11 Books Every Leader Should Read to Become an Effective Leader

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Effective LeaderHow does a star basketball player become a star? How does a world-renowned neurosurgeon navigate the complexities of the human brain with a scalpel? How do some leaders become legends, leading their teams successfully through crisis and insurmountable challenges?  They all have two common traits. First, they didn’t start that way. I haven’t met a well-respected leader yet who embodied the principles of authentic leadership on day one. Second, they recognize that to become great, they need knowledge, skills, and practice. One way to become an effective leader is to embrace continuous learning and improving as a habit. An easy way to do that is to read something instructional or inspirational every day.

But there are so many choices!! Where do you begin?

Here are 11 books every leader should read if they want to become an effective leader.

  1. 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni

In his book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”, Patrick Lencioni illustrates five primary issues seen with low performing, dysfunction teams. He gets to the core of why teams often don’t work well together. He outlines a powerful model and actionable steps that can be used to overcome these issues and build an effective team.

Why read this book? Because you will learn how to build a stronger, more high-performing team.

  1. The Advantage, by Patrick Lencioni

In “The Advantage,” Patrick Lencioni delves into the competitive advantage that comes from organizational health. He explains how a cohesive leadership team and a clear, shared purpose can lead to improved performance and resilience. This book provides actionable insights to help leaders build stronger, more effective teams.

Why read this book? Well, because you’ll learn even more about how to build stronger and effective teams.

  1. Employalty, by Joe Mull

“Employalty” by Joe Mull is a game-changing book that equips leaders with practical strategies to attract and retain star employees. With actionable advice and a visionary perspective, Employalty is an invaluable resource for building a culture of commitment and thriving in the modern workplace.

Why read this book? Because you want your employees (new or experienced) to stay and thrive.

  1. Enough! Eradicating Bullying and Incivility in Healthcare, by Dr. Renee Thompson

“Enough” is a guide to teach healthcare leaders the essential skills they need to address disruptive behaviors and cultivate a professional workplace. In this book, you’ll learn how to identify behaviors that undermine a healthy workforce culture, how to set behavioral expectations and hold employees accountable, practical and powerful tactics and techniques to confront disruptive behaviors, action steps to hardwire healthy workforce best practices into the fabric of your department, and four initiatives to address common ways bullying and incivility show up in your organization.

Why read this book? Because it teaches you how to finally put an end to bullying & incivility!

  1. The Gap and the Gain, by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy

In this book, the authors introduce the GAP and GAIN concept, a revolutionary perspective on personal progress and happiness. By examining the habits of ambitious individuals, they explain how the pursuit of an ever-shifting ‘ideal’ often leads to discontentment, whereas measuring against one’s former self, ‘the GAIN,’ promotes a sense of fulfillment. Inspired by entrepreneur coach Dan Sullivan’s teachings and his clients’ experiences, this concept showcases the psychological benefits of recognizing personal growth.

Why read this book? Because measuring the progress you’ve been making towards culture change by where you WERE and not where you want to be will ultimately lead to achieving greater success and contentment.

  1. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey

When 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was first published in 1989, it quickly became a best seller and has since become a part of American culture. The book has influenced everyone from presidents to educators to improve their business and careers by living their lives with integrity, service, dignity and success in all areas.

Why read this book? It’s an oldie but goodie, however, the principles shared in this book are timeless!  This book will change the way you show up every day as a leader.

  1. Radical Candor, by Kim Scott

Learn to be an effective leader using the human-centered principles of Radical Candor, by Kim Scott. This book explores a management philosophy that combines direct feedback with genuine care for employees. These methods boost employee satisfaction and yield exceptional results. Learning these methods will motivate your team to consistently deliver their finest efforts in their daily work and collaborations.

Why read this book? By applying these methods, you’ll foster robust team relationships and establish an atmosphere of genuine and constructive feedback.

  1. FISH! A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results, by Stephen Lundin, Harry Paul, and John Christensen

I read this book many years ago when I was a new manager because I had inherited a unit that was, well, a bit dysfunctional, very much like the fictional character in this book. She was charged with turning around an ineffective, unenthusiastic team and happened to work right across the street from the famous Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle Washington.  By applying creative yet simple strategies she learned from the actual fishmongers, she was able to turn her team around. Four key principles are explored: Be There; Play; Make Their Day: and Choose Your Attitude.

Why read this book? Because you will learn how to show up differently and how to influence your staff to do the same.

  1. Leaders Eat Last, by Simon Sinek

Wouldn’t it be great if your employees came to work every day feeling excited and inspired to be there? What if they trusted you and felt valued for the work they do?  Simon Sinek believes leaders can create this world and gives readers true stories from several different types of businesses.

Why read this book? Because if you do, your employees will follow and trust you!

  1. Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization, by John Wooden

John Wooden’s goal has always been to get maximum effort and peak performance from his team. Wooden on Leadership explains exactly how he pursued and accomplished this goal. Wooden Focuses on his 12 Lessons in Leadership and his acclaimed Pyramid of Success, to outline the mental, emotional, and physical qualities necessary in building a winning organization.

Why read this book? Because John Wooden is hailed as one of the best leaders of all time. Period.

  1. Dare to Lead, by Brene Brown

Bene Brown unveils the importance of vulnerability in leadership. This book emphasizes the necessity of courageous leaders who embrace vulnerability to cultivate strong and thriving workplaces. The book outlines four key skills for brave leadership: encouraging risk-taking and resilience, promoting honesty and integrity, enhancing communication quality, and swiftly recovering from failures. By mastering these skills, leaders will be empowered to guide teams to navigate vulnerability, maintain integrity, hold productive conversations, and adeptly rebound from setbacks.

Why read this book? Being vulnerable is how you build trust. And building trust is a key component to being a great leader. The best teams have trust.

There you have it. 11 books every leader should read if they want to become an effective leader.  Remember, nobody is born with leadership skills. Great leaders are created deliberately, thoughtfully, and consistently, one lesson, one mentor, and one book at a time.

What other books would you recommend and why? Would love to include next time!

To learn how you can reduce incidents of bullying and incivility in your organization, contact us at [email protected].

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