Recommended Reading

To inspire, engage, and develop you and your team, we recommend the following resources.

Books

We humbly offer our book, Land On Your Feet, Not On Your Face. One reviewer called it “the most comprehensive, accessible, and practical guide to leadership I know” — with multiple layers of learning and practice for emerging and established leaders as well.

And, of course, many other books have had a major impact on our thinking and our own development as leaders. They figure heavily in the development of the Path Forward Leadership Workshop.  Among those we highly recommend:

  1. Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
    A great way to learn about the single most important quality a leader can possess—emotional intelligence. Based on Goleman’s ground-breaking Emotional Intelligence and Working with Emotional Intelligence (which were written for a more general audience).
  2. On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis
    Warren Bennis writes in a highly approachable and personal way about the lives leaders choose. I love his concept that “leadership is a form of self-expression.”
  3. First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman
    Presents important research in a very readable way. The authors’ conclusions are so solid and so resonant that I think they’ve hit a home run. This book speaks to the critical importance of the supervisor/employee relationship.
  4. The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization by Peter Senge
    The introduction to “systems thinking.” This is a challenging book, not only because it has so much substance but because it challenges us to think differently about the world. If I were the dean of a university, it would be required reading for all students—not just business students.
  5. Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace by Gordon MacKenzie
    A sometimes quirky but very entertaining book about the value of creativity and of maintaining your identity when pulled into the gravity field of an organization.
  6. Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott
    Powerfully teaches the importance of being real and courageous in our interactions.
  7. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
    One of the best books on leadership, period. The primary messages are around personal accountability and the critical importance of win-win relationships.
  8. The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack
    A real-life story about how Stack made a success of an old-line rust belt business, in large part by involving all of his employees in the “game” of business. A must-read for anyone looking to get employees at all levels connected and motivated.
  9. Leadership Without Easy Answers by Ronald Heifetz
    A challenging but extremely worthwhile read. Heifetz talks about the importance of leading dialogue and fostering collective intelligence in their organizations.
  10. The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund and Ben Zander
    This uplifting book, written by a husband-wife team (she’s a psychotherapist and he’s a symphony conductor), will instill optimism in the dourest curmudgeon. Written in a tone that celebrates what it means to be human, The Art of Possibility addresses the “way of being” of the leader in inspiring ways. Includes practices for embodying an enlightened leadership style.
  11. Learning to Lead: The Art of Transforming Managers into Leaders by Jay Conger
    In this book Jay Conger carefully researched various leadership development seminars and training programs in order to determine what’s most effective. His findings are critical to understanding how leaders learn and grow.
  12. Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations and Society, by Peter Senge et al
    A paradigm-exploding exploration into how people and organizations change. Suggests that 21st Century leadership must employ an organic, deep-learning process, informed by lessons from nature and quantum physics. Leaders must learn by letting go and tapping into “the future that wants to emerge.” Although written by, among others, MIT professors, it may be considered too “New Age” by some. But it is a new age…
  13. Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn
    The definitive treatise on motivation—exhaustively researched, yet a fun, compelling, and easy read. Kohn will shift your thinking about how to motivate. He reviews a half century of research on motivation to prove convincingly that only intrinsic motivation—the kind that lives inside the employee—is sustainably effective in improving performance.
  14. Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box by the Arbinger Institute
    Gives a whole new meaning to “thinking outside the box.” The “box” is one’s own insecurity-driven ego needs—and most of us live in the box, like it or not. Through the vehicle of a novel narrated by the author, this book makes a compelling case for learning to step out of your own needs and prejudices to a more enlightened way of being as a leader.
  15. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury
    The classic primer on negotiation—practical and concise. Its focus on people rather than the problem, and interests rather than positions, apply not just to mediated conflicts, but to any situation in which perspectives differ in the context of decision-making.
  16. In general—We like most of the books by John Maxwell (e.g. Developing the Leader Within You, especially for beginners to leadership and management. Ken Blanchard books are also worth reading (One Minute Manager, Who Moved my Cheese, etc.), although his tendency to oversimplify can be irritating. Anything by Peter Drucker is good—although on the dry side. Also, Built to Last and Good to Great by James C. Collins are valuable for those in a more senior position with some strategic influence.

Periodicals

Harvard Business Review
The mostly highly-regarded leadership periodical. It demands a disciplined and committed reader (over 100 pages without ads and about $17 per month at the newsstand – although a subscription cuts this almost in half). It’s worth it. A number of famous books (like Emotional Intelligence) started out as articles in this magazine.

If you don’t like to read, find audio books (on CD), which are widely available. It’s an important part of your growth. If you read, digest, and fully engage with every book on the above list, you’ll find yourself well ahead of where you are today.