I am an avid reader. From quantum physics, via business, to sport psychology – and beyond, if I get my grasp on a book, I’m on it. And the further I go, the more often I’m disappointed. It’s actually hard to find a good book nowadays. And truly groundbreaking vaults of knowledge are extremely rare. With that in mind, I would like to share my top three books on leadership with you. While you mind find this selection trivial, they helped me reshape myself to provide a better service and better value to those that I work with.
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If you’re even remotely interested in leadership, you must’ve seen Simon on stage during his seemingly countless TED talks and interviews. It’s his second book, following spectacular success of “Start With Why” (which I also recommend, though for building a business). While you may argue it’s entry level, that’s one of it’s advantages. It’s deceptively easy to get so entangled in complex processes and models, that basics fade out from our view. Also, I love how Simon phrases his ideas – in an easy to follow and understand way. I envy this skill, as – clearly – I don’t possess it. Altogether, a great book covering the most crucial aspects of leadership, without all the corporate mumbo-jumbo.
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An intriguing story of one nuclear submarine captain, who was almost forced to become humble and drop his know-it-all mindset. We all know these managers. It’s just impossible for team to convince them they’re wrong. Well, David was used to know every possible detail of warships he commanded. One day, just days before setting sails, he was stricken off balance by his superiors. He was to take over a different submarine – also, of other type. Having no chance to learn everything by heart, he caught himself failing several times – and making an unorthodox (and possibly illegal) decision to empower his crew. Within months, his submarine became the most efficient of US Navy vessels. The story, with all the findings and conclusions, makes one wonder – if it’s possible to achieve that on a military warship loaded with nuclear missiles, how hard could it be in corporate environment?
Yes, very. Unless you learn how to improvise, adapt, and overcome the obstacles. David’s book will give you a hand.
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While previous two are light reads, this book is quite hardcore. Jocko was one of the commanding officers of US Navy SEAL team during heavy fighting in battle of Ramadi. His story goes far beyond what they teach you at business school. From brutal training, through dusty streets of Iraqi cities, to ruthless corporate environment, we learn what it takes to truly lead our men. It’s a story of extremely hard work, honest accountability, and discipline. I love three things about Jocko’s story. First, there’s no sugarcoating included. Leading is a hard work and this book is one of the very few places where it’s stated openly and repeatedly. Second, it’s truly practical, with examples that most of readers will relate to with ease. Third, the book gave us one of the most popular episodes of Tim Ferriss podcast (which I highly recommend) and extensive podcast series by Jocko Willink himself.
These three may not resonate with you the way they did for me, though they will expand your horizons and give you great tools to work on your business, your team, and yourself.
For unorthodox books on Agile, see this post.