10 books every leader should read in 2019

Looking for inspiration to inform your messaging and tactics? Here are some books that everyone in a leadership role should peruse.

President Harry S. Truman once said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

Reading can help you build your expertise, give you an escape from your current situation, and offer wisdom from other people’s experiences. Though you can’t learn everything there is to know about leadership from books, these stories can provide you with new ideas, encourage you to make better decisions and remind you of important fundamentals and concepts.

To inspire your own reading list, here is a list of top 10 books you should read about leadership in 2019:

1.“Leaders: Myth and Reality

Authors: Stanley McChrystal, Jeff Eggers and Jason Mangone

In this book, Stanley McChrystal, a retired general who spent 34 years in the U.S. Army, and his co-authors (Jeff Eggers, and Jason Mangone), discuss 13 great leaders and explain how leadership differs from common assumptions.

This book explores the ancient old question: “What makes a leader great?”  The book explores the stories of these famous leaders and how they put leadership to work in a wide range of different eras and different fields.

This book challenges popular thinking about leadership. For example, it argues General Robert E. Lee did everything right in his military career, but he led the Confederate Army to defeat in the service of an evil-minded cause.

2. “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

Authors: Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

A No. 1 New York Times bestseller, this book provides firsthand accounts from the U.S. Navy Seals and their heroism, tragic loss and hard-won victories. The book shows that the U.S. Navy Seals learned that leadership is one of the most important factors in whether a team succeeds or fails.

This book has become required reading for many of the most successful organizations by detailing the mindset and the principles that enable the U.S. Navy Seals to accomplish some of the most difficult combat missions in the world. The authors of this book, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, are former leaders of a U.S. Navy Seal team who helped U.S. forces secure Ramadi, a violent, insurgent-held city in central Iraq that was deemed “all but lost.”

This book provides powerful instruction and direct application for challenges leaders face every day.

3. “Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

Author: Simon Sinek

The author of the popular book Start With Why offers thoughts on how to build a workplace around trust and avoid silos that doom unsuccessful cultures.

It details how to create environments where people want to work together and do remarkable things.

While working with companies around the globe, the author realized that some teams literally put their lives on the line for each other. During a conversation with a Marine Corps general who said, “Officers eat last,” the author noted how the most junior Marines ate first while the most senior Marines took their place at the back of the line.

Great leaders sacrifice for the good of those on their team. With many workplaces driven by cynicism, paranoia and self-interest, the organizations that foster trust and cooperation are the most successful.

4. “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

Author: John Maxwell

Maxwell discusses the 21 fundamental “laws” of leadership that are true to leaders in any culture or area of society.  This book provides an evaluation tool to help you reveal your leadership strengths and weaknesses. It also provides application exercises in every chapter to help you grow as a leader.

5. “The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups

Author: Daniel Coyle

This book takes you inside some of the world’s most successful organizations today such as the U.S. Navy’s SEALs, IDEO and the San Antonio Spurs to show you what makes them really succeed.

The author explores the culture-building process and identifies key skills areas that foster cohesion and cooperation. This book discusses how diverse groups can learn to function with a one mind. It also describes common culture pitfalls and how to reform a toxic culture.

6. “What Are Your Blind Spots?

Authors: Jim Haudan and Rich Berens

Are you aware of your blind spots and how they impact your leadership approach? This book discusses how leaders today are using old, legacy thinking best practices to engage and motivate their teams. As a result, many teams are failing.

This book explains that the most successful organizations today are “purpose driven.” Such an approach drives strategic change, encourages customer loyalty and fosters employee engagement.

This book will show you how to identify your own blind spots and overcome them.

7. “The Power of Positive Leadership

Author: Jon Gordon

As a leader, you will experience many challenges and tests—and deal with negative people. This book explains how positive leadership is essential to success and the stuff that makes great leaders great.

Being a positive leader can help you build a great culture, unite your organization in the face of challenges and build a committed team that produces excellent results.

Gordon also wrote The Energy Bus, a best-selling book that reveals the 10 secrets for approaching life and work in a positive, and forward-thinking way. He has interviewed some of the greatest leaders of our time and researched and shares what he has learned. This book provides a framework with proven principles, stories and ideas to help you become a positive leader.

8. “Humble Leadership: The Power of Relationships, Openness, and Trust

Authors: Edgar Schein and Peter Schein

This book provides a perspective on how your leadership vulnerabilities can become your strengths.

The authors explain that companies today are facing more complex, interdependent tasks and leadership should become more personal and open, so leaders create an environment of collaborative problem solving. The authors also call for a type of leadership that meets today’s trends of relationship building, complex group work and diversity.

9. “The Dichotomy of Leadership

Authors: Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

While reading this book, the authors will help you find balance between the opposing forces that pull every leader in two different directions.

The book explores these questions: When should you lead, and when should you follow? When should you let the team run itself, and when to dive into the details?

10. “Leadership in Turbulent Times

Author: Doris Kearns Goodwin

Does the leader make the times, or do the times make the leader? Are leaders born or made? How does adversity impact the growth of leaders?

These are just some of the questions explored in this book.

Goodwin looks at four U.S. presidents (Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson) to show how they recognized leadership qualities within themselves and what you can learn from them to lead in today’s polarized world.

What books would you add to this list, PR Daily readers?

Matthew Royse is the regional marketing director for Freudenberg IT, a global IT solutions provider. A version of this article originally appeared on his Knowledge Enthusiast blog.

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