Our Summer Reading List: Leadership

Ahhhh…summer! A time for vacationing with family and friends, taking in the sights and sounds at the ballpark, tasting a number of seasonal delights at festivals and fairs, and so much more. As necessary and valuable as enjoying your summer downtime is, it’s also a great time to invest in yourself by reading a great book or two. Since one of our passions is developing leaders, here is a sampling of our favorite books on leadership that we invite you to enjoy.

It’s the Manager by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter

Packed with 52 discoveries from Gallup’s largest study on the future of work, It’s the Manager shows leaders how to adapt their organizations to rapid change, ranging from new workplace demands to managing remote employees, a diverse workforce, the rise of artificial intelligence, gig workers, and attracting – and keeping – today’s best employees. Who is the most important person in your organization to lead your teams through these changes? Gallup research reveals: It’s your managers.

The Founder’s Mentality: How to Overcome the Predictable Crises of Growth by Chris Zook and James Allen

Based on the authors’ decade-long study of companies in more than forty countries, The Founder’s Mentality demonstrates the strong relationship between three traits in companies of all kinds—not just start-ups—and their ability to sustain performance. Through rich analysis and inspiring examples, this book shows how any leader—not only a founder—can instill and leverage a founder’s mentality throughout their organization and find lasting, profitable growth.

Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord

When it comes to recruiting, motivating, and creating great teams, Patty McCord says most companies have it all wrong. McCord helped create the unique and high-performing culture at Netflix, where she was chief talent officer. In her new book, Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility, she shares what she learned there and elsewhere in Silicon Valley.

McCord advocates practicing radical honesty in the workplace, saying good-bye to employees who don’t fit the company’s emerging needs, and motivating with challenging work, not promises, perks, and bonus plans. McCord argues that the old standbys of corporate HR―annual performance reviews, retention plans, employee empowerment and engagement programs―often end up being a colossal waste of time and resources. Her road-tested advice, offered with humor and irreverence, provides readers a different path for creating a culture of high performance and profitability.

Powerful will change how you think about work and the way a business should be run.

Unlearning Leadership: Know Yourself – Grow Your Business by Guy Pierce Bell

It’s just business, not personal. This has become a mantra for leaders, a call to put stockholders first, manage employees like machines, and protect the organization from its people. But this way of thinking is driving mediocre results. To become a transformative leader, you need to let go of what you know and unleash the power of human potential.

Drawing on experiences in startups, publicly-traded, and privately-owned companies, Guy Bell presents a new manifesto for business leaders. In Unlearning Leadership, he shows you how to invest in your business ecosystem to make smarter, more sustainable decisions. From going “all in” on human-centric initiatives to dismantling systemic norms to tapping into your whole-body wisdom, Bell lays out a path to remarkable success and transformation.

Discover the distinction between being “smart” and being present, where your “heart” will unleash unmet potential. The difference could change not just your business but the world.

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You by John Maxwell

If you’ve never read The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, you’ve been missing out on one of the best-selling leadership books of all time. If you have read the original version, then you’ll love this new expanded and updated one.

“A book is a conversation between the author and reader,” says Maxwell. “It’s been ten years since I wrote The 21 Laws of Leadership. I’ve grown a lot since then. I’ve taught these laws in dozens of countries around the world. This new edition gives me the opportunity to share what I’ve learned.”

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

Imagine a world where almost everyone wakes up inspired to go to work, feels trusted and valued during the day, then returns home feeling fulfilled. This is not a crazy, idealized notion. Today, in many successful organizations, great leaders create environments in which people naturally work together to do remarkable things.

In his work with organizations around the world, Simon Sinek noticed that some teams trust each other so deeply that they would literally put their lives on the line for each other. Other teams, no matter what incentives are offered, are doomed to infighting, fragmentation and failure. Why?

The answer became clear during a conversation with a Marine Corps general. “Officers eat last,” he said. Sinek watched as the most junior Marines ate first while the most senior Marines took their place at the back of the line. What’s symbolic in the chow hall is deadly serious on the battlefield: Great leaders sacrifice their own comfort–even their own survival–for the good of those in their care.

Too many workplaces are driven by cynicism, paranoia, and self-interest. But the best ones foster trust and cooperation because their leaders build what Sinek calls a “Circle of Safety” that separates the security inside the team from the challenges outside.

In Leaders Eat Last, Sinek illustrates his ideas with fascinating true stories that range from the military to big business, from government to investment banking.

Learning Agility: The Key to Leader Potential by David Hoff and W. Warner Burke

Learning agility is not a new concept, but it took years of research to prove that it really does exist and can be quantified on an individual level. Out of that research came the introduction of the Burke Learning Agility Inventory™ (Burke LAI) as the first reliable, theoretically grounded way to measure learning agility. This book explains how learning agility is measured and explores the ways that this information can be developed and applied by individuals and organizations.

Are these books part of your summer reading list, or have you enjoyed them previously? If so, please let us know what you think. And, if some of your favorite titles didn’t make our list, please share them with us so we can include them as future recommendations. Enjoy your summer!