Top 10 Leadership Books of 2015
(Inc.) – Over the next few weeks, I’ll be revealing my picks for the best business books of the year, first by category and finally (on December 15th) the very best of the best.
So far, I’ve chosen the top 10 “start your own business” books. This column reveals the top 10 books of the year for managers and team leaders.
1. Stand Out
Subtitle: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It
Author: Dorie Clark
Five-second summary: In the past, success in the corporate world resulted from going along and getting along and doing what you were told. Today, success is only possible if you can successfully position yourself as uniquely valuable. This book helps you through that process.
Best quote: “Whether you work inside a corporation or as an entrepreneur, today’s challenge is the same: how to add so much value to others that they fight to have you on their team. To succeed in today’s economy, you don’t have to be a worldwide superstar, but you do have to be deliberate about identifying the place where you want to make a contribution and start to show your ideas. The competition is fierce, but if you even begin to develop thought leadership, you’ll dramatically outpatient competitors, most of whom never even try.”
2. Team Genius
Subtitle: The New Science of High-Performing Organizations
Authors: Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone
Five-second summary: This book reviews and explains the latest scientific research into how teams behave and perform. It shows that most of the conventional wisdom about teams is “truthy” rather than true. The book then describes how to apply science to create better teams.
Best quote: “Teams are not strictly practical responses to immediate challenges and situations. Teams are at the heart of what it means to be human. Put another way, as human beings, we must form teams. It is encoded in our DNA. It has proved to be the critical factor in the rise of civilization. The human drive to form teams is also a survival mechanism for individuals. The archaeological evidence suggests that even the earliest hominids always grouped together to live and hunt.”
3. Team of Teams
Subtitle: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World
Authors: General Stanley McChrystal, Tantum Collins, David Silverman, and Chris Fussell
Five-second summary: At once inspiring and depressing, this book tells the story of the U.S.’s misbegotten attempt at nation-building in Afghanistan. In the process, it explains how even a large organization can pivot quickly when they’re committed strongly enough to accomplishing a difficult mission.
Best quote: “The genesis of this story lies in the transformation of an elite military organization in the midst of the war. We could compare ourselves during that transition to a professional football team changing from one offensive system to another in the second quarter of a critical game, but the reality was far more drastic. The Task Force’s shift was actually more akin to that team’s moving from playing football to basketball, and finding out habits and preconceptions have to be discarded along with pads and cleats.”
4. Serial Winner
Subtitle: 5 Actions to Create Your Cycle of Success
Author: Larry Weidel
Five-second summary: The basic principles of success are: 1) Move forward when you feel stuck. 2) Crush early doubts and give yourself the best shot of succeeding. 3) Overcome obstacles to win anyway. 4) Maintain your mental toughness until you cross the finish line. 5) Avoid the winner’s trap and use the momentum of each win to achieve the next.
Best quote: “Serial winners don’t let little, limiting things like doubt and uncertainty stand in their way. Lack of advantage doesn’t matter. The people who say, “you can’t” don’t matter. They focus more on what they want than on why they can’t have it, and then they decide to do what it takes to get it. Then they dive in.They see something they want–a promotion or two or three, a new career, their own business–and they make the decision to go for it. Then they make smaller decisions every day that keep them moving toward that goal, and the next one, and the next one.”
5. You Win in the Locker Room First
Subtitle: The 7 C’s to Build a Winning Team in Business, Sports, and Life
Authors: Jon Gordon and Mike Smith
Five-second summary: Describes how two extraordinary coaches transformed the Atlanta Falcons from a mediocre (at best) football team into a winning one and in the process shows how leaders can transform their own organizations using the same principles.
Best quote: “Culture consists of the shared purpose, attitudes, values, goals, practices, behaviors, and habits that define a team or organization. Many coaches focus only on the culture shared by the players, but the fact is that everyone in an organization shapes the culture. To be successful, you need everyone in your organization thinking, believing, talking, and behaving in sync. You need everyone to be aligned with the same beliefs, expectations, behaviors, and habits. [We] learned quickly that the beliefs and behaviors of the past had to go and we needed to instill new ways of thinking and acting that everyone could follow.”
6. People Over Profit
Subtitle: Break the System, Live With Purpose, Be More Successful
Author: Dale Partridge
Five-second summary: A manifesto and action plan for companies to remain socially responsible not because it’s the right thing to do but because it’s the only way to survive.
Best quote: “Upon surveying America’s leading corporations throughout the past century, I identified a cycle that America has been stuck in for centuries. Behind our capitalistic megamachine exists a pattern of corporate behavior, churning through seasons of honesty, efficiency, deception, and redemption. This cycle drives companies from a period where they value people over profits to a time when they value profit over people, and then back again. Within each era, certain values shift, drive, and change not only the business but also the marketplace as a whole.
7. Corporate Awesome Sauce
Subtitle: Success Rules for Generation Y
Authors: Richie Etwaru and Dhar Ramdehal
Five-second summary: A survival guide for Millennials in a workplace that’s dominated by their overly conservative, risk-averse elders.
Best quote: “Whenever I found myself pressing on, even though I’d pissed off my boss, his boss, my whole department, or another department, I find myself thinking, ‘What is the worst that can happen? They will fire me.’ I had realized that I’d rather be fired than be a yes-man, and it’s been the single best thing for my career.”
8. Do Over
Subtitle: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck
Author: Jon Acuff
Five-second summary: A manual for remaking your career at any stage of your life by reinventing yourself and your ability to add value.
Best quote: “Choose your attitude every day until eventually it chooses you right back. It’s not about feeling happy or feeling committed to your work or feeling like being a good employee. Feelings are the flightiest things in the world, held to the whimsy of a thousand factors. Feelings will tell you the day is already ruined because you woke up on the wrong side of the bed or had a bad commute that morning. Don’t listen to feelings. Make choices. Today, choose a good attitude. This is the one thing you can do right this minute to actually shock your boss, improve your work relationships, and dramatically increase your long-term odds of an awesome career.”
9. Work Rules!
Subtitle: Insights From Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead
Author: Laszlo Bock
Five-second summary: A self-congratulatory paean to Google that nevertheless contains useful observations about sparking and maintaining creativity inside a large company.
Best quote: “Building an exceptional team or institution starts with a founder. But being a founder doesn’t mean starting a new company. It is within anyone’s grasp to be the founder and culture-creator of their own team, whether you are the first employee or joining a company that has existed for decades.”
10. Steal the Show
Subtitle: From Speeches to Job Interviews to Deal-Closing Pitches, How to Guarantee a Standing Ovation for All the Performances in Your Life
Author: Michael Port
Five-second summary: An indispensable guide for introverts and extraverts alike who want to shine when performing in public.
Best quote: “The best performers in the world are the most honest ones. Many of the world’s best performers are quiet, dedicated, sensitive artists who reserve their energy for the work in service of an audience. In fact, the most important elements of preparing for a great performance have less to do with self-expression and more to do with self-understanding. Self-expression is often simply used as a means of emoting or sharing how you feel. Self-understandingallows you to express yourself with clear intent and purpose that resonates with the people around you.”