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The Best Leadership Books of 2015

(Leadership Now) – As leaders it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. It’s hard to take the long-term view when we have to do the mundane. Learning to take the longer view is not easy. A long-term approach helps to take us out of our comfort zones because it connects us with a larger story. How in the midst of the mundane, the glut of information, and the tyranny of the now, can we remember that we are part of a larger—very human—story? 

From Everybody Matters which helps us to look at those we lead as family to Becoming Steve Jobs that looks at the development of a leader as a life-long process, the following books help us to do just that. Lead the larger story.

The Lean CEO: Leading the Way to World-Class Excellence by Jacob Stoller (McGraw-Hill, 2015)

Lean is not just a manufacturing system. It is a way of thinking about people that applies to any organization. Lean is a culture. It’s not a directive. It’s a way of thinking. It is about being open and humble. It’s about diversity of thought and understanding that good ideas come from anywhere. The Lean CEO gets to the heart of what it means to lead from anywhere.

Return on Character: The Real Reason Leaders and Their Companies Win by Fred Kiel (Harvard Business Review Press, 2015)

In Return on Character, Fred Kiel has put numbers to the notion that good leadership aimed at promoting the common good, not just individual, winner-take-all acquisition can be good business.

Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family by Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia (Portfolio, 2015)

Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia tell how Barry-Wehmiller envisioned and implemented a new kind of business culture—a culture that puts people first and cares for employees like family—and turned it into years of highly profitable growth in a tough market.

H3 Leadership: Stay Hungry. Be Humble. Always Hustle. by Brad Lomenick (Thomas Nelson, 2015)

Brad Lomenick reflects on his leadership journey in H3 Leadership. Building on three H’s— Humble (Who am I?), Hungry (Where do I want to go?), and Hustle (How will I get there)—he gives us 20 habits to build our leadership on. The result is a very practical and challenging guidebook. 

The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life by Bernard Roth (HarperBusiness, 2015)

The Achievement Habit is a book about life. Bernard Roth has woven together wide variety of insights to help us to design our life and leadership. Using design thinking we can transform our behavior and relationships. Stop wishing, start doing, and take command of your life with the ideas presented here.

A Beautiful Constraint: How To Transform Your Limitations Into Advantages, and Why It’s Everyone’s Business by Adam Morgan and Mark Barden (Wiley, 2015)

Typically we look at a constraint as a negative. A problem to be solved. But what if a constraint was the gift that opened up previously unimagined possibilities? What if a constraint was the gift that took you to the next level? We can choose to use a constraint as an impetus to explore something new and arrive at a breakthrough. Not in spite of the constraint, but because of it.

Triggers: Creating Behavior Change That Lasts—Becoming the Person You Want to Be by Marshall Goldsmith with Mark Reiter (Crown Business, 2015)

Marshall Goldsmith explains in Triggers the kinds of things in our environment that derail us from becoming the kind of leader, co-worker, parent, or spouse that we want to be. He illuminates an aspect of self-awareness that is so vital to a leader’s success. By creating an awareness of our environment and identifying our own triggers we can be a force for adding value in other people’s lives by triggering something good in others.

Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time by Jeffrey Pfeffer (HarperBusiness, 2015)

Leadership BS is a compendium of human nature. It describes well the hypocrisy in all of us. We don’t always meet our own standards. We don’t always reward what we say we value. The real world doesn’t behave as it should. Leadership BS is an important book because it is a dose of reality. It is important for the questions it raises. 

You Win in the Locker Room First: The 7 C’s to Build a Winning Team in Business, Sports, and Life by Jon Gordon and Mike Smith (Wiley, 2015)

Jon Gordon and NFL coach Mike Smith describe how to transform a mediocre team into a winning one. You Win in the Locker Room First provides leaders of all fields with a practical framework and real world examples to build a great culture, lead with the right mindset and approach, create strong relationships, improve teamwork, execute at a higher level, and avoid the pitfalls that sabotage far too many leaders and organizations. 

Team Genius: The New Science of High-Performing Organizations by Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone (HarperBusiness, 2015)

“Teams are not strictly practical responses to immediate challenges and situations. Teams are at the heart of what it means to be human,” write Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone. This book brings together both the best practices of today and the past, with the latest scientific research, to show leaders in every field how to build the dynamic, robust, and great teams they will need in order to compete in this new world. 

Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock (Twelve, 2015)

Laszlo Bock shares how Google does it. Frequently unconventional, the ideas do resonate and beg to be tried in your organization. How does Google balance creativity and structure? If you’re comfortable with the amount of freedom you’ve given your employees, says Bock, you haven’t gone far enough. 

5 Gears: How to Be Present and Productive When There Is Never Enough Time by Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram (Wiley, 2015)

“Every day, millions of people are negatively impacted by the inability of a person to connect appropriately and to be present.” So much drama is created when we don’t know how to shift gears and become present. 5 Gearsoffers an extremely valuable metaphor for identifying which gear you are in and finding the right gear at the right time in order to connect fully with others. The 5 Gears model gives you language to communicate which gear you are in to yourself and others, and to understand where others are at so that you can be more fully present.

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