Last week I played golf with two Pastors and an elder from my church. It was a wonderful day of dagnabits, shoots, and darns. The Pastors and Elder, and me for that matter, did not use any swear words like many of my golf partners will do. For my now Pastor/Elder golf partners swearing is almost a part of their swing. However, one conversation of the day has stayed with me. Our lead Pastor mentioned taking ten leadership books and reading them over a period of time and then discussing them. This excited me, but it also got me to thinking, what leadership books do I have on my shelf, and which are my favorites. So here you go, my non-ranked list of top ten leadership books with a short description.
1. Authentic Leadership – Bill George
By far my favorite book on leadership. Bill George “makes the case that we need new leaders, not just new laws, to bring us out of the current corporate crisis. I think the lessons that George discusses in this book can apply to our current political situation.
2. The Heart Led Leader – Tommy Spaulding
Spaulding says this in his introduction, “The journey to heart-led leadership covers only 18 inches, but it lasts a lifetime. The author takes you on a journey to discover how to lead with your heart. Interesting read and fits my leadership philosophy well.
3. Lead Like Jesus – Ken Blanchard
Blanchard is one of my favorite writers. I have read several of his books. This one describes the difference between a self-serving leader and a servant leader. The book is well written and enjoyable to read.
4. Servant Leadership Across Cultures -Fons Trompenaars and Ed Voerman
The rest of the title of this book is “Harnessing the strength of the world’s most powerful leadership philosophy.” In this book I learned how to lead in cross-cultural settings using the powerful tool of service. “There is no us and them” when you are a servant leader; it is the development of shared goals.
5. Leaders on Leadership – George Barna
This particular book was written in 1982. It claims that is provides “wisdom, advice, and encouragement on the art of leading God’s people.” I was a pastor when I read this book, and I now think that it crosses over nicely for non-church organizations. Contributors include important church leaders of the day, Jack Hayford, Leighton Ford, and HB London.
6. What Makes a Leader – Harvard Business Review
I have decided I like compilation books. This is one of those. This book includes various articles from the Harvard Business Review. The authors are Daniel Goleman, Michael Maccoby, Dan Ciampa. John Peterman, Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones. The article discussing Narcissistic Leaders is a classic. Might be worth a read given today’s political environment.
7. Leadership James MacGregor Burns
James MacGregor Burns wrote this classic in 1978. In this book he develops the concepts of transformational and transactional leadership. This book is recognized as being foundational to current leadership theory. When I did research for my doctoral dissertation I ran across this book. It can be boring, but it was pivotal for my understanding of leadership.
8. Leadership – Peter Northouse
One of my favorite books is “Leadership: Theory and Practice” by Peter Northouse. It is a book that provides just what its title states. It helps the reader reflect on theory, but also provides practical tools for doing leadership. It provides a classic definition of leadership, and then explores the theoretical development of the concept through history. It also provides questionnaires for the reader to understand their own leadership skills and how to apply them to organizational settings.
9. On Becoming a Leader- Warren Bennis
A few years ago, I did an internet search looking for the best leadership book. This book emerged as one of the top results. “On Becoming a Leader” was written in 1989, so it is dated. However, its concepts are timeless. Chapters deal with knowing yourself, knowing the world, moving through chaos, getting people on your side, and forging the future all set up the current/future leader for success. It really does help you understand the importance of authenticity in leadership.
10. Leader to Leader – The Drucker Foundation
According to the editors of this book, Francis Hesselbein and Paul cohen, this book will provide “enduring insights on leadership.” I read this several years ago, and I would agree with this claim. There are several chapters written by Peter Drucker, while other contributors include: Herb Kelleher, Max De Pree, James Kouzes, Peter Senge, John Kotter, Margaret Wheatly, Ann Winbald, Charlotte Beers, Warren Bennis, and many more. The book is organized into sections dealing with subjects such as, strategy, high performance, building great teams, and change management. It is comprehensive and informative.
As I look at these books today I think about how much I learned when I read them. Then I thought about what new lessons I will learn in the future, and what leadership books will I run across. Also, what will I do with this future knowledge? Also, most the books I have referenced in the above list are fairly static, and not a lot of diverse thinking. I need to look for other writers from different backgrounds and cultures to explore new ways of describing leadership. The organizations of today demand a diverse viewpoint.
And that is my thought for the day!