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Summer Reading: 10 Essential Books About Leadership

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Some say leaders are born, not made. But any successful entrepreneur will tell you that a deep knowledge of how to engage and inspire a team trumps innate charisma more often than not.

In many ways, it simply boils down to finding creative ways to adapt to a marketplace in constant flux while staying true to one’s core values. While the formula may seem deceptively simple, these 10 books will help you unravel the obvious and not-so-obvious complexities of effective leadership.

10 Great Books About Leadership


Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

Management guru Daniel Pink, who has written extensively about “the changing workplace,” examines “the three elements of true motivation—autonomy, mastery, and purpose” based on 40 years “of scientific research on human motivation.” Drive posits that “the secret to high performance and satisfaction [are] the deeply human need[s] to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.”


How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Carnegie’s 1936 self-help treatise holds up as an essential how-to guide for anyone seeking to do as the title suggests. How to Win Friends and Influence People is divided into six major sections: “Fundamental Techniques in Handling People,” “Six Ways to Make People Like You,” “Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking,” “How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment,” “Letters That Produced Miraculous Results,” and “Seven Rules for Making Your Home Life Happier.”


Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Lead…And Others Don’t by Jim Collins

Management consultant and Stanford MBA Jim Collins investigates the “universal distinguishing characteristics” that cause “good, mediocre, even bad companies [to] achieve enduring greatness.” Collins’ research team’s findings will “surprise many readers” and include “transcending the curse of competence,” combining “a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship,” employing accelerated technology and avoiding the dreaded “Doom Loop.”


Control Your Destiny or Someone Else Will by Noel M. Tichy and Stratford Sherman

Jack Welch’s tenure at General Electric is fodder for this essential leadership play-by-play by Tichy and Sherman, which includes the Six Rules according to Jack:

  1. Control your destiny or someone else will.
  2. Face reality as it is, not as it was, or as you wish it were.
  3. Be candid with everyone.
  4. Don’t manage, lead.
  5. Change before you have to.
  6. If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.


Don’t Follow Me: I’m the Leader by Dave Dungan

Leadership development expert Dave Dungan offers an overview of the tricks of the trade for those who think they’re cut from that rare cloth. In Dungan’s words, “There are plenty of bosses but very few true leaders. In this book you will find truths about leadership that make it more than a rung on a ladder and much more than a position.

Onward: How Starbucks Fought for its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz shares in this #1 New York Times bestseller the story of how he “decided to return as the CEO…during one of the most tumultuous economic periods in American history…to help restore Starbucks’ financial health and [achieve] profitability and sustainability without sacrificing humanity.”


The Truth About Leadership: The No-Fads, Heart-of-the-Matter Facts You Need to Know by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

Kouzes and Posner apply three decades of research to “reveal ten time-tested truths that show what every leader must know…in order to bring about the essential changes that will renew organizations and communities.” The Truth About Leadership “explores the fundamental, enduring truths of leadership that hold constant regardless of context or circumstance-leaders make a difference, credibility, values, and trust.”


In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies by Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr.

In what Bloomsbury UK called the “Greatest Business Book of All Time,” Peters and Waterman culled research from 43 of “America’s best-run companies from a diverse array of business sectors” to pick apart the “eight basic principles of management that make these organizations successful.”


The Practice of Management by Peter F. Drucker

Published in 1954, the late Austrian management consultant Peter Drucker’s classic single-handedly created “the discipline of modern management practices” and was “the first book to look at management as a whole and being a manager as a separate responsibility.


The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell

Leadership specialist John C. Maxwell condenses 30 years of experience into a handy overview that has already changed the lives of millions. Maxwell combines “insights learned from successes and mistakes with observations from the worlds of business, politics, sports, religion and military conflict.”

This post has been republished in its entirety from its original source,