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W.I.N. Wednesday: The Leadership Reading List

A couple of weeks ago I shared an insight from one of the many great leadership books I have read over the last 6 months. I promised I would share some of those books with you. This week I am making good on that promise.

Here are the 7 Favorite Leadership books I have read in the last 6 months:

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World By Stanley McCrystal

In my Dare to Be Great leadership workshops and presentations I draw on three key lessons from Team of Teams.

1.     20th Century Systems, Thinking and Processes are not effective in the 21st Century. We need to think differently.

2.     To be effective as a organization you need to push decision makingdown to the lowest possible levels. His criterion was, “If it supports our efforts and is legal and moral you can do it.”

3.     You must identify and break down the silos in your organization and create a Shared Consciousness. This is huge for organizations to understand the power of breaking down these silos and creating that shared consciousness.

Leadership Lessons From a UPS Driver: Developing a Culture of We Not Me By Ron Wallace

I had the pleasure of meeting Ron a few years ago and spending some time with him. He started with UPS as a delivery driver and retired as President of International Operations. After retiring from UPS he went through the police academy so he could serve as a reserve officer with the Alpharetta police Department. At one point he was volunteering 50 hours a week running their reserve officer program. Ron is also a contributing author for our book am I that man? How heroes, role models and mentors can shape your life.

Ron shares lessons on building a culture of excellence through strong, humble leadership and shared values.

Turn the Ship Around: A True Story of Turning Followers Into Leaders By David Marquet

Marquet talks about his journey to transforming the culture ofthe nuclear submarine USS Sante Fe to allow them to go from from the lowest ranked sub in the fleet to receiving the highest rating ever awarded in the US Navy. His key was changing the culture from the traditional Leader – Follower to one of Leader – Leader and inspiring a sense of ownership and accountability in all the crew. Like Stanley McCrystal he believes in pushing decision making down to the lowest level. Another key lesson is that success as a leader is not about the awards and accolades you receive, it is about developing your people to their highest potential and supporting their journey to greatness.

Real Leadership: 9 Simple Practices for Leading and Living With Purpose By John Addison

In 2015 Addison retired as C-CEO of Primerica. In the book he shares 9 simple (not easy) practices to becoming a great leader. I first became aware of John Addison listening to some interviews he did with Darren Hardy for Success Magazine. I was immediately drawn to his down to earth style and humility.  One of the many profound lessons from the book is the difference between ‘Weather Vane’ leaders and ‘Lighthouse’ Leaders. He says weather vanes are constantly turning and shifting in the wind and influenced by the latest storm. Lighthouses however, stand firm in the storm and serve as a beacon of strength and guidance for others to follow.

It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and A Compelling Culture By Dee Ann Turner

This is another great book about creating an enduring culture of leadership and service. Turner has spent over 30 years with Chick-fil-a and was the Vice President, Corporate Talent at the time she wrote the book. Turner shares lessons learned over her career from Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-a, and other company executives. Chick-fil-a’s hospitality policy is to treat everyone with honor, dignity and respect. I love their leadership philosophy “If you are not serving chicken, you need to be serving someone who is.” A great culture needs to be developed, shared and lived over time so that it becomes part of the fabric of the organization.

Primed to Perform: How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures Through the Science of Total Motivation By Neel Ooshi and Lindsey McGregor

This is another great book on culture. The authors explore the six basic motives behind people’s work:

1.     Play,

2.     Purpose,

3.     Potential,

4.     Emotional Pressure,

5.     Economic Pressure and

6.     Inertia.

The first three strengthen performance and the last three weaken it.  The authors also explore the concept of two types of performance, both important yet mutually opposed:

1.     Tactical performance – the ability to execute a plan

2.     Adaptive Performance – the ability to diverge from a plan.

78 Important Questions Every Leader Should Ask and Answer By Chris Clark-Epstein

I am a big fan of questions, as I believe that asking questions is one of the best ways for us to learn and grow.  The book addresses questions you need to ask yourself, your customers, two levels of questions to ask your employees, questions to ask is special circumstances and questions leaders need to answer. There are a lot of great questions and gems of wisdom in this book.

I trust this list has been helpful. What about you? What great leadership books have you read in the last 6 months?

What’s Important Now? Read broadly and deeply. Move beyond collecting the dots (gems of wisdom) and seek to connect the dots.

Take care.

Brian Willis


Maximizing human potential through Life's Most Powerful Question - What's Important Now?

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Contact me at winningmind@mac.com to arrange for me to speak to your team, your organization or at your next conference. 

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