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I sometimes tell people that I “practice” leadership, in the same way that lawyers practice law. What this really means is that I NEVER stop studying. There is always more to learn. I’ve built a considerable library of reference works over the years, and now I’m sharing some of my top picks.
If you’re desperately short on time, hate reading, or otherwise have decided to read only one leadership book, it’s got to be The New One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. It’s written as a short narrative, and arranged into easily-digestible bite-sized chunks. These are explained as the three “secrets” of the One Minute Manager, reinforced by some practical examples in an imaginary company.
Start here! This really is a dummy’s guide to leadership, and sets out the basics in really simple terms. You won’t find any deeply-theoretical psychology-of-leadership research here, just straight guidance in plain language.
Now that we’ve gotten the basics out of the way, let’s dive a little deeper. And yes, that’s a pun. But you probably won’t get it until you start reading Turn the Ship Around by David Marquet. This is an absolute gold mine of staff empowerment techniques and mechanisms.
A word of warning, though: if you’re an old-school, command-and-control, do-exactly-what-you’re-told boss (dictator?), this might not be the book for you. The focus is on leading others to be better versions of themselves, and turning followers into leaders.
It’s probably one of the most influential leadership books I’ve read.
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