This a list of books that I have found absolutely pivotal in my leadership journey. Each one helped me adjust and improve my leadership philosophy. All are unique in their approach and lessons, but fit firmly within the Lead Happy framework.
Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity - Kim scott
With careers at companies like Apple, Google, and others, Kim Scott is a well respected leader and author. She does an incredible job integrating real stories from tech giants to reinforce her concepts. This keeps the book incredibly engaging and reads almost like a collection of novellas with massive educational benefits. Radical Candor was valuable to me by teaching me how to be direct with my reports. I found myself firmly in what she calls Ruinous Empathy without knowing it, but after reading this book I had a pivotal shift in my leadership style. I went from never wanting to be the bad guy, to being the best guy because not only did I care deeply for my people, but I was able to give them the constructive feedback they desperately needed.
Radical Candor is a simple idea: to be a good boss, you have to Care Personally at the same time that you Challenge Directly. When you challenge without caring it’s obnoxious aggression; when you care without challenging it’s ruinous empathy. When you do neither it’s manipulative insincerity.
This simple framework can help you build better relationships at work, and fulfill your three key responsibilities as a leader: creating a culture of feedback (praise and criticism), building a cohesive team, and achieving results you’re all proud of.
Radical Candor offers a guide to those bewildered or exhausted by management, written for bosses and those who manage bosses. Taken from years of the author’s experience, and distilled clearly giving actionable lessons to the reader; it shows managers how to be successful while retaining their humanity, finding meaning in their job, and creating an environment where people both love their work and their colleagues.
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't - Simon Sinek
Simon Sinek is one of the foremost leadership and organizational culture authors and speakers in modern history. From the pen and page to the mic and TED stage, Simon challenges the status quo of leadership mindsets eloquently with research and anecdotally backed theories and perspective. Leaders Eat Last is no exception. He challenges traditional management theories such as the primacy of the shareholder, and makes an incredibly compelling case for the importance of putting your people first. The book remains constantly engaging with his use of real life stories like Johnny Bravo (a military pilot), Jack Welch (Former CEO, GE), and Jeff Sinegal (Former CEO, Costco), among many others. Leaders Eat Last contains much of what Lead Happy stands for. In fact, Simon Sinek’s philosophy is a huge contributor to the Lead Happy philosophy and shaped much of its development.
Imagine a world where almost everyone wakes up inspired to go to work, feels trusted and valued during the day, then returns home feeling fulfilled. This is not a crazy, idealized notion. Today, in many successful organizations, great leaders create environments in which people naturally work together to do remarkable things.
In his work with organizations around the world, Simon Sinek noticed that some teams trust each other so deeply that they would literally put their lives on the line for each other. Other teams, no matter what incentives are offered, are doomed to infighting, fragmentation and failure. Why?
The answer became clear during a conversation with a Marine Corps general. "Officers eat last," he said. Sinek watched as the most junior Marines ate first while the most senior Marines took their place at the back of the line. What's symbolic in the chow hall is deadly serious on the battlefield: Great leaders sacrifice their own comfort--even their own survival--for the good of those in their care.
Too many workplaces are driven by cynicism, paranoia, and self-interest. But the best ones foster trust and cooperation because their leaders build what Sinek calls a "Circle of Safety" that separates the security inside the team from the challenges outside.
Sinek illustrates his ideas with fascinating true stories that range from the military to big business, from government to investment banking.
The Captain Class: A New Theory of Leadership - Sam Walker
Sam Walker is The Wall Street Journal’s deputy editor for enterprise, the unit that directs the paper’s in-depth page-one features and investigative reporting projects. In The Captain Class, Sam starts by explaining his scientific approach to categorizing the highest performing sports teams in the world, and believe me, the bar is very high. He then investigates these teams for patterns in an attempt at unearthing common success factors. Before long an incredibly strong pattern emerged: team captains. Sam proceeds to break down exactly why these captains are the largest success factor for the most successful sports teams in history, and how they all share common core attributes. Though sports is the vehicle Sam uses, his findings and lessons can very easily be applied to teams of all kinds including business. In a world where flat organizations are the cool and trendy thing to do, Sam makes an argument that taking that methodology to the extreme may sacrifice important value that can be gleaned from “captains”.
The seventeen most dominant teams in sports history had one thing in common: Each employed the same type of captain—a singular leader with an unconventional set of skills and tendencies. Drawing on original interviews with athletes, general managers, coaches, and team-building experts, Sam Walker identifies the seven core qualities of the Captain Class—from extreme doggedness and emotional control to tactical aggression and the courage to stand apart. Told through riveting accounts of pressure-soaked moments in sports history, The Captain Class will challenge your assumptions of what inspired leadership looks like.