5 Books Every Leader Should Read

“Learning is not a one-time event or a periodic luxury. Great leaders in great companies recognize that the ability to constantly learn, innovate, and improve is vital to their success.” 
– Amy Edmondson

Leaders are charged with inspiring, educating, and encouraging others. But who do leaders turn to when they need to be refilled? Fortunately, many authors have poured years of expertise into advice books to offer insight to leaders from all walks of life. Here are five books (or audiobooks) every leader should read.

1. The 360-Degree Leader by John C. Maxwell

The 360-Degree Leader is written specifically for middle management leaders. Maxwell instructs readers to flex their influence in all 360 degrees: down to their team members, across the aisle to their coworkers, and upward to those who lead them. This book is empowering because it confirms that no matter your position, you have the ability to create change. It also offers concrete leadership techniques, tips and tricks that you can apply on the job.  

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

Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last focuses on what the author calls the chemicals of leadership. He states that coaches’ emotions are what impact the change created amongst their teams. The text uses true stories from various sources to illustrate that those who are in charge should be the ones who sacrifice the most. This book inspires coaches to follow in the steps of Marine Corps Generals and other great leaders who create circles of safety to protect their teams from outside dangers. 

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

Collins’ Good to Great drives home the point of one simple concept: discipline. Discipline in all things – people, thought and action is the key to taking a ‘good’ company and making it great. The author preaches consistency in all areas over an extended amount of time. As well as demanding excellence, even when good enough will suffice.  

4. Essentialism by Greg McKeown

McKeown’s Essentialism is a guide to being more effective as a leader. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed, busy, unproductive, or cluttered, this is the book for you. The author details a simple way of life organization that helps leaders to eliminate distractions and focus their attention only on what is absolutely essential. This book restores the reader’s power to control their own day-to-day choices, time and energy, thus making them more capable and balanced leaders.

5. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team has sold over two million copies because of its unique approach to providing much-needed advice, in the form of a fable. The text covers five possible dysfunctions of a team: the absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. Lencioni also highlights contrasting behaviors of high performing teams to help leaders set goals to aspire to. 

Leaders work hard every day to manage teams and run companies. While such dedication is noble, it’s important to carve out time to focus on yourself. Commit to setting aside a few minutes of daily personal time to read these five leadership books to help your skills thrive.

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Four Simple Hacks To Make Leadership A Lot Easier

Leadership is surely not a role for people who want things easy. More often than not, this job comes with many tasks, huge responsibilities, and high expectations. However, if your wish is to be a competent leader, you do not allow the said challenges to scare you away from the job of supervising people. Instead, you strive to develop hacks and tactics that will help you rise above the overwhelming duties that come with leadership. Current and aspiring leaders may find the tips that are briefly discussed below helpful:

Plan and organize your day.

Success and idleness rarely go together. Therefore, leaders should aim to be as productive as possible. However, it will be harder than ever to maximize your productivity if you do not know the things you want to accomplish. Planning and listing your tasks for the day may be an age-old tactic but many still avoid doing it. It is therefore wise to start your day with a plan. Another option is to list down your goals for the day the night before. Listing too many goals can backfire so you may want to narrow down your goals to the most important things you want to achieve.

Welcome feedback.

Good communication is a major factor in effective leadership. Ideally, you and your team should be on the same page when it comes to matters that involve the group. One way to ensure this is by giving feedback and welcoming feedback from your members at the same time. Making the exchange of feedback a regular habit paves the way for the group to communicate more efficiently. As a leader, you gain insights on how you can further enhance your leadership skills. For the members, it sends a message that you are genuinely concerned about the growth of your people, which can motivate and empower.

Delegate tasks.

Are your tasks piling up by the minute? You do not have to panic because the seemingly impossible situation can be solved by simply assigning some of the duties to your members. Attempting to do everything will likely lead to burnout. It can also make your team members feel bored and unappreciated. On the other hand, trusting your people with certain tasks will lighten your workload and at the same time lift he group’s morale. You also train the skills of possible future leaders in your group. 

Encourage learning and innovation.

Wise leaders know the value of continuous learning. To stay ahead and relevant, it is necessary to keep up with the latest trends and invest in continuous education. You can make it easier by seeking advice and suggestions from your team. A monthly contest where members can pitch new ideas that the team can start is one example. You can also organize a weekly meeting where members report about a new trend or share something they learned to the group. Fostering a culture that encourages learning and innovation will certainly make the whole team stronger.

Needless to say, leadership is a highly stressful job. However, the best leaders know how to cope with these demands and even turn them to their advantage. Thus, when things start to feel heavy and unmanageable, take a moment to remember that many things can be solved with a simple hack.

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Five Ways Storytelling Makes You A Better Leader

Leadership is a role that requires one to wear many hats. In many situations, leaders may find themselves as planners, organizers, and mentors all at once. With such a huge task on their shoulders, leaders should constantly be eager to learn tactics that will make their job so much easier. One strategy they can apply that has great potential to significantly improve their leadership is storytelling. As to why aspiring leaders should strive to master the craft of telling good stories, check out some of the reasons presented below:

You can use stories to form a connection.

Due to the privileges that come with their status, many managers can appear intimidating to their subordinates even without intending to. Unfortunately,  these impressions can make people feel awkward around their superiors and hinder positive working relationships. To solve this problem, leaders can share personal anecdotes that will help their followers see them in a new light. By sharing stories that people can identify with, leaders transform into a warm person that is easy to feel comfortable with.

You can use stories to inspire.

It is hard if not impossible to accomplish something notable if a team lacks motivation or purpose. However, since not everyone has the drive to do more than what is expected,  the mission to inspire a group of people can be very challenging. Leaders who are gifted storytellers know how to use the power of stories to push people to give their best at all times. With stories that highlight the role that hard work and commitment play in the road to success, leaders can keep a team’s spirit up and running even during bad times.

You can use stories to educate.

Continuous learning is necessary for a team’s growth. For this reason, a leader is also tasked to facilitate or organize activities that help the team acquire new skills and knowledge. Stories can indeed make learning sessions in a group more interesting. With the creative use of stories, it can also make retaining knowledge easier and this theory is backed by research. According to a research done by psychologist, Jerome Bruner, the possibility of students to remember facts significantly increases if they are told through a story.

You can use stories to resolve conflict.


Group members can sometimes clash and in many situations, the leader has to act as a mediator. Stories that will remind people about the value of each person in the group can help fix this delicate situation. To discourage people from engaging in unnecessary spats, leaders can also present sad examples of groups that allowed small misunderstandings to get in the way of their overall goals.  

You can use stories to generate ideas.

Leaders who know how to use the power of stories know how to use creativity to avoid boring their listeners. They do it by freely exploring different ways of sharing anecdotes. Sometimes, the leader can tell stories the typical  way, with a fixed beginning and end. Other times, stories can be open-ended and the listeners can either change the plot or design a new ending. These story variations teach people about new possibilities and may help them see things in a new perspective.  It would not be surprising at all if sharing stories can lead to new ideas and innovations.

To be a competent leader is no easy feat. You may have to face a long list of skills and traits that you need to master to be one.  However, since everyone has a story to tell, how about starting your journey by honing your skills as a storyteller first?

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Three Ways To Appreciate A Good Leader

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent
in others belong to us as well.” – Voltaire

Most of the time, we do not have the liberty or convenience to choose our bosses. And as sad as it may sound, it seems like great leaders are hard to come by these days. Some superiors can be too tough, which can command obedience but also instills fear. Some are too lenient, which can establish rapport, but then breed underachiever. The search for a good leader can be frustrating, so to realize you are under the wing of someone with commendable management skills can feel like winning a lottery. With all the amazing things good leadership brings, the least you can do is show your appreciation. The following are a few ways to show your dream boss how grateful you are to be under their mentorship:

Do more than required.
For a boss, to see his or her staff religiously doing their duties is already an achievement. But if you wish to further give your leader a reason to do better, you may want to show more effort in the work you do. Going above and beyond will show leaders that the people they manage are worth the effort. Aside from  encouraging leaders to keep doing their job well, you are also empowering the whole team. Choosing excellence over mediocrity surely makes the job of a leader easier. In the end, the ultimate person who benefits from your actions is you.

Organize an appreciation day.
What can you do to increase the tribe of good leaders? Organizing an appreciation day can go a long way. This will be helpful because a leader needs a dose of encouragement and motivation to stay competent as well. It can be as simple as throwing a surprise party or get-together. Team members can do something special, such as prepare the leader’s favorite dish or buy a gift the leader always wanted. It is also a great idea to give thank you messages.

Offer a solution.
Leaders have huge responsibilities on their shoulders, so it is a requirement to be disciplined and persevering. Aside from ensuring the smooth flow in a group, leaders are also tasked with solving any problem a team may encounter. With all the hard work involved, one of the best things a team member can do is ease some of the burdens a leader has to face. Aside from making sure that you do not create any trouble for the leader, you can also think of ways to make things easier for the whole team. If the team has an existing dilemma or problem, you can suggest ways to overcome or solve it. By doing this, your boss will truly be thankful to have you in the team.

To be under a great leader is a wonderful privilege because you will gain valuable skills and at the same time, discover your potential. You can expect an excellent leader to push you to be better, inspire you to grow and achieve more than you think you are capable of.  So, if you know a great leader, do the world a favor by finding ways to express just how much you value their presence.

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Three Ways Great Leaders Rise From Their Mistakes

Leadership comes with great responsibilities. But no one said that the heavy load a leader has to bear requires perfection at all times. On the contrary, the very best of leaders are those that are not afraid to make mistakes. They proceed with caution and minimize errors as much as possible. But they also have a full understanding of the risks involved in their actions. Thus, mistakes do not rattle or take them off guard. They recognize the opportunities that come with every mistake they have made. Great leaders overcome mistakes with ease and can even turn them into opportunities. They can do this by adopting a few key mindsets and principles, which are discussed below.

Accept and react accordingly.

In an organization where leaders refuse to acknowledge errors, problems persist and can ultimately break the team dynamic. That is why wise leaders do not turn a blind eye when something went wrong. Instead, they quickly acknowledge it and are willing to apologize for it if necessary. They are not concerned that these actions willl make them appear weak or incompetent in front of their subordinates. On the contrary, leaders will earn the respect and admiration of their team because admitting mistakes is a decision that takes humility and courage.  

Do not resort to negative behaviors.

As a leader, you are likely wary of making mistakes because they can often lead to negative behavior or situations. Proactive leaders, though, know that negative actions are a waste of time because in the end, they don’t solve anything. It’s important to get to the root of the problem in order to have a clear understanding of how the mistakes happened and how they can be fixed. However, once the scrutiny reveals the names of the people who are responsible or involved with the mishaps, exceptional leaders have the ability to react calmly and constructively.

Great leaders don’t resort to harsh punishments and instead set their attention on the mistakes done and not on the person who did it. Instead of subjecting people to harsh criticisms, they listen in order to learn how the mistake can be fixed or avoided in the future. Criticisms and fault-finding will only damage your team’s morale, which can create more trouble for an organization in the long run.

Focus on lessons and solutions.

Leaders may feel frustrated over a misstep for a while, but it is important not to linger on the mistake and instead look to the bright side. Be aware that mistakes are just a part of the journey and come heavily laden with lessons to learn. Likewise, don’t dwell on negative emotions for too long after a mistake. It is not wise to dwell on bad emotions. Your main concern should be set on how to solve it. Any problem can be fixed, so try to instead plot ways to correct the mistake.  

Do you want an easy way to assess a person’s leadership skills? One way to do it is by observing how they handle mistakes. The mediocre ones may start to panic and end up making decisions that can turn a small mistake into a major problem. On the other hand, great leaders stay cool and collected, giving them presence of mind to turn any mistake to their advantage. So what kind of leader do you want to become?  

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Six Easy Ways to Be an Amazing Motivational Leader

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou

Great leaders know that motivation is the key to success. Motivation is all about inspiring people to want keep going. People only give their max effort to those who will value it the most. You have to find a way to show them that you are that person. Keep reading for 6 ways to motivate your team:

Recognition

The best leaders take time to recognize accomplishments, improvements, and efforts that go above and beyond. Giving it your all, only to receive no acknowledgement, is demotivating. Some leaders make the mistake of justifying their inaction with sentiments like, “You should work hard, no matter who notices.” While most people do work hard, no matter the circumstance, a lack of acknowledgement can make employees feel that their efforts are intentionally being ignored. Resentment builds and before they know it, their hardest worker is now doing the bare minimum, out of spite. This can be avoided by being intentional about praise.

Empathy

People are more intrinsically inclined to produce their best work when they feel they are valued and understood. A little empathy goes a long way. Whether employees are feeling under the weather, or facing personal tragedies, they will undoubtedly feel comforted knowing their leader is genuinely concerned. Putting yourself in their shoes gives you a different viewpoint and helps you respond from that perspective. It allows you to show patience instead of frustration, kindness instead of annoyance, and mercy instead of punishment. Empathy allows you to be more human than business minded and sometimes, that’s what chaotic situations require. Real people face real problems. Everyday won’t be ideal. Having a leader who understands and respects that makes all the difference in how employees feel overall about their job and leader.

Trust

Trust is motivating factor that is often overlooked in the business realm. When a leader extends her trust, it illustrates her confidence in her employees. Having a leader who knows that you are reliable and capable motivates you to do all that you can to continue to be trustworthy.

Trust at work can present itself in many different forms. Leaders should trust employees to:

  • Problem solve without being micromanaged
  • Share their thoughts
  • Handle greater responsibility
  • Be autonomous
  • Choose how they work best
  • Manage when they need time away from work

If your team has shown themselves to be worthy of trust, give it to them. They won’t let you down.

Rewards

Most people are loyal to their company, regularly go beyond the call of duty, put in more hours than they have to, and take pride in their work. While gratefulness and words of affirmation are both necessary and appreciated, tangible gifts really drive the point home. It’s one thing to say you value strong work ethic; it’s another to prove it.

Consider giving:

  • Random days off
  • Catered lunches
  • Vacation packages
  • Gift cards

Fun Environment

Fact: Happy people are more effective. No one wants to wake up early, get dressed, and sit in traffic only to spend 8 hours in a place that they hate. The nature of the work may be serious, but that doesn’t mean that the office needs to be stuffy. Create an environment where stress is low, laughs are plenty and your staff actually wants to smile. Schedule team builders, leave the office occasionally, decorate, open some windows. Consider implementing spirit weeks and parties. Relax the dress code. Play games, sing karaoke, take dance breaks – be lighthearted.

In the same regard, make sure to have strict policies against things that cause bad feelings in the office. Bullying, sexual harassment, and workplace gossip should all have a zero tolerance policy.

Advancement

Humans desire growth; it’s in our DNA. While familiarity is comfortable and change can be scary, most of us still set goals in pursuit of the next level. We desire challenge and celebrate our ability to conquer it. Even with the best pay, benefits, and leadership, an unchallenged employee will leave. As a respected leader, know that this is true and plan ahead. Encourage employees to continually pursue higher education and advanced certifications. Don’t frustrate your team by failing to provide new opportunities. Prove that you see the progress they’ve made and you have a vision for their potential. Give them new responsibilities that you think they’d do well with. Offer new roles and compensate accordingly.

As a leader, your job is to continually bring out the best of each member of your team. If you prioritize your employees and they will, in turn, prioritize the business. The 6 methods above will help you make motivation your mission.

Brad and Julie DuncanSix Easy Ways to Be an Amazing Motivational Leader
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