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Top 10 Books for Developing Leadership Skills

"Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily, even if you had no title or position."

- Brian Tracy

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek - 9/10

Simon Sinek does an excellent job of boiling down leadership to the most important foundations. Rather than simply giving a catchy list of one-off strategies, he underscores key principles that are vital for leaders to adhere to. He emphasizes the culture leaders create and the messaging they convey.

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't by Simon Sinek - 9/10

Without trust and safety, a company cannot reach its potential. In fact, a company will likely fail to last. High performance can be achieved in cultures of stress, mistrust, and undercutting, but it will not last. Sinek describes the process of developing and maintaining a circle of safety to foster an environment of growth and high performance.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni - 9/10

This was the first leadership book I read after PT School. My boss recommended it to me when I was a staff PT and I re-read it once I moved into a clinic director role. I recommend others do the same. You glean different insights into the team dynamic as a member and as the leader of a team.


The CEO Next Door: The 4 Behaviors that Transform Ordinary People into World-Class Leaders by Elena L. Botelho, Kim R. Powell, and Tahl Raz - 9/10

This book is divided into three sections. The third section carried little value to me as I am not pursuing a CEO role. The first two however were chock full of valuable insights. The book curates the best and most consistent leadership qualities from some of the best leaders in the world.


The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek- 9/10

Few authors cause me to think about leadership and managing people more than Simon Sinek. His latest book, The Infinite Game, challenges leaders to always take the long-game approach and to stop keeping score. Sinek uses case studies to show the determents of short-sided business decisions that value resources over people. In his first book, Start with Why, he emphasizes the importance of anchoring all actions to a personal why. He expands this concept by imploring businesses to remain anchored in a Just Cause. If we keep score and treat business like a sport – winners and losers – we often sacrifice people and burn bridges needed for long-term success. The infinite leader embraces rivals, stays true to themselves while being adaptable, and places people over resources. Many of these actions are challenging, especially when facing external performance pressures focused on growth and revenue. But Sinek shows many examples of leaders who made the hard decisions, stuck with a Just Cause, valued their people, and was subsequently rewarded. It may not be an immediate reward, but they are on a trajectory for long-term success, fulfillment, and purpose that benefits the greater good, not just their own pockets.


The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier - 8.5/10

The advice monster is difficult to tame. Whether you are in a formal mentoring relationship or simply communicating with a colleague, effectively coaching and teaching is a valuable skill to have. This short read provides an effective framework for stimulating conversation and helping someone reason through problems.

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts by Brené Brown - 8.5/10

Shame and vulnerability are challenging emotions to manage. To successfully lead others, you need to understand the different types of emotional armor we all employ. Being able to recognize the triggers for different armors will help you avoid triggering them. Leading others is challenging. This book addresses some of the challenges often ignored. This book also provided a greater understanding of empathy.

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle - 8.5/10

This book builds off Leaders Eat Last by providing more insights into building and maintaining a great workplace culture. Coyle provides examples across a variety of settings, from Kindergarten to Navy Seals. The concepts are immediately applicable to any employee, regardless of their position in the leadership hierarchy. 


The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip and Dan Heath - 8.5/10

Any moment can be powerful and make a lasting impression. Isn't this what we want to foster for our patients? This book describes the different types of defining moments we can produce. It uses a variety of stories and situations to showcase a variety of potential strategies for making any encounter memorable.


Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey - 8.5/10

Immunity to Change provides a great framework for identifying why change is hard on an individual, group, and organizational level. The authors go through the why before addressing the how. They use stories to showcase how their system works and walk you through the easy application of their tools. Even if you don't use the tool, the theory and insights are valuable.

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