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The best in Leadership reading lists

26 September 2017 By Will Brodie

You are what you read, and the smart leader always seeks inspiration from the best new books. We surveyed which tomes leadership experts recommend and these five publications consistently topped the best reading lists.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins

What is it?
Collins and his research team analysed 28 companies over five years, identifying the leadership skills needed for long-term success.

Expert says:
“Probably the best of the 'case study' style of management book. While I often question whether case studies are applicable to real-life situations, Collins is a genius at finding commonalities that make successful companies more successful.” – Geoffrey James, Inc.com

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

What is it? 
A self-help book with a business slant which became a runaway best-seller, Seven Habits takes the reader on a journey from dependence to interdependence, making a crucial distinction between leadership and management.

Expert says:
Seven Habits is a timeless lesson in leadership and success. By changing your mindset to embrace an alternative perspective, Covey walks you through the self-mastery Paradigm Shift.” - Joe Vennare, lifehack.com

“His advice — about prioritization, empathy, self-renewal, and other topics — is both insightful and practical. Seven Habits can be useful to the personal and professional development of anyone charting a career in business.” - John Coleman, Harvard Business Review

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

What is it?
A groundbreaking positive-thinking self-help classic, it is still  influential 70 years after its initial publication. Straight-talking, common sense advice from a master salesman.

Expert says:
“In one of the most recognized motivational books in history, Dale Carnegie’s proven advice for effective communication and interaction leaves people feeling valued rather than manipulated.” – CEO.com

 

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Dan Pink

What is it?
Pink argues against the 20th century “carrot and stick” notion of motivation, saying most people are more productive when their work is driven by autonomy, the urge to improve and meaningful tasks.

Expert says:
“We all have an innate desire to be in control of our lives and create new things. These two desires are what truly drive us…

“Daniel H. Pink asserts in Drive that the secret to prompting higher achieving workers is to tap into their internal motivation. Doing so will increase satisfaction at work, at school and at home, and also empower us to better ourselves and our world.” – Deep Patel, Entrepreneur.com

The Emperor’s Handbook, Marcus Aurelius

What is it?
Remarkably, these sage notes about life and leadership written by the Stoic Roman leader (161 to 180 AD) were never intended for publication. Often labelled Meditations, they've been a staple of leaders for generations.

Expert says:
“Although Aurelius was writing for himself, the surviving text is a road map to living a better life. By removing the excess, Aurelius shows us all how to rise above distractions to maintain our principles. Rooted in Stoic philosophy, Meditations is practical advice for controlling your thoughts, emotions, and actions to remove stress from your life.” – Joe Vennare, lifehack.com

The Dilbert Principle by Scott Adams

What is it?
Well, our leadership experts didn’t mention this compendium at all. But Dilbert is the quintessential satirical cartoon of the modern workplace. And leaders mustn’t take themselves and their theories too seriously, no? Humour helps a boss understand how workers experience their policies at the bottom of the pyramid.

Expert says:
“The Dilbert Principle: The most ineffective workers will be systematically moved to the place where they can do the least damage — management.” – Scott Adams