Basic Leadership Qualities is one in a series of articles where I recommend books on leadership. These books are chosen because they have been especially helpful to me in my career as a leader, mentor and coach. I hope they will be helpful for you as well.

The foundation of all good leaders is first understanding ourselves. What drives us? What are our values? Why do we want to be leaders? The best leaders lead because they want to help others succeed. If you lack that desire to help others, you may become a competent manager, but not a leader.  These books lay out the philosophical and practical foundations of leadership. They help you understand yourself and determine if you have the leadership qualities it takes to be a great leader.


The Motive by Patrick Lencioni

If you are new to leadership, this is the place to start. Patrick Lencioni is one of the top management consultants in the U.S. The Motive is the latest of his many books on management and leadership. This short book focuses entirely on why you want to be a leader and are you pursuing that path for the right reasons. Lencioni intentionally does not use the term “servant leader” because, in his view, there is no other kind.


Dare to Lead by Brene Brown

Brene Brown is a social science researcher. She began her career studying shame. As her research progressed, she studied how negative emotions such as shame, fear and doubt impact people in their careers and personal lives. Her research also shows ways to overcome these emotions. Dare to Lead applies her research to show how to become a better leader by leading with heart.


Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek believes that everyone should come to work inspired. At the end of the day they should go home knowing that they have contributed to something important. People are able to live this way because of inspiring leaders. Start with Why says that to inspire others you must explain why you do what you do. People are inspired by why something is done, not by what is done.


The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek

In the Infinite Game, Sinek looks at what it means to apply the principles of servant leadership to large organizations. What if instead of focusing on short term goals, an organization and everyone in it worked to ensure that the organization continued indefinitely? The organization will be more stable, more adaptable to change and employees will be happier and more fulfilled.


The Servant as Leader by Robert Greenleaf

Robert Greenleaf coined the term Servant Leader in this pamphlet written in 1970. I wrestled with whether to include it here because it doesn’t directly address leadership in the practical sense. It is pure philosophy. It is also a product of the turbulent 60s and includes references to events unique to that time. In the end, I decided to include it because it does provide the bedrock of leadership qualities of a servant leader, why they are important and how servant leaders can change the world.


Other Articles in the Leadership Reading List


Leading Teams (coming soon)

Communication (coming soon)

Managing Your Product (coming soon)

Managing Your Process (coming soon)

Skills (coming soon)


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