My top book recommendations: Leadership

When in doubt, wave a flag

Andrew Becraft, “Leadership” September 25, 2006 via Flickr, Creative Commons

Mark Twain said there is little difference between a person who can’t read and a person who doesn’t. So true, and one of the surest signs that a person needs to read is that he/she has no use for it. Similarly, one of the first things you learn when you begin reading is how critical reading is. My next several posts will deal with my top book recommendations in a number of categories. We begin today with leadership.

I’m sick of leadership books. Then again I probably only have the luxury of saying that because I have read hundreds of them. By the time you have read a hundred leadership books (and perhaps far fewer), you realize that leadership is more art than science. Still, there are books that are essential in the field.

  1. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, by John Maxwell. For some reason John seems to ignite controversy but I think he’s just blunt, which is, I think, a fairly good way to get at the truth. This book is a must-read. It has the distinction of being the only book on leadership I would recommend to you if I knew you were only going to read one.
  2. Good to Great, by Jim Collins. Now-legendary book about how organizations leap across the chasm that separates good from great. Well-written, and based on solid research.
  3. The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership, by Steven Sample. The leadership book for people who are tired of leadership books.
  4. The Servant, by James Hunter. This book is written in an accessible allegory format, for those who prefer fiction. It is a book about the soul of leadership.
  5. Leadership, by Rudolph Giuliani. Although I no longer see as eye to eye with Giuliani as I used to politically, one must give credit where credit is due. Giuliani inspired America with his leadership after 9/11, and in this book he explains that he did it simply by following the same routines he had followed for years. A great book about the habits of an effective leader.
Question: What are your favorite books on leadership? Any in my top five that you think need to be demoted?

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