• Charlie Winn

Top 5 Books: to become a better leader

Are you an old hand leader but keen to learn more about how leadership is changing or you're someone who is starting your leadership journey and realising how complex yet fascinating the journey is?

I believe the best way to learn is to read, reflect, discuss and give a few things you learn a go. So you don't have to trawl through many leadership books I've distilled the ones I've read into the 5 books that I've took the most from as a leader. They aren't all about "leadership" directly though all will impact you as a leader and improve your leadership skills.

  1. "People Follow People" by Sam Cawthorn

  2. "The Growth Mindset Edge" by Jackie Beere

  3. "The Culture Code" by Daniel Coyle

  4. "Team Work" by Ray McLean

  5. "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership" by John C. Maxwell

People Follow People - Cawthorne

Cawthorne is an Australian who through a terrible road accident wrote the book "Bounce Forward" and in this book now outlines key characteristics of what makes an influential leader.


Another general leadership book similar to Maxwell's though I found Cawthorne's book more practical for how I approach leadership. Cawthorne prioritises one characteristic over another for Influential leaders 12 times. This design ensures us readers need to challenge our thinking of what we see as important characteristics even before we get into his detail.


I'd recommend new leaders start with this book. It will ensure you to gain clarity on where to focus within themselves to develop their leadership and understand they have to have discipline, drive, patience and maturity to stay on your leadership journey.


The Growth Mindset Edge - Beere

You may be asking why this book is in a list. From my experience it is key that as a leader continues to learn on your journey. All influential leaders continue to grow through learning and to achieve that you will need a Growth Mindset.


Beere takes us through why we need to grow, understanding what's often holding us back as individuals and how we can shift our way of thinking to feeling then to acting. Once you digest this then Beere moves onto providing practical tools to help each of us to shift the way we think and ending with a chapter all aspiring leaders will enjoy which is on Growing Others.


This is the book I'd start with in this list.


The Culture Code - Coyle

Leaders are people who create an environment for others to reach their potential. More often than not leaders lead teams or groups of people. To be effective leading teams or groups then this and Team Work are two books to digest.


Coyle's book has been named the Best Business Book by Bloomberg & Business Insider and I have to reiterate that I'd agree. This book provides key elements that leaders have to bring to a team or group to ensure that the team is performing. Isn't that the fundamental role of a leader?


Please make sure you read this book!


Team Work - McLean

Coyle's "The Culture Code" above should be top of your list if you lead teams or groups regularly however "Team Work" by Ray McLean should be a close 2nd.


McLean focus' more on the dynamics of the group and includes a framework to utilise whilst there are key messages which leaders can use not only with a group or team they are leading but also a few 1-on-1 skills.


Read this one after you read Coyle's.


The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership - Maxwell

Maxwell has distilled and summarised 21 capabilities or principles of how a leader can create engagement of those who they are leading. This book is easy to read and understand and can be used as a future reference on which principles or capabilities to draw upon in various contexts as you find yourself in various leadership situations.


I found my leadership capability grew more by reading other books, this is a good one to be aware of the many facets and area that a leader of a business needs to have.


I'd read this book once you have a few years experience.


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