Sunday, January 7, 2018

Five Powerful Books For Business Leaders

Leaders are readers. While reading The Campaigns of Napoleon I learned that the influential general and emperor drew his major ideas from reading books. He once said, "I have fought sixty battles and I have learned nothing which I did not know at the beginning." (i.e.: from his reading.)  And his advice to others: "Read and meditate upon the wars of the great captains. This is the only means of learning the art of war."

This same advice applies to the realm of business and enterprise. As the wise man once said, "There's nothing new under the sun." Hence we profit much by reading what other people like us have experienced, encountered, learned from a lifetime of development as leaders. Here are five books I would recommend for your 2018 reading list. At the end of this blog post is a link to another list of books for consideration, books that Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and other leaders read in 2017.

Creativity Inc.
This is the story of Pixar, behind the scenes, from one of the co-founders, Ed Catmull.

The book's subtitle tells the real story of what made Pixar such a superstar: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in The Way of True Inspiration. Unseen forces means forces can refer to forces that are invisible, like the ice below the surface that sunk the Titanic, or it can mean forces that are in plain sight, like Poe's Purloined Letter, but we do not see them. Catmull states that the management team had to be perpetually vigilant. What they were vigilant about was very different from most organizations.

Amazon Link: Creativity Inc.
My Brief Review: How to Create and Manage a Creative Culture: Lessons from the Pixar Experience 

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It Worked for Me
Colin Powell shares the principles that shaped his life and career in this inspiring and engrossing memoir.

This is a book incredibly rich with insights on leadership. Also available as an audiobook, Colin Powell lays out the principles that guided his life. If you don't have time to read the book, or your "want to read soon" stack is too high right now, you can get a flavor of Powell's insights by viewing this 20-slide powerpoint, A Leadership Primer.

Amazon Link: It Worked For Me
A Brief Insight: The Bus To Abilene

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Leading with the Heart
Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski shares the insights he has put into practice over the course of a lifetime.

In some respects, a top-level college coach is a lot like a manager in any business. He has to turn a group of talented individuals into a smoothly running team, and he has to produce results that please the fans of his team--the shareholders of the athletic program. Thus, in Leading with the Heart, Krzyzewski reviews the lessons he's learned as basketball coach at Duke University, and tries to universalize them so they translate to any leadership position. For example, he writes, "Adjustments are not unusual, they are usual. So a leader's ability to think on his feet ... to do things without instruction ... is of paramount importance." Makes sense, as does this admonition: "When teaching, always remember this simple phrase: 'You hear, you forget. You see, you remember. You do, you understand.'"

Amazon Link: Leading with the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life
Brief overview from Leadership Now

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Education of a Coach
How do great leaders develop? Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Halberstam offers an insightful look at how one of the winningest coaches in NFL history got his chops.

Amazon.com reviewer Noah Pallotta-Walsh wrote: David Halberstam’s, The Education of a Coach, was informative, but also very fascinating. The book tells us Bill Belichick’s background and where he gained extreme love for the game. We see throughout the book who surrounded and taught him so much about the game. The book shows both Belichick’s failures and successes. We see how hard Bill works and the multiple failures he had to experience to achieve greatness. I believe the book goes beyond football and can be inspiring to many. I think that “The Education of a Coach” is a great book and would recommend it to anyone, whether they are a football fan or not.

Amazon Link: The Education of a Coach
Read the Reviews on Goodreads Here

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Becoming Steve Jobs
Business writer Jim Collins (Good To Great) called Steve Jobs one of the two greatest leaders of the past century. Winston Churchill was the other.

Author Brent Schlender is an award-winning career journalist who made his mark writing profiles of high-profile entrepreneurs and business leaders in the digital revolution, including two decades as bureau chief and editor-in-chief at Fortune magazine. One can tell early on that he has had close up access to Jobs for a very long time.

Amazon Link: Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader
My Brief Review from this past Spring: Lessons for Leaders from Brent Schlender's Becoming Steve Jobs

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Here's the article that triggered this blog post, 19 Books the world's top CEOs read in 2017.

What are you reading?

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