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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 December 10, 2019

                  How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

                  How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

                  It is hardly a secret that the key to successfully accomplishing one goal after another is staying motivated. There are, of course, tasks which successful people may not like at all, yet they find motivation to complete them because they recognize how each particular task serves a greater goal.

                  So how to stay motivated most of the time? Here are 5 simple yet effective ways on how to stay motivated and get what you want:

                  1. Find Your Good Reasons

                  Anything you do, no matter how simple, has a number of good reasons behind it.

                  You may not be able to find good reasons to do some tasks at first but, if you take just a few moments to analyze them, you will easily spot something good. We also have many tasks which don’t need any reasoning at all – we’ve been doing them for so long that they feel natural.

                  If you’re ever stuck with some tasks you hate and there seems to be no motivation to complete it whatsoever, here’s what you need to do: find your good reasons.

                  Even when you set goals, there needs to be reasons behind these goals. They may not be obvious, but stay at it until you see some, as this will bring your motivation back and will help you finish the task.

                  Some ideas for what a good reason can be:

                  • A material reward – quite often, you will get paid for doing something you normally don’t like doing at all.
                  • Personal gain – you will learn something new or will perhaps improve yourself in a certain way.
                  • A feeling of accomplishment – at least you’ll be able to walk away feeling great about finding the motivation and courage to complete such a tedious task.
                  • A step closer to your bigger goal – even the biggest accomplishments in history have started small and relied on simple and far less pleasant tasks than you might be working on. Every task you complete brings you closer to the ultimate goal, and acknowledging this always feels good.

                  2. Make It Fun

                  When it comes to motivation, attitude is everything. Different people may have completely opposite feelings towards the same task: some will hate it, others will love it.

                  Why do you think this happens? It’s simple: some of us find ways to make any task interesting and fun to do!

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                  Take sports for example. Visiting your local gym daily for a half-an-hour workout session sounds rather boring to some. Yet many others love the idea!

                  They like exercising not only because they recognize the good reasons behind it, but simply because it’s fun! At certain time of their daily schedule, they find going to gym to be the best thing to do, simply because nothing else will fit their time and lifestyle so perfectly.

                  Depending on how you look at it, you can have fun doing just about anything! Just look for ways of having fun, and you’ll find them!

                  A simple approach is to start working on any task by asking yourself a few questions:

                  • How can I enjoy this task?
                  • What can I do to make this task fun for myself and possibly for others?
                  • How can I make this work the best part of my day?

                  As long as you learn to have the definite expectation of any task being potentially enjoyable, you will start to feel motivated.

                  Some of you will probably think of a thing or two which are valid exceptions from this statement, like something you always hate doing no matter how hard you try making it fun. You’re probably right, and that’s why I don’t claim everything to be fun.

                  However, most tasks have a great potential of being enjoyable, and so looking for ways to have fun while working is definitely a good habit to acquire.

                  3. Change Your Approach And Don’t Give Up

                  When something doesn’t feel right, it’s always a good time to take a moment and look for a different approach for the task.

                  You may be doing everything correctly and most efficiently, but such approach isn’t necessarily the most motivating one. Quite often, you can find a number of obvious tweaks to your current approach which will both change your experience and open up new possibilities.

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                  That’s why saying “one way or another” is so common — if you really want to accomplish your goal, there is always a way; and most likely, there’s more than one way.

                  If a certain approach doesn’t work for you, find another one, and keep trying until you find the one which will both keep you motivated and get you the desired results.

                  Some people think that trying a different approach means giving up. They take pride in being really stubborn and refusing to try any other options on their way towards the goal.

                  My opinion on this is that the power of focus is great, but you should be focusing on your goal, and not limiting your options by focusing on just one way to accomplish it it.

                  4. Recognize Your Progress

                  Everything you may be working on can be easily split into smaller parts and stages. For most goals, it is quite natural to split the process of accomplishing them into smaller tasks and milestones. There are a few reasons behind doing this, and one of them is tracking your progress.

                  We track our progress automatically with most activities. But to stay motivated, you need to recognize your progress, not merely track it.

                  Here’s how tracking and recognizing your progress is different:

                  Tracking is merely taking a note of having reached a certain stage in your process. Recognizing is taking time to look at a bigger picture and realize where exactly you are, and how much more you have left to do.

                  For example, if you’re going to read a book, always start by going through the contents table. Getting familiar with chapter titles and memorizing their total number will make it easier for you to recognize your progress as you read. Confirming how many pages your book has before starting it is also a good idea.

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                  You see, reading any book you will be automatically looking at page numbers and chapter titles, but without knowing the total number of pages, this information will have little meaning.

                  Somehow, it is human nature to always want things to happen in short term or even at once. Even though we split complex tasks into simpler actions, we don’t quite feel the satisfaction until all is done and the task is fully complete.

                  For many scenarios though, the task is so vast that such approach will drain all the motivation out of you long before you have a chance to reach your goal. That’s why it is important to always take small steps and recognize the positive different and progress made. This is how your motivation can sustain in long term.

                  5. Reward Yourself

                  This is a trick everyone likes: rewarding yourself is always pleasant. This is also one of the easiest and at the same time most powerful ways to stay motivated!

                  Feeling down about doing something? Dread the idea of working on some task? Hate the whole idea of working? You’re not alone.

                  Right from the beginning, agree on some deliverables which will justify yourself getting rewarded. As soon as you get one of the agreed results, take time to reward yourself in some way.

                  For some tasks, just taking a break and relaxing for a few minutes will do.

                  For others, you may want to get a fresh cup of coffee and even treat yourself a dessert.

                  For even bigger and more demanding tasks, reward yourself by doing something even more enjoyable, like going to a cinema or taking a trip to some place nice, or even buying yourself something.

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                  Your progress may not seem to others like anything worth celebrating but, take time and do it anyway! It is your task and your reward, so any ways to stay motivated are good.

                  The more you reward yourself for the honestly made progress, the more motivated you will feel about reaching new milestones, thus finally accomplishing your goal.

                  Mix and Match

                  Now that you have these five ways of staying motivated, it is a good moment to give you the key to them all: mix and match!

                  Pick one of the techniques and apply it to your situation. If it doesn’t work, or if you simply want to get more motivated, try another technique right way. Mix different approaches and match them to your task for the best results.

                  Just think about it: Finding good reasons to work on your task is bound to helping you feel better; and identifying ways to make it fun will help you enjoy the task even more.

                  Or, if you plan a few points for easier tracking of your progress and on top of that, agree on rewarding yourself as you go; this will make you feel most motivated about anything you have to work through.

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                  Featured photo credit: Lucas Lenzi via unsplash.com

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