Nov 28, 2016 | Leadership

Don’t get stumped when someone asks you what you want for Christmas this year. If you need some titles to add to your wish list, we’ve gathered our top picks.

From memoirs to case studies to historical dramas, you’ll find inspiring accounts to satisfy your need to read. Here’s a list of books that we think are well worth the turn of the page:


grittogreat1. Grit to Great: How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval

What it’s about: You don’t have to be brilliant or incredibly talented to become successful. In fact, those qualities may work against you when you face resistance. To push past barriers, it’s far better to have Guts, Resilience, Initiative and Tenacity.

Why pick it up: It’s a quick read (143 pages) and packed with both case studies and research. Plus, you’ll find ‘Grit Builders’ at the end of each chapter.


 Leadership: Essential Writings by Our Greatest Thinkers by Elizabeth D. Samet

What it’s about: Elizabeth D. Samet, West Point English Professor, brings her experiences as a teacher of soldiers, her ear for excellent writing, and her belief in the vital role of the humanities in cultivating leaders.

Why pick it up: For the perspective of great writers and thinkers about the essence of leadership. Machiavelli, Macbeth, and Ghandi are just a sampling of the 102 writers and works included that you’ll find both ancient and crucially current.


therightkindofcrazy3.  The Right Kind of Crazy: A True Story of Teamwork, Leadership, and High-Stakes Innovation by Adam Steltzner and William Patrick

What it’s about: The unbridled elation at NASA when the Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars in 2012 – and the inside account of the ten years of hard work, zero margin for error, and seven minutes of terror that led up to that moment.

Why pick it up: It’s a story about the triumph of human ingenuity over staggering odds. Share it with your team to inspire them to break down seemingly impossible problems into smaller, more manageable ones.


originals-book4.  Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

What it’s about: From Martin Luther King, Jr. to the founder behind uBeam, it’s an inspiring account how successful non-conformists bust myths, speak truth to power, and avoid groupthink without getting sidelined.

Why pick it up: Fresh research, counter-intuitive insights, status quo busting, lively writing, and practical calls to action.





5. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

What it’s about: The 1936 U.S. Olympic rowing crew team. It’s a story of how team commitment, determination, and optimism can create history. Spoiler alert: they win the gold.

Why pick it up: To help your team replicate the “swing of the boat” – to work in such perfect unison that no single action by any one is out of synch with those of all the others.



turnaroundtheship6. Turn the Ship Around: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders by L. David Marquet

What it’s about: A ship’s transformation through personal accounts and moments in which U.S. Navy Captain Marquet realized his own failures and successes.

Why pick it up: It’s “The Hunt for Red October” meets Harvard Business Review.




thewrightbrothers7. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

What it’s about: The dramatic story of two courageous brothers who launched the Age of Flight despite overwhelming odds. To quote Wilbur Wright: “No bird soars in the calm. If you want to take off, you have to take off into the wind. You need the wind. The wind will make you.”

Why pick it up: It’s written by a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and blends the best of history with an inspiring story of how to meet resistance head on to achieve your goals.



shoedog8. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight

What it’s about: A candid and riveting account from the man behind the swoosh about the company’s early days and its evolution from a garage business into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing brands.

Why pick it up: It’s a straight-from-the-source account about the early years of Nike, and the ragtag group of misfits who harnessed the power of a shared mission and deep belief in the spirit of sport.



thepowerparadox9. The Power Paradox by U.C. Berkeley Professor Dacher Keltner

What it’s about: Two decades of research and breakthroughs in neuroscience confirms that power actually re-wires the brain and suppresses our ability to empathize. The paradox: it is the ability to empathize and do good for others that puts us in the power seat to begin with.

Why pick it up: To learn how brain chemistry is altered when we gain power, and how to re-wire the brain and beat the power paradox.



superbosses10. Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent by Sidney Finkelstein

What it’s about: A revealing study about how some people are able to propel not only their companies – but also their protégés – to great heights.

Why pick it up: A good boss hits his goals and leads his team. A superboss blows away her goals by building an army of new leaders. Which would you rather be?


Some of the principles shared in these books you may already know but need reminding of. Others will give you the latest research and insight you help you tackle your greatest challenges of 2017.

Question: What books would you recommend to others that have helped you along your leadership journey?


Looking for one more gift idea to add to your wish list?
Reserve your seat for the Re:Imagine Leadership Summit – a one-day immersion in transformative leadership crafted to inspire and engage you. We’re offering $100 the regular rate now through January 1, 2017!



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