May 30, 2016 | Leadership

Leaders are readers. If you’re looking for some titles to add to your reading list this summer, we’ve gathered our top eight picks for you.

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:

1. 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.


2. 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 and zero margin for error 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.


 3. 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 of 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.


4. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Milhaly Csikszentmihalyi

What it’s about:  Most people alternate between work we dislike but feel obliged to do, and passive activities that offer no stimulation. This book suggests that we find flow, a state in which we are intrinsically challenged without the self-conscious anxiety of performance.

Why pick it up:  A reminder that when we are so absorbed in meaningful activity that we ‘forget’ ourselves, we reconnect with who we are at our best.


5. 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.



6. 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.


7. 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.



8. 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 can give you the inspired insight you need to tackle your greatest challenges of 2016.


Question: What books have helped you along your leadership journey?



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