05 Jan Three books that influenced Leadership that Lasts
I read pretty broadly, and that’s reflected in my new book, Leadership that Lasts. In my book, you’ll read about leadership in sports, the military, the arts, and business. Below are three books that were particularly formative as I conceived of the “Seven Actions toward an Enduring Impact.”
Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About the Business of Life by James Kerr (2013)
Legacy is not only a great book in describing why the All Blacks – New Zealand’s men’s national rugby team – are so successful, but the book also piques the reader’s curiosity about a variety of leadership and management concepts. For example, that’s where I first learned about the influential military strategist John Boyd, which led to some interesting research as I sought to better understand his thinking. I appreciate eclectic thinkers, and Kerr draws from a variety of disciplines in telling the story of why the All Blacks are so dominant.
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap While Others Don’t by Jim Collins (2001)
Published almost 17 years ago, the lessons of Good to Great persist. The concept of the Level 5 leader, who possesses the seemingly paradoxical combination of personal humility and intense professional will, is particularly important for business and politics in 2018. Though some of Collins’ exemplars (Circuit City, for example) haven’t weathered the changing economy well, the key concepts of the book remain powerful. What’s impressive about the book is the applicability of the research findings across different economic sectors. I read the book shortly after its publication when I was a high school assistant principal. Key concepts like “first who . . . then what,” the flywheel, and the culture of discipline immediately resonated with me. They’re still powerful for leaders in a variety of contexts.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (2011)
Isaacson’s book is arguably the best business biography ever written, and it resonated with me in two particular ways. First it brilliantly explores how complicated leadership can be. Jobs somehow managed to be ridiculously demanding – even abusive – but was able to retain extraordinary talent. I doubt that anyone short of extraordinary could replicate this approach. Second, Isaacson captures the fascinating intersection of creativity, design, and business, which is one of my greatest interests. Organizations struggle at being both highly profitable and highly creative for the long haul, and Apple has accomplished that.
Here are a few more titles that I also cite in Leadership that Lasts that are also worthy of your time:
Drama High: The Incredible True Story of a Brilliant Teacher, a Struggling Town, and the Magic of Theater by Michael Sokolove (2013)
The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators by Jeffrey Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton M. Christensen (2011)
Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business by Danny Meyer (2008)