It’s always hard for me to keep a book recommendation list for a topic to a minimum, especially when it has to do with leadership. If you haven’t read my first post on what to read as a new leader, you can check that out here. This list is mean to built off of that one. I initially had about 10 books compiled for this list, but I’ve pared it down to the few I think would be most impactful for a leader who hasn’t read these before.
This is one of my favorite books in the realm of personal development. John Maxwell outlines 15 different laws that can help fuel your growth. They include the laws of intentionality, the mirror, consistency, the ladder, and the rubber band as well as others. While simple, if any of these laws aren’t ones you practice regularly, by implementing some of these practices, you can level up your leadership.
#2 – Radical Candor
This is a book that anyone can benefit from, but is especially helpful for those that lead others. At its core, Kim Scott talks about that the best leaders practice radical candor. They care personally, and challenge directly. By navigating this tension, they get the best from their team members. There’s a lot of other helpful insight in here, but this is the biggest takeaway from the book and can be one of the most impactful changes to implement as a leader if you aren’t already.
#3 – Multipliers
This book is great for anyone, no matter if you’re in a leadership role or not. I have found though that if you’re already in a leadership position, visiting this for the first time or revisiting again can be powerful for your growth. Liz Wiseman digs into what she calls a multiplier and the actions associated with those who are multipliers. On the flip side, she also shares what it looks like to be an intentional or accidental diminisher. Someone who multiplies attracts talent, invest in their team, challenges them, gives spaces, and creates healthy debate. Someone who accidentally diminishes people can move too quickly for the team to keep up, can rescue their team members instead of allowing them to struggle through it, can be full of ideas that people aren’t ready for, and can also reply to things too quickly, taking away space for others to share their input.
#4 – At Your Best
We all hear about how important it is to manage your time and prioritize well. If you are looking for books on those topics, you can check out my recommendations here. What’s unique about this book is that it’s not about how to manage your time well, but how to manage your energy well. Cary Nieuwhof shares the red, yellow and green zones of energy management and not only how to identify them within yourself, but also how to adjust your days to best honor your energy. I haven’t found any other books (so far) like this one, and it’s helped me immensely.
This is the book that I’d recommend reading if you’ve already read Extreme Ownership. If you haven’t read that yet, I’d start there. Then 6 months to 1 year later, read this one from Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. Where Extreme Ownership is focused on how to lead and win, this book is focused on finding the balance of leadership. It goes through the many dichotomies including how to be a leader yet also a follower, how to be bold yet cautious, and humble yet confident. For someone looking to level up their leadership, knowing the dichotomies and when to lean into either will take your leadership to another level when applied.
Each of these books has changed something (or a lot of things) about the way I lead. I attempt to be more reflective and intentionally get outside my comfort zone. I do my best to get to know and care about people personally while also making sure to provide challenges so they grow. I try to spend less time accidentally diminishing and more time investing and giving space for others ideas. I try to manage my time but also my energy by doing my deep work in my green zone, and my more administrative type of work in my red zone. And I try to navigate the dichotomies that are leadership along the way.