By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

You know what you need to do and the skills you need to be a successful leader. The dilemma is implementing and developing those skills. These seven inspirational books will provide you with real-world examples and actionable advice. You can then use the knowledge that you obtain in the book to develop your leadership skills. 

1. Leadershift – The 11 Essential Changes Every Leader Must Embrace
by John C. Maxwell

One of the hardest challenges that leaders face is change. Humans are creatures of habit, making the task of embracing change one that people struggle with. Leadershift provides practical ways for leaders to innovate and influence others to evolve with them. This is essential in an ever-evolving economy. 

In the book, there are 11 shifts that can change your trajectory and expose you to new potential achievements. By changing the way you think and process information, you can evolve with the economy and your industry while also supporting your team to do the same. 

2. Shoe Dog – A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
by Phil Knight

The story behind the international brand Nike is one that is inspirational. If you are the leader of a startup, this encouraging book will help you stay motivated and focused. It tells the story of Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. Take the journey with him from selling shoes out of the trunk of his car to producing $30 billion in sales annually. Not only is it an interesting story, but it will remind you that the road to success is not perfect, easy, or straight. Don’t be discouraged by the challenges and failures that you experience along the way. 

3. Developing The Leader Within You 2.0
by John C. Maxwell

This is an updated version of the original published over 25 years ago. The author includes insight and wisdom that he has gained through his over 40 years of leadership experience. Learn about what it takes to be a successful leader and use the book’s guidance to develop your values, vision, and motivation. 

4. The Innovator’s Dilemma – When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail
by Clayton Christensen

All too often, people focus on innovation and forget that there is a business to run. This book highlights that the most innovative companies do not fare well in the market. The book explores real-world examples of companies that succeeded or failed at navigating both innovation and market share. 

5. The Rules of Management
by Richard Templar

Sometimes you need real-world examples of how to handle certain situations. It’s one thing to say that a great leader should have a specific trait. It’s another to give a specific example of how a leader with that trait would respond to a particular situation. This book shows you how to be a great leader by giving real-world examples of leaders’ responses to different situations. 

6. Managing Oneself – The Key to Success
by Peter Drucker

Learn to develop your career beyond your current position by learning how to manage yourself. This book will help you understand your mission, your target customer, and what your customers value. You can then use the tools outlined to develop your chosen career path. 

7. The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team 
by Patrick Lencioni

Stop resorting to outdated and often ineffective methods of team building. This book provides a new approach to this vital piece of the business puzzle. It shows you how to identify each team member’s strengths and utilize them for the greater good. 

Talk About Your Reading of Inspirational Books

The best way to get the most of your reading is to talk about what you read. Working with a career coach can help you develop your understanding and comprehension of the books you read. You could connect with other executives and gain insight from other’s perspectives. 


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