Here’s One List of 11 Good (almost Essential) Books on Leadership

the "best books on..." stack always seems to grow bigger
the “best books on…” stack always seems to grow bigger

So, the request came from a participant at our First Friday Book Synopsis. Here’s his e-mail reminder:

A reminder to send me a list of your top books on leadership for my friend at Singularity University. Absolutely no hurry.

My response: You would think it would be easy to choose the best books on leadership.  It’s not.  The problems are many: books on “leadership” may not be as good as biographies of great leaders.  

So, for example, the two/three recent biographies I have presented are worth reading:

Steve Jobs by Walter Issaacon

Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader– Crown Business (March 24, 2015) by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli.

And the Elon Musk book I just presented: Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance.  Ecco (2015).

My go-to book, always, for people in a leadership position is:

Encouraging the Heart: A Leader’s Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others by James Kouzes and Barry Posner (Simon and Schuster, 1999)

I love the classic:

Servant Leadership by Robert Greenleaf (Paulist Press, 1977)

And I revere John Wooden:

Wooden on Leadership by John Wooden  McGraw-Hill (April 5, 2005)

• and, add this one:

Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty.  (Penguin Press HC, 2013).

I think Jim Collins’ latest is worth putting on the list:

Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck — Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen. HarperBusiness (2011).

And, of course, books like Exponential Organizations have plenty about leadership in them…

Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper than yours (and what to do about it) October 14, 2014 by Salim Ismail:  with Michael S Malone and Yuri van Geest Diversion Books (October 14, 2014).

And, as warning and corrective, every leader should read:

Willful Blindness:  Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Peril by Margaret Heffernan.  Walker & Company.  2011.

And, a surprise, but great book, for this list:

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  (2012).

Hope this is enough to get you started.



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