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No One Told You the Book List for Improving Leadership Skills? I Will

No One Told You the Book List for Improving Leadership Skills? I Will

Becoming a better leader takes effort, making mistakes, reflection and study. When you lead, you are expected to take chances and take risks. If you are driven by a need for security, you may not have what it takes to become a leader.

To help you understand your leadership strengths and provide practical ideas to lead better, start with reading these books. This combination of personal development, biography and business books provide several perspectives on leadership skills. If you are a regular reader like me, you may find yourself reading the same category of books over and over again (e.g., only business books) and neglecting other genres. Take this opportunity to read widely — there is more than one way to lead successfully.

1. Churchill: A Life by Sir Martin Gilbert

Churchill

    Winston Churchill remains one of the most inspiring and accomplished leaders in history. What leadership skills can you learn from studying Churchill? You can learn the value of personal focus — how Churchill overcame rejection when he started his military career. You can also learn how Churchill developed his public speaking skills. Though Churchill is widely known and respected for his speeches today, those leadership skills did not develop overnight.

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    2. The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential by John C. Maxwell

    5_Levels_of_Leadership__85464_zoom

      As one of the most popular and respected leadership authors in America, there is much we can learn from John C. Maxwell’s books and example. Consider his own leadership career as a starting point. He started his career in the church, began a non-profit organization and today leads a successful leadership development company. The ability to achieve success in several industries shows that Maxwell’s leadership ideas have been tested in the field.

      3. Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow

      Washington-A-Life

        America’s first President is widely respected for several important leadership accomplishments. He led soldiers into battle and through years of physical hardship during the War of Independence. He later served as America’s first President, a rare figure who had the ability to unite a young country. But how did he achieve all these leadership feats? Chernow’s outstanding biography takes us behind the scenes with outstanding research that features quotes from Washington’s letters and other sources. To start your Washington education today, read Career Hacks From Young George Washington.

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        4. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

        switch

          Leaders are rarely interested in the status quo. As a leader, you will be asked to create change. There are all changes of change projects you may lead — launching a new product, improving customer service or improving productivity. In this highly readable book (I read it on the beach and was glued to it!), Dan and Chip Heath explain how change really works. A key insight — change efforts require an understanding of logic, habits and psychology. If you miss one of those aspects, your leadership will fail. The book makes use of stories and studies to teach great points on how to make change happen.

          5. The Truth about Leadership: The No-fads, Heart-of-the-Matter Facts You Need to Know by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

          the-truth-about

            Your personal qualities and character are key factors in determining your success as a leader. The authors present a compelling case on what makes leaders successful based on decades of research. The first important insight is that honesty and integrity are the foundation for your success as a leader. Without those qualities, few people will be inclined to trust you. The second great insight I learned from this book is the importance of the leader going first and taking risks. For example, if your company is about to adopt a new computer system, you can signal your leadership by being the first to go through the training and then supporting the rest of the team. Thanks to leadership expert Richard Rierson for recommending this book to me.

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            6. Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

            fivedysfunctions

              Lencioni has a highly readable style in the world of business books. He tells a compelling fictional story and then has his characters work out his principles over time. In this book, you will learn Lencioni’s perspective on team work. A major lesson from this book: Simply hiring a group of high performance people is not enough to create a team. Relationships within the team matter more. Without that trust and connection, the team will never perform at a top level.

              7. The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done by Peter Drucker

              Effective Executive

                Drucker’s classic book has stood the test of time in the business world. Leaders will benefit from reading this book in two ways. First, Drucker provides timeless productivity principles to help leaders manage their priorities. Second, the book has incredible lessons on making decisions and following through on those decisions.

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                On occasion, some of the language and examples may feel dated. Don’t let that stop you from growing your leadership skills with this classic book. If you enjoy Drucker’s perspective, consider reading “A Year with Peter Drucker,” which provides a detailed discussion of his ideas.

                8. Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam M. Grant

                Give and Take Book Cover

                  Adam Grant has reshaped the leadership conversation with his New York Times bestseller, “Give and Take”. Leaders who give AND take achieve more success — that’s the ultimate lesson from the book. The book is also filled with motivation and productivity studies that will benefit leaders. A great example is the call centre study that Grant conducted. The study focused on a university call center where callers sought donations to the college. The productivity and average donation received significantly increased when the callers had a short presentation from a student who had benefited from the fundraising.

                  Featured photo credit: Book/kaboompics via pixabay.com

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                  Bruce Harpham

                  Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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                  Last Updated on September 24, 2020

                  17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

                  17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

                  In the movie The Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and his friends possessed to learn new skills in a matter of seconds. With the incredible rise in technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a reality than you realize.

                  The current generation has access to more knowledge and information than any before it. Through the internet, we are able to access all sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question. To become smarter, it’s more about the ability to learn faster, rather than being a natural born genius.

                  Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style learning experience in a short amount of time.

                  1. Deconstruct and Reverse Engineer

                  Break down the skill that you want to learn into little pieces and learn techniques to master an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole skill.

                  For example, when you’re learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the strumming.

                  2. Use the Pareto Principle

                  Use the Pareto Principle, which is also known as the 80 20 rule. Identify the 20% of the work that will give you 80% of the results. Find out more about the 80 20 rule here: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

                  Take learning a new language for example. It does not take long to realize that some words pop up over and over again as you’re learning. You can do a quick search for “most commonly used French words,” for example, and begin to learn them first before adding on the rest.

                  3. Make Stakes

                  Establish some sort of punishment for not learning the skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals. Or you can place a bet with a friend to light that fire under you.

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                  However, keep in mind that several studies have shown that rewards tend to be more motivating than punishment[1].

                  4. Record Yourself

                  Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistakes and identify areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians, actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

                  5. Join a Group

                  There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it’s a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected with other like-minded individuals.

                  6. Time Travel

                  Visit the library. Although everything is moving more and more online, there are still such things called libraries.

                  Whether it’s a municipal library or your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available there that are not accessible online. Specifically, look for the hidden treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

                  7. Be a Chameleon

                  When you want to learn new skills, imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else do it. Participate in mimicry and copy what you see.

                  Studies have shown that, apart from learning,[2]

                  “Mimicry is an effective tool not only to create ties and social relationships, but also for maintaining them.”

                  Visual learning is a great way to speed up the learning process. YouTube has thousands of videos on almost every topic available.

                  8. Focus

                  Follow one course until success! It’s easy to get distracted, to throw in the towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you initially set out to do.

                  Ditch the whole idea of multitasking, as it has been shown to be detrimental and unproductive Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

                  9. Visualize

                  The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before attempting the real thing[3].

                  Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each step that you need to make to see results. This is an important skill to help when you’re learning the basics or breaking a bad habit.

                  Take a look at this article to learn how to do so: How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

                  10. Find a Mentor

                  Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made.

                  Finding out what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning when you want to learn new skills. It is a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done. Reach out and send an email to them.

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                  If you need help learning how to find a mentor, check out this article.

                  11. Sleep on It

                  Practice your new skill within four hours of going to sleep.

                  Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, is a noted rapid learning expert. He says that any practice done within this time frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics are ingrained at a quicker level.

                  12. Use the 20-Hour Rule

                  Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magic number of hours to dedicate to learning the new skill.

                  His reasoning is that everyone will hit a wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.[4]

                  Check out his video to find out more:

                  13. Learn by Doing

                  It’s easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to learn new skills and never actually get around to doing those skills. The best way to learn is to do.

                  Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are physically engaged continuously. Keep alternating between research and practice.

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                  14. Complete Short Sprints

                  Rather than to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication, work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and stretch or take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks, so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

                  One study found that, between two groups of students, the students who took two short breaks when studying actually performed better than those who didn’t take breaks[5].

                  15. Ditch the Distractions

                  Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

                  Before you sit down to learn new skills, make sure that potential distractions are far from sight.

                  16. Use Nootropics

                  Otherwise known as brain enhancers, these cognitive boosters are available in natural herbal forms and in supplements.

                  Many students will swear by the increased focus that nootropics will provide[6], particularly as they get set for some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

                  Find out more about brain supplements in this article.

                  17. Celebrate

                  For every single small win that you experience during the learning process, be sure to celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back. This positive reinforcement will help you keep pushing forward as you learn new skills.

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                  The Bottom Line

                  Learning a new skill should be exciting and fun. Whether you use online courses, real world experience, YouTube videos, or free online resources, take time to learn in the long term. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation.

                  More Tips on How to Learn New Skills

                  Featured photo credit: Elijah M. Henderson via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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