Most people would say that in order to be a successful leader, you must have years of experience and intimate knowledge of the business world. However, modern leaders don't need to fit that mold. They can be anyone – from CEOs to first-time entrepreneurs – as long as they possess the right skill set and mindset. If you're looking to become a successful leader in today's rapidly changing world, here are seven books that will help set you on the right path.
Drive by Daniel Pink
Understanding the underlying motivations of people is a valuable skill that no successful leader can ignore. In today's labor shortage for many employees, salary is not the first, second, or even third consideration of taking a new position or moving on from the current one. Motivating factors such as autonomy and room to grow are just as or more important than salary. Pink does an in-depth analysis of the science behind workplace motivations and outlines some practical applications for leaders at every level.
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
Every entrepreneur lives with the pipe dream of motivating employees as if they were owners, but incentives and shares in the company are not enough. Inspiration to create something long-lasting requires meaning and connection on a level many leaders never considered
The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
In Robert Greene's masterwork, the 48 Laws of Power, he analyzes human power dynamics as frameworks to put them to use. Like any tool, power can be used or abused. However, savvy leaders who understand power dynamics will be able to avoid manipulation and gain a deep understanding of how their influence may be perceived and enhanced for the betterment of everyone.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
First published in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People is on the reading list of virtually every leader. The book is a great aid in leadership success. It covers timeless principals that apply in nearly every situation.
Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
Accepting responsibility is one of the primary, if not THE primary, roles of a leader. Willink and Babin make the succinct argument that everything that a team accomplishes or fails to accomplish is the responsibility of the leader, even when they may not have had direct control of an outcome. It is a fascinating peek into the dynamics of wartime leadership and how it applies to the modern business world.
The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
The role of leadership is the accomplishment of complex projects that require teams to be successful. Obstacles and difficulties during the process of accomplishing complicated tasks are inevitable, and leaders must understand the opportunities and challenges of obstacles. Holiday's, The Obstacle is the Way is headed toward becoming a classic.
Atomic Habits by James Clear
While not a pure leadership book, Atomic Habits is a must-read for the modern-day leader. Leadership by example is an ancient axiom. Before successfully leading others, you must prove you can lead yourself. People will watch your example far more closely than they will what you say. Likewise, setting a poor example will hurt your team's performance. A poor example can kill motivation and lead your team in the wrong direction. By managing your habits and setting a good example personally, professionally, and morally, you will have a better chance of being successful otherwise.
If you can only read one of these books, we recommend the Obstacle is the Way. The core goal of all leadership is solving difficult problems, and Ryan Holiday's take on how to use problems to find solutions is truly valuable and unique.