An exploration of leadership that transforms and ways to transform leadership.
A key ability of leaders is to be able to think in terms of systems, in wholes. Systems are complex. However, they need not be complicated. Donella H. Meadows in her book "Thinking in Systems" does an excellent job in untangling the complex elements of systems so as to make an understanding of systems less complicated. With diagrams and clear explanations, Meadows provides the reader with the basic knowledge needed to comprehend the complex world of systems. But she does not end there. She also explains how systems may be influenced. The book identifies system traps and how to avoid them. Leverage points for intervening in systems are explained. How to live within systems is discussed.
I highly recommend reading Peter Vaill's book Learning As A Way of Being. The book focuses on how to educate for managerial leadership, whether taking place in corporate training programs or higher education. Vaill describes seven qualities of learning as a way of being that are critical for training leaders. The seven qualities of learning proposed by Vaill include:
Vaill explains each of these qualities in depth. The book will be valuable to those responsible for leadership training. It will also provide those who would lead with an understanding of the type of learning that is required to grow into being a leader.
Leaders create that which does not yet exist. Leaders initiate. In the book Poke the Box, author Seth Godin makes the case for taking the initiative. Those who create, lead, succeed are those who risk being initiators. Godin urges the reader to get in the habit of starting. He addresses the reasons for not taking the initiative and shatters the rationale behind each excuse.
Lead With Luv is written as a conversation between business author Ken Blanchard and President Emeritus of Southwest Airlines Colleen Barrett. The main message of the book is that you need to care first about your employees if you want to achieve lasting business success. Southwest Airlines is held up as the role model of a company that gets it right. The authors emphasize that profit is a product of caring. The purpose of a business is to serve—first the employees, then customers, and finally shareholders.
Persuasion is an important skill for leading. For those looking for a quick introduction to the subject, I recommend The Skinny of The Art of Persuasion by Jim Randel. This book provides sound information in an engaging, conversational style. Information is presented in short frames with simple visuals. The information is concise. The essence of the topic is covered in a fun way that keeps the reader’s attention. The book can be read in an hour or so; excellent for people in a hurry or who don’t like to read. For those who want more details on the subject, the reading list at the end provides sufficient recommendations. This book is a good introduction to the subject and a handy resource. There is even a removable bookmark printed with the nine rules of persuasion the reader may use as a quick reference. A good book for those new to the subject or for those who want a quick refresher.
An informal survey done over the listserv of the International Leadership Association resulted in the following list of most influential books on leadership. I came across this list in Deeper Learning in Leadership by Dennis C. Roberts.