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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 July 10, 2020

                                          The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

                                          The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

                                          Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

                                          Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

                                          The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

                                          Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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                                          Program Your Own Algorithms

                                          Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

                                          Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

                                          By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

                                          How to Form a Ritual

                                          I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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                                          Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

                                          1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
                                          2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
                                          3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
                                          4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

                                          Ways to Use a Ritual

                                          Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

                                          1. Waking Up

                                          Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

                                          2. Web Usage

                                          How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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                                          3. Reading

                                          How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

                                          4. Friendliness

                                          Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

                                          5. Working

                                          One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

                                          6. Going to the gym

                                          If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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                                          7. Exercise

                                          Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

                                          8. Sleeping

                                          Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

                                          8. Weekly Reviews

                                          The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

                                          Final Thoughts

                                          We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

                                          More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

                                           

                                          Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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