Top 10 Leadership Books You (and Your Team) Should Read

January 9, 2019
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Category: HR Tips & Trends

Top leadership books for you and your team

Depending on your company and industry, the winter months can be relatively slow for businesses. What do we recommend to keep your employees engaged and growing as leaders? Curling up with an engaging book is a good place to start! Here are our top 10 picks for leadership books that you and your team should read to kick off 2019.

1. Unlearning Leadership: Know Yourself, Grow Your Business- Guy Pierce Bell.

In the realm of leadership books, this may seem like a dissuasive title. But this insightful guide is a must-read for any leader who is getting poor results based on outdated advice. Many business leaders operate under the false assumption that their organizations and shareholders matter more than their people. Bell’s work deftly deconstructs that old, faulty logic and presents a new manifesto. In Unlearning Leadership, the author gives business leaders a step-by-step guide to leaving the old thinking behind in order to invest in the business ecosystem, make smarter decisions, and tap into inner wisdom

2. The Motivation Trap: Leadership Strategies to Achieve Sustained Success- John Hittler.

A common concern among corporate leaders is this: How do we keep our teams motivated? In his game-changing treatise, John Hittler poses a different question. What if you make your employees responsible for motivating themselves?

In The Motivation Trap, Hittler explains the foundation of motivation, its limitations, and how to employ it as a management tool. He also lays out more suggestions for creating and managing successful teams.

3. Servant Leadership in Action: How You Can Achieve Great Relationships and Results- Edited by Ken Blanchard and Renee Broadwell.

Unfortunately, the news has been filled with stories of self-serving, power-hungry leaders for decades. We find them in the corporate world, religious organizations, schools, charities, and everywhere in between. By the time the world catches up with them, they’ve often taken down their entire organizations.

In this collection of essays, forty-four renowned leadership experts such as Dave Ramsey, John Maxwell, Colleen Barrett, and others outline a blueprint for implementing the servant leadership model. From the writings in Servant Leadership in Action, readers learn to lead by serving their people, not aggrandizing themselves.

4. Data Science for Executives: Leveraging Machine Intelligence to Drive Business ROI- Nir Kaldero

Update or die. That’s the message behind Nir Kaldero’s exciting new volume.

In Data Science for Executives, Kaldero posits that the world has entered the fourth industrial revolution. Artificial intelligence and machine learning now have an unrivaled impact on business in almost every industry. Corporations will have to get on board or risk being run over by the tech power wagon.

But there is no need to fear. Technology offers much more to help business innovation than hinder it. Kaldero dispels common myths and provides strategies for harnessing technology’s power for your business’s profit. In this book, you’ll find case studies, guiding principles, and useful recommendations for using data to enhance your business.

5. WTF?! (Willing to Fail): How Failure Can Be Your Key to Success- Brian Scudamore.

Don’t just fail. Fail upward. That’s the central lesson in Brian Scudamore’s essential resource, Willing to Fail.

As a serial entrepreneur who has never let fear of failure hold him back, Scudamore has racked up a full volume of engaging stories. At times hilarious, endearing, and just plain unbelievable, these stories perfectly describe what it means to turn failure into success. Let them inspire you to stumble toward greatness too.

6. Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (Almost) Everything Wrong- Kristen Hadeed.

Kristen Hadeed is the founder and the leader of Student Maid, a cleaning company whose employees love their jobs. Her company’s employee retention rate is among the highest in the industry due to its culture of trust and accountability. But that’s not how it started.

Early in the life of the business, three-quarters of Student Maid’s employees resigned en masse with no notice, leaving Hadeed hanging with a huge unmet contract. To her credit, Hadeed realized immediately that she’d made some massive leadership mistakes and set out to fix them.

Throughout her CEO career, she failed almost as often as she succeeded. But she never failed to learn from her mistakes. Through the often hilarious and always insightful stories in Permission to Screw Up, you can learn from them too. In this brutally honest accounting, Hadeed proves executives and managers are better leaders when they embrace their mistakes. This should be among your top pick of leadership books. 

7. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t- Simon Sinek.

Great leaders create work environments where people love coming to work. They form teams in which everyone cooperates to do exceptional things. Through years of experience working with leaders in every type of organization, Simon Sinek learned a lot about team leadership. He shares his lessons learned in Leaders Eat Last.

Sinek derived the title for this book from a conversation with a Marine Corps general. “Officers eat last,” the general said. It may seem a symbolic gesture–junior soldiers went to the front of the chow line, while their commanding officers filled their plates last–but it represented something bigger. These leaders earned respect from their subordinates because they sacrificed their own comfort, and sometimes their lives, for the sake of those under their command.
    
Through a series of true stories, Sinek illustrates the manner in which great leaders foster trust and cooperation. It starts with a “Circle of Safety,” in which the team feels secure from outside challenges.

8. People Processes: How Your People Can Be Your Organization’s Competitive Advantage- Rhamy Alejeal.

In this essential manual, Rhamy Alejeal shows the reader how to use technology to streamline personnel processes. Your human resources managers should be working toward broad goals like improving performance and retention rates. Unfortunately, they are forced to spend too much of their time on paperwork. By automating rote HR functions, you free up your HR manager’s time so that he or she can help you build a better workplace.

In People Processes, you’ll learn how to automate time-sucking tasks such as communication, onboarding, payroll, reporting, compliance, and scheduling. Alejeal also shows you what your employee experience and performance will look like after you streamline those processes.

Your team is your biggest asset. Learn how to use it to your competitive advantage.

9. Break the Wheel: Question Best Practices, Hone Your Intuition, and Do Your Best Work- Jay Acunzo.

Jay Acunzo is the founder of Unthinkable Media and HubSpot’s former head of content.  In this essential guide to 21st Century leadership, Acunzo postulates that people today are overwhelmed by bad advice and faulty “best practices.” Rather than following the old “rules,” the author recommends that leaders should make decisions based on what’s best for them and their organizations.

In Break the Wheel, Acunzo shares six principal questions that leaders should ask to find the right solution to any problem.

10. Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility- Patty McCord

Patty McCord is the former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix, a company known for its outstanding culture. In “Powerful,” McCord shows other leaders how to ditch wasteful and ineffective “motivation initiatives” like performance reviews and bonus plans. Instead, the author believes executives should employ honest leadership and demanding work to propel their employees toward greatness.

You might not have time to read all of these books before the last snow melts. But please don’t let 2019 go by without spending some time with a good leadership book or two. Your organization and your team will be better for it!

About

Nicole is a freelance writer specializing in health, mental health, and parenting issues. Her work has appeared in Today's Parent, Crixeo, Grok Nation, Chesapeake Family LIFE, and the Baltimore Sun, among others.

Category: HR Tips & Trends


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