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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

The 10 Books That'll Bring Out the Leader in Everyone Who Reads Them

If you do your job, and you do it well, you’ll continue to move up the career ladder. And that’s awesome. But as you make that climb, you’ll start to realize that being a manager of one, two, 20, 100 people is hard! And that you need to be more than a boss, you need to be a leader.

While there are many resources out there on making this happen—my favorites continue to be books. As CEO of a fast-growing startup, I do my best to always have something on-hand to read—whether it’s that day’s Wall Street Journal, a book by one of my favorite philosophers, or the latest autobiography of a leader I admire. I’ve always enjoyed expanding my knowledge base and believe that all (aspiring) leaders should set aside time outside of email, meetings, and conference calls to settle in with something that’ll improve their skills.

Here are my personal recommendations for the 10 books (in no particular order) everyone should have in his or her personal library:

1. Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz

Decision-making is a necessary skill for anyone in charge. This book identifies why less is more and prepares us to find balance and happiness in the choices we make whether business or personal.

2. Take the Lead: Motivate, Inspire, and Bring Out the Best in Yourself and Everyone Around You by Betsy Myers

Myers took a leap of faith when she signed on to serve as COO of a grassroots presidential campaign for an up-and-coming Chicago senator (who you know as our 44th president). Take the Lead offers insightful and inspiring advice about taking command and bringing out the best in yourself.

3. Who: The A Method for Hiring by Geoff Smart and Randy Street

Assuming people—not strategy—drive organizational success, businesses need to increase their odds of hiring the very best employees. The “Who” methodology provides the footprint to increasing the likelihood of hiring top performers from 50% to 90%.

4. The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick Lencioni

This one is my favorite of Lencioni’s amazing collection of books. Once you’ve hired the A players in your organization, you’ll need to focus on organizational health and how your company can maximize productivity and align everyone toward the company’s core objectives. That’s where The Advantage comes in.

5. Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business by Matt Blumberg

Blumberg’s book is like having a mentor or an advisor on speed dial. This is a must-read book for any first-time leader. Blumberg’s framework for how CEOs should think about their workdays and goals has helped me structure my time and energy more effectively as my organization scales.

6. Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington

One of the most influential businesswoman today, Huffington shares advice for wholly changing your life—from sleeping habits, to your addiction to technology, to reframing how you think about success.

7. Collaborative Intelligence: Thinking With People Who Think Differently by Dawna Markova, PhD and Angie McArthur

A collaborative workforce is often more creative, engaged and forward-thinking, and the best leaders can engage and work well with a variety of people. McArthur and Markova provide actionable tips to improving collaboration skills, all backed by neuroscience.

8. The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Tell Your Family History, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More by Bruce Feiler

Hopefully your career is fulfilling, but you still need work-life balance. It’s easy to take family life and happiness for granted. This book does a great job of sharing useful insights to better connect with your family during your off hours—making turning your email off on the weekends easier than ever.

9. Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen

No leader should avoid the tough talks: It’s part of business. In Difficult Conversations, the authors provide a framework for navigating confrontation from start to finish, showing you how to stay balanced and use productive problem solving skills.

10. Love ’Em or Lose ’Em: Getting Good People to Stay by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans

Turnover is expensive, and when you’re working on building a company, the last thing you want is for your top employees to leave and have to start at square one again. This book should be part of all managers’ libraries—it’s one you can keep turning back to with valuable insight and actionable engagement strategies.

These are some of the books that have proved most helpful to me. Tweet me your favorites!

Photo of man reading courtesy of Shutterstock.