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Published on May 1, 2020

20 Best Management Books That Will Make You a Great Leader

20 Best Management Books That Will Make You a Great Leader

What makes a person a great leader? Is it a magnetic personality? Is it having a bold vision or confidence?

I would argue that all of these traits are possessed by great leaders. But how do you acquire these attributes? After all, there is such a thing as a “born leader”, but most of us who are called on to lead doesn’t fit into that category.

Fortunately, there is an abundance of information out there designed to give us the skillsets of a great leader. In this article, we listed the 20 best management books that will make you a great leader.

1. The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard Ph.D. and Spencer Johnson M.D.

    This is a remarkable book that tells the story of a young man in search of a good leader. While he encounters different management styles, some autocratic care only about results, and the workers suffered. Others with a democratic approach were only concerned with people, and the organization also suffered. Finally, he finds what he’s been looking for in a manager that uses the one-minute method.

    The one-minute method is basically a way to set clear goals or expectations for those you manage.

    For example, if you were told to clean a room, does that mean sweeping the floor, dusting the shelves, or organizing the bookshelves? But if you are told to sweep the floor and organize the bookshelves, the expectations are clearer. Then, there are one minute of praisings and one minute of reprimands where you give praise and reprimands immediately and quickly.

    Get the book here.

    2. On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis

      Considered a must-read for any business person, Warren Bennis was a business school professor at the University of Southern California. He got his first taste of leadership during world war 2 when he was one of the youngest lieutenants to serve in Europe. He is a firm believer that leaders are made, not born.

      This one of the best management books out there. It outlines several traits that make up a great leader. For Bennis, a leader is self-aware, curious, and are risk-takers. A leader sees the big picture and does what is right.

      Get the book here.

      3. Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers Into Leaders by L. David Marquet

        Marquet was the captain of a submarine and was trained to lead in the typical military fashion of issuing orders and getting results. However, one time he gave an order that was impossible to follow, but his crew tried anyway with near-disastrous results. When he asked why, the answer was “because you told me to”.

        That’s when he decided to try a different management style, giving those under him the responsibility for their job and the autonomy to do it. The results from the change in his management style were significant.

        Get the book here.

        4. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek

          Why do some teams come together to get the task done while other teams disintegrate into squabbling, infighting, and backstabbing?

          Sinek tackles this question in Leaders Eat Last after he had a conversation with a Marine Corps general. He noticed that all the junior Marines ate first, while the most senior Marines were all at the back of the line. The general explained that “leaders eat last” because what was symbolic in the chow hall was deadly serious in war.

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          Leaders need to sacrifice their own comfort and even their lives for the good of the team they lead. He goes on to illustrate his ideas through examples of true stories in business and military.

          Get the book here.

          5. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

            A list of the best management books will not be complete without this book by Carnegie. This is probably one of the most famous books on leadership ever written, and that’s for good reason.

            Carnegie reveals some of the “soft skills” of good leadership, such as making people feel important and appreciated. Implementing the ideas found in this classic will help you be a better leader, negotiator, and motivator.

            Get the book here.

            6. The Art of War by Sun Tzu

              Written over two thousand years ago, this is still touted by business people all over the world as a must-read for leaders. Sun Tzu was a military leader who put his philosophies regarding war and leadership to paper.

              It is filled with timeless wisdom such as “Avoid what is strong and strike at what is weak.” and “Supreme excellence rests in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting”.

              The book is divided into thirteen chapters and each one is devoted to a certain philosophy.

              Get the book here.

              7. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

                Another classic, Covey is widely known as a world-renowned leadership expert. Although he already has other published works, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is his most famous one.

                Covey’s idea is that true leadership starts from within. A good leader must first manage their inner well-being, create a personal vision, and cultivate self-control. Only then can they extend their influence to others.

                Here’s a short video on the 7 habits of highly successful people:

                Get the book here.

                8. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You by John Maxwell

                  One of the most popular books on leadership of all time, Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is one of the best management books you can find.

                  Maxwell contends that while there may be more “laws” of leadership than 21, these 21 laws are true and needed for anyone to be effective. Furthermore, these laws apply to all leadership roles in society, be they be in the military, business, or government.

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                  Get the book here.

                  9. Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive By Harvey B. Mackay

                    Written by a self-made millionaire, Mackay gives practical advice on how to outsell your competition and motivate your employees. It’s a short read filled with useful and practical ideas. It contains much helpful advice like “If You Don’t Have a Destination, You’ll Never Get There,” “Make Decisions with Your Heart and What You’ll End Up with Is Heart Disease,” and “It isn’t the people you fire who make your life miserable, it’s the people you don’t”.

                    Get the book here.

                    10. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini Ph.D.

                      Dr. Robert Cialdini spent his entire career researching the science of influence, earning him an international reputation as an expert in the fields of persuasion, compliance, and negotiation.

                      In his book, Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion, he breaks down the principles of influence and persuasion into six categories that are easy to understand and implement. This book will teach you not only how to persuade others but also how to protect yourself from deceptive persuasion.

                      Get the book here.

                      11. Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box by The Arbinger Institute

                        This book might be a hard read, not because of the concepts involved or the language used, but because it forces the reader to confront their responsibility for problems. Most of us like to blame things outside of us for the problems we have. But in order to truly find solutions, you need to be able to see your role in the problem.

                        The Arbinger Institute is recognized as a world leader in improving organizational effectiveness and conflict resolution.

                        Get the book here.

                        12. Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman

                          A Wall Street Journal bestseller, this relatively short, 292-page read talks about two leadership styles.

                          In this book, leadership expert Liz Wiseman explores these two leadership styles, persuasively showing how Multipliers can have a resoundingly positive and profitable effect on organizations.

                          Multipliers are the ones who get more done with fewer resources, develop and attract talent, and cultivate new ideas and energy to drive organizational change and innovation. On the other hand, Diminishers are the type of people who drain creativity and innovation from their teams.

                          Get the book here.

                          13. My Years With General Motors by Alfred Sloan Jr.

                            This is another management book that’s considered a “classic”. First published in 1963, Sloan’s My Years With General Motors became an instant bestseller. The author talks about the “discipline of management” that he has practiced for decades and which made him an effective leader.

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                            Still relevant today, Bill Gates praises this book as the best book on management. Even Business Week named it “the number one choice for its bookshelf of indispensable reading.”

                            Get the book here.

                            14. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace

                              This New York Times bestseller was produced by the co-founder of Pixar Studios – the people behind some of the most famous and successful films of all time. In this book, the authors explore the leadership qualities that have made Pixar so successful.

                              Readers can find many great ideas in this book such as, “Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. But give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better,” and “It’s not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It’s the manager’s job to make it safe for others to take them”.

                              Get the book here.

                              15. Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott

                                Kim Scott was an executive at Google and later Apple. In this insightful book about leadership and management, she shares her years of knowledge about how to be an effective leader.

                                Her fundamental belief is that a leader must truly care while still challenging employees directly. If you don’t really care, it’s authoritarian. If you don’t challenge, it’s bad for the company. And if you do neither, it’s just manipulative.

                                Get the book here.

                                16. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

                                  Another New York Times bestseller, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us crushes the notion of the carrot and stick method of management.

                                  In this book, Pink examines the difference between what science knows motivates us and what most businesses do. He postulates that people are motivated by three things, autonomy, mastery, and purpose. So, if you can provide them those things you will have a productive and efficient team.

                                  Get the book here.

                                  17. Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis & Annie McKee

                                    What’s the most important attribute of a leader? Intelligence, motivation, vision?

                                    The authors of this book put forth the argument that “emotional intelligence” is the critical factor for leadership. for them, qualities like enthusiasm, empathy, relationship management, intuitive understanding are qualities possessed by great leaders.

                                    Using many real-world examples, the authors try to define and explain those key qualities. Good leaders bring out “resonance” among a team, while poor ones create “dissonance.”

                                    Get the book here.

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

                                      In this book, the authors spell out ten “truths” about leadership. One of these is credibility, which is the foundation of leadership. A leader values and drives commitment, and the best leaders are the best learners.

                                      According to the authors, you either lead by example or you don’t lead at all. All of these truths must be understood by any great leader and you neglect them at your own peril.

                                      Get the book here.

                                      19. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh

                                        Tony Hsieh is the founder of Zappos, an online retailer that does over one billion dollars in sales annually.

                                        In this book, he explains his secrets to success. Some of the strategies he outlined include giving you employees control over their jobs (autonomy), acknowledging and encouraging progress both professionally and personally, connecting with your team personally, and being someone people would want to work for, among many others.

                                        If you are interested in having your own business or just in managing people, this is a great read.

                                        Get the book here.

                                        20. The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations by James Kouzes and Posner

                                          Last but not the least, we have The Leadership Challenge, which is one of the best management books ever written.

                                          Considered the “gold standard” of leadership manuals, The Leadership Challenge explores the difference between good leaders and great leaders. The authors outlined 5 practices of exemplary leadership: model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act, and encourage the heart.

                                          Anyone looking for great management and leadership books has to add this to their list.

                                          Get the book here.

                                          The Bottom Line

                                          Leadership is both an art and a skill. And while you can’t teach the art part of leadership, you can acquire the skills of a leader.

                                          This list of 20 best management books is by no means exhaustive, but by gaining the insights that they possess, you will be better equipped to lead.

                                          In effect, the knowledge you can acquire from these books will have you standing on the shoulders of giants.

                                          More Books About Leadership

                                          Featured photo credit: Daria Nepriakhina via unsplash.com

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                                          David Carpenter

                                          Lifelong entrepreneur and business owner helping others to realize the American Dream of business ownership

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                                          Last Updated on November 3, 2020

                                          How to Use the Prioritization Matrix When Every Task is #1

                                          How to Use the Prioritization Matrix When Every Task is #1

                                          It takes being productive to get things done correctly and on time. So how do you know which tasks are essential and which can wait? The answer is in the Prioritization Matrix, also known as the Eisenhower Matrix.

                                          The matrix took its name after Dwight David Eisenhower.

                                          Eisenhower was a general in the US army and the 34th President of the United States from 1953 to 1961. As a five-star general and a Supreme Commander in the US Army, he drafted the strategy for an Allied invasion of Europe.[1]

                                          Eisenhower had to make tough decisions every time about which tasks to prioritize out of many he needed to focus on daily. So, he came up with the famous Eisenhower Matrix, or the Prioritization Matrix.

                                          What Is the Prioritization Matrix?

                                          The Prioritization Matrix is a tool for rating your tasks based on urgency. It helps you know the critical activities and those tasks that you should bypass and can be useful in project management, small businesses, or personal tasks.

                                          Eisenhower famously said of the matrix:

                                          “Most tasks that are urgent are not important, and most tasks that are important are not urgent.”

                                          This quote became the maxim for Eisenhower in managing his time.

                                          There are four quadrants in the Prioritization Matrix, which help in comparing choices of what to do first and last, allowing you to prioritize projects and create strategic plan[2].

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                                          Eisenhower Matrix Template

                                            The quadrants are:

                                            • Do
                                            • Schedule
                                            • Delegate
                                            • Eliminate

                                            Do

                                            Do is the first quadrant in the Prioritization Matrix, and it incorporates important activities. That is, those tasks you need to carry out urgently — crises, deadlines, and issues that need your urgent attention and are highly relevant to your life mission.

                                            Hw do you know which task falls into this quadrant?

                                            Start by analyzing your priorities, and then establish if it falls within the ‘do it now’ criteria. If the task is achievable within a day, or within 24 to 48 hours, it’s urgent.

                                            Another approach you can adopt in prioritizing tasks in this category is to adopt the “eat the frog” principle by Mark Twain. This principle recommends that you do the most urgent activities as soon as you wake up.

                                            Here’s a practical example.

                                            Let’s say you need to draft a content strategy and submit a report to your manager. It’s Saturday, and the deadline for submission is Monday. Can we say the activity is urgent? Definitely!

                                            Schedule

                                            The second quadrant of the prioritization matrix is Schedule. The Prioritization Matrix classifies tasks in this category as important but not that urgent.

                                            They are long-term objectives and tasks with no immediate deadline. Those tasks could include meditation, journaling, studying, family time, and exercising.

                                            You can plan out activities in this quadrant for some other period. For instance, you should exercise for good health, but you can allocate time to do it.

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                                            Schedule these activities in such a way that they don’t transfer to the “Do” or “Urgent” quadrant. Ensure you have sufficient time to carry them out.

                                            Delegate

                                            The third quadrant of the prioritization matrix is Delegate.

                                            These tasks are not important to you but are quite urgent for others. This is where teamwork comes into play.

                                            You can technically perform tasks in this category, but it makes sense to delegate them. Delegating tasks will ensure you have more time to pursue activities in your first two quadrants.

                                            You should also monitor the tasks you have delegated. It will only amount to a sheer waste of time if you don’t have a tracking system for delegated tasks.

                                            Eliminate

                                            The last quadrant highlights your productivity killers. They are tasks that are not important to your goals and not urgent. The only way to boost your productivity is to eliminate them.

                                            Some examples are constantly checking your phone, watching movies, or playing video games.

                                            They could also be bad habits that you need to identify and delete from your daily and weekly schedule.

                                            Successful people have learned how to prioritize and stick to what’s important. They have learned to find a better person for a task or eliminate less significant tasks.

                                            Let’s consider two inspiring personalities that have designed their prioritization system.

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                                            Warren Buffet developed a two-list prioritization model to determine which task deserves his best attention. The bottom line is bypassing things that are important and useful but not top of the priorities.

                                            Mark Ford, a business advisor, marketer, self-made millionaire, and author devised his strategy:

                                            “Start work on the most crucial priority, take a break, work on the second most important task, take a break, then sort out the less important activities and any tasks he received from other individuals by afternoon.” [3]

                                            How to Use The Prioritization Matrix

                                            Using the Prioritization Matrix can be tricky if you’re new at it, but by following a few simple steps, you can learn to utilize it in the best way possible.

                                            1. List and Rank Your Priorities

                                            Highlight all the tasks you need to carry out in a day. Then, classify them with weighted criteria based on urgency and importance.

                                            Identify any activity that requires prompt action. I’m referring to a task that if you don’t complete that day, it could produce a grave consequence. For instance, if you don’t submit your content strategy, other content writers cannot work. It means you need to check for high-priority dependencies.

                                            2. Define the Value

                                            The next step is to examine the importance and assess which of them impacts your business or organization the most. As a rule of thumb, you can check which tasks possess higher priority over others. For instance, you need to attend to client’s requirements before you take care of any internal work.

                                            You can also estimate value by examining how the task impacts the people and customers in the organization. In a nutshell, the more impact a task has on people or the organization, the higher the priority.

                                            3. Take out the Most Challenging Task

                                            Procrastination is not a symptom of laziness, but avoidance is. The truth is that you will typically avoid tasks you don’t want to do. The former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, once said he would take out the most dreaded task first thing when he got to the office.

                                            Brian Tracy called these tasks the frogs you need to eat. That will remove the nagging dread, which mounts pressure on you when you postpone necessary tasks[4]. This is where the Prioritization Matrix can help; eat the “Do” frogs immediately.

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                                            If you need help overcoming procrastination, check out this article.

                                            4. Know What’s Important to You

                                            As long as you are in this cosmos, you will always encounter different choices that may be contradictory to your goals. For instance, a fantastic promotion that requires excessive travel will isolate you from important relationships. If you are not priority-conscious, you may accept it, even though your family is your priority.

                                            Therefore, it makes sense to identify what is important to you and to prepare yourself not to compromise those important things for immediate pleasure or gain.

                                            Yogi Berra captioned it this way:

                                            “If you do not know your destination, you might end up somewhere else.”

                                            5. Establish Regular “No Work” Time

                                            YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki established a rule not to check her emails between 6 pm and 9 pm. According to a CNN Business report, she was the first woman to request maternity leave when Google just got started. She prioritizes dinner time with her family despite being the CEO of YouTube[5].

                                            Is it possible to cut out time for our relationships and interests outside of work?

                                            Of course, and that’s why you need to set out your “no work” time. This approach will enable you to renew your energy levels for the next task. Also, you will be in the best position to introspect as you are not in your usual work zone.

                                            6. Know When to Stop

                                            You can achieve everything on your list sometimes. After you have prioritized your workload and assessed your estimates, remove the remaining tasks from your priority list and focus on your most urgent and important tasks.

                                            Conclusion

                                            It’s not enough to be successful at work. Ensure you make out time for your family and an important relationship in your life.

                                            Getting started and finding time may be tricky, but with some practice using the Prioritization Matrix, you’ll find that you are more productive and better able to divide your time between the things that are important to you.

                                            More Tips on Prioritizing

                                            Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

                                            Reference

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