5 Top Books Every Leader Should Read

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Leaders are not born, they are made. They make themselves by accumulating knowledge, skills and experience. And a great lot of knowledge comes from books. Every successful leader can name at least a dozen books which have shaped their leadership style, their perception on doing business and their motivation behind every career move.

And successful leaders never stop reading. This is something which defines a leader’s mindset – the continuous inquisitiveness and openness to new ideas, new thoughts and new perspectives. Whether you have just finished a great book and are looking for fresh inspiration, or you already have a list of books to read ahead of you, we would like to recommend a few titles to include on your reading list. These books will not teach you how to become a better leader. Instead, they will open paths in your mind and give you the tools you need to make yourself a better leader.

Successful leaders never stop reading.

1. The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough

Historian David McCullough wrote one of the most factually accurate and detailed books about the construction of the Panama Canal. Why would such a book interest a leader? Because it shows how a great thing was achieved, and what it took to take the project from the paper and make it a reality.

Great things are never simple and easy to achieve. It takes creativity. Mistakes happen and losses are sustained. You have to rethink your strategy. You need a B, C or even a D plan. You do whatever it takes to make it happen. This is a valuable lesson for any leader and entrepreneur.

2. Leadership and Self-Deception by The Arbinger Institute

Some leaders are right. They are always right. And when they are not right, see the first two statements and apply them accordingly. This is the path towards destruction for any company – when leaders lull themselves into believing that they are invincible and incapable of making mistakes.

They develop a toxic culture around them, where employees know that the surefire way to a promotion is stroking the leader’s ego. In this book, you will find painful examples of what happens when such a business culture is allowed to grow. Don’t be that kind of leader – learn to be your number one critic.

3. Give and Take by Adam Grant

Some people give to others. Others take whatever they can. And yet other people find a balance between giving and taking. This is the core of our society, and by learning how to deal with each category of people, you will become a great leader.

A cool mind and number crunching are not enough to make you a good leader. The talent to build and nurture relationships, and to keep a balance between what you give and what you take from the pool of talents around you, is crucial.

4. Influence by Robert Cialdini

This book is already a classic in terms of how to influence people and persuade them to do what you want, and how to protect yourself from persuasion by others. These are two must-have skills for leaders and you should continually work on improving them.

Recently, the author has updated his advice with the book Pre-Suasion, with examples based on modern business interactions. However, you should start with the core principles explained in the original book and then follow up with updated evidence in the new one.

5. Managing the Mental Game by Jeff Boss

Resilience and fortitude are two key qualities of a successful leader, especially when faced with crisis situations or making tough decisions.

Jeff Boss is a former Navy SEAL and knows everything about mental fortitude, and controlling your emotions and impulses in the face of critical situations. He uses his expertise in this book to teach others how to develop resilience and fortitude and cope with difficult situations.

Resilience and fortitude are two key qualities of a successful leader, especially when faced with crisis situations or making tough decisions. This book is a great aid in such moments, when you feel unsure of yourself.

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