A Leader has various typical definitions that we are aware of, but none of them would be enough to explain the real experiences of a leader and what are some of the challenges, hurdles, responsibilities, that a leader has to go through while leading a team. A leader is not just a person with responsibilities but he also has a vision and the ability to lead his team towards a better future.
While talking about leadership, I recall a very famous quote said by The Great Alexander who conquered the world. He once said, I am not afraid of a herd of lions led by a sheep but I am afraid of a herd of sheep led by a lion. And I think it pretty much explains what kind of role a leader plays.
There are many theories in psychology that suggest that leaders are born and not made. However, it is also true that you can learn to be a better leader if you possess various basic qualities of a leader. If you already consider yourself born with innate leadership skills then you might need these best leadership books to sharpen your skills and become a better leader.
The books are written from various perspective and explains every aspect of being a leader. The authors of these books have mastered the art of leadership and are experts in the area. In every step in your life, you will need these skills whether you are an ordinary employee or a CEO of a company. So what are you waiting for? Dive through this list to find yourself a perfect book on leadership.
1. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable
Author Name: Patrick Lencioni
Publishing Year: 2002
Whenever a leader leads a team, he is not looking forward to the success of his own but his whole team. Similarly, whenever a team gets succeeded, the credit goes to the leader which is a combined result of the efforts of his whole team. So basically, teamwork is the mantra of success for the leader and one needs to be a team player first before being a leader.
And that is exactly what this book teaches you. Every team needs a good leader to succeed, and every leader needs good team players to succeed and this mutual dependency is crucial for effective working. As a good leader it is your duty to get the best out of your team members, but how will you do that? The answer to this question is this book called The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
Patrick Lencioni, the author of this book is a successful businessman whose work has also appeared in Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, and Fortune. After the end of each chapter, you will get a quiz section from which you can grade yourself about what you learned in a chapter.
2. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Lead and Win
Author Name: Jocko Willink and Lief Babin
Publishing Year: 2015
You must be thinking you are not looking forward to leading your team into a war zone, then why read a book how the U.S. Navy lead and win? Well, the most important aspect of leadership can be seen in the military where they have to lead a team during a very difficult situation that they do very gracefully. And in this book, the authors have used some dynamic principles that you can use in every situation.
Willink and Babin who wrote Extreme Ownership are the former SEALS. They have discussed the aspects of leadership from their own experience of being a part of the U.S. Navy and also showed you the structure of a successful team. Extreme Ownership will help you take control of the situation and keep things in check even when your lives are not on the line.
The best-selling book the former SEALS received great reviews from the readers and they highly recommend it for reading if you want to be a great leader for your team.
3. The Coaching Habit
Author Name: Michael Bungay Stanier
Publishing Year: 2016
The author of this book, Michael Bungay Stanier is a well-known keynote speaker and a coaching expert. His area of expertise is teaching leadership skills and till now he has successfully trained more than 10,000 managers worldwide. The whole concept of the book, The Coaching Habit: Say, Less, Ask More, and Change The Way You Lead Forever, is based on some basic skills that give the reader seven questions.
These questions are proved to be very efficient and targeted towards getting a certain response from your team that addresses some real problems in your team. The range of questions that you will be getting in this article, ranges from ‘The Kickstart Question’ and ‘The Focus Question’, ‘The Strategic Question’, etc.
According to Daniel H. Pink who is a leadership expert himself, these are the core questions and the implication of these will guide you towards effective support towards the team. Apart from this, this book will teach you how you can give your absolute best to the team as a leader.
4. Leaders Eat Last
Author Name: Simon Sinek
Publishing Year: 2014
The New York Times Bestseller Author Simon Sinek who also wrote the book Start With Why has produced us with his new offering ‘Leaders Eat Last’. Simon Sinek considers himself as a bright-eyed optimist and has taken the responsibility of teaching the world the same. The mission of his career is to inspire different people from a wide range of professions ranging from Foreign Ambassadors and U.S. Politicians and make them a better leader.
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, the author has worked on his belief of the need for sacrifices the team needs from the leader. According to the author, if for the sake of the team, if the leader has to sacrifice his comfort then he must do so.
When the paperback version of this book got released in the year 2017, it had an extra chapter that focused truly on how you can lead millennials. As the millennials have a very different mentality and the procedure of making them understand things is very different. So next time you get the opportunity to lead a young population, then you must read this book.
Author Name: Daniel H. Pink
Publishing Year: 2013
The financial world faced a huge turn when the book by Daniel H. Pink got published. “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” became an instant New York Times Bestseller Novel. He in his book has explained that being a leader does not mean that guiding your team members at every step, you must provide them with a sense of purpose and some skills and make them sink or swim on their own.
His book teaches us that how giving your team members the greed of getting incentives is not going to make them a better hard worker. So instead of making them run after some benefits, you need to teach them how to be a team player. Daniel H. Pink is rapidly gaining the status of an international guru in the financial world and that is some high praise.
His insights and his way of thinking on the subject of leadership is very valuable not just for the financial world, but it will also make literally anyone be a better leader and a better thinker. He has also provided us with ‘A Whole New Mind’, another New York Times Bestselling novel that has some very valuable leadership lessons.
6. Lean In
Author Name: Sheryl Sandberg
Publishing Year: 2013
Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg has formed this entrepreneur’s bible just for women that teaches them valuable leadership skills. The book, ‘Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead” is a very motivational read and subjected towards the ladies whether they are a housewife or a CEO, as leadership skills are important at every step in life.
The idea of women leading other people is still very shocking and sometimes unacceptable in this male-oriented world, and this book will teach you that why it is important to learn the things that women can do instead of focusing on what they are not supposed to. Even though multiple theories in the field of psychology suggests that leaders are born and not made, Sheryl Sandberg believes just the opposite.
She believes that leadership is not something that you are inherently good at but the skills can be achieved. According to her, the first step of being a good leader is keeping your need to be liked out of the door and focus on succeeding. She knows very well that being a woman leader in this world is going to make you face many challenges and you need to be ready to face that.
7. Good to Great
Author Name: Jim Collins
Publishing Year: 2001
Jim Collins did great research for this book and all his efforts seem paid out after reading this absolute masterpiece. The book, ‘Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make a Lead and Others Don’t” is a result of five years of research of the author and he has also used a research team of 21-person and 2,000 pages of transcript of the interview. In this book, the author has discussed how companies are more successful than others and why they make a better transition.
The book is basically formed on the idea of differentiating the characteristics that make a company go from ‘good to great.’ Jim Collins has used some real examples in his book and with the help of it, he has formulated his own theories. He has identified some elite companies that have a better progress report than others and pointed out the characteristics that helped them do so.
The author has taken 28 companies into focus and analyzed everything about it. Jim Collins’ ultimate goal was to find the key to the greatness of these companies that led them to achieve some serious goals in life. His book became famous for findings like ‘The Hedgehog Concept’ and ‘The Flywheel and the doom loop’
8. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Author Name: Stephen R. Covey
Publishing Year: 1990
‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change’ written by Stephen R. Covey was published in the year 1990. And since its release, the book keeps on being one of the top-rated as well as best-selling books in the world. The book with exemplary authority has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. This compelling leadership guide book has inspired a lot of people from CEOs, to presidents, to employees of almost every profession from around the globe.
The author of this book, Stephen R. Covey has worked on some basic principles and a guideline focused methodology that reveals the hurdles faced by both individuals and experts. In a very detailed manner, the book has explained to us how we can overcome these difficulties presented in various situations. The book is a great read to be read on an expert level.
‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change’ celebrated its 25th anniversary in the year 2013 and on the occasion, they have also released an updated version of the book that also has some valuable lessons that still apply to this world 25 years later. This demonstrates that the author already had a vision and his lessons are timeless which can be read by the people of all the generations.
9. How The Mighty Fall
Author Name: Jim Collins
Publishing Year: 2009
We have already mentioned the best-selling book of Jim Collins in the list above titled ‘Good to Great’ and this book, ‘How The Mighty Fall’ is definitely not his best-selling book but certainly it is a great read and you should read this if you are an entrepreneur. Similar to Good to Great, in this book too the author has discussed different companies and what is the reason behind their failure.
In this book, the author has explained to its readers in a very detailed manner that why many companies, even after having a great idea fails and what are the factors leading to it. We may assume that the failure of the company is the responsibility of the boss and the fact that he didn’t have the required skills that it takes to run a company. This book is going to clear all the queries and doubts of you related to the subject and will end up giving you a clearer perspective.
‘How The Mighty Fall’ has discussed many companies that failed and the author will explain to you why it happened and what did they lack. If you are an entrepreneur who wants to work on his own idea and wishes to have a company someday, then this book will work as a guide for you.
10. Delivering Happiness
Author Name: Tony Hsieh
Publishing Year: 2010
Tony Hsieh, a very successful business and CEO of Zappo has built the foundation of his company by doing what the customers seeks the most and that are some very basic things such as, taking the needs and expectations of your customers into consideration and putting them first and second is hiring the right people which doesn’t necessarily mean the people with highest qualification but the people who have the required skills that work effortlessly.
His massively successful business is doing great and that is all because of his ability to lead his team in the right direction and he has proved that in every aspect, he is a great leader. His book, ‘Delivering Happiness’ serves as an evidence of his extraordinarily excellent leadership skills which he has thoroughly explained in this book. It is an autobiographical account by the author that will take you to the journey of Tony Hsieh and how he founded Zappos.
The book is not all about his company but it also has traces from his whole life, like his childhood and his days in the university, and what he was like his whole life and to ultimately being one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world and a CEO of a massively successful business.
11. Start With Why
Author Name: Simon Sinek
Publishing Year: 2009
‘Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action’ is a book by Simon Sinek who is also the author of the famous book, ‘Leaders Eat First’. Simon Sinek has proved his brilliant leadership skills and the ability to teach it several times through his books, the author has always been an unshakable optimist who believes in building everything together and sees a bright future.
Simon Sinek has popularized the concept of why in his first Ted Talk and has also implemented in his book, ‘Start with Why’. The author has tried to explain that why it is very important to start with ‘Why’. He says that anyone would buy into a product, an idea or a moment until they understand the ‘Why’ behind it.
The book shows us that various influencers, leaders and greatest personalities in the world works in a similar manner, whether it is thinking, communication or taking an action on something and the important thing to note here is, they all do it opposite to what others do.
12. How To Win Friends and Influence People
Author Name: Dale Carnegie
Publishing Year: 1936
Till now, we have mostly discussed the books that focus on the entrepreneurial importance of leadership skills and how they help to run your own company or work in an organization. But is leadership skill only limited to workplace or entrepreneurship? Absolutely not. It holds equal importance in your daily life and you can use it to charm people around you which the author, Dale Carnegie has explained in his book, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’.
The book published in the year 1936 still delivers timeless lessons that perfectly fits in the modern world too. During the time it got released, the book sold over 30 million copies worldwide and also became the best-selling book on leadership of all time. Not just this. but the book also scored number 19 in the Time’s Magazine list of 100 most influential books in the year 2011.
The book consists of very valuable life lessons and also teaches you some basic and obvious things that we forget to apply in our daily life. Like, smiling. Sometimes we forget about the importance of this little gesture but it is more valuable than you think. Being genuinely interested in what others have to say, remembering their name, being a good listener, and make them feel important. See? It’s that easy and the book will explain to you why!
There is a famous theory in psychology, ‘The Great Man Theory’ that works on the concept that ‘Leaders are born, not made’ which means that leaders are already born with some characteristics and it is not something that could be acquired. However, various other psychologists also opposed this theory with their own theories.
But, I am sure that whoever formulated ‘The Great Man theory’ must not have read any of these books which promise to deliver leadership skills in your personality. These books are written by some of the greatest authors who have thoroughly understood the concept of being a leader and leading a team provides us with very valuable information on how you can develop the characteristics and become a better leader for the world.
Do let us know in the comment section how you liked this article. And which leadership book have you found the most useful? Also, you can give us your valuable suggestion and question by commenting below.