Acquiring knowledge is a must for all leaders and one of the ways you can do this is to read. Now, I know what probably comes to mind - “I’d love to, but where is the time? I certainly understand the challenge as I try to balance work, a young family and other commitments. However, as I studied leaders across the world, I have realised that almost without exception, these individuals are veracious consumers of information and readers. And so I began my mission to find out what works for me - I have used audiobooks for years now but also purchase hard copies when I encounter a fantastic read.
Talking about fantastic reads, here is a list of some of the best People Leadership books that I have read over the last few years that I will gladly recommend to any leader
- Start With Why by Simon Sinek - by far one of the best books of the century! At the core of the book is need for organisations to be clear as to their “Why” because it is your why that inspires, aligns and sustains the organization through thick and thin. The book presents a pattern of thinking, acting and communicating that allows leaders to inspire those around them. When organizations start with Why, both the organisation and its people end up fulfilled. Central message (and favourite quote: People don’t buy what you do; They buy why you do it!"
- Multipliers by Liz Wiseman - An amazing book borne out of years of research by an ex-Oracle executive. Liz does a phenominal job in answering the question - How come some leaders manage to make everyone around them smarter, yet other leaders seem to drain intelligence and capability out of people? The book presents several examples as she builds the profile of two types of leaders: the Diminisher (around who, people get dummer, demotivated and disengaged) and the multiplier (who increases the individual and collective IQ and productivity of those around). Amazingly easy and inspiring read.
- First Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham - This book was written after months of research by the author and Gallup, a leading research consulting firm and authors of the Q12 assessment. Having poured over data of thousands of leaders, a clear pattern of behaviour of great leaders appeared. I like the down-to-earth read, practical examples. It isn’t “new stuff” but it is thought provoking. (PS. I will mention that i think he erred in his reference to the methodology used by Great Place To Work, but hey, we’ll graciously let that slip by Marcus :)
- Whale Done by Ken Blanchard - Don’t be deceived by the size of this book (it is a small book but) it is packed with amazing lessons. Foundational to this is the fundamental of changing behaviour learned from Killer Whales at Seaworld. How do coaches get these 5-ton animals to do the amazing feats they perform? Well, quite simple but profound. The catch them doing the right thing and reward them. The book presents an amazingly simple way of leading behaviour change at work, home or anywhere else for that matter. Simple but loaded.
- 5 Dysfunctions of Teams by Patrick Lencioni - A story book for adults. This amazing read - again, another short but loaded book …..I guess great things do come in small packages! - presents the story of a new chief executive who transforms her organization. But mixed in the story are 5 key elements that each team must work through if it is to be effective. It is an amazingly simple read but one that is full of insights, practical leadership tips (I must confess that i have used quite a few of the lead character’s activities with several of the teams I have led) and thought provoking (more like self reflection) concepts - it felt like looking in a mirror as it helped me see so much I was doing right and (mostly) wrong
- A Great Place To Work For All - Can I finish this list without including the book written by our Global CEO and fantastic research team? You bet not! This book, based on years of research data, presents the case for organisations to commit to creating a great workplace culture for ALL their employees. The book also presents the profile of “accidental leaders” - who as most are, get promoted for their technical expertise but are little prepare to lead people - and the “Level 5 Leader” who are devoted to fairness, have deep faith in people and empower all members of the team to reach their full potential.