Whether you believe leaders are born or made, one thing is very clear. Leadership is a skill. Like all skills, you must continually work on it in order to become a better and more proficient leader. You need tools to help you stay sharp. These tools are resources with the necessary information that will further your development as a leader.
If you observe the work habits and ethics of the most iconic leaders in business and politics, they make learning a part of their daily routine. They take time during the day to read books, references, and online articles to broaden their knowledge on subjects that will help them grow as leaders in their respective industries.
Much has been said about the importance of finding the best talent in the market. Companies want to hire people with the highest educational attainment, the most tenure, or those with the longest list of accolades and achievements.
A lot of the emphasis has been on the hard skills or the measurable qualities that are specific to the job. However, a shift toward soft skills or the behavioral attributes that define the individual’s approach to the job has been noticeable in the last five years.
According to a survey conducted by Bloomberg in 2015 which involved 1,320 recruiters from 600 companies, showed that more employers have been putting greater emphasis on soft skills.
Leadership skills are one of the most after attributes of employers along with strategic- thinking and creative problem-solving.
Definition of Leadership
Google the phrase, “What is Leadership” and you will get several definitions of the term. The definitions are phrased differently but essentially mean the same thing and share common words:
- Ability – Connotes that leadership is a skill; you have to work on it in order to develop the ability to lead your organization.
- Lead – Root word; a leader is one who takes charge, goes to the forefront of the direction he/she has charted for the organization.
- Others – Refers to people; your employees, teammates or subordinates.
- Achieve – A leader is focused on achieving a stated goal.
- Common Goal – The achievement of the goal is shared by the leader with his/her people.
- Take Risks – A leader takes risks because he/she knows that is part of the decision-making process.
- Accountable – Once the decision is made, the leader accepts accountability for the end result. The leader does this so that alternative courses of action are made in the event the desired result is not achieved.
- Decision-Making – A leader believes that “If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward”. Decisions have to be made on a day-to-day basis. Some will be risky and some will not be popular. However, decisions have to be made nonetheless.
From these keywords, we can arrive at our own definition of leadership:
Leadership is the ability to lead others and achieve a common goal by taking risks and accepting accountability for all decisions that have been made.
The Best Resources For Self-Directed Leadership Development
In a global economy, the demand for good leaders has become greater. Business conditions have become more unpredictable and ambiguous. Companies need people who are willing to step forward and make the hard decisions.
Leaders are able to make these hard decisions because they have the ability to foresee change before it happens. Therefore, they can implement revisions to the strategy that will allow them to accommodate or adapt to changes in business conditions.
How will you develop these abilities to foresee change and come up with immediate solutions?
Experience is the best teacher. However, you should also learn from the experiences of others. We have come up with a list of the best resources that you can use for leadership development.
1. “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” by John Maxwell
This book was written in 1998 by highly-respected and world-acclaimed leadership development expert, John Maxwell. According to Maxwell, there are 21 laws to attaining effective leadership and that these laws should never be broken regardless of the situation. Among these laws are:
- The Law of the Lid
- The Law of Influence
- The Law of Process
- The Law of Navigation
- The Law of Addition
The book continues to inspire other people to become better leaders in their respective industries.
Christian businessman John Faulkner cited the book as his inspiration for starting the business publication, “Two Ten”. NBA basketball player Harrison Barnes credited the book for his improvement as a professional sports personality.
2. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven Covey
First published in 1989, this book remains Steven Covey’s most popular work to date. It introduced the world to the idea of a “paradigm shift” whereby perspectives cause 2 people to see the same thing and yet arrive at different conclusions.
A chapter is dedicated to each of the 7 habits Covey identifies as key attributes people should develop in order to achieve desired results. To date, the book has sold more than 25 million copies.
3. “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale published this book in 1952. Dr. Peale was a strong advocate of positive thinking. In his book, he cites case histories which prove that adopting a positive attitude and view on life can bring better and more sustainable results.
Dr. Peale gives recommendations on how to develop positive thinking. These techniques include frequent positive affirmations and powerful visualization of positive thoughts.
4. “Winning” by Jack Welch
Jack Welch was an American businessman who is better known as the long-time Chairman and CEO of General Motors. Welch ran GM from 1981 to 2001. During Welch’s term, the value of GM rose by a staggering 4,000%!
In the book, Welch gives his 8 rules on becoming a better leader for your organization.
Welch’s 8 rules heavily focus on the importance of firm decision-making and of developing your team; getting them more involved in accomplishing projects. Similar to Dr. Peale, Welch is an advocate of positive thought and an optimistic attitude.
Warren Buffett, founder of Berkshire Hathaway, called “Winning”, the best book on management he has ever read.
5. “Good to Great” by Jim Collins
Jim Collins is an author and staunch advocate of sustainable business practices. First published in 2001, “Good to Great” chronicles the experiences of companies that transitioned from being “good to great” by developing the organization’s culture, finding right-fit talent, and embracing the advantages of technology.
The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council called “Good to Great” one of the best management books every executive should take the time to read.
1. John Maxwell
John Maxwell’s blog features work by other noted leadership experts as well. Maxwell’s blogs cover a wide range of topics other than leadership. He also touches on the latest developments in business, personal growth, performance, and the value of service to society and the community.
Michael Hyatt is a well-known author and proponent of effective leadership. He was the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. His blog page is packed with rich content and tackles issues on personal development, gaining self-confidence, and gives valuable tips on improving business performance.
3. Mark Sanborn
Mark Sanborn is the founder of a leadership development company, Sanborn & Associates. He is the bestselling author of the book, “The Fred Factor: How Passion In Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary”.
Sanborn’s blogs are very insightful and comprehensive. He sheds light on the perspectives of others in your value chain particularly your employees.
Jesse Lyn Stoner is the founder of Seapoint Center. This is an organization composed of leadership experts dedicated to helping companies develop the natural talents and abilities of their people. Her blog page covers a wide range of topics such as communication, leadership habits, and managing remote employees effectively.
5. Scott Eblin
Scott Eblin is the founder of a leadership development company called The Eblin Group. His blog page will give you great advice on how to nurture and develop your innate leadership abilities. After going through Eblin’s content, no doubt, his advice came from years of experience working with some of the biggest and most successful businesses.
What about today’s leaders in business? Which books gave them inspiration for the successes that they have become today?
Here is a short list of successful people and the books that inspired them to achieve greatness:
- Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon – “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras.
- Michael Bloomberg, Founder of Bloomberg LP – “The Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton M. Christiansen.
- Myron Ullman, CEO of J.C. Penny – “Transparency – How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor” by Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman, and James O’Toole.
- Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks – “The Gospel of Wealth” by Andrew Carnegie.
- Hector Ruiz, CEO of Advanced Nanotechnology Solutions – “Good to Great” by Jim Collins.
- Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos – “Tribal Leadership – Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization” by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright.
- Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook – “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses” by Eric Reis.
- Jeff Bewkes, CEO of Time Warner – “Competitive Strategy” by Michael Porter.
Always keep in mind that you have it in you to become a great and effective leader. It is just a matter of identifying these qualities and learning how to nurture them to their fullest.
Reading these published works and taking the time each day to learn all about leadership will go a long way in helping you realize your capabilities and abilities as a leader for your organization.
We have also written a few articles on leadership. These are as follows:
And of course, this one.
We believe leadership is a very important quality to develop whether you are a business owner or a top-level executive. Leaders can become effective managers but not all managers can become effective leaders.
Why? The answer has to do with a leader’s ability to make decisions. There are managers who rose to the ranks because of their performance in their previous position. However, the ability to make the tough decisions requires more than just technical and fundamental competencies.
Leaders understand that not everyone will agree on the decision they make but they pull the trigger nonetheless simply because the company has to keep moving. Leaders know they cannot please everyone so they always focus on what is good for the entire organization.
How about you? Do you have a few favorite books on leadership that you want to share? You may want to make your own list in the comments section provided below.