Ten Books to Fuel Your Leadership

Leaders are readers

I am an insatiable reader. I wasn’t always this way.  As a kid, I would get frustrated that I just couldn’t get “into” reading.  My dad, on the other hand, always had his nose in a book.  His day started (and still does) with reading Proverbs, Psalms, and other scripture from not just one Bible, but two.  Both his home and work offices have always been lined with books with subjects spanning leadership, marriage, parenting, sports, finance, and more.  Growing up, my dad reinforced in me Zig Zigler’s words, spoken directly to him at a conference: “Leaders are readers.”  I wanted to be a leader, but just could not get into books. “Be patient,” dad counseled, then sharing that his literary voracity didn’t officially set in until his thirties.

Well, more than three decades of life, eleven years of marriage, and several birthdays of our three children have passed, and dad was right. The older I get, the more I want to learn.  Now, it’s my nose that is always in a book.

10 Best Books of 2015

Here are 10 of the best books I read within the past year (and if you are counting, I read double that number!)

  1. Overworked and Overwhelmed—The Mindfulness Alternative by Scott Eblin. One of my key advisors suggested this book to me—and it completely changed my leadership paradigm. It is among the most important books I have ever read.
  2. Double Double by Cameron Herold. “Point of view” is what makes this book different! Learn what it is like to run a fast growing organization from the COO’s perspective—not the CEO’s.
  3. Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni. It took me awhile to get to this book, but I am so glad I did. The title is misleading. Actually, you should have more meetings, ensuring that you maximize and harness the power that comes from spending time together.
  4. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. This was a re-read for me. I will re-read it again this year. Learn how to make your team more effective with this great book.
  5. The Automatic Customer by John Warrillow. A friend suggested this book was the catalyst for a successful new platform launch for his company. I had to read it after I heard that!
  6. The Alliance by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha, and Chris Yeh. This great book discusses the impact of autonomy, trust, and commercialization, especially when these elements are paired with the power of “alumni.” This uses the term “tour of duty” as a way employers and employees should view the workforce and business needs. It is a fascinating perspective.
  7. The Talent Masters: Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers by Bill Conaty and Ram Charan. One of my close advisors recommended that I read and study Ram Charan as a leading expert for boards, talent and leadership. I have since learned that Charan is a brilliant leader and trusted advisor to many leading organizations world-wide. I appreciate being pointed in his direction in 2015, and am currently re-reading this book and ready to tackle many more of his brilliant writings in the year ahead.  The authors of The Talent Masters espouse that an organization’s success hinges on the importance placed on talent. I find this book and it’s subtitle a true daily motivation, Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers.
  8. Work Rules! By Lazslo Bock, Head of “People Operations” at Google. I am always interested in reading stories of the “mighty,” and Google certainly fits that description! Bock does an intriguing job laying out the foundation upon which Google was built. What he learned along the way will transform how you live and lead.
  9. Platform by Michael Hyatt. Our firm joined Hyatt’s “Platform University” after reading this book. Learn how to best reach your audience—and ensure that what you share has the intended impact.
  10. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero. On December 15, 2015, I began reading this book per the recommendation of one of my closest confidantes.  What a great way to end the year and begin a new one. I began re-reading the book in February, and know I will come back to it again and again. THAT is a sign of a great book! In order for us to help others be the best version of themselves, we must be the best version of ourselves! Emotional, physical, and spiritual all has to be in place for us to achieve what God intends for us to achieve. I loved this book so much, several members of our team ended up reading it and we are attending the 2016 Emotionally Healthy Leadership Conference in Queens, New York.

Another thing my dad used to say: “You are who you hang out with, what you listen to, and what you read.”  After reviewing my reading list, I hope you have a better sense of who I am.  I am curious about what motivates you, what you are learning, what makes you a better leader—what sharpens your saw.  What books are on your nightstand?  Any nuggets you could share with me?  I would love to know!

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  • Jay Fuller

    I have read a bunch of those and they would definitely make my list too but there are a few new ones in there for me that I’m looking forward to checking out.
    I recently read a hugely inspirational book on leadership from Arthur F. Coombs. Don’t Just Manage-Lead!.
    If you only read one book on leadership this year, make it this one. Arthur Coombs is a really great story teller which makes you learn so much from reading his book without even realizing it. Easily my top pick of leadership book from recent years.

    http://artcoombs.com

    • MikeSippleJr

      Thanks so much Jay! We are adding Arthur F. Coombs to our list.

      I just added it to my Library on Audible.com!