News and analysis
August 10, 2012

A Nonprofit Technology Leader's Reading List

Holly Ross, executive director of the Nonprofit Technology Network, on what she reads.

Her favorite publications:

Fast Company

Wired, which she reads on her tablet for the extra features

Harvard Business Review: “a great way to stay on top of management trends and the management challenges people are facing”

How she uses social media: She uses the Twitter hashtag #nptech to search for tweets related to nonprofit technology.

Who is in her influencers column in her RSS reader, a software program that allows readers to cull headlines and information from Web sites:

• Jeremiah Owyang, a social-media analyst

• Chris Brogan, a marketing consultant

• Beth Kanter, a technology consultant

Two books she read at her management coach’s suggestion:

Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business, by Patrick Lencioni. Ms. Ross likes the book’s entertaining stories on how to run productive meetings.

Humanize: How People-Centric Organizations Succeed in a Social World, by Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant. “It talks about what kind of organization you need to have to take advantage of social media. It really is a manifesto for running an organization in the 21st century.”

Books she asks her employees to read:

For managers: First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, is helpful in getting employees to identify their leadership styles and how they might be holding others back.

For the entire staff: Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, by Clay Shirky. “The book not only explains social media well but it also examines how nonprofits are shifting.”

Most thought-provoking state­ment she’s ever read: A quote from United Way chief Brian Gallagher from the May 13, 2004, issue of The Chronicle is taped up in her office, and she frequently refers to it in presentations: “The fact is that if positively changing people’s lives and condition in [their] community was directly correlated to the number of nonprofits in this country, we would have made a hell of a lot more progress over the last 10 years than we did.”

Book she wishes she’d read earlier in her career: Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, by Peter Drucker. “Until I read that book, I used the words 'leadership’ and 'management’ interchangeably. Now I get it. I see the difference in my own work. I ask myself all the time, “Is this a moment to lead or a moment to manage?”

Book she dislikes: The One Minute Manager, by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. “You can’t manage anyone in ten minutes. It’s so formulaic.”

On her nightstand: Cleopatra: A Life, by Stacy Schiff.

Guilty pleasures: Celebrity gossip. Entertainment Weekly, OK! Magazine, Us Weekly, and Go Fug Yourself.

Ms. Ross also likes downloading the books of authors who appear on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.”