Leaders Are Readers: Must Reads For You And Your Team


During this time of year, I always find myself gravitating toward books.  They make great gifts for people that you work with, friends, and for yourself.  (Hey, New Years is coming-It’s time to work on yourself!)  Just in case you are kinda like me, I thought I would put together of some of my favorites.  In this post you will find ideas for books to…...

  • Develop you as a leader
  • Read with your team to help them develop and grow
  • Books to give as gifts.

I have made a list of some of my favorite for each category.  To make it easy for you, I have included a link in each book description that will take you directly to Amazon where you can purchase the book.  Just for transparency, you should know that I do get a small kickback from each purchase that you make.  I promise, it does not effect the price that you pay.  Want to support what I am doing at YourLifeRocks.com?  Save this Amazon link as a bookmark and use it every time you shop.  Seriously, I use Amazon a lot.  It is a huge lifesaver for my crazy busy life.  My favorite thing?  Same day delivery.  It blows my mind how they do it!


For you as a leader

Books are my second favorite self development tool out there.  My number one is podcasts.  Can you keep a secret?  Ya, I can’t either!  I am launching YourLifeRocks.com Podcast next week!  I will share more information with you when it launches.  Have you signed up for our community?  It’s the best way to stay up to date with everything that we have going on plus get easy access to all our tools and resources.  

Anyway…...here are some of my favorite books that have helped to move my career and leadership forward.

 The Servant Leader by James A. Autry

This is my number one favorite book on leadership.  It was a required read when I first became a manager many years ago.  Do your team a favor and read this book and apply the principles.  There have been times in my career when I had to lead teams through bad times.  I have revisited chapter 13: Leadership When Things Go Wrong and Times Are Bad many, many times.  There have been many times since I first read this book that I wish bosses of mine had read and applied the principles in this book.  Be that boss for your team....be the change you wish to see in the world.

Boundaries for Leaders by Dr. Henry Cloud

When I first heard about this book, it was the subtitle that got me:  Results, Relationships, and Being Ridiculously in Charge.  This book will grow you.  Each chapter has questions at the end that challenge you  to take action.  It is a great blend of psychology with business.  Just the idea of being ridiculously in charge is incredibly empowering.  Think about it.  Ready to grow into your leadership?  This is the book for you to read!

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

The fact that it is a Leadership Fable makes it super enjoyable and quick to read!  You will be quickly identifying people in the book with people on your team. What I love the most is that it is so full of actionable wisdom that you can apply right away to build a strong team with high performance.  You know how with a good fiction book you get tangled up with the characters and don't want it to end?  That is what you will find with this book!  What I love is that you are learning at the same time.  Beautiful.

Great By Choice by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen

Ever wonder what makes a successful company or leader?  This book examines and breaks it down.  I love that this book is based on delivering data from studies.  It’s like pulling the curtain back and giving you the details that you can learn from, and take on for yourself.  One of the things that I really love about this book is that each chapter stands alone.  Meaning I can read a chapter, put the book down for awhile and come back and not loose anything.  I have reread chapters when I feel like I need to sharpen my saw and I encourage you to do the same.


For Your Team:

When you lead and mentor others, it is inevitable that you will be asked what books that you recommend for them to read.  I always like to take it to the next level and read the same books along with my team, even if I have already read them before.  This allows so many teaching moments as you discuss what you are both learning.  (I usually learn new things on a re-read of a book….don’t you?)

As you are getting ready to study a book together, here are a few key points to think about before you get started.

  1. What are you hoping to get out of this experience for yourself and for them?  Whatever it is, be clear about it upfront (even if it is just with yourself) and structure the rest of the experience around that.
  2. Decide the timeline for each chapter and how the discussion time will be structured.  Example:  I have had members of my team present to the rest of the group on what they have learned.  This then becomes double duty on their development since they are now practicing their presenting skills.
  3. Stick with it.  It is easy to get distracted or busy and put this aside.  By reading and reviewing these books with your team, you are making an investment in  their development.  It will take time away from other things.  Decide now that you are ok with that, or just don’t do it


21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell.

Not only is this a must read for everyone, it is an easy one to do as a group and has many learning moments as you cover each law.  When I have recommended this book to team members in the past it has had a great side effect.  It makes you really step up as the leader!  You can't help but to apply the "laws" to yourself so that your team has a model to what they are learning.  Win-win for everyone.  PS. If you haven't read this book in awhile, read it again.  

 QBQ!  The Question Behind The Question by John G. Miller

Now, it could just be me, but I think that having personal accountability is one of the most powerful qualities to bring you success in work and in life.  Imagine if you could eliminate blame, complaining, and procrastination with your team?  Just remember, leaders go first!

 Influence:  The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition by Robert B. Cialdini

This has been the very best book for my career and I find that I teach the 6 sources of influence to everyone!  Whenever my team is putting together a new promotion or are trying to find a way to drive behaviors with people, the structure outlined in this book is what we use to create the most positive influence for change.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0  by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

Seriously.  Read the title again.  Who wouldn’t want their team to have higher emotional intelligence?  What I love about this book is that you start off taking a test online that measures where your emotional intelligence is in several different categories.  The book then shines a light on each category and provides situations, lessons, and actionable activities to help you grow in each area.  Once you have had time to apply the lessons of the book, you can then go back and take the test again.


Great gift books

Anything from Simple Truths

I especially love The 100/0 Principle:  The secret of Great Relationships by Al Ritter

It’s an easy short read.  Simple Truth books are great for their many quotes and high visual appeal.  Have you checked out their website?  Seriously, cut out a few hours and spend some time there!  Great gift ideas for the whole year!

Gung Ho! by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles

I love a great story!  Learning while being entertained?  Priceless!  It is an easy read with a simple message.  I received it as a gift and loved it!

Strength Finders 2.0 by Tom Rath

If I am being honest, this book could go in either of the top two categories.  Let me tell you why I put it under gifts.  I think too many people go around in this world very fully aware of what they are not good at.  Do you know what you are really gifted at?  What your true strengths are and how to get the most out of them?  If you do, you are one of few.  One of my biggest leadership truths is that you should always play up your strengths.  Put more energy on what you are good at.  This book allows you to take a quiz and figure out what your strengths are….they call them themes.  Then (my favorite part)  they give you an action guide for applying your strengths.  What better gift than a gift of figuring out what makes you awesome!  Ok, maybe you should buy two.  One for you and one for someone else.

5: Where Will You Be Five Years from Today? by Dan Zadra and Kristel Wills

Ok, so I was given this as a gift by a former boss years ago.  I love it because it is more of a workbook…..a dream book.  This was the first time I put my personal guiding principles on paper and made me really think about the values that I want to live by.  I recently found it again in a store and bought a couple copies.  One for me to do again (saving it for a quiet Christmas season night) and a couple to give as gifts.  They were too good to save for a holiday so I gave them as “just because gifts”.  It’s a guaranteed winner!

Your favorite book

I love giving and recommending books that have had a real impact on me.  You know what I love more than that?  When someone shares with me one of their favorites.  It is such a personal gift that shows so much thought and care.  Especially when there is a personal note on the inside talking about why you love the book and why you think they will love it too!


So as you have some quiet time by the light of the Christmas tree, make a cup of tea and open a good book.  Tis the season…..