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

                                                    The Daily Rituals of 7 Successful CEOs 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 10 Mind Expanding Books To Read In A Lifetime

                                                    Trending in Productivity

                                                    1 How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas 2 Habits and Motivation: Master Both for Big Results 3 How to Improve Concentration and Sharpen Your Attention at Work 4 10 Reasons Why You’re Demotivated and How to Overcome It 5 How to Prevent Inaction from Leading to Regret

                                                    Read Next

                                                    Advertising
                                                    Advertising
                                                    Advertising

                                                    Last Updated on May 21, 2019

                                                    How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

                                                    How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

                                                    Regardless of how creative you already consider yourself to be, there’s a good chance you would like to level up your creative abilities.

                                                    You might want to write a better song, think of better solutions to problems at work or around the home or maybe paint a picture.

                                                    In any case, the good news is that creativity is not born: it’s made, and each one of us has the potential to be more creative and come up with incredible ideas.

                                                    “Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

                                                    The definition of creativity is broad, and reminds us that creativity is not limited to artists or musicians. It does however require that we have some kind of impact on the domain in which we create.

                                                    Creativity also emphasizes values.

                                                    “The process of having original ideas that have value” — Ken Robinson

                                                    This makes up for what Csikszentmihalyi misses out. For instance, we can make a change in the world without adding significant value. Any destructive act, like smashing a window, creates change, but it doesn’t necessarily create valuable change.

                                                    In short, there isn’t one single definition of creativity It’s up to us to find a definition that feels true and useful. When you know what your standard is, It’s much easier to embrace creativity and start to cultivate it.

                                                    And in this article, you will learn how to be more creative and take a good look at what goes into the creative skill:

                                                    1. Cultivate Focus

                                                    In order to create, there needs to be a focus on creating something, whether it’s a song, a theory, a product, or a sculpture.

                                                    You could also call this “drive” – it’s the initial spark that drives the solution to a problem, or the will to get on your laptop and start typing.

                                                    However, it’s worth noting there are different stages to the creative process: the divergent stage and the convergent stage.

                                                    In the divergent stage, we want a broad focus – we want to be willing to let in lots of different inputs, ideas and insights. This is the time for brainstorming all possible ideas and solutions.

                                                    In the convergent stage, we start to narrow our focus, like a camera lens. At this stage, we start to drill down to a handful of ideas or solutions, discriminating throughout the process.

                                                    How to cultivate focus?

                                                    Advertising

                                                    Take a 20 Minute Walk

                                                    Walking away and getting your heart rate up is the best free tool you have in regaining your focus.

                                                    I know it might seem counterintuitive to take a break right when you’re at your busiest, and especially when you’re drowning in your massive to do list, but the effects it will have on your clarity and ability to focus are undeniable.

                                                    Walking is physiologically proven to release stress, and clear your mind. In fact, most of my most brilliant ideas (and some pretty terrible ones too) have occurred on my daily walks.

                                                    If you give this technique a try, what you’ll find is that you’re much more productive than you were before you took a breather.

                                                    Over time, if you do these walks daily, you’ll quickly find that your to-do list starts to feel a lot less significant, and a lot more doable. It’s all about keeping razor focused, and that’s what short daily walks will gift you.

                                                    2. Build a Structure

                                                    When I wake up in the morning, I start the day with a structure in mind. I know that 15 minutes will be dedicated to meditation, 30 minutes to coffee and reading, 20 minutes to yoga and so on.

                                                    The structure of this morning routine might be boring, but the act of each task in itself has the potential to be, on some level, “creative.”

                                                    The point of structure is that it gives you the space to make time for something you want to do. It helps you carve out the time to do your creative work. Once you begin that thing in itself, you are free to go about it however you’d like.

                                                    Without structure, we can lose focus and can feel overwhelmed with possibility. If you’ve ever looked at a blank page and felt too overwhelmed with possibility to make a mark on it, you’ll know what I mean. How much easier it gets when you are given some guidelines or a deadline?

                                                    The trick is finding the right amount of structure for you and your creative needs. Too little structure and we feel overwhelmed. Too much structure, and we risk feeling limited and stifled.

                                                    Again, it’s worth thinking about creating in those two stages: divergent (less structure) and convergent (more structure.)

                                                    How to build a structure?

                                                    Create a Morning Routine

                                                    Your morning routine doesn’t have to be rigid or so arduous you dread waking up. In fact, it should feel like the opposite. When you get a routine that works for you, you’ll look forward to starting the day.

                                                    We all have different needs and preferences which can shape our ideal routine. In the book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, you can be inspired over 160 different creators’ daily routines, from Charles Darwin to Pablo Picasso.

                                                    Experiment with any that take your fancy, and see how you feel with a bit more structure to start your day.

                                                    You can also take a look at this article about morning routine for inspirations: The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

                                                    Advertising

                                                    3. Find Motivation

                                                    There is a theory that suggests: people will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself — not by external pressures. This is also known as intrinsic motivation; a drive that comes from within.

                                                    Think of a time when you did some of your best work — chances are you were totally absorbed in what you were doing, to the exclusion of everything else. You were completely focused on the work itself, barely noticing time flying by.

                                                    Now think of a time when you felt under pressure to perform. Maybe it was an exam, or a commission for an important client, or maybe your boss had told you “there’s a lot riding on this.”

                                                    Notice the difference? In the first memory, you were driven by intrinsic motivation, which made it relatively easy, even enjoyable, to be highly creative.

                                                    In the second memory however, extrinsic motivation was breathing down your neck, distracting you by whispering about the rewards for success and the horrible consequences of failure: likely making it harder to focus on the task at hand.

                                                    For this reason, intrinsic motivation, if you can find it, is what separates the good from great creative work.

                                                    This isn’t to say only internal motivators help. I personally get motivated by luring myself to work with a good cappuccino at my favourite cafe. That will get me ready to write or edit or whatever I’ve been avoiding.

                                                    How to find motivation?

                                                    Connect to Your “Why”

                                                    Your “Why” is your fuel: the thing that drives you forward, that gives you a reason to do what you’re doing.

                                                    ‘He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.’ — Friedrich Nietzche

                                                    When you have a reason to do something, a purpose or a goal that matters to you, you can connect your daily actions to it. Then, each act becomes infused with meaning and you find that intrinsic motivation comes naturally.

                                                    The trick is to remember your “why” and connect with it on a regular basis.

                                                    Think about how you want to feel on a daily basis. What would you like to accomplish in the next year? What would you like for yourself in the next five years? How about in your lifetime?

                                                    Ultimately, the tasks you face on a daily basis, or at least some of them, will connect to a greater purpose if you follow this path and you will find you feel more motivated to create and less resistance.

                                                    If you aren’t sure where to start looking for motivation, this will help: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

                                                    4. Be an Expert in a Chosen Domain

                                                    Research has shown that just as expertise in one domain does not predict expertise in other unrelated domains; creativity in one domain does not predict creativity in other unrelated domains.[1]

                                                    Advertising

                                                    So just because you can paint a pretty picture, doesn’t mean you can creatively solve a mathematical problem.

                                                    If you’ve taken one of those tests like the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, which will ask you to think of a bazillion uses for a pencil, and scored well, unfortunately this is only an indicator of divergent thinking skills. It is not a predictor for creativity all round.

                                                    The good news is, you can train your creativity in your chosen domain. Much like a muscle, you can isolate exercises to strengthen it.

                                                    Of course you can still do a total body workout – or atotal creativity workout – but it means your creativity-training exercises need to come from a wide variety of domains; not just thinking up uses for a pencil.

                                                    How to become an expert?

                                                    Make a Mastery Training Plan

                                                    Following our physical workout analogy, it’s worth applying the habits of great athletes to your chosen creative domain. For example:

                                                    1. Decide what area/s you want to work on

                                                    Much like a tennis player who decides they need to improve their serving technique, you can decide what area within your creative domain you want to improve at. Get specific.

                                                    2. Decide how much time you can dedicate

                                                    Most of us don’t have all day to train like a pro tennis player might, but you can likely squeeze 20 to 30 minutes in a day, if you want to. Whatever the time you can allow is, decide to dedicate yourself to it.

                                                    3. Review your progress

                                                    Finally, in order to check your progress, you can take regular reviews. Decide what your metrics are, and take time each week to check in with yourself.

                                                    How many days did you practice? How did you compare to the previous week? This kind of review can help you stay on track, and actually creates more intrinsic motivation as you see yourself develop.

                                                    5. Create a Conducive Environment

                                                    A psychologist in 1943 proposed that behaviour is:[2]

                                                    “a function of both the person as well as the physical environment they are in.”

                                                    I would suggest that the act of creating is a behaviour and that, even though it begins as an internal process, it’s very much affected by and even dependent on the environment we are in.

                                                    Advertising

                                                    I started noticing how environment affects me when I worked in an office. Over time, I realized that the more people who were in or who were talking, the more distracted I was. If I got to the office early before my coworkers arrived, I was twice as effective.

                                                    I was even more effective if I was at home. Now that I work from home, I know I’m even more effective when in certain coffee shops. Ideally, places that have high ceilings, gentle lighting, some barely noticeable background music – and excellent coffee.

                                                    It’s these little variations in our environment that can really shape our creative output.

                                                    If you’re an introvert, you probably do your best work alone. If you’re an extrovert, you probably do your best work in the company of others.

                                                    This isn’t to say you should find one way of doing things and stick to it: in fact, varying your environment from time to time is a great way to stoke the creative fire too, which we’ll touch on more later.

                                                    How to create a conducive environment?

                                                    Add or Subtract Stimuli

                                                    Novelty in our environment has been shown to stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that increases our desire to seek out reward.[3]

                                                    If you’re looking for creative motivation, adding some novelty into your environment can be just what you need.

                                                    On the other hand, some people are highly sensitive and when it comes to having too much stimulation in their environment, they find it difficult to focus.

                                                    Experiment with working in different environments. Note how you feel. Note whether you do better creative work or have more interesting ideas when you’re alone or with others.

                                                    Try listening to music, people chatting or try being in complete silence. Try a dimly lit room, try working in bright sunlight.

                                                    In each case, note how you feel before, during and afterwards and rate the quality of your work.

                                                    The Bottom Line

                                                    Creativity is not one particular skill or talent one can have. It comes in as many broad and unique flavors as there are people on this earth.

                                                    To be more creative, take little steps each day. Acknowledge where and when you feel most inspired, motivated and original and spend more energy in those areas.

                                                    More Articles About Creativity

                                                    Featured photo credit: Sticker Mule via unsplash.com

                                                    Reference

                                                    Read Next