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The Best Leadership Books of 2019

Best Leadership Books of 2019

LEADERSHIP development is a lifelong process. It is made possible with a quality that we spend a lifetime acquiring: self-awareness. People don’t experience our intentions; they experience our behavior. It is a theme that runs through most of these titles.

Books like Helping People Change and The Power of Bad, have the power to change forever how we work with others and address the things that hold us back.

Grace is a tough concept to sell in today’s environment. Grace looks at the bigger picture. It is not primarily concerned for the self. It does not rejoice in the downfall of others. It does not seek its own way. It is outwardly focused. We marginalize others when we insist on our rightness. The need for an outward focus is the underlying conclusion of these titles.

The biographies on this list are more than mere memoirs. They all provide insights into leading and how others have tried to make sense of the world. They all share their methods, their successes and failures, and the lessons they learned. Biographies provide, like no other genre, roadmaps and guardrails in a context that makes them relevant for our own lives. It’s like having a mentor guide your journey.

When we get our thinking right, the success comes almost automatically.


9781989025208 The Good Fight: Use Productive Conflict to Get Your Team and Organization Back on Track
by Liane Davey

(Page Two, 2019)

Liane Davey shows you how to create the productive conflict your organization needs to get along and get stuff done. Drawing on her twenty-year career as an advisor to the C-Suite, Davey shares real-world examples and practical tools you and your team can use to handle even the most contentious conflicts as allies―instead of adversaries. Filled with strategies you will use again and again, The Good Fight is an essential field guide for leaders at all levels. (Blog Post)

9781948080880 Grace: A Leader's Guide to a Better Us
by John Baldoni

(Indigo River Publishing, 2019)

Grace: A Leader's Guide to a Better Us focuses on the role that grace plays as a catalyst in enabling us to create "the greater good" at work, at home and in our communities. Grace tells the stories of women and men who are making a positive difference in our world by devoting themselves to serving as agents of positive change. Grace is a clarion call for the goodness in the world around us as well as a practical guide for implementing grace in your own life. (Blog Post)

9781635652161 Great Leaders Have No Rules: Contrarian Leadership Principles to Transform Your Team and Business
by Kevin Kruse

(Rodale Books, 2019)

Kevin Kruse debunks popular wisdom with ten contrarian principles for better, faster, easier leadership. Grounded in solid research and three decades of entrepreneurial experience, this book has one purpose: to teach you how to be both the boss everyone wants to work for and the high achiever every CEO wants to hire—all without drama, stress, or endless hours in the office. (Blog Post)

9780718093150 The Intention Imperative: 3 Essential Changes That Will Make You a Successful Leader Today
by Mark Sanborn

(HarperCollins Leadership, 2019)

The Intention Imperative explains how five very different businesses use clarity of purpose and consistent action to achieve extraordinary success in their given fields. Using their practices as examples, Sanborn shows how they’ve harnessed the three imperatives and how it’s possible to improve your own business by adopting their practices. The larger points of intentional leadership, intentional leaders, and their place in the current world are explained, giving readers the opportunity to spot the parallels in real-world examples. (Blog Post)

9781594205521 The Power of Bad: How the Negativity Effect Rules Us and How We Can Rule It
by John Tierney and Roy F. Baumeister

(Penguin Press, 2019)

Why are we devastated by a word of criticism even when it’s mixed with lavish praise? Because our brains are wired to focus on the bad. This negativity effect explains things great and small: why countries blunder into disastrous wars, why couples divorce, why people flub job interviews, how schools fail students, why football coaches stupidly punt on fourth down. All day long, the power of bad governs people’s moods, drives marketing campaigns, and dominates news and politics. But once we recognize our negativity bias, the rational brain can overcome the power of bad when it’s harmful and employ that power when it’s beneficial. In fact, bad breaks and bad feelings create the most powerful incentives to become smarter and stronger. Properly understood, bad can be put to perfectly good use. (Blog Post)

9780735213500 The Infinite Game
by Simon Sinek

(Portfolo, 2019)

Do you know how to play the game you’re in? In finite games, like football or chess, the players are known, the rules are fixed, and the endpoint is clear. The winners and losers are easily identified. In infinite games, like business or politics or life itself, the players come and go, the rules are changeable, and there is no defined endpoint. There are no winners or losers in an infinite game; there is only ahead and behind.

9780718098506 Leadershift: The 11 Essential Changes Every Leader Must Embrace
by John C. Maxwell

(HarperCollins Leadership, 2019)

In Leadershift, John C. Maxwell helps leaders gain the ability and willingness to make leadership changes that will positively enhance their organizational and personal growth. He does this by sharing the eleven shifts he made over the course of his long and successful leadership career. Each shift changed his trajectory and set him up for new and exciting achievements, ultimately strengthening and sustaining his leadership abilities. (Blog Post)

9781633696563 Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth
by Richard Boyatzis, Melvin L. Smith and Ellen Van Oosten

(Harvard Business Review Press, 2019)

Helping others is a good thing. Often, as a leader, manager, doctor, teacher, or coach, it's central to your job. But even the most well-intentioned efforts to help others can be undermined by a simple truth: We almost always focus on trying to "fix" people, correcting problems or filling the gaps between where they are and where we think they should be. Unfortunately, this doesn't work well, if at all, to inspire sustained learning or positive change. There's a better way. (Blog Post)

9781610398770 Creative Construction: The DNA of Sustained Innovation
by Gary P. Pisano

(PublicAffairs, 2019)

The conventional wisdom is that only disruptive, nimble startups can innovate; once a business gets bigger and more complex corporate arteriosclerosis sets in. Big organizations require a different set of management practices and approaches—a discipline focused on the strategies, systems and culture for taking their companies to the next level. (Blog Post)

9780735219472 The Optimist's Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age
by Bina Venkataraman

(Riverhead Books, 2019)

Instant gratification is the norm today—in our lives, our culture, our economy, and our politics. Many of us have forgotten (if we ever learned) how to make smart decisions for the long run. Whether it comes to our finances, our health, our communities, or our planet, it’s easy to avoid thinking ahead. The consequences of this immediacy are stark: Superbugs spawned by the overuse of antibiotics endanger our health. Companies that fail to invest stagnate and fall behind. Hurricanes and wildfires turn deadly for communities that could have taken more precaution. Today more than ever, all of us need to know how we can make better long-term decisions in our lives, businesses, and society. Bina Venkataraman sees the way forward. (Blog Post)

9780692129890 Fearless Success: Beyond High Performance
by John Foley

(CenterPoint Publishing, 2019)

The quest for perfection is not only possible--it's actually our natural state, says author and former Blue Angel pilot, John Foley. Imagine what the same preparation and mindset that allowed him to fly in formation mere inches apart from another jet can do for you, your teams, and any organization. In Fearless Success, John Foley gives us the secrets that elite performers know and practice on a daily basis. (Blog Post)

9781260454017 Cascades: How to Create a Movement that Drives Transformational Change
by Greg Satell

(Currency, 2019)

In this groundbreaking book, one of today's top innovation experts delivers a guide for driving transformational change. To truly change the world or even just your little corner of it, you don’t need a charismatic leader or a catchy slogan. What you need is a cascade: small groups that are loosely connected but united by a common purpose. (Blog Post)

9780143133094 Flex: The Art and Science of Leadership in a Changing World
by Jeffrey Hull

(TarcherPerigee, 2019)

Jeffrey Hull shares the secrets, strategies, and science underlying his, and his clients', successes. Interweaving real-life stories with practical tips and the latest evidence-based research, he equips readers with the insights they need to thrive in today's world. Based on his popular classes with Harvard Medical School physicians and NYU business students, Hull has identified the six key elements that leaders in this new workplace need to succeed: Flexibility, Intentionality, Emotional Intelligence, Realness, Collaboration, and Engagement.


The Leader You Want to Be: Five Essential Principles for Bringing Out Your Best Self—Every Day
by Amy Jen Su

(Harvard Business Review Press, 2019)

How can you be the leader you want to be, every day? The answer is more than a time-management system or a silver-bullet solution for changing your routines. Leadership expert and coach Amy Jen Su's powerful new book helps readers discover that the answer lies within. By focusing in specific ways on five key leadership elementss—Purpose, Process, People, Presence, and Peace—you can increase your time, capacity, energy, and ultimately your impact, with less stress and more equanimity.



9780801094248 Beginner's Pluck: Build Your Life of Purpose and Impact Now
by Liz Forkin Bohannon

(Baker Books, 2019)

Liz Forkin Bohannon wants you to rethink everything you've been told about finding your passion and following your dreams. Why? Hate to break it to you, but you're likely never going to "find your passion." Because your passion and purpose are something you build—actively—day by day. In her signature tell-it-like-it-is fashion, Liz shares 14 actionable principles that will teach you how to do just that. With total transparency, Liz shares hilarious and heartbreaking stories of her journey of screwups and successes that illustrate the mindsets and principles that will give you a jolt of energy, inspiration, and direction toward your True North. By embracing your Inner Beginner, dreaming small, choosing curiosity over criticism, and so much more, Liz's story and the principles of Beginner's Pluck will have you on your way to building a life of purpose, passion, and lasting impact. (Blog Post)

9780399592096 The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company
by Robert Iger with Joel Lovell

(Random House, 2019)

This book is about the relentless curiosity that has driven Iger for forty-five years, since the day he started as the lowliest studio grunt at ABC. It's also about thoughtfulness and respect, and a decency-over-dollars approach that has become the bedrock of every project and partnership Iger pursues, from a deep friendship with Steve Jobs in his final years to an abiding love of the Star Wars mythology. (Blog Post)

9780812996838 Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead
by Jim Mattis and Bing West

(Random House, 2019)

Call Sign Chaos is the account of Jim Mattis's storied career, from wide-ranging leadership roles in three wars to ultimately commanding a quarter of a million troops across the Middle East. Along the way, Mattis recounts his foundational experiences as a leader, extracting the lessons he has learned about the nature of warfighting and peacemaking, the importance of allies, and the strategic dilemmas—and short-sighted thinking—now facing our nation. (Blog Post)

9781626346222 Learning to Lead: The Journey to Leading Yourself, Leading Others, and Leading an Organization
by Ron Williams with Karl Weber

(Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2019)

This master class on leadership, written by one of America's most prominent and successful executives, will help you develop the professional leadership qualities that deliver personal, interpersonal, and organizational success. Ron Williams provides you with practical, tested leadership advice, whether you're searching for a new career, looking for proven management solutions, or seeking to transform your organization. (Blog Post)

9781501158148 What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence
by Stephen A. Schwarzman

(Simon & Schuster, 2019)

Schwarzman's story is an empowering, entertaining, and informative guide for anyone striving for greater personal impact. From deal making to investing, leadership to entrepreneurship, philanthropy to diplomacy, Schwarzman has lessons for how to think about ambition and scale, risk and opportunities, and how to achieve success through the relentless pursuit of excellence. Schwarzman not only offers readers a thoughtful reflection on all his own experiences, but in doing so provides a practical blueprint for success. (Blog Post)

9780316530200 That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea
by Marc Randolph

(Little, Brown and Company, 2019)

Full of counter-intuitive concepts and written in binge-worthy prose, it answers some of our most fundamental questions about taking that leap of faith in business or in life: How do you begin? How do you weather disappointment and failure? How do you deal with success? What even is success? From idea generation to team building to knowing when it's time to let go, That Will Never Work is not only the ultimate follow-your-dreams parable, but also one of the most dramatic and insightful entrepreneurial stories of our time. (Blog Post)


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