My Top 5 Favorite Leadership Books

If you are like me, you are always looking for good reading material. Of the many 1000s of books I have read, these have shaped the way I lead and manage. I believe you will find them invaluable as well.

Emotionally Healthy Leadership by Pete Scazzero

This is a fabulous book detailing Pete’s knowledge on the internal stuff that makes for good leadership. Among the many useful things he exposes, the index of power was particularly helpful to me. I do not consider myself a person of much power, but after following Pete’s exercise, I could see where I move through the world with privilege, access, and power. Not being aware of the power we have is the surest sign that we will abuse that power.

Above all, we must create a rhythm of life that allows us to make it to the finish line. That’s what this book is about.

Canoeing the Mountains by Tod Bolsinger

I must say that I am not a fan of this title (though it makes sense in the context of the book once you’ve read it), still this was a life-chaning read. Using the Lewis and Clark expedition as a narrative guide, Tod wants us to examine what we do when our mode of travel (canoeing) is no longer relevant because we now have to tranverse mountains. A wealth of information that exposes and explains the change process and what we will encounter along the way.

But, we must first be committed to our own transformation if we want to lead into uncharted territory.

So, the question must be asked, what opinion or persepctive have you recently changed?
In what way are you (or I) being transformed?
What transformation can you point to in your own life? Not a simple change or adaption, but a transformation.

The truth is, most leaders cannot lead into change because they have not changed in decades.

The Effective Manager by Mark Horstman

I am a huge disciple of The Manager Tools podcast where Mark and Mike lay out their managerial philosophy and give practical, actionable advice. All of the basics of that wisdom has been distilled into this small book — One on Ones, Coaching, how to delegate, etc. This is the model I have followed, and it works. Many of my direct reports have told me that I am the best manager they have ever had. It’s because I have implemented this guidance.

It seems popular today to make a distinction between managing and leading. As if leading is glorious and adventurous while managing is committed to the status quo and stifling ideas. Hogwash! Anyone I know who has adopted that rhetoric is a failure in leading people. If we must divide leading, both of these aspects are still necessary.

Following this manager tools guidance is the minimum that a good manager should do. Are the leaders in your oprganization doing this? If not, that is why you are stuck and ineffective. This book will help. If you do it.

Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan

I have never found a book so down my alley as this one. Every sentence in it is like a delicious bite culminating in a satisfying dinner with friends. It explains so much of the unproductive activity we see all around us. Activity by comitted, caring people, but ineffective nonetheless. Though the examples are getting older as it was written in the early 2000s, the wisdom is spot on.

If you have been the victim of an aimless organizarton, or an organization with great vision yet little evidence to show for it; this is the book that will unlock what is happening and how to fix it.

Crucial Conversation by Joseph Grenny

Even if we are personally integrous, have transformational leadership awareness, the tools to move an organization, and the discipline to see things through; if we cannot have the hard convesations with people along the way, we will not get far. After all, we lead people. The organizational component is important, but the people component is mission critical.

In this book you will learn how to spot a crucial conversation, how to navigate it to a resolution and then make sure that communication is happening effectively. From there it is simply practice.


I have been enriched by these books in immeasurable ways. Let me know if you are familiar with them and what you think below.


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