Nancy Austin

Five Best Books on Leadership and Management

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Sure, I write fiction, mysteries, but of all the books I have written I am most proud of the one non-fiction work, The Language of Excellence. The book codifies the leadership and management concepts that I used to succeed in business. Gary Slaughter, author and nationally recognized management expert, places The Language of Excellence as one of the five best books on leadership and management. This is what he recently wrote:

“Over the past fifty years, I’ve devoured dozens of leadership and management books. In fact, I’ve also taught hundreds of leadership and management workshops to Fortune 500 corporate executives.

In my judgement, The Language of Excellence by Tom Collins is among the best five books I have ever read on this subject. The other four include these classics:

The Motivation to Work by Fredrick Herzberg
The Practice of Management by Peter Drucker
On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis
The Transformational Leader by Noel Tichy

Moreover, The Language of Excellence replaced One Minute Manager on my ‘best five’ list. OMM, written in 1982 by Ken Blanchard and Spenser Johnson, has sold over 13 million copies and been translated into 37 different languages. Despite OMM’s popularity, The Language of Excellence is far more informative and easy to apply.”

Most of my life has been spent in business. As a corporate executive I made and loss money for other people, before going solo. By the time I was running my own company, I had learned what worked and what didn’t work. My lessons were learned on the firing line and by reading and listening to the experts. I am a great fan of contemporary business authors like Jim Collins, Tom Peters, and Nancy Austin. But it was their predecessors, including Peter Drucker, who were at the cutting edge of modern business management methods and leadership concepts. If you are just starting in business, or if you are a seasoned business leader constantly searching for the answers, their works as well as The Language  of Excellence needs to be on your bookshelf. Better yet, they need to on your desk, and in the case of The Language of Excellence, it needs to be in the hands of those you depend on to help you succeed in business and life.

All five of the best books on the subject are available on Amazon and other online bookstores.

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The Language of Excellence is available in hardcover, paperback, and digital formats. Volume purchases for corporate training and gifting as well as signed copies are available on the author’s official website, From now until December 25th enter the code GIFT at checkout for free shipping and a 20% discount. To buy now click on SHOP NOW.

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. Audio versions of The Claret Murders and  Diversion are available from iTunes, Audibles and Amazon. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and 
Published by I-65 North, Inc.


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Perhaps the most important model in my book, The Language of Excellence,  is the one for TWO CERTAINTIES. The term “death and taxes” in the flip chart image is often quoted as the two certainties in life voiced by Benjamin Franklin. The graphic pairs Franklin's common sense terms with the words “change” and “judged” because change and judged are better descriptions of the two certainties as faced by businesses. For deliberate long-term success, an enterprise must have an understanding and acceptance of the two certainties— (1) we either purposely change to improve, or natural forces erode and change us for the worse, and (2) what we are is determined through the judgment of others.

I wrote the The Language of Excellence as a teaching aid. I discovered by accident that when all members of an organization understand the implications of important management and leadership concepts, magic happens within that enterprise. It is as if someone pulls back the curtain and turns up the lights. Suspicions disappear, replaced by unity.

To learn about the behavior of change, to gain an understanding of the rule of the fewest, to be able to put a name to observed phenomena such as the life cycle and suboptimization tears down the iron curtain between “management” and “employees.” A team arises—a competent team, one that shares a core set of beliefs and a common sense of direction—eager to help write their own playbook.

I want to clarify that I claim no origination credit for the concepts in The Language of Excellence. They are a compilation of ideas collected, distilled, reshaped, blogged, and even tweeted during fifty years of on-the-job training and a lifetime of reading and listening to the great minds of business—people like Peter Drucker, W. Edwards Deming, Nancy Austin and Tom Peters. The use of graphics and trigger words that bring those visual images to mind was inspired by usability improvements contributed by icons in graphical user interfaces (GUIs), by the power of Tom Peters’s model of excellence, and by the effectiveness of Model-Netics, the graphic image-laden management training courses of American General during my brief tenure with the company.

The concepts inside The Language of Excellence, like the Two Certainties apply to life as well as business. The book is one of the best gifts one could give to a young professional. It can be invaluable to the entrepreneur starting a new business or to a seasoned executive frustrated by the difficulty of steering an unresponsive corporate ship.

The Language of Excellence teaches the skills for long-term purposeful success. The concept of the Two Certainties conveys that for that long-term success, you must learn to deal with and manage change, and you must accept that you and your accomplishments are what others perceive them to be. 


For more about The Language of Excellence at a discounted price for bulk purchases go to For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. Audio versions of The Claret Murders and  Diversion are available from iTunes, Audibles and Amazon. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and
Published by I-65 North, Inc.