This article is included in Entrepreneur Voices on Effective Leadership, a new book containing insights from more than 20 contributors, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders.
One of the best ways to ensure that you grow as a person and a leader is to read — a lot.
Time and time again, we learn that the most successful people are also avid bookworms. Constant reading allows them to absorb knowledge, broaden their worldviews and perspectives and challenge obsolete viewpoints.
But of course not all books are worthy of the time and effort it takes to go from cover to cover. To help you on your journey toward becoming a successful leader, here are the top 10 books you should be reading now.
1. Managing the Mental Game by Jeff Boss
Using a blend of mental-training methodologies, former Navy SEAL Jeff Boss shows readers how to build self-confidence and fortitude, enabling them to reach new levels of success.
Managing the Mental Game contains useful exercises on learning how to manage chaos and pressure in order to stay clearheaded and calm in uncertain and difficult situations. Boss’s advice helps you understand that stress is a mental game that can be overcome, often by avoiding mental pitfalls and learning to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
2. Start With Why by Simon Sinek
This book centers on an important business truth: People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Simon Sinek explains this concept in Start With Why by delving into a few basic questions. One key question he poses is why some people and organizations are more innovative, influential and profitable than others.
He also asks why so few are able to repeat their success. If you are struggling to create a long-term vision and guiding principles as you navigate business and life, this book can give you the inspiration to begin moving in the right direction.
3. The Go-Giver Leader by Bob Burg and John David Mann
Great leaders don’t try to act like “leaders.” Instead, they strive to be more human. They focus on the concept that “if you give, you shall receive.” Burg and Mann tell a compelling tale of an ambitious young executive trying to lead a struggling small business to make a crucial decision.
The Go-Giver Leader promotes a mindset of higher consciousness. It expands on the idea that your influence is determined by whether you place others’ interests first. Leaders who do this will create prosperity for their communities and society, as well as for their companies and employees.
4. The Dip by Seth Godin
The Dip proves that winners do quit, and quitters do win. Seth Godin shows that winners quit quickly and often, until they commit to beating the right “dip.”
Winners are those who know that the bigger the barrier, the bigger the reward for getting past it. If you can beat the dip, you’ll earn profits, glory and long-term security. What this book will do is help you determine if you’re in a dip that’s worthy of your time, effort and talents.
5. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
As the Wall Street Journal proclaims, “If Indiana Jones were an economist, he’d be Steven Levitt.” Freakonomics is a groundbreaking collaboration between Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, an award-winning author and journalist.
The two examined the inner workings of a crack gang, the truth about real estate agents and the secrets of the Ku Klux Klan. The result of their work is this book, which powerfully shows how, at its core, economics is the study of incentives. It is how people get what they want or need, especially when other people are trying to get the same thing.
6. Essentialism by Greg McKeown
Instead of trying to manage your time more efficiently, Essentialism helps you focus on getting the right things done. This isn’t about time management or productivity improvement. Greg McKeown teaches a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential and eliminating everything else.
By pursuing “less,” we are empowered to prioritize what is truly important in our lives, and thus are able to give the highest possible contribution toward those things.
7. Drive by Daniel H. Pink
We all have an innate desire to be in control of our lives and create new things. These two desires are what truly drive us. The “carrot and stick” approach that most corporations use to motivate people doesn’t deliver high performance or results because it ignores the most important element: intrinsic (or internal) motivation.
Daniel H. Pink asserts in Drive that the secret to prompting higher achieving workers is to tap into their internal motivation. Doing so will increase satisfaction at work, at school and at home, and also empower us to better ourselves and our world.
8. Getting Things Done by David Allen
Since Getting Things Done was first published 15 years ago, “GTD” has become shorthand for an entire method of approaching professional and personal tasks. This updated version includes new material that adds fresh perspectives to David Allen’s classic text on how to attain maximum efficiency.
Allen offers important tools and strategies on how to focus our energy and manage workflows, including how to get through work tasks quickly, delegate when appropriate and defer when necessary.
9. Give and Take by Adam Grant
Success is not just about hard work, talent and luck. Our ability to achieve is increasingly dependent on how well we interact with others. Adam Grant’s book shows that most people operate as takers, matchers or givers.
Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are a rare breed who contribute to others without expecting anything in return. When used correctly, giving can attain extraordinary results.
10. What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School by Mark H. McCormack
Like a wise mentor, this book offers real-world guidance and concise information that you won’t learn elsewhere. What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School is a complement to a traditional business background, offered by a seasoned luminary in the field.