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Top 5 Leadership Books You Need to Read

Jason Diamond Arnold

June 4, 2019

Leaders are always seeking new insights into the art and science of influencing others toward a common purpose. One of the most valuable resources for leaders looking to grow and develop their core competencies is found inside great books on the topic of leadership.

Below are five leadership books that provide skills every leader needs to know as they seek to improve their leadership skills. And although leadership skills vary depending on the context—no one style or approach to leadership is used universally—there are many common truths and lessons to be learned. Inspire’s Canon of Leadership Literature will help you and your organization set the foundation for a common approach to leadership as you attempt to achieve extraordinary results.

Start With Why

Author: Simon Sinek

Revolutionary to his industry, Simon Sinek presents his Golden Circle concept, an inspiration-based leadership framework for influencing human behavior. Through the Golden Circle, Sinek explores ways ineffective leaders have resorted to manipulation and coercion to try and motivate others. Through these examples, he illustrates how poor leadership can sabotage your organization’s brand.

The Golden Circle starts with “why,” you lead, followed by “how” and “what” you need to do to motivate and lead others more effectively. Sinek describes all three parts of the Golden Circle and how communication is more about listening than speaking. Sinek also identifies challenges that can cloud a leader’s judgment and examines division amongst unmotivated teams.

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This book is excellent for anyone who manages, teaches, or coaches others. The Golden Circle concept applies to various professional and personal situations and is relevant across all industries. After reading Start With Why, you will better understand other people’s thought processes, as well as your approach to how you currently influence others. You’ll also be able to quickly identify and resolve situational conflicts in order to become a more effective leader. From an overarching strategy to one-on-one situations, this book is a revolutionary read for anyone looking to develop more effective interpersonal leadership skills.

Achieve Leadership Genius

Author: Drea Zigarmi, Richard Lyles, Susan Fowler

In Achieve Leadership Genius, Dr. Drea Zigarmi, a pioneer in Situational Leadership theory, and his team of research and leadership experts introduce The Five Contexts of Leadership (Self, One-to-One, Team, Organizational, and Alliance) as an advanced approach to influencing others. Achieve Leadership Genius expands beyond basic theories of situational leadership into an overarching language of leadership.

This book is excellent for anyone looking to create a comprehensive approach to leadership, from a macro level to a micro level, as a foundational element of the culture of an organization. In addition to a macro leadership framework, Achieve Leadership Genius includes insights into how to align an organization’s mission, vision, and values, develop leaders at every level and understand some of the micro-skills that help leaders become more effective when influencing and developing others.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Author: Stephen Covey

Written in 1989 and still widely popular, Stephen Covey introduces seven timeless habits productive people use to attain their goals and achieve a healthy work-life balance. He presents these principles in great detail and illustrates what they mean to the success of individuals and organizations. Effective influencing patterns include how to think, how to understand situations more clearly, how to be proactive, how to utilize the power of teams, and how to use time-management skills to achieve personal and organizational excellence.

This book is for anyone looking to improve their lifestyle, enhance their view on life, and develop their character to produce better results through the creation of a positive mindset. You’ll gain a greater understanding of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People practice. You’ll also explore how to think more clearly with a collaborative mindset, utilize the synergy of teams, and create win-win plans with the end in mind. Whether you’re looking to improve your work-life balance or lead others more effectively, this is the universal guidebook to timeless principles that have helped millions of leaders become more productive.

Note: In 2004, Covey presented the eighth habit in his follow-up book, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness. This book discusses five destructive behaviors that inhibit the capabilities of effectiveness. Covey also introduces the three gifts people are born with and what it looks like when achievers express their voice. This is an excellent companion piece to the original best-seller.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Author: Patrick M. Lencioni

In the 2002 book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni addresses the fundamental causes of organizational politics and offers critical insights into how teams fail. He identifies common conflicts that arise between team members, including trust issues, which prevent essential results from being achieved. According to Lencioni, the five dysfunctions of a group include trust, conflict, commitment, accountability, and attention.

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This book is suited for: those who work in team environments, managers, HR professionals, or anyone who works in an intense political climate. It’s also helpful for leaders who have conflicting team members and leaders of team sports. You’ll discover the most common issues that plague teams and how to resolve them to build stronger teams effectively. Many athletic coaches have used this book to improve team culture and overall team performance.

Leading at a Higher Level

Author: Ken Blanchard

Best selling business author, Ken Blanchard, explores one of the most widely recognized leadership models in the world—the Situational Leadership II (SLII) model—and how to use it to lead yourself, individuals, teams, and now (in the 2018 revised edition) organizations. In Leading at a Higher Level, Blanchard and a host of co-authors guide the reader through best practices to build a team that serves customers at a higher level and teaches leaders how to empower their people by partnering for performance. The book also offers strategies for effective change management and explores skills that help leaders increase their effectiveness in influencing others at a higher level.

This book is ideal for company leaders looking to strengthen leadership skills within their organization, or anyone looking to understand leadership on both a micro and macro level. After reading Leading at a Higher Level, you will have a clear understanding of how different levels of development for individuals and teams can affect performance and how to move them to the next level for sustainable excellence.

Inspire’s Canon of Leadership Literature

Inspire’s Canon of Leadership Literature provides important leadership lessons from some of the most experienced thought leaders in the human resources industry. Using the knowledge and wisdom from these experts can help you develop leadership skills without making the same mistakes other leaders have made when attempting to influence their teams or organizations. Leadership is a skill, and no matter how long you’ve been leading, it’s important to seek opportunities to improve continually.

Every organization needs a common leadership language and a way to communicate goals if they want to achieve a culture of excellence and extraordinary business results. See how Inspire Software was built for teams to align goals, develop skills, and create sustainability for long-term organizational success.