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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

15 Best Leadership Books Every Leader Must Read To Achieve Success

15 Best Leadership Books Every Leader Must Read To Achieve Success

Reading is an essential life skill. It’s how we record our history and share stories. Sure, there are countless books jam-packed from cover to cover with valuable facts. But there are also limitless volumes containing invaluable insights on the human experience.

Generations of people have scribed their experiences and struggles, their emotions and confessions onto blank pages, thereby transforming them into rich resources. Given this truth, it’s disheartening to report that global literacy rates are in decline.[1] Individuals young and old all around the world are reading less, less absorbedly.

According to author John Coleman, this lack of literature extends into the business world and all the way up the corporate ladder.[2] In his experience, “business people seem to be reading less.” Which is bad news considering the fact that “broad reading habits are often a defining characteristic of our greatest leaders.”

Perhaps it’s because reading has been shown to improve communication,[3] emotional intelligence,[4] organizational effectiveness, and to reduce stress.[5] All of which are critical requirements for an effective leader.

Now that you’ve been sufficiently convinced of the importance of reading, you’re probably wondering what you should be reading. You might also be thinking that you don’t have the time. Well, the truth is that you do have the time:

“Reading must become as natural as eating and breathing to you.”

You don’t have to read 52 books in a year, but you do have to make time for more reading. And when you do, this list of the 15 best leadership books to read will inform and inspire you to become a great leader.

Lead Yourself

Before you can lead someone else, a group of people, or a company, you must be able to lead yourself. That means discipline, self-actualization, sense of purpose, and humility.

1. Meditations

by Marcus Aurelius

    Although Aurelius was writing for himself, the surviving text is a road map to living a better life. By removing the excess, Aurelius shows us all how to rise above distractions to maintain our principles. Rooted in Stoic philosophy, Meditations is practical advice for controlling your thoughts, emotions, and actions to remove stress from your life.

    Print | eBook

    2. Man’s Search for Meaning

    by Viktor Frankel

      This book recounts Viktor Frankel’s experience in Auschwitz, the Nazi prison camp, during the Holocaust. Through all the pain and suffering Frankel was able to maintain perspective and conclude that there “must be meaning in suffering.” He reminds us that the meaning of life is to define that meaning for ourselves through action.

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      Print | eBook | Audiobook

      3. The Alchemist

      by Paulo Coelho

        Life is a journey. Each one of us should be trying to follow our own personal legend (that is, what you have always wanted to accomplish). The tale of Santiago, a shepherd boy, reveals what happens when we pursue our own legend: “the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

        Print | eBook | Audiobook

        Defining Leadership

        After building your foundation from which to lead, it’s important to understand exactly what leadership is and how it’s applied. It’s also helpful to study other successful leaders and businesses.

        4. The Truth About Leadership

        by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

          There are some things that will always play a role in effective leadership. Trust, credibility, and ethics are among those things. Kouzes and Posner reveal 30 years of research that support these and other core principles.

          Print | eBook | Audiobook

          5. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t

          by Jim Collins

            Some companies succeed, but most fail. Jim Collins evaluated thousands of articles and interview transcripts to figure out why exactly that is. Then he packaged it all into this book to show you what traits you’ll need to build a great company.

            Print | eBook | Audiobook

            6. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

            by Steven R. Covey

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              Seven Habits is a timeless lesson in leadership and success. By changing your mindset to embrace an alternative perspective, Covey walks you through the self-mastery Paradigm Shift. This process is broken down into Independence, Interdependence, and Continual Improvement, resulting in meaningful and consistent growth.

              Print | eBook | Audiobook

              7. Delivering Happiness

              by Tony Hsieh

                As CEO of Zappo, Tony Hsieh built a massively successful business by doing what everyone else talks about: putting the customer first and hiring the right people. Serving customers and company culture were the main focus. As a result employees and customers were happy and satisfied. Hsieh was able to dismantle traditional corporate leadership and deliver happiness and loads of profit along the way

                Print | eBook

                8. The Innovator’s Dilemma

                by Clayton Christensen

                  Here Harvard professor and businessman Clayton Christensen lays out the path to “disruptive innovation.” This, as described by Christensen, requires rejecting the needs of the customer right now in favor of adopting new methods and technologies that will meet their needs in the future. Early adopters and innovators get ahead; all of the others fall behind.

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                  9. Tribes

                  by Seth Godin

                    Start by reading Tribes and then continue on reading everything Godin has written. From his blog to his books and everything in between, Godin is sharing a winning formula for stepping outside of the status quo to do meaningful work. It’s this kind of work that will inspire others to follow, help you get noticed, and leave a legacy long after you’re gone.

                    Print | eBook | Audiobook

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                    Communicate and Motivate

                    To lead you must inspire others to follow your example or orders. It helps if you’re able to attract, engage, and encourage employees, business partners, and potential clients to get on board with your plan or proposal.

                    10. Drive

                    by Daniel H. Pink

                      The ability to motivate is central to leadership. That’s what makes Pink’s book so valuable. Packed with the secrets of motivation, Pink suggests we move away from rewards and punishment, opting for meaningful work, mastery, and autonomy instead.

                      Print | eBook | Audiobook

                      11. How to Win Friends and Influence People

                      by Dale Carnegie

                        Everyone wants to feel important. In Win Friends Carnegie shows you how to use that in your favor to make people like you and win people over. It’s a book about how to communicate and interact with people in a meaningful way. It all comes down to showing interest in the people you interact with and the work that they are doing. If you make that connection you will have won a friend.

                        Print | eBook | Audiobook

                        12. Team of Rivals

                        by Doris Kearns Goodwin

                          If Abe Lincoln can unite his cabinet and the country around abolishing slavery amidst war, you can probably reconcile conflicting personalities in your company. Meshing people of divergent ideologies into a team or group is an admirable leadership trait. In Team of Rivals Kearns Goodwin recounts the story of how Lincoln surrounded himself with the best people, despite their differences. He was humble and unafraid to be challenged: two traits that will serve every leader.

                          Print | eBook | Audiobook

                          Keep Going

                          Sometimes things don’t go as planned. If and when that happens, you’ll have to pick yourself up and start all over again. Perseverance and resilience are mandatory.

                          13. Endurance

                          by Endurance

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                            In 1914, explorer Edward Shackleton undertook an expedition to the South Pole. Although the mission was a failure, the resulting story of survival in the ice-bound Antarctic seas serves as a guide post for leaders confronted with adversity.

                            Print | eBook | Audiobook

                            Be Real

                            No one can fake leadership. And, if they can, it won’t last long. Acknowledging fear and vulnerability are far more valuable leadership skills than being cold or shut-off.

                            14. Daring Greatly

                            by Brené Brown

                              Being vulnerable doesn’t have to be a weakness. Fear and shame shouldn’t prevent us from daring to do big things. Instead, Brown tells us that it’s most important to show up; to try and to fail. Because coming up short is better than never having tried at all.

                              Print | eBook | Audiobook

                              15. The War of Art

                              by Steve Pressfield

                                Anything you create is going to require one heck of a battle: that’s the war of art. Every single person in the world who has written a book, published an article, started a business, or made “art” has been scared out of their mind. Procrastination, fear, and self-doubt strike everyone. The only way to beat them is to make stuff and share it with the world.

                                Print | eBook | Audiobook

                                Featured photo credit: Quino Al via unsplash.com

                                Reference

                                [1] Sustainable Development Goals: Data for the Sustainable Development Goals
                                [2] Harvard Business Review: For Those Who Want to Lead, Read
                                [3] Adv Child Dev Behav: Does reading make you smarter? Literacy and the development of verbal intelligence.
                                [4] Harvard Business review: What Makes a Leader?
                                [5] Telegraph: Reading ‘can help reduce stress’

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                                Last Updated on February 21, 2019

                                How to Stop Information Overload

                                How to Stop Information Overload

                                Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

                                This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

                                As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

                                But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

                                How Serious Is Information Overload?

                                The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem.

                                This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

                                When we see some half-baked blog posts we don’t even consider reading, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it.

                                We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

                                No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on.

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                                The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

                                That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

                                Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control.

                                Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it.

                                But first, admit that information overload is really bad for you.

                                Why Information Overload Is Bad for You

                                Information overload stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here.

                                When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

                                Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

                                The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

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                                You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work or enjoy your passion.

                                How to Stop Information Overload (And Start to Achieve More)

                                So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with setting goals.

                                1. Set Your Goals

                                If you don’t have your goals put in place, you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

                                Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

                                Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

                                Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

                                2. Know What to Skip When Facing New Information

                                Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks, you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

                                First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans, then skip it. You don’t need it.

                                If it does, then ask yourself these questions:

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                                • Will you be able to put this information into action immediately?
                                • Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks?
                                • Is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away?

                                If the information is not actionable in a day or two, then skip it.

                                (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

                                And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

                                You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant.

                                Self-control comes handy too. It’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future, then SKIP IT.

                                3. Be Aware of the Minimal Effective Dose

                                There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour BodyTim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs.

                                Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose, no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

                                Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life.

                                Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

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                                4. Don’t Procrastinate by Consuming More Information

                                Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article, we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

                                This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

                                Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

                                The focus of this article is not on how to stop procrastinating, but if you’re having such issue, I recommend you read this:

                                Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

                                Summing It Up

                                As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance.

                                I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over.

                                I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

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                                Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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