Leadership is a continuous growth curve. The best leaders are the best leaders because they continue to improve. John F. Kennedy said, “leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
There is no peak at the top of the leadership mountain. It’s a never ending, yet worthy climb. Leadership is such a dynamic skillset, one that leaves room for such a variety of styles and principles. It can be a balancing act, it can be an emotional roller coaster, and it can be the most fulfilling journey of your life.
One thing is for sure – the best leaders are not stagnant – they are ever improving and growing; testing their beliefs, shifting their paradigms, putting small tears in the leadership muscle so that it can grow strong.
One of the best ways to do this is by reading books written by credible leaders. Here are three books that had a profound impact on me as a leader.
- Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink & Leif Babin
This is the #1 leadership book out there. It navigates through leadership principles with a tactical approach. Through the lens of their Navy SEAL combat experiences in one of the most dangerous regions of Iraq, Jocko and Leif give anecdotes to illustrate the importance of each principle.
My personal favorite principle, Prioritize and Execute, delves into the tactical way to handle overwhelm; what do you do when there are so many urgent tasks that need to be resolved at the same time? While explaining Prioritize and Execute, Jocko and Leif tell stories of how they fended off overwhelm in the face of bullets and utter chaos.
Start here if you want to be the kind of leader team members will love and admire, the kind of leader team members will go to battle for.
- Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
Setting boundaries with team members is not easy and it’s especially difficult to do it the right way. Boundaries gives the background psychology on setting strong expectations and having challenging conversations.
This book is foundational to leadership because expectations, or boundaries, are step 1 to starting a relationship with a team member – and to improving current relationships with team members.
It’s simply a bonus that Boundaries dives into friendship and family related boundaries as well to help you be a better leader in both these areas.
Disclaimer: In alignment with his values, Dr. Henry Cloud meshes religion throughout the book. I believe there is still plenty of value here regardless of whether your religious beliefs or values match his.
- Scaling Up by Verne Harnish
This is the top book on how to organize your business and leadership team, period. I cannot overstate how crucial this book has been to how I approach business.
This book will specifically tell you how to structure your team in a way that aligns everyone toward the mission. It comes with super helpful resources and worksheets that you can use at team meetings. As the CEO or COO of a business, I would recommend going back in to reread parts of this book at least 3-4 times per year, if not more often. It’s valuable and relevant to go back to this book before quarterly team meetings.
To top it off, Verne notes books that dive deeper on specific concepts throughout his Scaling Up. This lead me to read fantastic books such as Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street, Topgrading by Bradford Smart, and Change to Strange by Daniel M. Cable.
If your goal is to scale your company, as the name suggests, you simply have to read Scaling Up.
Extreme Ownership will give you the tools to buy your team in. pplying the principles from Boundaries will build respect and protect your time and energy. Scaling Up will give you the framework to organize your company in a way that will boost your company’s ability to sustainably grow.
In the wise words of Harry Truman,
“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers”
For more recommendations, or to chat about getting your company organized shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
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