We all have our vices, but here’s one I’ll admit to: I read. A lot.
During my never-ending search for truth, I’ve probably read hundreds of books and articles. Some were pure garbage and a few were actually helpful and informative.
Here are my five go-to books— and one bonus suggestion— with leadership messages that I’d like to recommend:
The Power of TED by David Emerald. If you’re looking for an easy read that does a great job plumbing some detrimental negative belief systems, try this one. Emerald defines the “victim triangle” in an interesting way, and offers insight into how leaders can spot them, both to guide our own interactions and coach our people to build better cultures in the workplace.
Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss is one of my all-time favorites. I’ve read it at least 10 times and each time I learn something new. Taking a look at this one is well worth your time because, as a leader, your mental state and your personal relationship with “happiness” will impact everyone around you.
The Daily Show: An Oral History by Chris Smith wasn’t written to be a book about leadership, but it turns out to be one. It takes a hard and often hilarious look at the dilemmas faced by Jon Stewart, including hiring The Daily Show’s team, dealing with major transitions and conflicting values, and redefining the culture of the workplace. It does a great job demonstrating how messy, difficult, draining and ultimately fulfilling leadership can be.
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson is also not a book expressly about leadership, but it illustrates one of its most important points: leadership is about context. Bryson does a great job distilling complex information down into the right context so it makes sense to the reader. The strength of this book in a leadership context is hard to describe, but trust me– it’s entertaining, smart and extremely effective at making its points. After you read this book, Bryson’s skill in conveying powerful messages will be clear and evident.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson uses a humorous approach to illustrate important leadership concepts. Because leaders have to become intentional about focusing on what matters and disconnecting from the unimportant. The information Manson provides about how to spot the difference between what’s important v. what’s urgent, and how to prioritize our inner and outer worlds, is golden.
BONUS BOOK: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is a must for anyone delving into leadership. Its four simple rules, once you adopt them, will completely change the way you interact with others. Later, you work on infusing these same rules into your workplace culture, once again changing how your people interact. Warning: the rules are easy to understand but hard to adopt!
Do you regularly read anything that strengthens and challenges your ideas about leadership? Feel free to reach out to us and let us know! We would love to learn of additional reading suggestions.
Scott Alexander is a published author, a coach to entrepreneurs and senior executives, an accomplished speaker, and a strategy/leadership consultant.