Advertising
Advertising

25 Books That Will Teach The Most Powerful Leadership Lessons

25 Books That Will Teach The Most Powerful Leadership Lessons

You’ve heard the old saying right?

“All great leaders are readers.”

… well, it’s true. And I’m reminded of it at least once a week, when I interview an inspiring author, entrepreneur, or thought leader on my show. I ask my guests a series of questions about what contributed to their success and ability to become such great leaders. You want to know what nearly every single one of them tells me? They read books. Books are like training weights for the brain. And reading the right ones can provide you with powerful leadership lessons in a very short period of time. In this list, we’re going to go over 25 powerful books on leadership. Ready? Let’s dive in.

1. Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman

1

    Primal Leadership

    . Cool title, eh? This is the original book on emotional intelligence, right here. Pick it up and learn classic lessons in dealing with people through empathy and understanding (it’s more powerful than you think.) The depth at which the authors get into the neuroscience of influence and impact is incredibly interesting. And they become especially powerful when you connect these insights to how you lead others.

    2. The Seasons of Life by Jim Rohn

    2

      Jim Rohn was one of the greagtest speakers and storytellers to have ever lived. Period. His books and teachings on leadership and business focused on the fundamentals of human behavior and how they have an impact on optimal performance, personally and professionally. My favorite thing about Jim Rohn’s work is his ability to take complex ideas and simplify them such that anyone could understand and apply them for immediate results. Read this book for powerful lessons in leadership and a primer on living well.

      3. The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma

      3

        “A Modern Fable on Real Success in Business and in Life.” The reason why this is such a powerful leadership book is because it gets down to the nitty gritty of some of those easily overlooked qualities of leadership: modesty, consideration, empathy. When those you lead begin to see you actually living the values preached by the organization or team you’re leading — that’s when you can lead without a title. Because that is when you can be confident that you’ve gained more than mere compliance; but respect. Get the book here.

        4. Lincoln on Leadership by Donald T. Phillips

        4

          Lincoln On Leadership is more than just a list of tips from Honest Abe on how to lead (though you couldn’t go wrong with that!) This is a powerful book about how to take some of Lincoln’s most potent leadership qualities and apply them to the modern times we live in today. Read this book for classic lessons of leadership, and how to apply in the technologically-driven world of now.

          Advertising

          5. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell

          5

            Behold, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership — follow them and people will follow you. This is a powerful set of principles written by one of the foremost minds behind modern leadership thinking, John C. Maxwell. All 21 “laws” are very easy to understand, and the stories that support them make each of them actionable for us to apply within our own lives and individual leadership roles.

            6. Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath

            6

              Written by the people who brought you StrengthsFinder 2.0, the good folks at Gallup have also been focusing on the topic of leadership. And after studying over 1 million teams, and conducting more than 20,000 in-depth interviews with leaders, they’ve come out on the other end with more than just a few big ideas on leadership. Read this book to learn about great teams, and great leaders, and why people follow them.

              7. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry

              7

                Complete with a testimonial by The Dalai Lama himself, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 provides you with a modern handbook of research-driven rules on connecting with others and building relationships to help you lead. The book also comes with an emotional intelligence test to help you determine where you should focus to become a more effective and well-esteemed leader.

                8. Turn the Ship Around! by L. David Marquet

                8

                  Written by an Navy officer David Marquet, Turn The Ship Around! is a compelling and powerful leadership read that’s sure to get you thinking about leadership in a whole new way. “To give you an idea of what you’ll find in this thought-provoking book, here’s a quote from the author himself: “Leadership should mean giving control rather than taking control and creating leaders rather than forging followers.” Pick this book up for true stories and first hand accounts of what it takes to turn followers into leaders. The book comes complete with a workbook filled with tips, tools, and tactics to help you take action towards your leadership goals.

                  9. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

                  9

                    Why is it that some teams pull together, and others don’t? You’ll learn the difference in this superbly written book with stories peppered throughout. In Leaders Eat Last, author Simon Sinek asks us to imagine a world where almost everyone wakes up inspired to go to work, feels trusted and valued during the day, then returns home feeling fulfilled… this is not some idealistic dream, Sinek says, but something that is actually happening in various organizations across the United States. Buy the book here, get the audio summary, or text summary so you can get the key take-aways in under 20 minutes.

                    10. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

                    Advertising

                    10

                      The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one of the most popular personal development books ever published. Essential reading for every leader. The subtitle says it all: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. It’s true. Both in life and in business. The author, Dr. Stephen Covey, provides research-driven advice gleaned from decades of data on what it takes to become as effective as possible across every dimension of life. If I were you, I’d grab a copy of the original book and the audiobook, or if you’re short on time — the 20-minute book summary by FlashNotes.

                      11. On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis

                      11

                        Essential lessons in leadership by a foremost expert in the field, Warren Bennis (also known as “The Dean of Leadership Gurus” according to Forbes), this book provides insights on why leaders are not born, but rather, that they are made. On Becoming a Leader provides us with research on the various elements and qualities that define leadership, with real-life examples to support them. Actionable insights on how to become a better letter are also outlined.

                        12. Good to Great by Jim Collins

                        12

                          Why is it that some leaders can take companies into the multi-million (or billion!) dollar level and beyond — and others struggle to lead the customer service department? Find out in Good To Great as author Jim Collins guides you through the best leadership practices deployed by the best businesses, companies, and organizations around the world.

                          13. Principle-Centered Leadership by Stephen R. Covey

                          13

                            Another classic by Dr. Covey on the values and virtues of true leadership. In Principle Centered Leadership, Stephen Covey gives examples of some of the greatest leaders from around the world and what they did to become so influential. In the book, he covers how these leaders would bridge gaps amongst people who might otherwise hate each other. And he shows us how to do it through meaningful communication strategies and gentle persuasion This book is best consumed via audiobook (I’ve probably listened to it over 100 times, and because it’s only about an hour long, you may end up doing the same thing too.) But if you prefer books, you can always go that route too.

                            14. Drive by Daniel H. Pink

                            14

                              This book is packed with some of the most powerful leadership lessons you’ll ever learn. Author Daniel Pink debunks some of the biggest myths about what really motivates us at work; immediately putting Drive on every serious leader’s reading list. Drive describes the characteristics of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation — and how far too many organizations rely on extrinsic motivators, even though these are often counterproductive. Instead, Pink explains how we can best motivate ourselves and others by understanding how to utilize intrinsic motivators. Bottom line? You can’t lead anyone unless you know what moves and inspires them, and Drive is a cornerstone book on how to figure that out.

                              15. Leadership Without Easy Answers by Ronald Heifetz

                              15

                                Making decisions is no easy task when the buck stops at your desk. If you’re the type of leader that needs to make hard decisions, then author Ronald Heifetz has the strategies to help you make them as effectively as possible. In this book, he draws on a dozen years of research from leadership professions of various degree, including: managers, officers, politicians, non-profit leaders, business leaders, and even teachers. He all this data and translates it into clear, concrete steps for anyone who needs to take the lead in — regardless of industry or title.

                                Advertising

                                16. Leadership from the Inside Out by Kevin Cashman

                                16

                                  This book teaches long-term leadership principles you’ll carry with you for life. Leadership from the Inside Out is really a personal growth disguised as a business and leadership book. Packed with research, case studies, tools and strategies — this book is an excellent guide for current and aspiring leaders at every level.

                                  17. The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker

                                  17

                                    Written by the most prolific management and leadership writer of his time (and perhaps, of all time), Peter R. Drucker, this is the definitive guide to getting the right things done that every leader needs to read. Get the book here. Or pickup the book summary here.

                                    18. Give and Take by Adam Grant

                                    18

                                      Most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return. Adam Grant takes a deep dive into why helping others drives our success in life and business. Packed with profound and powerful lessons in how strategic giving and contribution helps us get ahead — both personally and professionally. Pick up the summary to get the actionable insights or purchase the full book.

                                      19. A Path Appears by Nicholas D. Kristof

                                      19

                                        This is an incredibly inspiring read that will make you think hard about making a difference in the world — regardless of where you stand today. A Path Appears is a road map for anyone that wants to find and lead a life that matters. It will help you become a more effective global citizen, in your own special way. This is a book about giving and contribution — an all too forgotten leadership lesson that might be the most powerful one of them all.

                                        10. The ONE Thing by Gary Keller

                                        20

                                          The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results? Focus on your ONE thing. If you can cultivate the habit of doing this, you’ve already harnessed one of the most powerful leadership lessons out there. If you haven’t, then go get this book. Or read the book notes for the key take-aways.

                                          21. The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr

                                          Advertising

                                          21

                                            The authors of The Power of Full Engagement say that the real key to high performance isn’t about managing your time — it’s about managing your energy.  Because let’s face it — no matter how powerful your leadership title says you are, you’re powerless without your health and wellbeing. When you break it down to the basics — you find that this book provides us with a much needed crash course on a much needed topic: well-being.

                                            22. The Promise of a Pencil by Adam Braun

                                            22

                                              The author of The Promise of a Pencil, Adam Braun, was on what he thought was the straight-path to financial prosperity beginning from the age of sixteen, when he began working summers at hedge funds. He’d planned on embarking on a successful Wall Street career… that is, until he traveled to India and ran into a child on the streets begging for the things that most of us take for granted. When Adam asked the boy what he wanted most in the world, he replied, “A pencil.” And this is where Braun began his journey from corporate consultant to global philanthropist. This book has some unconventional — but powerful — leadership lessons to help you lead a successful and significant life.

                                              23. Zero to One by Peter Thiel, Blake Masters

                                              zero-to-one-cover

                                                The most powerful leadership lessons in this book are about building the future without being too concerned about what people think, or feeling like you’ve got to mould inspiring ideas into another boring business. Zero To One is a powerful book about leading the future — both in technology and otherwise. And because of its focus on building a brighter future for humanity by way of innovation — Zero To One also makes for excellent reading for leaders looking for better answers in the world of technology and business. Pick it up here. Or go for the book summary here.

                                                24. Start With Why by Simon Sinek

                                                24

                                                  Simon Sinek’s first book on leadership was an instant hit, because it gave easy-to-understand examples of how great leaders like MLK and the Wright Brothers defied the odds and inspired people to take action… and getting people to act, let alone inspiring them in the process, is one of the most difficult, but powerful leadership lessons anyone can learn. This book teaches you how… and why.

                                                  25. How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

                                                  25a

                                                    Who could forget this classic? How To Win Friends & Influence People will teach you some of the powerful leadership lessons in dealing with people elegantly — even when dealing with the worst of personalities. Here are three ways to enjoy Carnegie’s timeless classic: get the original bookget the audiobook, or get the book summary.

                                                    Which book will you read first?

                                                    Now that you’ve got this list of books — and the powerful leadership lessons contained within them – there’s only one question left… Which one do you read first? Should you go out and get all of them immediately? Should you read them all at once? So many options. So little time. Ultimately, it’s totally your decision what you do with this list and how you apply it to your life and career. But if I may, here’s what I would suggest you consider as you get started:

                                                    • Subscribe to a book summary site, like FlashNotes Book Summaries to get the key-takeaways from the books on this list.
                                                    • If you’d prefer to read an entire book, I would highly suggest that you read just ONE book at a time. Sometimes, when we see something new and exciting, we have tendency to want to do/learn/read it all at once… and as we all know, this is nearly impossible to do without stressing ourselves out. So, choose a book. And then commit to reading it from start to finish.
                                                    • If you’re in a rush, try Audio books, or Audible Book Summaries.
                                                    • Finally, if you’re in a super rush, checkout some YouTube video book summaries, like this one.

                                                    Featured photo credit: race via shutterstock.com

                                                    More by this author

                                                    Dean Bokhari

                                                    Author, Entrepreneur, Podcast & TV Host

                                                    How to Be Productive: 11 Ways to Be Productive and Happy at Once 11 Life-Changing Books To Help You Build Better Habits nutrition books 6 Nutrition Books That Will Transform Your Health successful ceo The Daily Rituals of 7 Successful CEOs 10 Mind Expanding Books To Read In A Lifetime

                                                    Trending in Productivity

                                                    1 How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work 2 Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress 3 How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money 4 7 Steps For Making a New Year’s Resolution and Keeping It 5 How to Concentrate and Train Your Brain to Focus Better

                                                    Read Next

                                                    Advertising
                                                    Advertising
                                                    Advertising

                                                    Published on January 16, 2019

                                                    How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

                                                    How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

                                                    We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

                                                    You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

                                                    You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

                                                    That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

                                                    Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

                                                    1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

                                                    Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

                                                    We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

                                                    To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

                                                    At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

                                                    The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

                                                    2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

                                                    Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

                                                    The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

                                                    In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

                                                    It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

                                                    It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

                                                    Advertising

                                                    So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

                                                    • Are you a great strategist?
                                                    • Are you an effective planner?
                                                    • Is Project Management your strength?
                                                    • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
                                                    • Are you the ideas person?
                                                    • Is Implementation your strength?

                                                    Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

                                                    3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

                                                    One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

                                                    Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

                                                    Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

                                                    Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

                                                    4. Take Time for Planning

                                                    “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

                                                    One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

                                                    You can take the time to think about:

                                                    • What’s the purpose of the project?
                                                    • How Important is it?
                                                    • When does it need to be delivered by?
                                                    • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
                                                    • What are the KPIs?
                                                    • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
                                                    • Who is working on this project?
                                                    • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
                                                    • What tolerances can I add in?
                                                    • What are the review stages?
                                                    • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

                                                    Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

                                                    5. Focus on Priorities

                                                    Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

                                                    Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

                                                    One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

                                                    1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
                                                    2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
                                                    3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
                                                    4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

                                                    James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

                                                    Advertising

                                                      The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

                                                      If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

                                                      If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

                                                      6. Take Time Out

                                                      To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

                                                      If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

                                                      Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

                                                      In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

                                                      Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

                                                      7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

                                                      Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

                                                      I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

                                                      Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

                                                      If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

                                                      8. Stop Multitasking

                                                      Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

                                                      So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

                                                      When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

                                                      Advertising

                                                      If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

                                                      9. Work in Blocks of Time

                                                      To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

                                                      I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

                                                      Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

                                                      Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

                                                      Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

                                                      Then take another 10-minute break.

                                                      Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

                                                      By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

                                                      10. Get Rid of Distractions

                                                      Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

                                                      “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

                                                      Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

                                                      If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

                                                      11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

                                                      You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

                                                      Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

                                                      Advertising

                                                      Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

                                                      12. Take a Time Audit

                                                      Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

                                                      Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

                                                      You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

                                                      Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

                                                      Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

                                                      At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

                                                      If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

                                                      13. Protect Your Confidence

                                                      It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

                                                      When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

                                                      Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

                                                      When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

                                                      Final Words

                                                      A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

                                                      The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

                                                      If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

                                                      Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

                                                      Reference

                                                      Read Next