I have never been known for my holiday cookie baking, so I thought I would provide a baker’s dozen of my favorite Leadership Development books.
December is busy, so instead of an article, here is a list of 13 leadership books that have profoundly shaped the field of Leadership Development and anyone who has ever been, or who aspires to become, a better leader.
1. In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman
This book launched my career in Leadership Development. While the world has changed a great deal since the book came out, many of the success factors identified in their work are as applicable to today as they were 30 year ago.
Unless you walk out into the unknown, the odds of making a profound difference in your life are pretty low.
2. Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of a Learning Orgnization
People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.
3. Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
Our emotional mind will harness the rational mind to its purposes, for our feelings and reactions– rationalizations– justifying them in terms of the present moment, without realizing the influence of our emotional memory.
4. Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
We must raise both the ceiling and the floor.
5. Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies
The only truly reliable source of stability is a strong inner core and the willingness to change and adapt everything except that core.
6. Carol Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
No matter what your ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.
The key leadership policy I advocate is involving those who do the work in planning the work.
8. Meg Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World
Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don’t have to do anything else. We don’t have to advise, or coach, or sound wise. We just have to be willing to sit there and listen.
9. Peter Block, Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest
We change the world when we create the time and space for heartfelt, unique conversations that discuss values and affirm doubts, feelings, and intuition.
10. Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Confidence: How to Overcome Your Limiting Beliefs and Achieve Your Goals
Confidence isn’t optimism or pessimism, and it’s not a character attribute. It’s the expectation of a positive outcome.
If we know exactly where we’re going, exactly how to get there, and exactly what we’ll see along the way, we won’t learn anything.
12. Virginia Satir, The New People Making
I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive to make sense and order out of the world of people and things outside of me.
13. Edgar Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership
Humble Inquiry is the fine art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not already know the answer, of building a relationship based on curiosity and interest in the other person.
It is difficult to pull quotes from such extensive bodies of work. If you want to read more, as Tom Peters reminds us, “If I read a book that cost me $20 and I get one good idea, it’s one of the greatest bargains of all time.”
What strikes me as I look over this list is not only are these profound quotes in relation to Leadership Development, but they are pieces of wisdom that transcend business: Reinvent, change, pay attention, create opportunity, include others, articulate core values, listen intently, try new things, lean in to uncertainty, and connect in unique and meaningful ways … In other words, lead.