5 Books to Read on Leadership
Leadership is both the act of leading and the ability to lead. It is acquired when one demonstrates better ability or skills among peers, thereby demonstrating more effectiveness in getting something done. Given this scenario, in today’s day and age, a leader needs to be adept at many skills and be a repository of knowledge from which he/she can draw from, so as to stand apart. Five books to read that would help you in the journey to being a better leader if not a great one.
1) Games People Play – Eric Berne
This book introduces transactional analysis as a way of interpreting social interactions. Berne states that all our interactions can be narrowed down to three roles played by our ego, which are known as the Parent, the Adult, and the Child, and postulates that many negative behaviors can be traced to switching or confusion of these roles. The book also catalogues a series of “mind games” in which people interact through a patterned and predictable series of "transactions". This book can help a person evaluate the team members and the “roles” they assume in their team dynamics. It will give the reader of this book an insight into man management.
2) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
Since a leader has to be a cut above the rest; there have to be more exacting standards and habits in life that others do not have. This books talks about seven habits to imbibe – a) Three habits focusing on self – i) being proactive, ii) staying focused on the goal or the end and iii) having self discipline to extract the same out of oneself that the leader expects from the team;
b) Three habits that are based on our interdependence on others – iv) to think about benefit for all rather than self, v) to try to know the other person’s point of view and build a team with empathy and vi) building strength through synergy or by harnessing individual strengths for the team. c) The last and the seventh habit talks about a continuous learning curve, where one always strives to better the last performance and evolves as an individual continuously.
3) The Art of War – Sun Tzu
A book that has been read and practiced for 2000 years beats all records in effectiveness and popularity. This book though is about military strategy that is taught in the best military academies of the world, is highly popular with management students. Management as you know, treats its business akin to a war on an economic turf and as such business management uses many military terms like campaign, strategy, capturing territory. In order to deliver efficiently, some man and material management tips from 2000 years ago will be like a trump card up the leader’s sleeve.
4) The Amazon Way: 14 leadership Principles Behind the World’s Most Disruptive Company – John Rossman
The company that changed the way we shop and built the world’s largest e-tail shop must have taken many innovative decisions and adopted many revolutionary practices. Fourteen of the most important management principles that made Amazon what it is today, is a great read for how to introduce innovation which is a prerequisite for all leaders . The book boils down the success of Amazon to two things: decision making and ownership. The owner of a project or product doesn’t have to be the most senior person at the organization. In fact, it can be a very junior person. But this person is the sole person responsible for the project’s outcome.
5) Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader – Herminia Ibarra
This book has been released only this year and is already being talked of very highly in management circles. At all too many companies, leadership development is either an afterthought, a casualty of budget cuts or a reward for the elite few. This book, offers a self-guided approach to developing your leadership skills. The author is well known for the concept of counterintuitive thinking and in this book helps the reader in finding ways to building his or her own leadership tool kit, deciding how to best invest time and valuing what she calls “outsight” — the critical perspective we earn from external experiences.
The choice of books in this list has been selected like one selects their weapons and armour before embarking on a battle. Some are weapons of offence and some are for defence. To equip oneself to be a superior individual, the pick of the lot is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey and Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader by Herminia Ibarra. To improve one’s domain knowledge in management – man and material, is the highly recommended The Art of War by Sun Tzu and The Amazon Way: 14 leadership Principles Behind the World’s Most Disruptive Company by John Rossman and finally to tackle your subordinates and your superiors, is Games People Play by Eric Berne. Though not in the list, a book of jokes should also be read and memorised so that you may borrow from it to lighten the atmosphere. Nothing works like a boss with a sense of humour!