Viktor Frankl, ˆsterr. Psychologe und Arzt. Photographie. Um 1975

In my post yesterday I have listed my favorite 10 books on leadership. These other 10 books have also taught me valuable principles of leadership. They are not necessarily in order.

1-10 Best Books on Leadership (click the link to see the list)


11. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

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This is not a traditional leadership book, but teaches fundamental principles that can be applied by leaders in any organization. In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl reports his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II, and describes his psychotherapeutic method, which involved identifying a purpose in life to feel positively about, and then immersively imagining that outcome.

According to Frankl, the way a prisoner imagined the future affected his longevity. The book intends to answer the question “How was everyday life in a concentration camp reflected in the mind of the average prisoner?”

So, what has all this to do with leadership? True leadership includes the ability to understand our fellow man and ourselves at the level where we learn what being human truly is, and to share that knowledge with others to help them learn, achieve, and grow. This book can help leaders to develop or at least to understand the importance of having those skills.

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.~ Viktor Frankl


12. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

This is a fascinating and unique book in which acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Abraham Lincoln’s political genius. Tolstoy called Lincoln “so great he overshadows all other national heroes”. Lincoln riskily gave key cabinet posts to three men that had previously run against him in the 1860 Republican nomination – William Seward, Salmon Chase and Edward Bates.

When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry. However, Lincoln’s extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men and to understand their motives and desires, enabled him, as president, to bring these opponents together, creating the most unusual cabinet in the history of the U.S., and using their talents to preserve the Union and win the war.


13. The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Patrick Lencioni once again offers a leadership fable that is as captivating and instructive. It describes the many pitfalls that teams face as they seek to “grow together”. This book explores the fundamental causes of organizational politics and team failure. Like most of Lencioni’s books, the bulk of it is written as a business fable.

According to the book, the five dysfunctions are:

  • Absence of trust—unwilling to be vulnerable within the group
  • Fear of conflict—seeking artificial harmony over constructive passionate debate
  • Lack of commitment—feigning buy-in for group decisions creates ambiguity throughout the organization
  • Avoidance of accountability—ducking the responsibility to call peers on counterproductive behavior which sets low standards
  • Inattention to results—focusing on personal success, status and ego before team success

Lencioni has written a compelling fable with a powerful message for all those who strive to be exceptional team leaders.


14. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

This book tries to synthesize and popularize scientific work in epidemiology, psychology, and sociology, and to apply it to social behaviors and cultural trends.

According to Gladwell, the Tipping Point is the “magic moment when an idea, trend or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.” The book is a study of human behavior and what makes people accept and spread the knowledge about particular causes and products.

His thesis is that “the best way to understand the emergence of fashion trends, the ebb and flows of crime waves, or, for that matter, the transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage smoking, or the phenomena of word of mouth, or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behavior spread just like viruses do”.


15. The Lean Startup written by Eric Ries

Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable. Eric Ries defines a startup as an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses presents a method for developing and managing startups or new ventures in bigger organizations.

According to Reis, startups need to operate following their own methods in order to succeed. What works in established companies may actually damage the development of a startup. However, startups policies and procedures shouldn’t be created at random, but they should be the result of proper techniques and research.


16. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, first published in 1989, has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide since its first publication. The audio version of this book became the first non-fiction audio-book in U.S. publishing history to sell more than one million copies.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey is a self-improvement book. According to Covey, the way we see the world is entirely based on our own perceptions. In order to change a given situation, we must change ourselves, and in order to change ourselves, we must be able to change our perceptions.

Since we all want to succeed, identifying the habits that can help us on our journey is key to our success. Covey organizes his book in a series of habits, showing them as a progression from dependence through independence on to interdependence.


17. High Output Management by Andrew S. Grove

To quote former Apple board member Bill Campbell: “High Output Management is a bible that every entrepreneur and every manager in the country should look at, read and understand.” Andy Grove co-founded Intel and grew it to over $20 Billion in revenue over a 30 year run as CEO. His approaches to leadership and management are legendary. He shares many of his ideas in this management guide.  For example:

“As a middle manager, you are in effect a chief executive of an organization yourself….As a micro CEO, you can improve your own and your group’s performance and productivity, whether or not the rest of the company follows suit.”


18. Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow by Tom Rath

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It’s important to recognize our strengths and weaknesses, and learn to delegate tasks that others could do better. We cannot do everything or be the best at everything. Based on the discoveries of the Gallup landmark 30-year research project on strengths, Strengths-based leadership is a book about focusing on our strengths, and delegating tasks that others can accomplish more effectively, instead than trying to do all by ourselves. It is also a book about identifying team members’ strengths, and encourage them to use these in a way that helps the entire team and the organization.

“If you spend your life trying to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything.” ― Tom Rath 


19. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a fascinating story of the roller-coaster life and intense personality of Steve Jobs, a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries.

“The way we’re running the company, the product design, the advertising, it all comes down to this: Let’s make it simple. Really simple.” Apple’s design mantra would remain the one featured on its first brochure: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” ― Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs


20. Leading Change by John P. Kotter 

In this book John Kotter outlines the process every organization must go through to achieve its goals, identifying where and how even top performers get in troubles during the change process.

The book describes the differences between management and leadership. Management is a function of making systems work, while Leadership is what is necessary to build the systems, or change existing ones.

Kotter describes why companies or organizations fail, in his “eight mistakes”:

  • • Allowing too much complacency or lack of urgency
    • Failure to create a guiding coalition with enough power and available resources
    • The lack of a clear vision
    • Not communicating that vision (and getting buy in of it)
    • Allowing roadblocks to block the vision
    • Not recognizing short term, or smaller wins
    • Declaring success too soon
    • Failure to fully establish changes within the organizational culture

Kotter suggests that correcting these eight mistakes is the process and the order in which the process work best.

“skipping a single step or getting too far ahead without a solid base almost always creates problems”


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