Top 5 Leadership Book Classics for 2013

Posted by Rick Willis

Jan 31, 2013 9:01:00 AM

describe the imageIf you read my last blog, you know that I am very hesitant to recommend leadership books, because just like movies, music and food, they are prone to personal preferences. That said, people generally agree on certain classics. As such, here are my Top 5 Leadership Book Classics for 2013:

1. The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner was originally released in the 1980s, and has been regularly updated (Fifth Edition in 2012). It is a big book, based on over 25 years of research, but is easy to read and very practical to implement. And to make it even more useful, the book is written such that “…there is no sacred order to the book. Go wherever your interests are.”

2. Good to Great by Jim Collins is the second in his trilogy (Built to Last and Great by Choice are the first and third) but definitely the best. Published in 2001, this is another research-based book covering down-to-earth discoveries which are still very relevant today. If you have heard the expressions “hedgehog concept,” “right people on the bus,” “confront the brutal facts” or “turn the flywheel,” this is the book they came from. If you do not understand these concepts, you definitely must read this book.

3. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey was first published in 1989 and has sold more than 25 million copies in 38 languages. Covey invites the reader to read the habits in any order they like, choosing the habit(s) they most need to develop first. The habits start with creating “independence or self-mastery,” move through developing “interdependence” and conclude with “renewal.” While this book is focused on personal development, all seven habits are imperatives for leaders to understand and demonstrate.

4. The Oz Principle by Connors, Smith and Hickman was written in 1994 and Revised and Updated in 2004. The authors use the story of The Wizard of Oz as an analogy to unpack accountability and apply it to leaders and business. Many business leaders are looking for management “wizards” who can solve all of their problems, only to discover that success lies within. Learn how to demonstrate personal accountability and develop a similar culture in your business.

5. Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler was first published in 2002, and released as an Updated Second Edition in 2012. The authors describe a crucial conversation as one where “the results could have a huge impact on the quality of your life.” The book is packed with “aha’s” about why seven simple conversations often go so wrong, along with tools to avoid the common pitfalls.

I believe if you only read these 5 books in your business career, they will give you all of the basic structural, cultural and communication tools you need to succeed.

Did I miss one that should be on a “Classics” list? What are some of the strongest leadership reads that you have come accross so far? Share! 

Topics: leadership development, leadership learning, leadership qualities, organizational culture, leadership coaching, Being a great Leader, Leadership

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