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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Three Important Roles That Mindfulness Play In Leadership

“The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion.”
– Thích Nhất Hạnh

The ability to remain calm under pressure and stay focused in the midst of problems  – these are just a few traits we expect from people of great wisdom and character. Since we usually hold leaders in high esteem, it is but natural for us to assume (or require) that the head of a group possesses the said characteristics. However, as the world continues to get increasingly competitive, staying cool amid stressful situations is definitely not easy. One thing that can help leaders overcome this challenge is through mindfulness.

What is mindfulness and how to practice it?

We are often oblivious to it but our minds tend to wander all the time. This is why in one or more instances, you probably find yourself guilty of the phrase, “physically present but mentally absent.”  You want to avoid this by practicing mindfulness which is simply the process of training your mind to stay in the moment. Mindfulness can trace its origins in Buddhist teachings and has been used as a basis in designing therapy and wellness programs. 

It is a process of controlling thoughts so you manage to deliver the most appropriate reaction to a certain situation. Meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises are some of the techniques you can use to develop mindfulness. Since mindlessness potentially robs you of the opportunities of the present moment, everyone is bound to benefit from practicing mindfulness. It will most especially be helpful in improving leadership skills. Some of the benefits a leader can gain from it are briefly discussed below:

Promotes self-care.

Too often, leaders find themselves juggling several tasks at once as they try to fulfill  the enormous responsibilities that come with their position. Sadly, this attitude often leads to burnout and stress. Mindfulness, on the other hand opens your eyes to the reality that multitasking does not always lead to productivity. It teaches you to slow down and relax, allowing you to give yourself proper care.  By making self-care a priority, you also make work-life balance possible. In the end, a well-rested leader is most often a better leader. 

Improves work quality.

Mindfulness encourages your mind to tackle one task at a time. This practice may seem to be a slow process compared to others who try to do several things simultaneously. However, giving one task your undivided energy and attention will likely result in an output of higher quality. With more time to polish your work, you also avoid errors and create excellent work.

Strengthens mind power. 

We live in an unpredictable world but while it is almost impossible to control many circumstances, mindfulness teaches us that we can always control our reactions to it. Leaders who follow this principle learn to deal with any situation without breaking down or panicking. As they train their minds to rise above any circumstances, they can successfully avoid being distracted in a chaotic environment. They can likewise be able to make better decisions even during a crisis. 

Leadership is definitely not easy but it doesn’t have to feel like a heavy weight on your shoulders all the time. More likely, a simple change in your mindset can make all the difference. With that, you may want to begin practicing mindfulness today. 

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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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Are Your Leadership Skills Future-Ready?

Leaders of today are under much greater pressure than ever before. Aside from the usual tasks of overseeing the development of a team and creating strategies to meet a goal, leaders also need to keep up with rapid technological developments. With machines threatening to take over many jobs, advancements such as artificial intelligence and automation pose a potential threat to future leaders. They can’t afford to sit around and wait for the future to unfold. Great leaders prepare for the future by taking steps to further enhance their skills and abilities. The following lists some of the hard and soft skills that will make leaders indispensable even in an ultra-modern world.

Technological Savvy

It is safe to say that now and even into the future, turning away from technology is no longer an option. More than ever, leaders are eager to learn and embrace new technology in order to benefit their team. They eagerly keep track of the latest applications or software that are relevant in their field of work and take steps to understand how they works. Some of the hard skills that experts say will be in-demand in the future include cloud computing, UX design, and mobile application development.

Virtual Management Skills

Technology has made communication and collaboration possible with anyone, anywhere in the world. To take advantage of these benefits, leaders need to know the tools and apps that will help them manage a virtual workplace. They also need to develop the skills that will allow them to deal with a team coming from multicultural backgrounds and industries. As remote jobs become more popular, leaders need to have a more organized and systematic way of leading their teams and executing on business strategy.

Critical & Creative-Thinker

In the future workplace, where analysts are predicting that monotonous and repetitive jobs will be fully automated, a leader should prepare to train and encourage their team members to exercise their creativity. As the world gets increasingly competitive, the ability to think out of the box becomes more necessary. To keep abreast of new developments and stand out from the rest, you cannot afford to stick with the methods and processes that your team is accustomed to. You will lead the growth of the whole team (including yourself) by committing to conceptualizing and trying new innovations.

Leaders of the next generation are strategic thinkers because they think ahead. They do not just settle in following the trend. Instead, they change the rules of the game by presenting fresh ideas. They do not just stay updated with what is the latest, but also predict what will happen next by studying forecasts and insights.

Emotional Intelligence

The onset of a highly sophisticated world can be very stressful and demanding. Leaders need to be able adjust with major changes in the workplace and help their team cope with these changes. This requires a leader that can easily adapt to any situation. They know that there may be times when they need to adjust their leadership style for the betterment of the whole team. They also know how to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of their team members. All of these tasks will require leaders to exercise emotional intelligence and develop related skills such as flexibility, empathy, patience and humility.

Great leadership is an endless quest for learning and innovation. Even if you are already on the peak of success, you constantly look for ways to further improve and stay ahead. With a mindset that is geared towards continuous learning, a leader can rise up to any challenge and stay relevant no matter what the future brings.

Brad and Julie DuncanAre Your Leadership Skills Future-Ready?
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