Successful leadership can be taught. With motivation, inspiration and real-world applications from strong leaders who have walked this road, you too can hone and increase leadership skills in your own sphere of influence. Below are six books to help you achieve just that!
Quotable Line: “Don’t worry about what you’ve lost. Focus on what you still have. Your inner strength. Your mental toughness. No one can take these away.”
Written by executive business coach Prakash Iyer, this compilation of stories follows the leadership arcs of diverse culture shifters, from Mahatma Gandhi to Michelle Obama. Whether you are leading a team, a project, an organization, a startup or a movement, these accounts of perseverance and success will fuel your own determination.
Quotable Line: “Because I suddenly saw opportunity where I had never been brave enough to look before, I found that failure wasn’t fatal, that otherness held an extraordinary power for clarity and invention.”
Her illustrious career has run the gamut from business and nonprofit sectors to a congressional seat in politics, but Stacey Abrams knows firsthand what it means to be an outsider. Based on her personal insight, experience and acumen, this book urges minority leaders to push barriers and claim their space at decision making tables.
Quotable Line: “Whether he likes it or not, a man’s character is stripped bare at the poker table; if the other players read him better than he does, he has only himself to blame. Unless he is both able and prepared to see himself as others do, flaws and all, he will be a loser in cards as in life.”
Leadership and poker have much in common—they require confidence, tactical reasoning, awareness and problem solving. But author Anthony Holden looks beyond just the strategic comparisons in this narrative of success and failure through the unique lens of poker. It also happens to be a favorite of global poker industry executive Lee Jones.
Quotable Line: “I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.”
Read the first few paragraphs of Brene Brown’s sharp, bold and decisive writing, and that’s all it takes to understand why her TED Talk has been viewed more than 30 million times. A combination of data-backed research and eyewitness observations, this call to action dares leaders to seek vulnerability, remain curious and empathize with others.
Quotable Line: “True leadership is only possible when character is more important than authority—especially the authority to compel or control the actions of others. It is character, not position, that can turn administrators, directors, supervisors, even senators, congressmen, governors and presidents into leaders.”
There is magnetism in someone who does not assert leadership, but embodies it with compassion and ethos. As Joseph Marshall III outlines in this book, Lakota warrior Crazy Horse was a master of that rare but powerful way to lead. A Lakota-Sioux himself, Marshall explains how Native leadership is relevant in the office boardroom too.
Quotable Line: “You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus—only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you’re doing.”
As chair of the National Women’s Business Council and one of today’s most influential entrepreneurs, Carla Harris not only scaled the corporate ladder—but remained true to herself in the process. Now in senior management, she discloses hard-earned lessons on being authentic, passionate, balanced and secure in your own potential.
Have you read any of these essential leadership books? Can you think of some other titles worth adding to this list? Please share your feedback in the comment section below, and let’s continue this discussion on increasing leadership skills!