I’m frequently asked for recommendations on leadership books.  Here’s a quick review of books I’ve read this year and my top two all time recommendations.

What I’m Reading

Start with Why – Simon Sinek

Effective leaders inspire people to take action not because of their intelligence or confidence, but through their gift for connecting with people by focusing on the WHY.  The WHY is very different than the HOW (the process) or WHAT (the details, the results).  It’s about meaning, values and purpose.  The WHY is harder for most organizations to articulate, and that’s why many leaders fall into the trap of focusing on the WHAT and HOW.  If you want to inspire others to do great things, it’s got to be about the WHY. 

The Science of Leadership – Julian Barling

There’s no shortage of books on leadership, and this book’s purpose is “to bridge the gap between academic and trade books, by focusing on what is actually known about organizational leadership from the enormous body of scientifically driven research.”  It’s written in a way that is accessible to those who want to use this knowledge to guide their everyday behaviors and for practitioners that want to use it design leadership programs. The book offers a thorough history of leadership theory and the data to support where leadership development initiatives have had success.  This is a must read for human resource and leadership development practitioners to understand what we know and still are investigating around leadership.

Not in the Club – Janet Pucino

Janet Pucino shares her insights from her ascent in the male dominated IT industry to help professionals navigate office politics and recognize the “Club” behaviors that can impede careers.  Although both men and woman will benefit from her wisdom, she offers important communications and career management strategies specially for women.

My All-Time Favorites

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There – Marshall Goldsmith

Marshall Goldsmith is true leadership guru and a prolific writer with over 30+ books published to date.  This is near the top of the list.  He focuses on 21 common habits that successful people tend to hold on to that, often without them knowing it, ultimately limit their impact and career trajectory.  He provides antidotes that most will easily relate to, and strategies to change career-limiting behaviors.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – – Steven Covey

This classic divides successful peoples’ habits into three areas of focus: the private victory, the public victory and renewal.  The private victory is compromised of “Be Proactive” (creating your person vision), “Begin with the End in Mind” (creating your leadership principles) and “Put First Things First” (getting your priorities and time management right).  The public victory focuses on the interdependence of leadership by “Thinking Win/Win”, “Seeking First to Understand, Then be Understood” and Identifying Synergies.  And finally Covey was ahead of time of his in focusing on importance of Renewal to leader effectiveness.