Leadership books: graphical user interface, text, application

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business – By Patrick Lencioni

We love several tomes from Pat Lencioni, but this latest leadership book really sums up a lot of what we think about what makes businesses successful, and what sets certain organizations apart.  You have to be not only “smart”, but also “healthy” – minimal politics, clear roles, communication, strong culture, etc.  In line with Transcend’s Fearless Organization™ and our alignment of culture, strategy and leadership.  Why aren’t you doing it already?  Because you think it’s beneath you and too simple.  Let this leadership book show you otherwise, and start building a healthier, growing organization today.

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The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It

This is one of our current favorite leadership books, as it helps make the latest advances in neuroscience practical for understanding your own temptations, cravings, habits and other “weaknesses” of willpower less as personal failings, and more as standard mechanisms that you can learn to control and use to your advantage.  Practical exercises at the end of every chapter for reforming some of your most difficult to change habits and doing more of the things you know you should be doing, but find difficult to follow through and keep on track.  One of our favorites is a chapter on “licensing”, or giving yourself permission to be “bad” because you’re really so “good”.

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Energy Leadership: Transforming Your Workplace and Your Life from the Core – by Bruce D. Schneider

How to understand your leadership potential and how to harness it for success in all aspects of life.  This is a story of one company on the brink of disaster and how the Energy Leadership principles turned it around to achieve extraordinary results.  As an Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner, We can administer and debrief the Energy Leadership Assessment if you want to take this further.

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The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (J-B Lencioni Series) –  by Patrick Lencioni

5 Dysfunctions of a Team talks about a fictional team who exhibit classic behaviors that can derail any team, and how to bring a team together to work as a unit.  The Five Dysfunctions (Absence of trust, Fear of conflict, Lack of commitment, Avoidance of accountability, and Inattention to results) and how to recognize and overcome them.  Easily read, incredibly important to helping teams function, needs effort to implement.  We use these leadership books in team workshops frequently when working with leadership teams.

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The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything – by S. Covey

Trust is an essential ingredient to productive relationships, at work and in our personal lives.  This leadership book outlines 13 behaviors of trust-inspiring leaders and personal stories to illustrate each.  Habits include:  demonstrating respect, creating transparency, righting wrongs, delivering results and practicing accountability.  Another great workshop source and good for personal growth in leadership, especially in sales and business development.  As trust increases, the speed of business increases, and results go up.  A bit wordy in places.

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Leadership Challenge: Leadership books list

The Leadership Challenge, 4th Edition – by Kouzes and Posner

This classic primer on Leadership  is well-researched and draws on the experiences of leaders at all levels, not just CEOs of large corporations and outlines the five fundamental practices of great leaders:  challenging the status quo; inspiring a shared vision; enabling others to act; modeling the way forward by setting an example; and tapping individuals’ inner drives by linking rewards and performance.  Long and dense, we often use these leadership books as references or read one chapter at a time.

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Leadership books: graphical user interface, application

Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable…About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business (J-B Lencioni Series) – by Patrick Lencioni.

Meetings can be highly useful, but often they are seen as a waste of precious time.  So, how do you structure meetings to be effective and efficient?  Lencioni recommends specific types of meetings needed, how long they should be, what they should include, and enough specifics on how to manage the agenda to get just what is needed on the table.  Great when you think your meetings are getting out of hand, off topic, or you find yourself dreading them.  Quick read – a story followed by practical chapter on getting your own meetings under control.

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Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High – by K. Patterson, et al

Offers a seven-point strategy for achieving your goals in emotionally, psychologically or legally charged situations that arise in business or at home.  The techniques in these leadership books help lower defenses, create mutual respect and understanding, increase emotional safety, and encourage freedom of expression.  Learn these techniques and revolutionize the way you handle potentially difficult conversations.

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Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time – by Susan Scott

Scott presents a superior way of communicating by outlining specifically how to make all conversations more interactive, more dynamic and better at building relationships with our partners in dialogue.  Key skills here are getting better at listening, learning how to talk with gentle honesty, and getting comfortable with silence.  Use these leadership books to learn how to address your organization’s “unspoken truths” and get to the heart of the issues that hold you and your team back.

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What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful

Lots of successful people have adopted habits that served them pretty well at a certain level of success, and then those same habits start to hold them back from success at a higher level of leadership.  Marshall Goldsmith identifies the top 20 habits that we need to shed as we hone our leadership skills, and why you may believe some of your liabilities are assets. Great reading for anyone who is looking for a higher level of success, or anyone newly promoted into a larger role. These leadership books suggest how you can collect feedback and decide which behaviors to change and how to do it.

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Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People, Revised and Updated Edition – by Bradford D. Smart

The key to building a “great” company is recruiting and retaining really great people over time.  Learn how great companies hire in “A” players, and clear out the “C” players.  Includes an in-depth structured interview guide.  We use a shortened version of the interview guide along with training in Behavioral Interviewing to help companies “topgrade” their recruiting practices.  Combining these thoughts with some behavioral and motivational assessments leads to much better hiring decisions.

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First Things First – by Stephen R. Covey

The famous author of “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” updated his thinking and methodology to include more in-depth discussion of how to integrate roles and have a view to leaving your personal legacy.  This is a great, structured, way to manage your time – not to “fit more in” as some books will propose, but to really choose which goals are most important to you, and spend time on those, eliminating the “chaff” in your schedule, priorities and activities.  One of the best leadership books we’ve seen on time management for real people with busy schedules and too much to do.

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Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life – by Winifred Gallagher

Having trouble achieving focus?  For many people, we are balancing the need to know (with the proliferation of information and distractions on the internet) with our need to “be” (act, think, enjoy, contribute, work, etc).  This book helps you understand the consequences of how you “spend” your attention and start with the self-focused question:  “What Do I Want to Focus On Right Now?” to help you become aware of the moment-to-moment choices you have to make about focus and distraction.  Take charge of your attention, stop multitasking (it doesn’t really work anyway) and let your gadgets serve you, not the other way around.

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Taming Your Gremlin: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way – by Rick Carson

Even wonder why that little voice in your head tells you what you “should” be doing?  Who is that talking, anyway?  Well, each have a gremlin (sometimes several), who is there to protect you from being hurt, but often ends up causing you to self-sabotage instead.  Carson help you recognize, personalize and yes, “tame” your Gremlin with simple tools, visualizations and exercises to help you recognize your gremlin when it shows up, and really feel the choices you have in each moment.

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How to Castrate a Bull: Unexpected Lessons on Risk, Growth, and Success in Business – by Dave Hitz

This is one of our favorite leadership books because Dave is a dear friend of Laura’s from college.  Always a little controversial, Dave spins an interesting tale about building his billion-dollar enterprise and the stages of growth that created a truly “great” company.  Honest, thoughtful, and humorous throughout.  A quick and interesting read.

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Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (P.S.) – by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Looking for that state of mind when you lose track of time, feel totally absorbed in what you are doing, and really productive and creative?  This book show how you can consciously choose that state of “flow” and improve the quality of your life.  One of the seminal works in the field of positive psychology, this summarizes the research on being “in the zone” or in a state of “flow” and examples of how people have used the principles to transform their lives.  Very interesting leadership books for learning to control your inner life to change your results.

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Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant – by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

Ever think your company or business is caught in a rat race and that there must be a better way?  You are in a “red ocean” where all the competition is, and one solution might be to invent a “blue ocean” by redefining the marketplace.  One of the most innovative strategy and leadership books to be written in decades, this really shares how to think about your business and your market in a totally new way to compete in a totally new way.

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Deep Dive: The Proven Method for Building Strategy, Focusing Your Resources, and Taking Smart Action – by Rich Horwath.

If your strategy isn’t based on insights that your key competitors don’t have, your are not creating a competitive advantage. Your strategy should make you a little uncomfortable, or else you’re not making truly strategic choices, and deciding what to stop doing or where to invest heavily. Horwath takes you through the nuts and bolts of taking a deep dive to uncover insights in your market, and make strategic thinking core to your leadership culture.

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The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business – by Charles Duhigg.

Building on our theme of neuroscience to understand and change your own behavior, Duhigg take a look at the science behind habits, and what it takes to change a habit.  Whether you talk too much in meetings, lose your temper easily, eat too much at meals, or want to look at your smartphone less often, understanding the triggers for that habit and how you can replace that old response with a new one arms you to begin analyzing your unhelpful habits and devising methods to change them.  Great for anyone struggling with a behavior that isn’t helping them that seems resistant to pure willpower.

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Ready, Aim, Influence!

Ready, Aim, Influence! is an essential guide that shows you exactly how to free yourself from fear, step out of your comfort zone and find the amazing leader within yourself. These leadership books are available for purchase on amazon.com. Hopefully, our individual stories will empower and encourage you to achieve your dreams and lead others to do the same!

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Fearless – Ten Steps to Your Destiny

Ten clearly defined steps to taking a look at where you are right now and where you want to be and filling that gap.  Do you want to make a change, but don’t know where to start?  Have you committed to make a change, but keep losing the plot or veering off-course?  This e-book will give you guidance to connecting with your personal values and goals and creating goals and strategies that will keep you on track and moving towards your goals.

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The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: How Risk Taking Transforms Us, Body and Mind – by John Coates

An insightful journey into the link between body and brain, and how our biology creates ineffective responses to risk, both real and perceived.  With examples from the financial trading world that bring the science to life, this helps you see how the “fight or flight” response is programmed into each of us, and what we can do to be more conscious of our reactions. One of the best lines from the book, “Choice is a full-body experience” as your body sends out chemical preparations for actions as you consider all your options.

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Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders – by David Marquet

The story of how one Navy captain took the worst performing submarine in the Navy and turned it into the best performing by shifting leadership from a leader-follower model to a leader-leader model.  Our Fearless Organizations are leader-leader organizations, leveraging the experience, skill, and intelligence of every person, and these leadership books show how that fundamental shift in leadership worked in a crew that was used to a command-and-control leader-follower driven system.  The first half is the most interesting, and it gets a little more technical in the second half.

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Recent additions:

  • Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
  • Your Brain at Work by David Rock
  • The Fearless Organization by Amy Edmondson
  • The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle
  • Organizational Culture and Leadership by Edgar Schein
  • Multipliers by Liz Wiseman
  • Dare to Lead by Brene Brown
  • Conversational Intelligence by Judith E. Glaser
  • Blue Ocean Shift by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

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