3 Book Recommendations to Help Elevate Your Leadership Skills

Woman reading a book

By Tricia McKinnon

Here are three recommendations for books that can help you to take your leadership skills to the next level.

The book Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin is a book that traces the life stories of four former US Presidents: Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson.  The book starts in their childhoods and discusses all of their major life events including how and when they became President.  It discusses the adversity each President faced on their path to success. For example, Franklin D. Roosevelt suffered from polio but that did not stop him from pursuing his dream of becoming President. I found their stories inspiring and a reminder of what is possible with faith, hard work and resilience.  If you also like studying history or would like to learn more, this is a great book to read.  

One of my favourite quotes from this book is:  "[Theodore Roosevelt] questioned if leadership success could be obtained by attaching oneself to a series of titled positions.  If a person focused too much on a future that could not be controlled, he would become, Roosevelt acknowledged, too ‘careful, calculating, cautious in word and act'.  Thereafter, [Roosevelt] would jettison long-term career calculations and focus simply on whatever job opportunity came his way.”

Originals by Adam Grant is about how we can all become more original. Originals, according to the author, are people who take the initiative to make their visions a reality. Some of the originals the author profiles in the book are the founder(s) of Warby Parker, Google and Nike. The author’s goal is to help people develop the courage and strategies to pursue originality.  He does this by debunking many myths about originality including that it requires extreme risk taking.  For example, according to research entrepreneurs who kept their day jobs when starting out had 33% lower odds of failure than those that quit. The book also provides readers with ideas about how to create cultures of originality in their teams and organizations.

One of my favourite quotes in this book is: “the most successful originals are not the daredevils who leap before they look.  They are the ones who reluctantly tiptoe to the edge of a cliff, calculate the rate of descent, triple-check their parachutes, and set up a safety net at the bottom just in case”.

The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance - What Women Should Know is by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman.  People often think that you are either born with or without confidence. But this book proves that thinking wrong. There are many ways you can increase your confidence. While this book is targeted at women anyone can benefit from its advice.  The book contains a number of practical strategies for increasing your confidence including strategies for how to leave your comfort zone, minimize negative thoughts and how not to take things personally. One of my favourite quotes from this book is “success correlates more closely with confidence than it does with competence.” 

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