Leadership can be complex. It’s especially true this time of the year when we’re focused on tying up annual goals and planning for a strong 2018. It’s easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of it all and forget about the people-side of leadership.
As an antidote to the complex, we recommend five classic children’s books to add to your leadership library, and remind you of enduring lessons you learned when life was a bit simpler.
1. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
Leadership Quote: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”
Key Takeaway: At a fork in the path deep in woods, Alice asks the Cheshire cat which road she should take. The cat’s response reminds us to keep ourselves and our teams focused on the destination. Don’t veer off track by the daily drama.
2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
Leadership Quote: “So shines a good deed in a weary world.”
Key Takeaway: Willie Wonka rewarded young Charlie with his wondrous chocolate factory after Charlie decided to leave the everlasting gobbstopper at the factory instead of sharing it with Wonka’s competitor, Slugworth. Future leaders need more than skills and experience, they need to be a good culture fit and share the core values of your organization.
3. Winnie the Pooh, by A.A. Milne
Leadership Quote: “You are braver than you believe. Stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”
Key Takeaway: Part of leader’s job is to make decisions that others are not willing to make, to take risks, and step out of our comfort zones. Leadership can test our belief in ourselves. Pooh’s friend, Christopher Robin, reminds us to stay true to our inner compass and keep moving along the path that positively impacts the world.
4. Horton Hatches the Egg, by Dr. Seuss
Leadership Quote: “I meant what I said and I said what I meant . . . An elephant’s faithful one hundred percent!”
Key Takeaway: Horton the Elephant endures a number of hardships, but keeps his word to sit on the egg of Mayzie while she steals away for a permanent vacation in Palm Beach. Be a role model for staying true to your word. It’s the quickest way to earn respect and build a culture of trust.
5. Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White
Leadership Quote: “By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle.”
Key Takeaway: Charlotte, the spider, reminds us that leadership is not a permanent position. It’s a season. We can use our leadership season to take from others, or to help others become better versions of themselves. The choice is ours.
Stay focused, surround yourself with people who share your core values, stay true to your inner compass, model the behavior you want to see in others, and remember that leadership is a season. The lessons we learned in the pages of some of our favorite childhood tales can continue to guide us along our leadership journey.
Question: Which of these five takeaways do you find most compelling?
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