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Best leadership Books
Best Books of 2014

As leaders we must learn and grow. We must be creative and innovative in our organizations but perhaps more importantly, in working on ourselves. The context we lead in requires nothing short of radical personal development. All of the following titles cover an aspect of this need.

An environment of rapid change demands more and better questions from us. It means we step out of our comfort zones and take strategic and intentional steps even before the path comes into full view. We can’t see around every corner, but we can listen more purposefully, think more critically, and see more clearly. Respond to a random world with an intentional life.


9780812993011Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
(Random House, 2014)

Creativity, Inc. is an excellent resource full of the practical application of principles and insights. Catmull’s Bottom-line: “Unleashing creativity requires that we loosen controls, accept risk, trust our colleagues, work to clear the path for them, and pay attention to anything that creates fear.” (Blog Post)

Struggle
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9782960133509Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness
by Frederic Laloux
(Nelson Parker, 2014)

Based on three years of research, Reinventing Organizations describes the emergence of a new management paradigm, a radically more soulful, purposeful and powerful ways to structure and run any organization.

Strategy
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9780231170246Learn or Die: Using Science to Build a Leading-Edge Learning Organization
by Edward D. Hess
(Columbia University Press, 2014)

Learn or Die is a book everyone who is serious about learning and growth—personally or organizationally—should read. If you thought you were serious about it, Learn or Die will take you to a whole new level with tools, case studies, and insights that will challenge your commitment to learning. (Blog Post)

Habit
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9781625271747Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World
by John P. Kotter
(Harvard Business Review Press, 2014)

For most companies, the hierarchy is the singular operating system at the heart of the firm. But the reality is, this system simply is not built for an environment where change has become the norm. John Kotter advocates a new system—a second, more agile, network-like structure that operates in concert with the hierarchy to create what he calls a “dual operating system”—one that allows companies to capitalize on rapid-fire strategic challenges and still make their numbers. (Blog Post)

Leadership
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9780062322630Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work
by Liz Wiseman
(HarperBusiness, 2014)

Experience has its upside but its downside may hold us back more than we think. What we know will likely impede our ability to learn and therefore perform. We need get off the career ladder and get onto a learning curve. Wiseman says, “We do our best work when we are new to something, striving up that steep ascent.” We need to be a perpetual rookie. (Blog Post)

Leadership
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9781591845324Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't
by Simon Sinek
(Portfolio Hardcover, 2014)

The title of the book—Leaders Eat Last—comes from a conversation with a Marine Corps general. He said, “Officers eat last.” Sinek watched as the most junior Marines ate first while the most senior Marines took their place at the back of the line. What’s symbolic in the chow hall is deadly serious on the battlefield: great leaders sacrifice their own comfort—even their own survival—for the good of those in their care. In a world where far too many leaders are looking out for themselves, Sinek offers numerous insights about the kind of sacrifice required to be a great leader. (Blog Post)

Leadership
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9781629560212MOXIE: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership
by John Baldoni
(Bibliomotion, 2014)

Moxie is full of great stories and examples making it immediately relatable and practical. It is structured so that you can thoughtfully and tactically look at each of these areas to see where you can better prepare yourself. Baldoni also provides an appendix that works as a handbook to guide you in this. Questions, examples, additional thoughts and action steps help you access where you are at and what you might need to do next. (Blog Post)

Leadership
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9781118910665Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative
by Scott Eblin
(Wiley, 2014)

Solving the Overworked and Overwhelmed problem does not have a one-size-fits-all solution. What Scott Eblin does is guide you in learning to work differently — mindfully — so you are more clear about the results that most merit your time and attention and how you need to show up to offer your highest and best contributions as a professional and as a person. The answer for you is at the intersection of awareness and intention. (Blog Post)

Leadership
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9781610394659The Moment You Can't Ignore: When Big Trouble Leads to a Great Future
by Malachi O'Connor and Barry Dornfeld
(PublicAffairs, 2014)

The Moment You Can’t Ignore helps us to look at those things we often don’t want to address if organizational success is our primary focus. O’Connor and Dornfield note that “Culture is not the solution to every challenge, but it is the source material from which solutions can be drawn.” (Blog Post)

Leadership
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978073695843112 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid: Leading Your Kids to Succeed in Life
by Tim Elmore
(Harvest House Publishers, 2014)

Tim Elmore understands the development of young people like few others do. He highlights the consequences of the well-intentioned but damaging approaches we sometimes take to prepare our kids for success in life. We must be nurturers and trainers and understand what hinders their growth and what equips them to be great adults.

Leadership
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9780804792356Hard Times: Leadership in America
by Barbara Kellerman
(Stanford Business Books, 2014)

Barbara Kellerman turns her attention to the often overlooked context in which we lead. Leaders followers, and context form a system of leadership. “More than ever,” writes Kellerman, “it is better—better in practice and better in theory—to focus less on the leader and more on the leadership system.” It is difficult to navigate or change systems without understanding the underlying context they exist in. (Blog Post)

Leadership
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9781118646298Leadership Blindspots: How Successful Leaders Identify and Overcome the Weaknesses That Matter
by Robert Bruce Shaw
(Jossey-Bass, 2014)

Blindspots are not just the result of not viewing ourselves accurately, they can be the result of the way we view he world. Leadership Blindspots helps you to see the various ways we fail to see ourselves and our actions accurately and how we can put mechanisms in place to prevent the filtering and distortion of information for ourselves and our organizations. (Blog Post)

Leadership
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BIOGRAPHY
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9781476708690The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution
by Walter Isaacson
(Simon & Schuster, 2014)

The Innovators is a biography of more than 60 individuals, partnerships and teams that created the digital revolution. Isaacson makes the point that innovation happens in the real world by teams and not lone geniuses. Our emphasis on heroes exaggerates the contributions of individuals and vastly underestimates incremental improvements over time. Isaacson examines too the role of the organizational forms within which innovation takes place—like Bell Labs.

leadership
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9781451673289Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson
by S. C. Gwynne
(Scribner, 2014)

Rebel Yell is a very well written biography of Stonewall Jackson—a name that still creates controversy. While his best qualities were seen on the field of battle, you will find much you can learn from his leadership—both good and bad. What he might have contributed after the war, we'll never know as he died of complications from pneumonia on May 10, 1863 after being shot by a Confederate sentry during the Battle of Chancellorsville.

leadership
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9780300178722Augustus: First Emperor of Rome
by Adrian Goldsworthy
(Yale University Press, 2014)

Goldsworthy’s biography of Augustus is about the man and the social and political climate in which he maneuvered. The author writes, “I place his story in his times and describe the events and personalities that affected him. Shipwrecks, human sacrifice, hairbreadth escapes, unbridled sex, battles on land and at sea, ambushes, family scandals, and above all the unforgiving pursuit of absolute power. Augustus lived out an extraordinary and often terrifying drama.” There are interesting parallels to our own times.

leadership
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