10 leadership books to strengthen your skills in 2020

Check out these books for wisdom to help you lead with courage, compassion, and emotional intelligence in the year ahead
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The Leader You Want to Be: Five Essential Principles for Bringing Out Your Best Self – Every Day

By: Amy Jen Su

Book description (via HBR): “By focusing in specific ways on five key leadership elements – Purpose, Process, People, Presence, and Peace – you can increase your time, capacity, energy, and ultimately your impact, with less stress and more equanimity. Drawing on rich and instructive stories of clients, leaders, artists, and athletes, as well as on research by experts, the author brings together the best of both Western management thinking and Eastern philosophy to provide a holistic yet hands-on approach. ‘The Leader You Want to Be’ is your indispensable guide to tapping into and expanding your leadership capacity so that you can be your best, sustain yourself, and thrive as a leader.”

Why you should read it: When we feel overwhelmed at work – like there aren’t enough hours in the day to tackle everything on our plates – it’s easy to believe we have a time management issue or that a change to our routine could help. But Su offers another solution for being the leader you want to be every day – not just your best days. Read her book to make the time you have more meaningful and purposeful.

Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success

By: John Eades

Book description (via Amazon): “Beginning with the benefits of great leadership – and the drawbacks of bad leadership – Eades offers real-life examples of leaders who elevate others and how their practices have paid huge dividends. At its core is a carefully balanced blend of ‘love and discipline’ – a guiding principle that helps create high levels of performance by leaning on standards while at the same time caring about the long-term success and well-being of each team member.”

Why you should read it: The best leaders are not the ones who are focused on achieving more success for themselves, but rather those who are focused on helping others around them succeed. Read this book to identify your current leadership style, and learn how to propel your team to achieve greater results with more purpose and accountability.

Trailblazer: The Power of Business as the Greatest Platform for Change

By: Marc Benioff and Monica Langley

Book description (via Amazon): “In 'Trailblazer,' Benioff reveals how Salesforce’s core values – trust, customer success, innovation, and equality – and commitment to giving back have become the company’s greatest competitive advantage and the most powerful engine of its success. Because no matter what business you’re in, Benioff says, values are the bedrock of a resilient company culture that inspires all employees, at every level, to do the best work of their lives. Along the way, he shares insights and best practices for anyone who wants to cultivate a company culture positioned to thrive in the face of the inevitable disruption ahead.”

Why you should read it: A key aspect of leadership is connecting each individual’s work to the overarching values of the organization. Strengthening this link is what leads to more innovative thinking and motivated employees. Read this book to create more meaningful work for everyone on your team.

Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up

By: Jerry Colonna

Book description (via Amazon): “Jerry Colonna has taught CEOs and their top teams to realize their potential by using the raw material of their lives to find meaning, to build healthy interpersonal bonds, and to become more compassionate and bold leaders. In Reboot, he inspires everyone to hold themselves responsible for their choices and for the possibility of truly achieving their dreams. Work does not have to destroy us. Work can be the way in which we achieve our fullest self, Jerry firmly believes. What we need, sometimes, is a chance to reset our goals and to reconnect with our deepest selves and with each other. Reboot moves and empowers us to begin this journey.”

Why you should read it: Do you need a reset in 2020? Perhaps you are suffering from burnout, or you simply feel stuck in your career. With his blend of Buddhism, Jungian therapy, and entrepreneurial straight talk, Colonna offers leaders a way through the emotional baggage that may be holding people back.

Stillness Is the Key

By: Ryan Holiday

Book description (via Amazon): “All great leaders, thinkers, artists, athletes, and visionaries share one indelible quality. It enables them to conquer their tempers. To avoid distraction and discover great insights. To achieve happiness and do the right thing. Ryan Holiday calls it stillness – to be steady while the world spins around you. In this book, he outlines a path for achieving this ancient but urgently necessary way of living. Drawing on a wide range of history’s greatest thinkers, from Confucius to Seneca, Marcus Aurelius to Thich Nhat Hanh, John Stuart Mill to Nietzsche, he argues that stillness is not mere inactivity, but the doorway to self-mastery, discipline, and focus.”

Why you should read it: At a time when all leaders feel the pressure to move faster, this book teaches readers how to slow down. Before heading into a new year, take a moment to reflect on the things that steal your happiness at work and, on the other side, what brings you meaning in your leadership role. This book can help you set the tone for more peace and fewer distractions in 2020.

[ Culture change is the hardest part of transformation. Get the digital transformation eBook: Teaching an elephant to dance. ]

Carla Rudder is a community manager and program manager for The Enterprisers Project. She enjoys bringing new authors into the community and helping them craft articles that showcase their voice and deliver novel, actionable insights for readers.  

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