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12 Books on Leadership to Read in 2017

by Bernie Swain

Vision, goals and the ability to communicate are what leaders and business books most often attribute to their success and achievement. But there is one thing central  to great leadership that is all too often overlooked.

Great leaders must fundamentally understand their strengths and weaknesses. In other words, leaders who want to be effective and successful must first understand who they are. They must stop and ask themselves,  “What do I do well?” ”What will I need help with?” “What do I see in myself that will help me better understand what I see in others?”

With that in mind, I have compiled a list of 12 books, some new and some old, to help both the emerging and seasoned leader explore these critical questions in the new year. 2017 can be the year that you go from being a good leader to being a great one. Happy reading!

Emotional Agility by Susan David

The path to personal and professional fulfillment is rarely a straight one.  Just ask anyone who has achieved his or her biggest goals or that person whose relationships thrive and you’ll no doubt hear stories of many unexpected detours along the way. What separates those who master these challenges and those who get derailed? The answer is agility—emotional agility.

Triggers: Creating Behavior that Lasts, Becoming the Person You Want to Be by Marshall Goldsmith

Do you ever find that you are not the patient, compassionate problem solver you believe yourself to be? Are you surprised at how irritated or flustered the normally unflappable you becomes in the presence of a specific work colleague? These environmental and psychological triggers can sabatoge any of us and Marshall Goldsmith examines ways to avoid the fallout from these triggers.

Becoming Wise: An Inquiry Into the Mystery and Art of Living by Krista Tippett

In Becoming Wise, Tippett shares insights she has learned from her work on her national public radio program and podcast, On Being and shines a light on people whose insights kindle in us a sense of wonder and courage. She includes wisdom from scientists in a variety of fields; theologians from an array of faiths; poets, activists, and many others

Breaking Night by Liz Murray

When Liz’s mother died of AIDS, she decided to take control of her own destiny and go back to high school, often completing her assignments in the hallways and subway stations where she slept. Liz squeezed four years of high school into two, while homeless; won a New York Times scholarship; and made it into the Ivy League.

While I highlight Liz in my book What Made Me Who I Am hers is a story worth revisiting many times..

How to Live A Good Life: Soulful Stories, Surprising Science and Practical Wisdom by Jonathan Fields

Whatever is out there isn’t getting through. We don’t know who to trust. We don’t know what’s real and what’s fantasy. We don’t know how and where to begin and we don’t want to wade through another minute of advice that gives us hope, only to then sap our time and leaves us feeling empty. How to Live a Good Life is your antidote; a practical and provocative modern-day manual for the pursuit of a life well lived.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Business and Life by Charles Duhigg

In The Power of Habit, Pulitzer Prize–winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: That the key to being more productive and achieving success is understanding how habits work.

The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen MR Covey

For business leaders and public figures in any arena, The Speed of Trust offers an unprecedented and eminently practical look at exactly how trust functions in our every transaction and relationship—from the most personal to the broadest, and even the most indirect interaction—and tools  to establish trust immediately so that you and your organization can forego the time–killing, bureaucratic check–and–balance processes so often deployed in lieu of authenticl trust.

Quiet by Susan Cain

In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the “Extrovert Ideal” throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture.

Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.

Grit by Angela Duckworth

In this instant New York Times bestseller, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”

Originals by Adam Grant

In Originals, Adam Grant addresses the challenge of improving the world though originality byl choosing to champion novel ideas and values that go against the grain, battle conformity, and buck outdated traditions. How can we originate new ideas, policies, and practices without risking it all?

Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy

By accessing our personal power, we can achieve “presence,” the state in which we stop worrying about the impression we’re making on others and instead adjust the impression we’ve been making on ourselves. As Harvard professor Amy Cuddy’s revolutionary book reveals, we don’t need to embark on a grand spiritual quest or complete an inner transformation to harness the power of presence. Instead, we need to nudge ourselves, moment by moment, by tweaking our body language, behavior, and mindset in our day-to-day lives.


Which of these books seem most interesting to you? What is your biggest challenge? Share in the comments!


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