Leadership Books

"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 - 9/10

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

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

The CEO Next Door: The 4 Behaviors that Transform Ordinary People into World-Class Leaders - 9/10

The Art of War - 9/10

The Infinite Game - 9/10

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

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

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

The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact - 8.5/10

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business - 8.5/10

Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization - 8.5/10

Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street - 8.5/10

The Generals: Patton, MacArthur, Marshall, and the Winning of World War II - 8/10

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't - 8/10

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration - 8/10


by Simon Sinek

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“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it."

"Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause, or belief - WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?"

The Golden Circle:

  • What = The Results (most start here)

  • How = The Process

  • Why = The Purpose (few start here...but you should)

Why This Book?

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.


by Simon Sinek

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“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”

“The true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own. Great leaders truly care about those they are privileged to lead and understand that the true cost of the leadership privilege comes at the expense of self-interest.”

Circle of Safety:

  • Leads to people feeling protected from outside dangers.

  • Employees are more likely to freely exchange information and ideas that will move the organization forward.

Why This Book?

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 for developing and maintaining a circle of safety to foster an environment of growth and high performance


by Patrick Lencioni

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Dysfunction #1: Absence of Trust

  • Trust is knowing that when a team member does push you, they are doing it because they care about the team.

Dysfunction #2: Fear of Conflict

  • Good conflict is not about winning the debate, it is about listening to someone else's ideas.

Dysfunction #3: Lack of Commitment

  • The lack of clarity or buy-in prevents team members from making decisions they will stick to.

Dysfunction #4: Avoidance of Accountability

  • The need to avoid interpersonal discomfort prevents team members from holding one another accountable

Dysfunction #5: Inattention to Results

  • The pursuit of individual goals and personal status erodes the focus on collective success

Why This Book?

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.


by Elena L. Botelho, Kim R. Powell, and Tahl Raz

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Four CEO genome behaviors statistically associated with success are Decisiveness, Engaging for Impact, Relentless Reliability, and Adapting Boldly.

"Learn from every decision - good or bad."

"Focus all training, assessment, decisions, and actions on the things that matter most."

"Effective leaders recognize that under physical or emotional stress or fatigue, they tend to default to their natural behavioral biases related to decision making."

"People want to know where you are taking them and why."

"Pass on to others the advice and support that helped you succeed."

Why This Book?

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.

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The Art of War

by Sun Tzu

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"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle."

"If he sends reinforcements everywhere, everywhere he will be weak."

"Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances."

"If the officers are angry, it means that the men are weary."

"When the common soldiers are too strong and their officers too weak, the result is insubordination. When the officers are too strong and the common soldiers too weak, the result is collapse. When the general is weak and without authority; when his orders are not clear and distinct; when there are no fixed duties assigned to officers and men, and the ranks are formed in a slovenly haphazard manner, the result is utter disorganization."

Why This Book?

Some lessons stand the test of time. Furthermore, some lessons are universal in their application. While the Art of War is a recount of general Sun Tzu’s military strategies, the succinct advice and reasoning he provides are not reserved for military minds. As you can see from the quotes above, the passed down strategies are useful to any leader. They pertain to burnout, poor leadership, lack of preparation, and failing to gain perspective. Even if you do not manage employees, you can apply similar reasoning to Tzu’s in any endeavor. Authority and leadership come in many forms. This book can provide principles and insights that complement and enhance modern leadership philosophy.


The Infinite Game

by Simon Sinek

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“The true value of an organization is measured by the desire others have to contribute to that organization’s ability to keep succeeding.”


“A finite-minded leader uses the company’s performance to demonstrate the value of their own career. An infinite-minded leader uses their career to enhance the long-term value of the company.”


“’How do I get the most out of my people is the wrong question. ‘How do I create an environment in which my people can work to their natural best’ is a better question.”


“How a leader lists their priorities reveals their bias. And their bias will influence the choices they make.”


“Fear can push us to choose the best finite option at the risk of doing infinite damage.”

Why This Book?

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 than 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 were 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.


 by Michael Bungay Stanier

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"Coaching (and mentoring) should be a daiIy, informal act, not an occasional formal "It's coaching time!" event."

"The essence of coaching lies in helping others and unlocking their potential."

"Giving advice is an overused and often ineffective response. There is a time and place for it."

"With personal insight comes increased growth and capability."

"The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that is has taken place"

Why this book?

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.


by Brené Brown

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"A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential."

"Listen with the same passion with which we want to be heard."

"Daring is saying "I know I will eventually fail, and I'm still all in."

"Empathy is reflecting back the truth of how someone is feeling. It is not minimizing the pain and making things better. Choose practicing empathy over your own comfort."

"Daring leaders who live into their values are never silent about hard things."

Why this book?

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.


by Daniel Coyle

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"Belonging needs to be continually refreshed and reinforced"

"One of the best measures of any group's culture is its learning velocity - how quickly it improves its performance of a new skill."

"Flood the environment with narrative links between what they were doing and what it means. It's not about sending one big signal but using a handful of steady, ultra-clear signals aligned with a shared goal."

"Highly effective and successful groups have an extremely low tolerance for bad apple behavior and perhaps more important, are skilled at naming those behaviors."

"Culture is a set of living relationships working toward a shared goal."

Why this book?

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 for any employee, regardless of their position in the leadership hierarchy. 


by Chip an Dan Heath

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"When we recall an experience, we tend to remember the flagship moments: the peaks, the pits, and the transitions."

"A defining moment is a short experience that is both memorable and meaningful."

"Action leads to insight more often than insight leads to action."

"Mentorship in two sentences: I have high expectations for you and I know you can meet them. So try this new challenge and if you fail, I'll help you recover."

"Purpose is defined as the sense that you are contributing to others, that your work has broader meaning...Passion is the feeling of excitement or enthusiasm you have for your work...When it comes to performance, purpose trumps passion."

Why this book?

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 of a variety of potential strategies for making any encounter memorable.


by Patrick Lencioni

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"Organizational health refers to how well an institution's components fit together so it can function together consistently as a whole."

"The five core ingredients of a good leadership team are trust, constructive conflict, commitment, accountability, and results."

"Employees don't leave if they are getting the levels of gratitude and appreciation they deserve."

"Accountability is about having the courage to confront someone about their deficiencies and stand in the moment and deal with their reaction."

"People will not actively commit to a decision without the opportunity to provide input, ask questions, and understand the rationale behind it."

Why this book?

Builds of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. While it covers the five dysfunctions, it adds more insights into the concept of organizational health. I recommend starting with Five Dysfunctions of a Team, as it is more applicable to new managers, but as you move up the leadership ranks and gain experience, this book will give more big picture value.


by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey

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"If you do not attend as much to develop as leaders, then your leadership development will always be directed to the plan or agenda you have."

"The two most important things to know about people you are trying to help change: What do they really want and what will they do to keep from getting it?"

"You need to develop yourself before you can develop others."

"Ask others: what is the single thing you think is most important for me to get better at. That should be your focus."

"You can't solve by brilliant analysis later what you screwed up at the start in the original design."

Why this book?

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 easy application of their tools. Even if you don't use the tool, the theory and insights are valuable.

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Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street

by John Brooks

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“expectation of an event creates a much deeper impression … than the event itself.”

“If you’re not able to communicate successfully between yourself and yourself, how are you supposed to make it with the strangers outside?”

“To set high goals, to have almost unattainable aspirations, to imbue people with the belief that they can be achieved—these are as important as the balance sheet, perhaps more”

“Whether the nostalgia of the Edsel boys for the Edsel runs to the humorous or to the tragic, it is a thought-provoking phenomenon. Maybe it means merely that they miss the limelight they first basked in and later squirmed in, or maybe it means that a time has come when—as in Elizabethan drama but seldom before in American business—failure can have a certain grandeur that success never knows.”

“This preoccupation with the difficulty of getting a thought out of one head and into another is something the industrialists share with a substantial number of intellectuals and creative writers, more and more of whom seem inclined to regard communication, or the lack of it, as one of the greatest problems not just of the industry but of humanity.”

Why this book?

Business Adventures is a collection of 12 fascinating stories, largely from the mid 20th century. It is interesting to compare and contrast business mindsets from 50+ years ago to today. I was able to draw several parallels and learn from past mistakes - such as the story of the Ford Edsel. Some of these stories are common knowledge in specific industries - the Edsel in automotive, the failed Piggly Wiggly corner in finance - but most people have likely never heard them before. The writing is well done and the stories are inviting.

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The Generals: Patton, MacArthur, Marshall, and the Winning of World War II

by Winston Groom

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"Peacetime is not always kind to generals and they do not necessarily do well outside their task of generaling. Perhaps that is because during war they become as close to gods on earth as we are ever likely to see"

Why this book?

I did not mark-up this book. The quote above is from the beginning and it highlights a large portion of the book. The book highlights three main components of the lives of three of the most important generals in US history. It describes how their backgrounds and the events of WWI and WWII molded them into the leaders they became. This is common in any autobiographies. What is insightful about this book, is the struggles all three dealt with between WWI and WWII. Peacetime is a different animal from wartime and generals often struggle more with the former. This book is full of valuable advice for both leaders in individual technicians.


by Jim Collins

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"A level 5 leader builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. They set up successors for success, they are compellingly modest, giving credit of success to others while accepting the blame of failure, and they have an unwavering resolve."

"Do not sell the future for the present."

"Put your best people on your biggest opportunities, not your biggest problems."

"Lead with questions, not answers. Have the humility to seek full understanding."

"Sustained great results depends upon building a culture full of self-disciplined people."

Why this book?: I read this shortly after becoming a manager and was on the path to be a multi-site clinic director. This was the first book that helped me think about the big picture. I began looking at our practice from a systems-level and how I could influence it. It provides some key characteristics that are consistent among successful companies.


by Amy Wallace and Edwin Catmull

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“Failure isn’t a necessary evil. In fact, it isn’t evil at all. It is a necessary consequence of doing something new.”

“You are not your idea, and if you identify too closely with your ideas, you will take offense when they are challenged.”

“If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up. If you give a mediocre idea to a brilliant team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something better.”

“Don’t wait for things to be perfect before you share them with others. Show early and show often. It’ll be pretty when we get there, but it won’t be pretty along the way.”

“I believe the best managers acknowledge and make room for what they do not know—not just because humility is a virtue but because until one adopts that mindset, the most striking breakthroughs cannot occur."

Why this book?

Creativity, Inc. gives you a backstage pass to the creation and rise of Pixar. Ever wonder how Pixar routinely creates award-winning box office hits that capture kids' attention for decades? It comes down to their culture. They don't hold back on feedback or accountability. The book also provides a unique perspective of Steve Jobs and his influence. It can draw on at times, but it is well worth the read.

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