All successful leaders have one thing in common: they are naturally curious people who are lifelong learners and satisfy their need for knowledge through reading. Whether you read a book a month like Bill Gates, or take your time to savor the text, reading can help you sharpen your leadership skills and keep current in an ever-changing 21st century business environment. Yet, from the 15,974 leadership books published in 2015 and offered on Amazon.com this year, what’s worth picking up?
We’ve gathered the most compelling titles from provocative thought leaders, and offer our top picks from 2015 that are well worth the turn of the page:
1. Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Chris Fussell, Tantum Collins, David Silverman
What it’s about: Gen. McChrystal parallels how the military adapted to fighting a decentralized terrorist network and simulates today’s fast-changing competitive threats in the business world.
Why pick it up: If military leaders can drop their command-and-control leadership style, it’s time for business leaders to do the same.
2. Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader, by Herminia Ibarra
What it’s about: Counted among the world’s top leadership thinkers, INSEAD Professor Herminia Ibarra helps you decide how to best invest your time and to value what she calls “outsight” — the critical perspective we gain from external experiences.
Why pick it up: Self-reflection is important, but too much introspection anchors us in the past and amplifies our blinders.
3. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
What it’s about: Elon Musk has been described as Steve Jobs, John D. Rockefeller, and Howard Hughes rolled into one. This biography offers compelling ideas about innovation, managing people, and taking risks from one of the most iconoclastic figures in business today.
Why pick it up: To arouse your intellectual curiosity, gain insight from an innovative thinker, and keep an open mind when faced with new circumstances.
4. A Curious Mind by Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman
What it’s about: Brian Grazer, the producer behind “Apollo 13,” “Arrested Development” and “A Beautiful Mind,” schedules weekly curiosity conversations with big achievers: scientists, spies, CEOs and anyone else who sparks his interest and is willing to spend a few hours with him. In this book, Grazer and business journalist Charles Fishman explore the power of curiosity and its ability to inspire us.
Why pick it up: It’s human nature to surround ourselves with people who think like we do. Stepping outside of our circle expands our paradigm and illuminates our blind spots.
5. Yes, And by Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton
What it’s about: The authors of Yes, And are executives at The Second City, the improv group where comedians like Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert got their start. This book offers techniques for in-the-moment acting that stimulates creativity and builds empathy.
Why pick it up: “But” stops the bus. “Yes, And” gives your team a safe space to generate unique ideas, then combine those ideas into the best result.
6. Work Rules! by Laszlo Bock
What it’s about: An exploration of new ways of thinking about and behaving at work from the longtime head of Google’s ‘People Operations.’ The result is a manifesto on how to approach work differently in order to attract and grow the best talent – and, in the process, for leaders to grow themselves.
Why pick it up: You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room any more. Create a workplace that brings in amazing people, then give them the space to do awesome things that helps everyone grow.
7. The Awakened Company by Catherine Bell
What it’s about: The bipolar boom-bust business model is failing. Leaders need to be mindful that business must exist to serve our inter-connectedness as much as to make a profit.
Why pick it up: It will remind you that work isn’t separate from life, and the metrics for success in business extend far beyond the balance sheet.
8. Team Genius by Rich Karlgaard and Michael Malone
What it’s about: Too much emphasis has been placed on individual performance. Team performance is fundamental to compete effectively in the global economy.
Why pick it up: Helps you tap into the collective intelligence of fluid teams to solve fluid challenges.
Some of these books are roadmaps. Others are toolkits. They’ll all help you shift your leadership paradigm. Enjoy!
Question: What was the last leadership book you read that challenged your thinking?
Join me and Dr. Tony Baron at our next Re:Imagine Leadership Summit April 27 in San Diego! Success doesn’t happen by luck. It’s intentional. Without a leadership roadmap, your team will wander aimlessly through shifting priorities leaving them confused about the purpose of their jobs. Come to a one-day immersion in transformative leadership crafted to inspire and engage you.