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 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 for 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 Art of War by Sun Tzu- 9/10

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- 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 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.

 

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

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

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.

 

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

 

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

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.

 

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

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.

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

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.

 

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Amy Wallace and Edwin Catwell - 8/10

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.