Let’s face it, people love lists. A quick scan of the current literature reveals a constellation of topics served up in easily digestible segments. Harvard Business Review’s blog offers guidance on cultivating a healthy corporate culture in just six steps. CEO.com serves up eight techniques you can employ when innovation seems impossible. And columnist Jeff Haden asserts that you can easily wreck an employee evaluation in just ten steps if you’re not careful.
If all of these leadership challenges leave you casting about for answers, don’t despair. We’ve found several recent lists of leadership books that will help you strengthen your management muscles in no time; read on for highlights.
A key component in any leader’s toolkit is the ability to manage relationships effectively. If you’re looking to sharpen your skills in this area, check out:
- Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, by Alfred Lansing: Considered the definitive account of the explorer’s fateful voyage to Antarctica, this book offers a gripping account of leadership under the most trying of conditions.
- Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, by Doris Kearns Goodwin: A renowned historian’s examination of one of our most famous president’s leadership styles and his astounding ability to find common ground among disparate factions in the quest to achieve a higher goal.
Knowing how to read people and relate to them in a meaningful way are critical skills for any leader. If you’re eager to refine your ability to communicate and motivate, look into:
- Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee: This book, a follow-on to Goleman’s seminal publication Emotional Intelligence, explains why being smart is just a portion of the leadership equation—emotional competencies such as empathy and self-awareness are equally important.
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini: This book draws upon 35 years of research on what gets people to ‘yes’ and offers guidance on steps you can take to become a more persuasive, and successful, leader.
Understanding and empathy are but two qualities of successful leaders. If you don’t have the insight to create a viable corporate culture, set attainable goals, and map out a strategy to achieve them, you’re going nowhere fast. If you’re looking to buff your tactical talents, pick up:
- The Art of War, by Sun Tzu: Although a 2,000-year-old volume on Asian military strategy, this book is widely lauded as an outstanding guide to strategy and tactics that work as well in the boardroom as they do on the battlefield.
- Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose, by Tony Hsieh: Written by the dynamic, unconventional founder of Zappos, this book details the value of creating a corporate culture that is personally rewarding for every employee.
All the strategy, insight and perception in the world won’t do you a bit of good if you don’t have the discipline to implement. If you need to enhance your ability to execute, crack open:
- The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey: With over 15 million copies sold, Covey is clearly onto something. Perfect your ability to prioritize and more with these seven simple principles.
- Developing the Leader Within You, by John C. Maxwell: With more than 40 years of experience and 60 books on leadership under his belt, this evangelical Christian author has a host of ideas on how to lead.