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.