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10 Must-Read Books For Leaders

10 Must-Read Books For Leaders

Being a leader is not always easy. These 10 books will definitely help you along your way.

1. Simon Sinek – Leaders eat last

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    “All the perks, all the benefits and advantages you may get for the rank or position you hold, they aren’t meant for you. They are meant for the role you fill. And when you leave your role, which eventually you will, they will give the ceramic cup to the person who replaces you. Because you only ever deserved a Styrofoam cup.”

    Why do some people love their jobs and others don’t. In this book, Simon Sinek believes the way people feel about their work starts with the leader. Today we live in a society where more and more people dread waking up and going to work. It seems like our jobs continue to drain the life out of us. People who read this book will find it refreshing and energizing. It will awaken the passion and fire you once had.

    In this book, the author uses real life examples of leaders who inspire us to take action. If you are a leader in the market For new thoughts on leadership and work,this book will completely revolutionize the way you lead a team in any business or industry.

    2. Dave Ramsey – Entreleadership: 20 years of practical leadership from the trenches

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      “Seth Godin says, “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”

      This book by Dave Ramsey is probably one of the best reads on leadership ever written. It is fun, engaging and cuts through all the messy but yet necessary aspects of business. From hiring and firing to learning to lead a team, this book is filled with classic personal examples from Ramsey himself.

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      Entreleadership has a gritty feel to it and would be a great read for those leaders keen on the difference between starting a company and leading one. This book is filled with common sense leadership principles that young leaders will find practical, inspiring and also life changing.

      3. Craig Hickman, Tom Smith, Roger Connors – The OZ principle

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        “The results you seek depend on shouldering greater accountability for those results. The success or failure depends, first and foremost, upon the leadership and the people and their decisions and actions, all of which are under their own control.”

        Since it was first published in 1994, the OZ Principle has almost 600,000 copies and has become the bible on workplace accountability. The idea behind this book is that people should hold themselves accountable and responsible not only for their own success, but also the success of the organization

        This book uses characters from the classic book “Wizard of oz” to teach workplace accountability. It is not enough to blame others for our lack of success, when we are the root cause of the problem itself.

        A must read for leaders and members of management, the OZ principle is designed to be taught in a workshop or seminar. The four key practical principles to get your team above the line as stated in the book are simple: See it, own it, solve it, and do it.

        4. Seth Godin – Linchpin

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          “If your organization wanted to replace you with someone far better at your job than you, what would they look for? I think it’s unlikely that they’d seek out someone willing to work more hours, or someone with more industry experience, or someone who could score better on a standardized test.

          No, the competitive advantage the marketplace demands is someone more human, connected, and mature. Someone with passion and energy, capable of seeing things as they are and negotiating multiple priorities as they make useful decisions without angst. Flexible in the face of change, resilient in the face of confusion. All of these attributes are choices, not talents, and all of them are available to you.”

          There used to be two teams in every workplace, Management and Labor.This book introduces a third; The Linchpins. They are not famous, but are the building blocks of every great organization. Where any members of management and labor and can easily be replaced, The linchpins are indispensable. This book is a great read for leaders who have been bullied to hold back their talent. It is time to stop complying with the status quo and make your own way.

          In this book,leaders will learn to become indispensable.

          5. Xenophon’s Cyrus the Great: The Arts of Leadership and War edited by Larry Hedrick

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            “We discussed how wonderful it would be if a man could train himself to be both ethical and brave, and to earn all he needed for his house-hold and himself. That kind of man, we agreed, would be appreciated by the whole world. But if a man went further still, if he had the wisdom and the skill to be the guide and governor of other men, supplying their needs and making them all they ought to be, that would be the greatest thing of all.”

            Among his many accomplishments, Cyrus the great founded and extended the Persian Empire, conquered the city of Babylon, freed 40,000 plus Jews from captivity, wrote humanity’s first human rights charter, and reined over the people he captured with grace and benevolence.

            Top Business executives, entrepreneurs and managers can read this book and wowed at the fierce but sometimes gentle nature of a man which such accomplishments. Some people still consider this to be the best book on leadership ever written.

            6. Simon Sinek – Start with why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action

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              “A powerful and penetrating exploration of what separates great companies and great leaders from the rest.” -Polly LaBarre, coauthor of Mavericks at Work

              In this book, Simon Sinek explains why year after year, some companies are more innovative than other. By popularizing the principle of the golden circle, this book takes practical examples of companies like apple to show exactly how and why they are able to drown out their competitors.

              According to Simon, people don’t but what you do, they buy why you do it and this in a sense creates brand loyalty.

              This book is a must read for business leaders whose organizations are struggling to innovate, retain top talent and create new products. It all starts with why.

              7. Robert Bruce Shaw – Leadership blind spots

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                “The blind spot risk is that leaders fail to respond to weaknesses or threats due to a variety of factors including the complexity of their organizations, over-confidence in their own capabilities, and being surrounded by deferential subordinates.”

                This read provides an actionable model for understanding how blind spots operate and why they persist. Often times, people and companies fall from the hits they never saw coming. In a sense, they were blindsided. In this book, leaders will learn valuable tips for self improvement. Good isn’t enough because it can always be better.

                8. Barbara Kellerman- Hard times: leadership in America

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                  In this book, Barbara Kellerman turns her attention to the context in which we lead; the distinction between leaders and followers. Mrs Kellerman urges leaders in this book to not focus so much on the leader, but on the system of leadership. The plot of this book focuses on the context in which the leader and the follower operate with the overall leadership system.

                  As conveyed in the title, this book is a great read for any leader seeking to fully understand the struggles of leadership in America.

                  9. Tim Elmore – 12 Huge Mistakes parents can avoid: Leading your kids to succeed in life

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                    “‘You can do anything you want.’ I recognize why we say this, but as our kids grow older, we must help them to see what we really meant. … We really meant, if they set their mind to do something, they’ll be amazed at what they can pull off. The catch is, it needs to be something within their gift area. They cannot simply make up a dream or copy a friend’s dream and call it theirs. Dreams should be attached to strengths.”

                    This is a leadership book for parents who are deeply committed to the future success of their children.

                    Readers can expect to find ways to avoid common mistakes parents unintentionally make in getting their kids ready for the future. Passion is not a by- product. This is not only a great read for parents but also for teenagers who want to begin to decide what they want their future to look like before the rat race of a career after college.

                    10. John P Kotter – Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World

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                      There is so much competition that exists between companies in business today. No matter what industry you are in, there are tons of companies fighting to gain your attention. Success is often determined by who can control the market.

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                      In this book, readers will be treated to a powerful new framework for competing and winning in a world of constant unease and disruption. Kotter explains in this book how the traditional hierarchical system of leadership is not desired for a system where change has become the norm. This read will give leaders insight into the future of business and leadership practice in a world to come.

                      Featured photo credit: https://perfectionmanifesto.wordpress.com/2014/04/ via perfectionmanifesto.wordpress.com

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                      Published on September 18, 2018

                      17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

                      17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

                      Have there been instances when you noted a drop in your team’s productivity or observed a behavioral change in someone who used to be an excellent performer?

                      Before you blame the team for not being motivated enough or worse still, choose to ignore these warning signs, look inwards and ask yourself if YOU are doing enough to keep your team motivated in the first place.

                      Motivating employees is extremely crucial. As the leader of the pack, it is your responsibility to ensure each and every member of your team feels valued, driven and motivated.

                      After all, you cannot expect a bunch of disengaged and demotivated people to deliver results and grow your business, can you?

                      Here are 17 surefire tactics for motivating your employees and building a productive team:

                      1. Show your appreciation

                      In the whole race to achieve external business goals, leaders often forget to value their most important assets — their employees.

                      The least you can do to boost performance and morale is to appreciate your employees, recognize their efforts and give them credit when it is due.

                      Whether it’s sending a personalized note, recognizing achievements publicly during team huddles or even rewarding top performers at the end of every month, you will be surprised to see how these small acts of appreciation can go a long way.

                      2. Communicate effectively

                      Effective communication can do wonders in motivating employees. Who is a strong communicator? Someone who knows what they are talking about and are able to convey their message accurately.

                      Communication is a lot more than just language and talking. Factors such as eye contact, active listening, hand gestures and postures also say a lot about a person’s communication skills.

                      3. Be open to dialogue

                      Gone are the days when leading through fear and putting on the tough, distant leader act would work.

                      New age leadership is all about instilling trust by being accessible and encouraging discussions. Your team needs to feel comfortable speaking to you and you need to set the tone for such a camaraderie.

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                      In spite of having a busy schedule, you can still show you care through simple, effective acts.

                      For instance, having an open door policy, showing genuine interest while interacting with your employees or even greeting your team members helps breaking barriers and projects you as an accessible leader.

                      4. Provide constructive criticism

                      Giving negative feedback is always tricky — you don’t want to hurt feelings nor do you want the feedback to be taken lightly.

                      So, what do you do? The idea is to offer criticism such that it inspires change and delivers results.

                      Firstly, take criticism behind closed doors because nothing breaks self esteem the way calling out employees in public does.

                      Have a one-on-one discussion with the concerned person and make your feedback very specific. Be clear about your expectations and offer guidance on how they can improve.

                      Most importantly, give them the chance to explain their side of the story too instead of jumping to conclusions.

                      5. Conduct one-on-ones

                      Yes, you conduct weekly meetings with the team but how well do you know them on a personal level?

                      While you may think this isn’t an important practice to follow, it is one of the best ways to engage with your employees and identify what drives them.

                      Conduct a one-one-one session every month and use it to understand how your employees are doing and if they are facing any roadblocks.

                      More than reviewing performances, consider this as a relationship building tool to ensure you are aligned with your team and are working towards a shared, common goal.

                      6. Build training programs

                      In this ever-changing business landscape, it is important to ensure your employees are updated with the latest, relevant skills that can help boost productivity and performance.

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                      From imparting technical and soft skills to offering mentoring programs – investing in training and development significantly helps in motivating employees and keeps the learning going.

                      While conducting training programs, remember to keep them engaging and interactive. They need to ultimately drive value and reinforce learnings.

                      7. Offer growth opportunities

                      Every employee envisions a different career path for themselves and demotivation strikes the day they feel they have reached stagnation. As a leader, you need to first be aligned with their goals and offer ample growth opportunities that constantly keeps them engaged and motivated.

                      Growth opportunities go beyond just financial growth. While money is a huge driving factor, what makes most people tick is making progress in the company and going up the career ladder.

                      Being faced with new challenges and responsibilities lets them push the envelope and broaden their knowledge and skills.

                      8. Reward them

                      Go beyond verbal recognition and reward employees for their notable work. You can start an incentive program and reward top performers. This ensures increased productivity and brings out the best in them.

                      If you don’t have enough budgets for that, you can also reward top performers with movie tickets, a paid vacation or something as simple as giving them the option to work from home.

                      Rewarding employees promotes healthy competition and motivates them while meeting business goals.

                      9. Encourage team outings

                      Employee motivation also stems from how connected the team is. Invest time in team building because a team that works collaboratively is likely to deliver better results.

                      From bowling nights to hosting team dinners – team outings are a great way to get to know each other and bond. Assign someone from your team to be in charge of organizing these monthly outings and make sure you join them too!

                      10. Involve them

                      Involve your employees in decision making because when they are involved, they feel more valued and part of a larger cause.

                      Seek your team’s opinion and encourage healthy debates within the team. This boosts employee morale and challenges them to work harder as they know they are in a position to make an impact and will be taken seriously.

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                      11. Set meaningful goals

                      In the beginning of the financial year, make sure you sit down with each employee to set meaningful and realistic goals. The goal-setting conversation is an extremely crucial one and needs to be a two-way street.

                      Whether your employee feels burdened or doesn’t feel inspired enough by the assigned goals – this is the time to come to a consensus and assign goals derived from business objectives that foster individual development while keeping in mind their strengths and weaknesses.

                      12. Empower them

                      You cannot expect employees to be motivated for long if you micro manage the team and do all the talking.

                      Trust your employees and empower them to take decisions. Mistakes will happen but that is the only way they will learn.

                      Be open to discussions, delegate effectively, set your expectations and give your team the freedom to do it their way.

                      13. Deal with conflict

                      A conducive work environment is one wherein there is open communication and trust, but every once in a while, you do encounter people in the team who indulge in office politics and spread negativity.

                      How much ever fulfilled an employee feels with their work, gossiping co-workers are bound to ruin it for them. Workplace gossip if not tackled hampers productivity and soils working relations.

                      As a responsible leader, you need to maintain a conducive work environment and act as a mediator in such cases. Don’t be the leader who is locked up in his/her cabin and is unaware of what is brewing within the team.

                      14. Implement a flexible work culture

                      Flexible work cultures are a growing trend and are here to stay.

                      Whether it is offering flexible working hours or allowing employees to work from home once in a month – a flexible work culture promotes work-life balance and aids in employee satisfaction.

                      It shows that the management is sensitive to employees’ schedules and is thereby highly appreciated.

                      15. Host engaging activities

                      All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and we cannot agree more! So, why not devote one day of the week to employee engagement activities?

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                      From hosting baking competitions to introducing wellness programs in the office – let your team have some fun beyond work. This keeps the environment engaging, light-hearted and interesting, giving them all the more reason to look forward to coming to work.

                      16. Maintain a positive work space

                      Your employees spend more than half their day at work and in order to keep them energized and motivated, it is important to maintain a positive and inspiring work space.

                      Have a recreation center where employees can unwind after a hard day’s work, offer free snacks and beverages and invest in an open office design that promotes socializing and conversations.

                      These are simple yet effective ways to create a space your employees will love coming to.

                      17. Avoid discrimination

                      Any kind of discrimination, be it due to age, gender, religion or race hugely impacts employee motivation and performance.

                      In order to avoid such cases, you must lay down rules against discrimination and take strict action against accused employees. Lead by example and make sure no one in the team is a victim of bias and discrimination.

                      The bottom line

                      Don’t underestimate the power of motivating employees. Understand that the more engaged and motivated they are, the better their performance will be.

                      It is also a good idea to send out a survey and get feedback from your employees on the company culture, work environment and their motivation levels.

                      This will help you be more aligned with their expectations and further improve your efforts in building a stronger, engaged team.

                      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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