I am asked so often what my favorite leadership books are that I decided to create a list. Today I share my list, and the three different categories that leadership books fall under – Leading Self, Leading People, and Leading Organizations or Cultures.
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[00:00:00] “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers” this is a famous quote by Harry S Truman.
[00:00:09] If you are part of my weekly emails, you’ll know that I am an avid reader and every month I do a summary of a book that I had read that month. If you have not got a hold of these book summaries, they’re visual summaries, make sure you jump on the email list because at the beginning of every month, I send out the visual for that month.
[00:00:28] I was asked so often what my favorite leadership books were that I decided to create a list. And through curating this list, I realized that there’s three different categories that leadership books fall under. I believe it’s important to explain this first, before I give you my top nine leadership books.
[00:00:45] The three different categories are Leading Self, Leading People, and Leading Organizations or Cultures.
[00:00:53] So why these three categories? It’s an inside-out approach. So it’s really important to understand how you yourself work, what your strengths are, what you react to, what your hot buttons are, before you think about leading a team. We all know that leader that seems to know everything about everybody else, but has absolutely no self-awareness. So if you’re not sure where to start, I would recommend starting with some of the books on the first group, which is the Leading Self group.
[00:01:23] Once you understand how you work, you can then look at how people interact with each other, which is the second category, Leading People. This is about leading people and teams. And then from there, the biggest circle. So going on this inside out approach is leading organizations and culture. So let’s get into my top books for leading self.
[00:01:45] One of my favorite ones, Essentialism. This one is all about regaining control of choices so you can prioritize the things that really matter. If you’re someone that can feel overwhelmed or not sure where to start or trying to work through their never ending list of post-it notes. I highly recommend reading Essentialism it has one of my favorites and most recommended books.
[00:02:08] The second is Atomic Habits by James Clear. This is all about evidence-based strategies for breaking and making habits. There’s a few different habit books out there that are quite similar. I chose Atomic Habits over the others because that’s a little bit more tactical. But essentially you can read any of them and get the same principles. What’s really interesting is it explains how you make your own habits and why we do certain things, but it also gives you the breakdown of how you can create new habits. We are essentially what we continually do. And it’s more about our actions than our intentions that make us who we are. if you’re looking at making some changes or are you wanting to improve in an area, I would recommend starting with these micro habits, and Atomic Habits is a great book to explain that.
[00:02:58] The third book is one from Brene Brown, the Gifts Of Imperfection. This one’s more personal, because it’s about how your story matters because you matter, and it’s about increasing your self worth. So if you have feelings of “not good enough” or “unworthy”. I would recommend this book by Brene Brown about the Gifts of imperfection. She does have a wonderful library of books and there is another one that hits my list in another category.
[00:03:26] The final book on my list for Leading self is one by Ekart Tolle which is The Power Of Now. This one’s all about taking you as a reader on this inspiring spiritual journey to find your true and deepest self. Perhaps that sounds a little bit “woo woo” and maybe my description is, however, it is such an interesting book about understanding what lies inside of us, as opposed to what lies around us.
[00:03:54] It starts with a wonderful story about a begger and a box. I won’t ruin the opening story of the book by telling you the punchline, but it is a wonderful book. If you’re thinking about all the external things that are holding you back, to instead be able to think about what are the internal things that you can use. I remember listening to this book while I was on a stationary bike. At the end of the first story, the begger and the box, I remember that I stopped cycling because it was such a great “aha” moment.
[00:04:23] So there might top four books for Leading Self. Of course there are so many others I could have put in here, but it’s important to give you a few, not a lot. So there are four to start with. The next part, once you understand a bit about how you work is to move on to how people interact with each other, to this second category of Leading People.
[00:04:44] The first one here Dare To Lead. This is a Brene Brown book. It’s one of my favorites for leaders and for teams to be able to have these courageous conversations in their leadership. There are some wonderful examples and great code phrases like “clear is kind”.
[00:05:02] The next book is one that I have done a visual full before called The Coaching Habit. And this is about becoming the leader people want to work for, saying less, asking more and changing the way you lead forever. One of the core jobs as a leader is to set the direction and to help people discover how to get there. That is all about coaching, not about giving them the answer. The Advice Monster is a wonderful thing that they talk about in this book. And the Coaching Habit gives you seven questions that you can ask to be a great coach. And I can tell you if you have these seven questions in your toolbox, it will make leadership so much easier. Anyone that has worked with me, I will tell you when I use these questions, so you can see how easy it is.
[00:05:44] And the third book under this Leading People category is Fierce Conversations. This is one that has been around for decades. I think it’s recently been updated, it’s by Susan Scott, and it’s all about stepping into the uncomfortable conversations you’ve been avoiding at work and in life. because I pretty much guarantee if you avoid work conversations, you probably avoid conversations at home.
[00:06:07] It’s not a hundred percent the case, but something to consider. The great thing about this book, Fierce Conversations is it gives you some tactical things to think about and ways to have the conversation.
[00:06:18] The final category of my books and the last two books is in the category of Leading Organizations and Culture. One is this book called Legacy and it’s about understanding and building a culture that people want to be a part of it’s lessons from the All Blacks football teams and the New Zealand football team.
[00:06:37] And some wonderful things about the culture that they created in the All Blacks. One of my favorite things was they talk about every all back player has to have a hobby outside work, work being there, football, because if you don’t have a hobby that the football becomes all consuming and when you don’t have it, you feel completely lost. So isn’t an essential part that they have to have a hobby.
[00:06:58] The other thing they talk about is a red head in a blue head, which is something I’ll talk about in a future podcast episode in relation to Human Synergistics, but it’s a great way to understand how they think about things under pressure and how to keep it cool.
[00:07:13] My final book is Reinventing Organizations. It’s about the shift in the conversation about what’s broken in management today, to what’s possible. So it does have this Positive Psychology approach to it. Which of course I love being Positive Psychology trained. It is great to understand why people make different decisions, depending on how safe they feel within an organization and how the opportunity is endless if we look at the possibilities as opposed to what’s broken.
[00:07:41] There are two versions of this book. There is the normal book version, but there’s also an illustrated invitation. Which is a visual version of this book.
[00:07:51] So, they are my favorite reads for positive leadership and life. When I work with clients as part of the process, I always gift them a leadership book and depending on where they’re at and what’s important, I choose from this list of curated books.
[00:08:07] And next year, I’ll release another list of my favorite books, but for this year, these are my top nine. If you have read them, I would love to know what you think. I’ll be releasing some more summaries of these books over the next month. So make sure you jump on that email list to grab the summary so you can decide if the book is going to be useful for you.
[00:08:26] If you’ve enjoyed these podcasts, I would love if you could leave a review on your podcasting platform, whether that’s Spotify or Apple Podcasts. If you do it on Apple, you need to scroll down to the bottom of the page to be able to leave the podcast review.
[00:08:44] Thanks for listening today.
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