Here’s our current suggested reading list for leaders of all levels.

First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently
What do the world’s best managers do? Why are their business units so profitable and productive? How do they keep employee turnover low and customer satisfaction high? These are questions that every new leader should be asking themselves.

The answers come from two studies completed by The Gallup Organization under the leadership of the co-author Marcus Buckingham.

Break All the Rules encourages new as well as seasoned managers to personalize and break away from traditional, one-size-fits-all leadership techniques. Gallup consultants Buckingham and Coffman pull responses from more than 80,000 interviews to determine that the best managers are “revolutionaries” who cast the right people for the right roles — and leave them to do their best work. Other key takeaways: Treat employees like individuals, set specific outcomes, but not the process, and focus on employee strengths instead of calling out weaknesses.

The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential
A must for new emerging leaders. The Author John Maxwell builds on the premise that leadership is influence, he also develops his leadership classification with the following 5 levels: 1) Position – people follow because they have to, 2) Permission – people follow because they want to, 3) Production – people follow because of what you have done for the organization, 4) People Development – people follow because of what you have done for them, 5) Pinnacle – people follow because of who you are and what you represent.

The book also includes assessment questions to help you discover where you are on the 5 Levels of Leadership, a great way for new leaders to gauge their level of maturity as a leader.


Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Second Edition
Many defining situations in business and in life overall come from engaging in crucial conversations.  This book focuses on methods on how to have such conversations in a positive space when surrounded by highly charged emotions.  The findings of the book are based on 25 years of research with 20,000 people.

New leaders will at some time need to engage in a conversation that may seem awkward, uncomfortable, etc. Crucial Conversations provides the tools and techniques to enable new managers to successfully engage in effective conversations.  The model has 7 key steps:

  1. Start with the heart (i.e empathy and positive intent)
  2. Stay in dialogue
  3. Make it safe
  4. Don’t get hooked by emotion (or hook them)
  5. Agree a mutual purpose
  6. Separate facts from story
  7. Agree a clear action plan

QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life
This fascinating book gives a practical method for putting personal accountability into daily action, with amazing results: problems are solved, internal roadblocks come down, service improves, teamwork grows and adapting to change takes place much more quickly.  This is an invaluable resource for any new leader or anyone seeking to learn, grow and change.   Further, by utilizing this tool, you can add tremendous worth to your organization and to your lives by eliminating blame, complaining and procrastination.  No company and/or individual can successfully compete in the marketplace,  achieve objectives and engage in exceptional team work, or develop people without personal accountability and responsibility.

The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter, Updated and Expanded
Provides a brief but thorough guide for adapting quickly and smoothly to a new office and fresh responsibilities.  The author defines the four basic situations that may surround and shape a new and emerging leadership role. New leaders cannot depend on pre-existing  processes or procedures and will need to make creative decisions  via trial and error.   They will also need to learn how to adjust to turnaround situations by acting fast to salvage resources while carefully managing employee emotions and anxieties. In addition to many other considerations that need to take place in an employee’s first 90 days, the author advises that it’s essential to adapt quickly to a new leadership role as it relates to diagnosing the situation within the context of the organization.  The author warns managers not to assume that their  existing skills will suffice for new roles and advises them to pursue  small-scale  early wins to boost credibility. This book is a valuable resource for the crucial transitional period  a new leader endures.  The lessons apply to managers with shifting duties at any level.  New leaders should not enter a new role without having a manual such as this to help guide them in confronting the challenges ahead.

Next Generation Leader: 5 Essentials for Those Who Will Shape the Future
Mentoring young and emerging leaders as they face the unique challenges in a changing world has been a passion for pastor and author Andy Stanley’s for more than a decade. Here he shares material from his leadership training sessions, developed to address essential leadership qualities such as character, clarity, courage, and competency. The bases of the book is that there are five characteristics  of quality leaders.

Competence – Leaders must channel their energies toward those areas of leadership in which they are most likely to excel.

Courage – The leader of an enterprise isn’t always the smartest or most creative person on the team. He isn’t necessarily the first to identify an opportunity. The leader is the one who has the courage to initiate, to set things in motion, to move ahead.

Clarity – Uncertain times require clear directives from those in leadership. Yet the temptation for young leaders is to allow uncertainty to leave them paralyzed. A next generation leader must learn to be clear even when he is not certain.

Coaching You may be good. You may even be better than everyone else. But without a coach you will never be as good as you could be.

Character – You can lead without character, but you won’t be a leader worth following. Character provides next generation leaders with the moral authority necessary to bring together the people and resources needed to further an enterprise.

Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable…About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business
This book focuses on a cure for the most painful yet understanding problem of today corporate world: bad meetings.  The author provides a framework for this pioneering model, and makes it applicable/practical for the real world.  Essentially the book is a blueprint for leaders who want to eliminate waste and frustration among their teams, and create environments of engagement and a passion.  The book goes on to talk about that there is nothing inherently boring or unproductive about meetings.  They are the activity at the core of every organization, and should therefore be both interesting and relevant in the lives of participants.

Most of the book is based on a fable about a video game company with really good people and very bad meetings. The Author, Patrick Lencioni, highlights two problems with the meetings. The first problem being they are boring and second that they are ineffective because they lack drama.  They are also ineffective because they lack relative structure.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable
Like Death By Meeting this book is  essentially written in a parable style. The book begins by telling the fable of a woman who, as CEO of a struggling Silicon Valley firm, took control of a dysfunctional executive committee and helped its members become successful as a team.  The author offers explicit instructions for overcoming the behavioral tendencies that he notes corrupt teams. (i.e. lack of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, etc)

For new leaders, this guide will be a major asset for those struggling with the inherent difficulties of leading a group.  Simply, this is program for anyone who is a member of a team that needs improvement.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
The entire premise of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is that most people deal with the problems in their life in a disorganized fashion, and this disorganized fashion leads to discouragement and confusion. The authors answer to this is that to be a truly effective person (Leader, manager, etc), you need to learn to solve personal and professional problems with an integrated and principle-centered approach.  The decisions you make both personally and professionally should come from the same core set of values and ideas.

Essentially the book is about developing that core set of values to the point where it’s easy to draw solutions to problems from them, making you a much more effective person in all aspects of life. The seven habits are basically ways to draw out the fundamental truths in your life and make them accessible to you at all times, so that when confronted with problems, you can easily solve them in a consistent and sensible manner.

The One Minute Manager
The One Minute Manager is told in a fable format as well.  The bases of the story is about a young manager in training, a man on a mission to discover the makings of the ideal manager.  He finds managers who are only dedicated  the bottom line, those who get their greatest satisfaction from the happiness of their staff, although often at the expense of the company ‘financial well-being.  Eventually the young man comes across a different kind of manager, a manager who generates some of the best results in his area, while maintaining an extremely positive work environment and appears to have more free time than any of his colleagues.

In summary, here are the three tools the one minute manager uses to maintain a positive and productive organization

  1. One Minute Goal Setting: outlining, with the employee specific goals, benchmarks and consequences (good and bad)
  2. One Minute Praising’s: Catching someone doing something right, and recognizing them for it.
  3. One Minute Reprimands: Catching unproductive or negative behavior immediately, and explaining to the employee what the consequences have been

Boundaries for Leaders: Results, Relationships, and Being Ridiculously in Charge
Boundaries for Leaders is essential reading for everyone who aspires to lead companies, teams, and cultures defined by high performance and healthy relationships.  As an expert in psychology of business, the Author, Dr Henry Cloud combines his knowledge of human behavior, business leadership, and neuroscience to help executives lead effectively, build organizational culture, develop strong teams, and get results from themselves and others.

The book explains that a boundary is a property line that defines ownership, control, and responsibility.  It sets limits on the behaviors and activities allowed on the property. Similarly, leadership success depends on shaping and defining organizational boundaries.  Boundaries for Leaders is essential reading for leaders and for those who want to create successful companies, with more satisfied employees and customers, while becoming more resilient  managers themselves.  Its practical advice brings clarity and direction, helping leaders cut through the confusion, resulting in organizations that are positive and results-oriented.

Grounded: How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World
Based on in-depth research with hundreds of executives around the world, the Author Bob Rosen provides a look and personal approach to leadership  in an uncertain  and changing world.  The book talks about how many of today’s leaders are finding themselves ill-equipped to manage the hazards they face in a disruptive and changing environment. The book goes on to talk about how a leader must contend with chronic uncertainty, cynical employees, and personal burnout.

Grounded proposes a new approach that’s designed for actual humans who must contend with these issues. The book focuses on the six personal dimensions that fuel—and refuel—the world’s top leaders: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, vocational, and spiritual health.  Further, the book maintains that leaders at every level can be more self-aware, develop their untapped potential, and drive significantly better results—for themselves, their teams, and their organizations.

If you are an emerging leader in an organization, this book provides practical tools to face tough challenges with great skill, confidence and impact.