Classics in Insightful Leadership

Bookstores have many great books about business and leadership. All shine a strong light on ways to be a better leader, run a more effective business, or play a stronger game personally and professionally. I read many of the books that hit these shelves because, as Tim Sanders (author of a couple of good books himself, including Love is The Killer App) says, “books should be your (knowledge) diet’s staple.” Each one usually has something of value to teach and that I can pass on to others. Yet time and again, I return to a small set of books that cover the issues so well. Listed below, in no particular order, are my top 10. Many are long-time popular titles that still sell well, even many years after publication. Others are lesser-known gems. These ten I recommend whole heartedly to all Insightful Leaders.

  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Exquisitely explained tenets for improving your ability to achieve, make an impact, make a contribution.
  • The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge. Though the term “learning organization” may have fallen into the bucket of hackneyed business fads, this work (and the subsequent fieldbooks The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, and The Dance of Change) remains vital. It makes explicit the actions needed to blast through the normally unknown or unacknowledged obstacles to organizational change.
  • The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive by Patrick Lencioni. Clearly spells out what an executive should be doing with his or her time (hint: it has little to do with the work your company does). Lencioni uses the “business lesson in a story” technique popularized by Ken Blanchard’s The One Minute Manager. Unlike many who try this technique, Patrick pulls it off with style in all his books. The story and its characters are compelling and the issues and solutions are clear. He even includes an appendix with an executive summary of the issues and solutions for referral and deeper understanding.
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. With the same clarity, Patrick nails how teams don’t work and how they can.
  • Good to Great by Jim Collins. Jim Collins and his team conducted deep and broad research into the workings of highly successful companies. Good to Great distills the five factors that created success for organizations. The Collins team verified their work by showing how less successful companies lacked these factors. One observation I’ve heard from more than one reader: the underlying philosophies apply to the success of individuals as well as organizations.
  • Getting Things Done by David Allen. Too much to do? Too many priorities? Drowning in commitments? Read this book and implement its suggestions. You’ll thank me later. 🙂
  • What Color is Your Parachute by Richard Bolles. Though it’s an excellent resource for conducting successful job searches, the real treasure is the first appendix: a set of exercises I ask many clients to work through. Use this if you find yourself asking, “Is this all there is?” or “I’d chuck this job today and do what I really love if only the money were there.”
  • 3 Steps to Yes by Gene Bedell. Moving someone to your point of view, influencing others to act in a way that benefits you, “selling”. If you cringe at any of these concepts, you’re likely doing yourself and others a huge disservice. Learn how, with deep repect, to help yourself by helping others.
  • Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play by Mahan Khalsa. “Sales” as we normally think of it is dysfunctional. If you’re role is to help others buy what you have to offer, here’s the way to do away with all that dysfunction and “get real” with yourself, your company, and your clients.
  • The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. Though written for entrepreneurs (that’s what the “E” stands for), Michael’s ideas for shifting from working in the business to working on the business apply to all leaders.
  • Which books would you add to or take away from this list?






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