Have you ever thought about what role in life you would like to play? Do you want to be a leader or a manager or simply remain as a follower?
You have often heard from many people that leaders are born, not made. But how could one possibly know if his destiny is to become a leader or not?
While many people dream and aspire to become a leader, with some even making self-claims as being one, the reality is that it is just a few selected ones from the entire crowd that truly are leaders.
The rest merely tend to be the people who actually are old-school managers and do not even know the clear difference between a leader and a manager.
Just like a piece of raw gold dug from the earth needs to be washed, melted and polished to achieve its true value, similarly every born leader needs to find his true passion and explore his inner self for leadership qualities and attributes and then polish them to the extent that others can easily recognize and distinguish him.
But our question still remains on how someone may actually know about whether he was destined to become a leader or not.
The answer to questions like these is often simple but still quite complicated to extract.
For example, using simple ways such as by consulting a life coach which may or may not be able to judge your true worth correctly and instead misguide you; or by putting yourself under the supervision of an actual leader and work in close assistance can be the best practical approach but it may require ample number of years; which actually does seem simple but is technically filled with complications like professional and personal jealousies, deceit and morally and ethically challenged circumstances just to name a few.
12 Best leadership books to read to enhance and find the leader within you
Due to the above mentioned reasons, we believe that the best way to explore, nourish and enhance your existing leadership qualities as well as also to add a few more to your evolving leadership personality, you should take guidance from books from other well-known and acknowledged leaders.
To help you in this noble endeavor of yours, we have gathered a list of some 12 best books on leadership for women and men both to unleash their leadership qualities.
Published in December 2009, author Daniel H. Pink in his book ‘Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us’ discusses how most people work just because money motivates them which in many ways resembles the concept of carrot and stick tied to a donkey.
He says that in order to accomplish more, we need to focus on other things as well, those other than monetary rewards such as how can we help learn and create better and more pleasant surroundings.
In his book, Pink further discusses how autonomy, mastery and purpose are the three elements that can change our way of thinking and living.
James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner in their co-authored book titled ‘The Truth About Leadership’ share their experience, research and surveys conducted from three generations of leaders and spanning over a period of thirty years to make the leaders of the current era aware that in these uncertain and conflicting times, there role should be more than traditional acts of telling pessimist questions and their ordinary solutions.
They discuss in general that leaders should never let go the fundamental and truthful values of telling the truth and making a difference by leading their followers with examples.
Their surveys and assessments can help leaders to find the answers of questions that most people want to know.
The book titled ‘Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make The Leap And Others Don’t’ is a management book by the author James C. Collins.
This book revolves around the core idea of how some companies are able to perform much better and maintain their winning streak over long term periods while others die prematurely.
The author is of the view that while the above results can be achieved by engineering the DNA of any business enterprise at the very beginning of its inception, companies that did not had a great starting can still achieve success by having the right leadership, adopting the Hedgehog concept, a culture of discipline and avoiding radical change and wrenching restructuring programs.
Originally published in October 1936, the self-help book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie is no wonder quite old but is still a marvelous book to read on the topics of leadership.
This is because the author has mentioned the three tests of time that apply in every era. These relate to the three choices that every person has.
Each person can either keep running after and get the job he wants, or he can start liking the current job, or he can turn the whole situation upside down to his favor which represents his leadership skills.
To do the above, Dale Carnegie mentions 12 ways to win peoples’ hearts and make their thoughts align with yours, six ways in which you can make others start liking you and nine ways to bring a change in other peoples’ attitudes without causing any hostile reactions.
It seems that author Daniel H. Pink is quite well versed at elaborating the concepts on how to lead in his books on leadership.
In this New York Times Bestseller book of his titled ‘A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age’, he describes that in future different kind of people such as artists, creative minds, innovators and inventors will have an edge and advantage over those who still think in the conventional and traditional manner.
He supports his argument by presenting a sketch of six fundamental concepts which according to him will play an essential role in the professional and personal success of any person who masters them.
Simon Sinek‘s remarkable written work has already rewarded him with numerous literary nominations and awards like New York Times Bestseller’ and ‘Bestselling Author’ of the book titles ‘Together is Better’ and ‘Start with Why’.
In this book titled ‘Leaders Eat Last’ which got published in 2014, he mentions some of the rare organizations where the employees are willing to give up anything to make their team and company win.
In his quest to find why and how a few organizations are able to have such devoted employees, he finds that when superiors and team leaders do not let negative attitudes like paranoia, cynicism and self-interest alter their relationship with their subordinates, team members feel secure and confident and stand in, what he calls as a ‘Circle of Safety’ against the outside challenges.
In this book ‘Extreme Ownership: How US Navy SEALs Lead and Win’, authors Jocko Willink and Leif Babin from their experience in US Iraq war garnered how leadership plays a crucial role at every stage of a mission for each team member and the team as a whole, irrespective of the fact that whether the team is able to win or not.
With their war experienced findings and learning on the importance of leadership traits no matter what the circumstances are, they have helped new startups as well as clients from the Fortune 500 to build high performance teams capable of deploying the best mind-set and principles of leadership.
From Kenneth Blanchard, Ph.D. and Spencer Johnson M.D., known as the producers of motivational audio programs and personal development programs, comes the written masterpiece titled ‘The One Minute Manager’.
By reading this leadership book, you will easily learn to master three management strategies to help you save time and become more productive in your personal and professional life.
In this number one New York Times Bestseller titled ‘Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.’, author Brene Brown describes the role of leadership as not being something to be taken as a title, job designation or status.
Rather, she emphasizes the concept of daring leadership in which power is seen as a limited and scarce resource but which still needs to be shared with others to develop their ability to recognize their potential and ideas.
Her point is that leadership is not always about giving the right answers, but instead it is more about asking the right questions. This way daring leaders can offer connection, empathy and courage which cannot be offered by machines and artificial intelligence.
10. Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by Danial Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee
In this refreshed edition of the book ‘Primal Leadership’, the authors Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee in their book now titled as ‘Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence’ establishes how important it is for business leaders to have an emotional side of leadership as well.
The current edition of this book has proven to influence the business world, with its ideas of self-awareness, motivation, empathy and teamwork being used in medical and business schools and universities as they are well suited to the current times which are technologically driven and economically uncertain.
The book ‘Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies’ by the authors James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras is a collection of hundreds of examples of practical concepts and frameworks that can be implemented by any leader or manager at any level in their organization.
The book actually is driven from their research project expanding over 6 years by the authors themselves at the leading Stanford University Graduate School of Business in which they selected eighteen best performing entities and studied every aspect contributing towards their success, from the day they were conceived to this very day.
Simultaneously, they also studied the top competitors of these companies to get a better insight of what made these companies take the lead from their toughest competitors.
12. The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier
As evident from the name, author Michael Bungay Stanier in his book ‘The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More and Change the Way You Lead Forever’ has drawn the conclusion of how can managers make their teams more productive by not working hard, but by working smartly that results in more impact.
This conclusion comes as a result of the experience the author achieved by giving practical training and demonstration about everyday coaching skills to several thousand managers working globally.
In his view, in order to develop result oriented coaching techniques, managers should
- avoid lingering to any topic outside the scope of their current conversation,
- begin and end each conversation with straight and to the point approach,
- focus on asking about strategies rather than petty issues,
- focus more on the importance of the question;
- and last of all ensure that the whole conversation process seems to be equally beneficial for each participant i.e. the person asking the question and the one providing the answer.
While there are many books that you can find online on the topics of leadership for women and men both, we still believe that the ones we have recommended here, each carry something unique to add a little gem to your leadership.
Our only advice for our readers and aspiring leaders is that even when you have completely read these books, do not assume to have learned everything. Remember that true leaders are the ones that neither stop teaching their followers, nor do they stop learning themselves from the experiences of other people.