well-being is achieved by balancing two crucial factors:
- as a leader you need to ensure that the people in your team are looked after as individuals (care)
- and also that they are forced to improve and develop their roles in the team (growth).
Money is a very poor motivator and extensive experimental data shows that incentives are actively detrimental to performance in any non-trivial activity. Instead, people are most effectively motivated by the combination of three factors: Autonomy (the freedom to determine how they work), Mastery (learning and improving their skills and abilities), and Purpose (understanding the reason for and utility of what they are doing).
We are terrible at predicting what will make us happy becuase we are conditioned to optimise for society’s advantage instead of our own. The best way to counter this is to use other people’s experience as a predictor for what will make you happy, rather than using your imagination/intuition.
The Myers-Briggs personality types are a very useful way of understanding people’s behaviour and needs. The four basic categorisations are:
- Introverted versus Extroverted (I/E)
- Detail versus Big Picture orientated, (S/N)
- Ordered versus Spontaneous (J/P)
- Thinking versus Feeling (T/F)
By understanding which of these are applicable to an individual, one can have surprisingly deep insights into their personality
Get the Whole Story
Reading a one-paragraph summary is a poor substitute for the depth and breadth of these books, so if any of these seem interesting, give me a shout and I’ll help you get hold of a copy.