12 Books for Leaders & aspiring Leaders

Everyone reads, but not everyone reads books. I have seen conflicting statistics about the number of people who read books and the number of books that are read. But this I believe from Mark Twain;

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.

I listen regularly to Dave Ramsey and one thing he enjoys doing is interviewing millionaires to determine how they acquired their wealth. He notes that very few millionaires inherit their wealth. One common trait about self-made millionaires is that they are avid readers of non-fiction books. My comment here is not about money, but about the stewardship and leadership that propels one forward in their life. I read books and I want to share over the course of the next few weeks twelve books that have made me a better leader and give balance to my life and leadership.

I read from the Bible every day and credit that discipline with the most profound influence on my life. But that is not to suggest that other books have not shaped my leadership. Some of the works are specifically about leadership, others about marriage and parenting, and a couple may surprise you in their subject matter. [Full disclosure] I have admittedly included one of my own books because the research and writing had an extreme impact on my life and I am confident that it belongs on the list. A few notes about my list:

  • These are not necessarily literary classics.
  • These are not necessarily high level academic works.
  • These are not all Christian works (for my ministry friends).
  • These are not listed in priority order. They are broadly listed alphabetically.
  • The list is not exhaustive. I could list 25, 50, or 100. I chose 12 for this exercise.
  • I believer every leader and aspiring leader would do well to read all of these.

With that background, allow me to introduce you to the first three that I recommend.

  1. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud. The subtitle clearly explains what the book is about and you will never excel in leadership without this essential skill. Leaders learn to prioritize and know when and how to say “no.” Do you?
  2. Developing the Leader Within You by John Maxwell. This book is Leadership 101. It is a great synopsis of what Maxwell believes leadership is and how you can be a leader, which he defines as a person of influence. I discovered that I am a “learned leader” when I read this classic about 25 years ago. It propelled me forward as a leader and should be in any aspiring leader’s library.
  3. Developing the Leaders Around You by John Maxwell. I guess you could call this Leadership 201. The title is descriptive as his second volume instructs and inspires you to become a leader of leaders instead of simply being a leader of followers. I personally believe that the primary task of a leader is to develop additional leaders. If so, whatever your task, mission, job, or assignment, you will progress more rapidly and be more effective. This book will help you do just that.

That’s three books that will maximize your leadership. I have nine more to go. Don’t miss next week.