Over the years, I have been fortunate to have colleagues and leaders that have supported my desire to learn and grow. This need of mine to excel, learn, and improve is most often satisfied by a physical copy of a book. It helps to open possibilities, expand my mind, and challenges my assumptions as well as my prejudices.

Here is a short list of leadership books that have made an impact on my life and career.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

This groundbreaking book tells the story of newly hired CEO Kathryn Peterson who noticed and helps to work through destructive behaviors in her leadership team. It is written as a fable to make it more fun to read and easier to understand. The concepts and advice are both practical and easy to adopt but hard to master.

Leadership Nugget: Vulnerability is a strength that needs to be developed. Letting down your guard and showing your true self improves trust which leads to better outcomes.

Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh walks us through his triumphant rise to leadership through plenty of challenges and insights. The honesty and transparency of the author demonstrate that focusing on the customer through great service and showing compassion for your employees leads to success.

Leadership Nugget: Trying to build a successful and healthy company can be done by hiring people that fit your corporate culture. And be clear on what your company will not do.

Reinventing Organizations by Fredric Laloux

This book took me by surprise. It takes the reader through the history of organizational types with plenty of examples and breakthroughs for each. I was blown away by the realization that many companies try to become something that is not possible with their current structures and beliefs.

Leadership Nugget: Understanding one’s company type can allow you to propel it to new heights. You can also be honest with your limits towards change and improvement.

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

This gem describes simple yet remarkable techniques that all true leaders should practice to create great companies as well as transform your company. His stories and examples are both crystal clear and easy to apply. Many entrepreneurs follow his advice and have achieved success.

Leadership Nugget: Create an innovation factory that has the sole purpose of creating disruptive innovations that not only challenge your industry but your own company.

Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

This book is aimed at helping each of us to manage and hold important and meaningful conversations when emotions are strong and stakes are high. It gives great advice and showcases plenty of powerful stories from the professional landscape to the personal arena.

Leadership Nugget: Preparation and practice of the techniques in this book can allow you to not only hold critical conversations but end up with stronger relationships and better outcomes.

What books have made an impact on your profession and life?

What authors continue to inspire and give you practical actions towards improvement as a leader? Sound off in the comments below.

Thanks and continue to look for opportunities to be real, use agility as means not the end, humility, and kindness with all those around you.

Paul J. Heidema

Categories: leadership

Paul J. Heidema

CEO at SparkActa Inc. -- Paul J. Heidema consults, coaches and guides senior management and staff to look for possibilities to improve their results and improve their organization. He leads large-scale organizational transformations to achieve lasting results in: building a culture that supports trust and growth, leadership coaching to mentor others, organizational effectiveness in processes, and systems thinking.


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