Books and Assessment Tools

We believe that books and assessments are an important part of your soft skills toolkit.  Click on the link below to be taken to our leadership complexity quiz and increase your understanding of how you balance among the competing demands of your higher education position.  If you would like to expand your virtual or traditional library, SoftSkillsPros recommends the following books:


What does Leadership Behavior Complexity Mean?

Relating to People: Those ranking highest in Relating to People are collaborative team builders. Commitment, communication, and personal development are highly valued.
Leading Change: Those ranking highest in Leading Change are skilled in anticipating needs and seeking creative solutions. Planning for innovation is central to these leaders.
Producing Results: Those ranking highest in Producing Results seek to achieve goals for the institution. Keeping strategy and the bottom line in mind are top priorities.
Managing Processes: Those that rank highest in Managing Processes are skilled in efficiency, consistency, and timeliness. Benchmarking and improvement within departments form a solid basis for results.

Find out how you rank: Leadership Behavior Complexity Survey

Creating a Service Culture in Higher Education Administration

by Mario Martinez, Brandy Smith, and Katie Humphreys

Service delivery is part and parcel of every higher education professional’s job, both to improve service to students and to each other as “internal customers.” Until now higher education professionals have had to rely, for their professional development, on books and training designed for the business sector. This book is the first specifically to address the needs of higher education professionals across a wide range of administrative functions within college and university environments.

It is designed for administrative staff and management, ranging from professionals working in centralized functions such as student affairs and enrollment management, to those working as advisors or in career centers, whether in community colleges, four-year institutions, or for-profit institutions.


Where to buy: Order now from Stylus Publishing

Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck – Why Some Thrive Despite Them All

The new question
Ten years after the worldwide bestseller Good to Great, Jim Collins returns with another groundbreaking work, this time to ask: Why do some companies thrive in uncertainty, even chaos, and others do not? Based on nine years of research, buttressed by rigorous analysis and infused with engaging stories, Collins and his colleague, Morten Hansen, enumerate the principles for building a truly great enterprise in unpredictable, tumultuous, and fast-moving times.

The new study
Great by Choice distinguishes itself from Collins’s prior work by its focus not just on performance, but also on the type of unstable environments faced by leaders today.

With a team of more than twenty researchers, Collins and Hansen studied companies that rose to greatness—beating their industry indexes by a minimum of ten times over fifteen years—in environments characterized by big forces and rapid shifts that leaders could not predict or control. The research team then contrasted these “10X companies” to a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to achieve greatness in similarly extreme environments.

Where to buy: Amazon

Managing Transitions

The business world is transforming. Stories of layoffs, bankruptcy, mergers, and restructuring appear in the news every day. When these changes hit the workplace, the actual situational shifts are often not as difficult for employees and managers to work through as the psychological components that accompany them. Indeed, organizational transitions affect people; it is always people who have to embrace a new situation and carry out the corresponding change.

The job of managing workplace change can be difficult; managed poorly, the result can be disastrous to the morale and stability of the staff. As veteran business consultant William Bridges explains, successful organizational change takes place when employees have a clear purpose, a plan for, and a part to play in their changing surroundings. Directed at managers on all rungs of the proverbial corporate ladder, this expanded edition of the classic bestseller provides practical, step-by-step strategies for minimizing the disruptions caused by workplace change. It is an invaluable managerial tool for navigating these tumultuous, uncertain times.

Where to buy: Amazon

Cross-Cultural and Intercultural Communication

Derived from the best-selling Handbook of International and Intercultural Communication, Second Edition, this economically priced paperback version contains only the chapters dealing with cross-cultural and intercultural communication. Cross-Cultural and Intercultural Communication provides an extensive overview of cross-cultural variations in communication and expands upon the Handbook by viewing intercultural communication in terms of intergroup communication.

Intercultural communication is a relatively new area of research in the communication discipline but has made tremendous progress in recent years. The book maintains that understanding cross-cultural communication is a prerequisite to understanding intercultural communication. Part One of the book discusses cross-cultural communication—the comparison of communication across cultures—and Part Two examines intercultural communication—the communication between people from different cultures. Each part begins with an introduction, includes a chapter on theory, and ends with a chapter on issues.

Where to buy: Amazon

StrengthsFinder 2.0

Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?

Chances are, you don’t. All too often, our natural talents go untapped. From the cradle to the cubicle, we devote more time to fixing our shortcomings than to developing our strengths.

To help people uncover their talents, Gallup introduced the first version of its online assessment, StrengthsFinder, in 2001 which ignited a global conversation and helped millions to discover their top five talents.

In its latest national bestseller, StrengthsFinder 2.0, Gallup unveils the new and improved version of its popular assessment, language of 34 themes, and much more (see below for details). While you can read this book in one sitting, you’ll use it as a reference for decades.

Where to buy: Amazon

Innovative Strategy Making in Higher Education

The purpose of this book is to offer higher education leaders, scholars, consultants, and observers a full range of strategy tools that can be applied to the higher education industry. This is accomplished by a) introducing new concepts and tools to give a comprehensive view of strategy making in higher education, beyond strategic planning, b) demonstrating the value of the concepts and tools through description and application for different types of institutions (universities, community colleges, for-profit colleges, etc.) and at different levels within institutions (institutional, college, department, etc.), and c) providing guidance on the appropriate uses of the various tools. The last point is especially important, as applying business- like principles to higher education often receives heavy criticism. The book helps readers decipher the appropriate uses of different strategy tools to the higher education industry, but the book also points out dangers and weaknesses. All of this is done within today’s context of political, economic, demographic, and global realities.

Where to buy: Amazon

The Mid-Level Manager in Student Affairs

Middle managers face a distinct and challenging role in student affairs divisions. They occupy the space between entry-level professionals and senior student affairs officers. Success as a mid-level manager depends on how well the professional manages relationships, performs the job, and navigates the institution. The Mid-level Manager in Student Affairs: Strategies for Success gives both new and seasoned mid-level managers practical solutions and advice for mastering the key areas of management in student affairs. This how-to guide offers important tips for: * Forging powerful cross-campus relationships * Communicating up and down the hierarchy more effectively * Managing staff, supervisors, and constituents * Developing professional skills * Seeking out and sustaining mentorships * Leading change from the middle * Advancing within the field of student affairs Through research, reflections, and personal stories, the authors-experienced, respected, and accomplished higher education professionals-present a wide range of learning and awareness issues that mid-level managers face. In addition, chapters on the unique experiences of mid-level managers of color and community college mid-level managers provide specific recommendations for these groups. The Mid-level Manager in Student Affairs is an essential resource that gives you the skills, knowledge, and tools to become a change leader on your campus.

Where to buy: Amazon