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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 August 16, 2018

                  16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

                  16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

                  The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

                  How about a unique spin on things?

                  These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

                  1. Empty your mind.

                  It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

                  Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

                  Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

                  Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

                  How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

                  2. Keep certain days clear.

                  Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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                  This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

                  3. Prioritize your work.

                  Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

                  Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

                  Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

                  How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

                  4. Chop up your time.

                  Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

                  5. Have a thinking position.

                  Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

                  What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

                  6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

                  To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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                  Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

                  7. Don’t try to do too much.

                  OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

                  8. Have a daily action plan.

                  Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

                  Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

                  9. Do your most dreaded project first.

                  Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

                  10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

                  The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

                  11. Have a place devoted to work.

                  If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

                  But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

                  Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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                  Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

                  12. Find your golden hour.

                  You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

                  Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

                  Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

                  Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

                  13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

                  It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

                  By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

                  Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

                  14. Never stop.

                  Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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                  Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

                  There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

                  15. Be in tune with your body.

                  Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

                  16. Try different methods.

                  Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

                  It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

                  Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

                  Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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