10 leadership books to stretch your skills in 2021

Check out these books for new wisdom to help you lead with kindness, consistency, and customer focus in uncertain times
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Around the Corner to Around the World: A Dozen Lessons I Learned Running Dunkin Donuts

By: Robert Rosenberg

Book description (via Amazon): “For entrepreneurs fighting for survival and leaders in growing businesses facing critical strategic decisions, competition is always fierce, and the future is never certain. Learn twelve key lessons from Dunkin’ Donuts former CEO Robert Rosenberg that offer critical insights and a unique, 360-degree perspective to business leaders and managers on building one of the world’s most recognized brands.”

Why you should read it: Get an inside look at the business behind your morning cup of coffee and learn the ins and outs, mistakes and successes, and lessons learned from growing a company from $10 million in sales to over $2 billion, with more than 3,000 outlets across the globe. According to reviewers, reading Rosenberg’s book is like being personally mentored by one of the most successful leaders in modern business history - and it’s a must-read for current and future leaders on your team.

The Ends Game: How Smart Companies Stop Selling Products and Start Delivering Value (Management on the Cutting Edge)

By: Marco Bertini and Oded Koenigsberg

Book description (via Amazon): “In The Ends Game, Marco Bertini and Oded Koenigsberg describe how some firms are rewriting the rules of commerce: instead of selling the ‘means’ (their products and services), they adopt innovative revenue models to pursue ‘ends’ (actual outcomes). Bertini and Koenigsberg explain that advances in technology have made it possible for firms to collect ‘impact data’ that tells them when and how customers use their products and how those products perform, and that firms can draw on this data to turn products into seamless services.”

Why you should read it: Companies across sectors are adopting new technologies and revenue models that put the customer at the heart of their digital transformations. This book offers a roadmap and insightful case studies describing how to achieve the same in your organization. “Consumers don’t buy products, they buy solutions to their problems. Products are a means to an end. This book highlights this simple but powerful idea, and explains its implications for business practices,” says Sunil Gupta, Edward W. Carter Professor of Business, Harvard Business School and author of Driving Digital Strategy.

How to Lead: Wisdom from the World’s Greatest CEOs, Founders, and Game Changers

By: David M. Rubenstein

Book description (via Amazon): “For the past five years, David M. Rubenstein has spoken with the world’s highest performing leaders about who they are and how they became successful. How to Lead distills these revealing conversations into an indispensable leadership guidebook. Gain advice and wisdom from CEOs, presidents, founders, and master performers from the worlds of finance (Warren Buffett, Jamie Dimon, Christine Lagarde, Ken Griffin), tech (Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Eric Schmidt, Tim Cook), entertainment (Oprah Winfrey, Lorne Michaels, Renee Fleming, Yo-Yo Ma), sports (Jack Nicklaus, Adam Silver, Coach K, Phil Knight), government (President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Nancy Pelosi), and many others.”

Why you should read it: No two leaders are the same - learn what makes these visionaries tick and the words of wisdom they live by. Rather than a deep dive on leadership strategy, think of this book as a collection of stories and anecdotes on some of the most admired leaders of our time, with insights that can help shape the leader you aspire to be.

Your Hidden Superpower: The Kindness That Makes You Unbeatable at Work and Connects You with Anyone

By: Adrienne Bankert

Book description (via Amazon): “Kindness isn’t merely about getting along with people and being nice. It’s a game changer in business, the door-opener to opportunity, and the key to authenticity and confidence. It’s a superpower that can be honed through an intentional lifestyle of kindness and is especially important in these divisive times. Through years of developing her own kindness practices and studying those of others, Good Morning America correspondent and anchor Adrienne Bankert has experienced firsthand the unbeatable power of kindness and witnessed its transformative impact on others.”

Why you should read it: Empathy has become a critical soft skill for IT professionals and leaders - it helps teams work more effectively, helps leaders get closer to customer needs, and even helps teams prepare for the AI age, when the human element matters. Bankert’s kindness-first approach is a counterpoint to the “winner-take-all” mentality often present in competitive business environments. If you are working on soft skills in 2021, pick up her book.

Work Disrupted: Opportunity, Resilience, and Growth in the Accelerated Future of Work

By: Jeff Schwartz

Book description (via Amazon): “The future of work swept in sooner than expected, accelerated by Covid-19, creating an urgent need for new maps, new mindsets, new strategies-- and most importantly, a trusted guide to take us on this journey. That guide is Jeff Schwartz. A founding partner of Deloitte Consulting’s Future of Work practice, Schwartz brings clarity, humor, wisdom, and practical advice to the future of work, a topic surrounded by misinformation, fear, and confusion. With a fundamental belief in the power of human innovation and creativity, Schwartz presents the key issues, critical choices, and potential pitfalls that must be on everyone’s radar.”

Why you should read it: Available January 7, 2021, this book will offer insights into what the future of work will look like post-COVID. “Jeff’s marvelous book is a roadmap for the new world of work with clear signposts. His insights will help readers discover opportunities, take action, and find hope in uncertain times. The ideas are fresh, beautifully crafted, and immediately applicable,” says Dave Ulrich, Rensis Likert Professor, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, Partner, the RBL Group, and Co-author Reinventing the Organization.

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Carla Rudder is a writer and editor for The Enterprisers Project. As content manager, 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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