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10 Books You Must Read to Strengthen Your Leadership Skills

10 Books You Must Read to Strengthen Your Leadership Skills
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Whether we disagree with their leadership styles or not, all true leaders have one thing in common. They are naturally curious people who are life-long learners, and they satiate their need for knowledge through reading books. If you are interested in bettering your leadership skills, you may wish to add reading to your list of daily habits. Better yet, you should considering adding these 10 books to your reading list. They are certain to help you boost your leadership skills quickly.

 1. The Leader Who had no Title – Robin Sharma

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    Robin Sharma has worked as a leadership consultant for multiple fortune 500 companies. In this book, he teaches his readers what he has taught employees at major corporations for years. This is an amazing book if you are ready to tear down the barriers of what a leader should be and who can become a leader. Did you know that you don’t need an official title to be a leader? You don’t even need people working underneath you. The author explains in detail how you can build the emotional and mental strength, among other personal traits (including compassion and purpose), to lead and influence people no matter where you are in your career path.

    1. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 – Travis Bradberry
      Emotional-Intelligence
        You won’t find too many motivational books that include a testimonial by the Dalai Lama. Of course, that is only one reason to add this book to your reading list. You have probably heard of emotional intelligence. It is a measurement of your EQ that tells you how well you function and relate to others on an emotional level. The higher your EQ, the better you are able to lead others by becoming a more empathetic, socially aware individual.
      •  The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership – John C. Maxwell
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          This is another book with an impressive endorsement. This time, Stephen Covey steps in and provides a great forward. However, even without this endorsement, this is a great book. It uses compelling stories of leadership to help illustrate Maxwell’s 21 laws of leadership. You’ll be influenced and enlightened by the time you put this book down.
        • Leaders Eat Last – Simon Sinek
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            A great leader isn’t a person who can get people to do what he or she wants. Anybody with power can do that, and power does not equal leadership. A great leader builds a team of people who want to succeed because they feel valued, that they are making a contribution, and that there own personal and professional development is a priority. This book is a great primer on obtaining success through treating people well.
          • Principle-Centered Leadership – Stephen R. Covey
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              You can’t go wrong by picking up any of Covey’s books, but this one is especially inspirational. One of the most difficult challenges you will face as a leader is healing strife within your team. Through stories of great leaders, Stephen teaches you how to make people connect with one another and work together in even the most contentious of circumstances.
              1. Bold – Steven Kotler and Peter Diamandis
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                  Exponential technologies are technologies that have the ability to generate change and improve lives in ways that their creators could have never imagined. The personal computer and the internet are two examples of these technologies. In Bold, you will learn how to use exponential technology, especially the internet, to make your visions a reality.
                  1. Drive – Daniel Pink

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                    As you develop your leadership skills, one of the most important things that you will learn to do is motivate others. Unfortunately, many leaders don’t understand what it is that actually motivates people. Daniel Pink defines both the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that drive motivation. Then, he provides helpful guidelines on using intrinsic motivation to produce and increase drive in ourselves and others.

                    1. Never Eat Alone – Keith Ferrazzi

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                      Effective leaders build relationships with their team members, peers, and others. In this book, Keith Ferrazzi not only explains the importance of developing meaningful relationships in the workplace and elsewhere, he also provides action steps you can take to make this happen. After reading this book, you will find yourself better prepared to make connections with others.

                      9.  Zero to One – Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

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                        This is a book especially written for future leaders who are also entrepreneurs. All too many brilliant people come up with great, potentially world changing ideas, but thanks to conventional thinking, never let those ideas come to reality. Instead, they tame and reshape those ideas until they come to fruition as yet another uninspiring business. You don’t have to let that happen to you or your ideas. Read this book and learn to build your startup your way.

                        1. The One Thing – Gary Keller
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                          If you are struggling to find success as a leader, you may be trying to do too many things. The author, Gary Keller asks you to focus on one thing. This is the one thing that you can do right now that will make things easier and better. That is what should become your focus. When you are done reading this book, you will be able to apply this principle to all areas of your life.

                      Featured photo credit: Germán Poo-Caamaño via flickr.com

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                      Last Updated on July 20, 2021

                      How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

                      How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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                      You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

                      Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

                      Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

                      Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

                      1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

                      According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

                      “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

                      Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

                      Warming up

                      If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

                      If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

                      Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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                      1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
                      2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
                      3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

                      Stay hydrated

                      Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

                      To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

                      Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

                      Meditate

                      Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

                      Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

                      Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

                      Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

                      2. Focus on your goal

                      One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

                      Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

                      Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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                      Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

                      If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

                      3. Convert negativity to positivity

                      There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

                      ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

                      It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

                      Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

                      Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

                      Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

                      4. Understand your content

                      Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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                      However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

                      “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

                      Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

                      Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

                      One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

                      5. Practice makes perfect

                      Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

                      In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

                      Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

                      6. Be authentic

                      There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

                      Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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                      Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

                      To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

                      With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

                      Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

                      7. Post speech evaluation

                      Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

                      Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

                      We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

                      You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

                      Improve your next speech

                      As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

                      Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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                      • How did I do?
                      • Are there any areas for improvement?
                      • Did I sound or look stressed?
                      • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
                      • Was I saying “um” too often?
                      • How was the flow of the speech?

                      Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

                      If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

                      Reference

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