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9 Books for Understanding Leadership Perspectives

Effective leadership is a fundamental requirement of any company or organization hoping to achieve its objectives. Because leadership entails combining many individuals of diverse ages, cultures, and perspectives into one efficient unit, current and future leaders can enhance their leadership abilities from an individual and team perspective by reading critically acclaimed leadership books.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by Jim Collins

As a well-respected author in the field of leadership, Jim Collins has spent much of his career pondering the question of why some companies manage to jump from mediocrity into long-term superiority, while others stagnate or decline. Good to Great answers this question by combining information from several studies along with an extensive amount of independent research to determine the defining characteristics that are likely to cause a company to leap from average success to greatness. Collins focuses heavily on several companies of elite status, particularly those that managed to transition to dominate their sphere of the market. He also analyzes the companies that failed to ever make the jump and highlights a number of reasons as to why he believes they were unable to transition. By comparing companies that managed to find success to those that have remained mediocre, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t highlight a number of leadership concepts that could be valuable for current and future leaders.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

Robert Cialdini has long been an authority in the field of psychology, specifically the psychology of influence and persuasion. Much of Cialdini’s work is intended to discern the reasons why people are willing to give approval or say yes to requests. In Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, current and future leaders will find tried methods of persuasion that will not only allow them to win over customers, employees, and colleagues, but also help defend against the persuasion of others. Through his extensive research, Cialdini has developed six evidence-based universal principles that can help leaders become expert persuaders in winning the favor of others.

Giants of Enterprise: Seven Business Innovators and the Empires They Build by Richard Tedlow

At the turn of the century, companies and organizations started seeing massive expansion at a rate much quicker than ever before. During this time, the most innovative leaders were creating brand empires that often catered to and inspired the public’s general interest. In Giants of Enterprise: Seven Business Innovators and the Empires They Build, Richard Tedlow examines the intimate details of the lives, minds, and strategies of seven of the most legendary leaders to ever rise to power in the modern commercial marketplace. This list includes George Eastman of Kodak, Thomas Watson of IBM, Henry Ford of Ford Automobiles, Charles Revson of Revlon, Robert Noyce of Intel, and Andrew Carnegie, who erected a massive steel empire during the Industrial Revolution. In this highly detailed and coherent study, Tedlow allows readers to connect with examples of spectacular leadership within a number of industries. Taking an in-depth look into the known lives of these innovators offers a number of unique perspectives and strategies that can help leaders progress in developing future innovations for their organizations.

The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail by Clayton M. Christensen

Even the largest commercial empires can go bankrupt if they refuse to advance their practices with modern innovations. The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail explores the damaging impact that tunnel vision can have on traditional business practices, even if leaders have established products or successful companies. As an innovation expert, Clayton Christensen spends a significant amount of time analyzing the successes and failures of a select group of accomplished firms. These companies share their use of disruptive innovation to capitalize on fluctuations in the marketplace, allowing them to overcome the competition. By reviewing just how significant of an impact failing to innovate can create in a company’s bottom line, Christensen assists future leaders in learning how not to rest on their laurels when new technology or innovations are developed.

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

Traditionally, one of the best ways to accomplish a task is to incorporate it into a habit, making the job feel nearly automatic. Building upon this concept, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People illustrates the habits that renowned leadership authority and organizational consultant Stephen Covey has determined to be most valuable for living a productive life. The focus is mainly on developing the skills that an effective leader will likely need for solving personal and professional problems using principle-based reasoning. Covey expresses that following these habits will allow readers to live a life flowing with fairness, honesty, dignity, and integrity. As these traits are consistently present in the best leaders, reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is an opportunity for professionals to assess and ultimately change their leadership behaviors.

True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership by Bill George and Peter Sims

Formerly the successful CEO of the large firm Medtronic, Bill George takes a more personal approach to leadership education in his book, True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership. With the help of co-author Peter Sims, George developed a comprehensive program that outlines an authentic path to success as a leader, and he educates readers on how they can get started creating their own personal leadership development plan. This strategy is not homogenized, as George aims to persuade readers to know themselves, discover their authentic self, understand themselves at a core level, define meaningful values, and most importantly, remain grounded by connecting every aspect of life with every leadership goal. For a unique perspective on the inner workings of the life of a highly effective leader, professionals from a number of industries could benefit from evaluating the many personal stories of leadership showcased within True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership.

Mindset by Carol Dweck

Noted as being responsible for changing millions of perspectives, Mindset offers a fresh take on a simple but robust concept: the power of mindset. With a Ph.D. in psychology, Carol Dweck has an immense understanding of the nature of the mind and just how significant of a role that an individual’s mindset can have on success in school, work, sports, and most other areas of life. By defining two of the most common mindsets—the fixed mindset and the growth mindset—Dweck shows just how strongly our behavior can be influenced by the opinions that others have about our talents and abilities. Mindset expresses that it isn’t entirely a matter of talent, but rather the mindset that an individual has towards their talent that makes them a great leader. Additionally, Dweck notes that the right mindset not only helps improve leadership, but can positively transform an entire organization as well.

Standout: The Groundbreaking New Strengths Assessment from the Leader of the Strengths Revolution by Marcus Buckingham

In a market saturated with copycat products and unimaginative business practices, Marcus Buckingham hopes to teach current and future leaders what it means to truly stand out in the workplace. With more than twenty years of research under his belt, Buckingham has compiled several theories that he believes play into producing measurable achievements and developing the drive of a great leader. Standout is written to coerce readers into evaluating their own personal strengths and question how they can complement their growth in a world of business where competency, efficiency, and productivity are often the only things that large organizations seem to be interested in. Standout is considered a must-read for anyone hoping to differentiate themselves as a leader in the workplace and get ahead in their career.

The Power of a Positive No by William Ury

Some may say that the most successful people are the ones who know when to use the word “no.” William Ury believes this, but with one vitally important caveat: saying no can have consequences, especially if not done in a measured and reasonable way. In particular, saying no has the power to destroy relationships, but it also holds the power to nourish and elongate them. The Power of a Positive No teaches leaders how to assert themselves, avoid manipulation, and pursue a course of action that protects all interests involved. Ury understands that “no” is usually invoked as a means of protecting our own interests, but using the guidelines he has conveyed in his book can help diffuse a large portion of the pressure leaders will feel to say “yes” in situations where their interests are not being entirely accounted for. The book encourages leaders to find a balance between saying yes and no too often through a “positive no”, which Ury believes can help push a leader’s career to the next level of success.

Understanding the perspectives and strategies provided in these books can help those looking to advance their career as a leader. Further, the methods can be applied in their life regularly by taking opportunities to lead in their communities and at home. By refining their leadership abilities and mastering new techniques and tools, current and aspiring leaders can maximize their leadership potential and achieve their personal and professional goals.

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As the nation’s oldest private military college, Norwich University has been a leader in innovative education since 1819. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant and applicable curricula that allow its students to make a positive impact on their places of work and their communities.

Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Leadership program is designed to help you demonstrate the skills and knowledge needed to lead teams and inspire progress, while also growing your career. The program is practical and pertinent, allowing students to apply leadership concepts immediately to their careers.

Recommended Readings
10 Different Types of Leadership Styles


The Power of a Positive No: Save the Deal Save the Relationship – and Still Say No, William Ury

Marcus Buckingham Wants You to StandOut, Forbes

Mindset, Carol Dweck

True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership, Bill George

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, FranklinCovey

The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, Clayton Christensen

Giants of Enterprise: Seven Business Innovators and the Empires They Built, LeadershipNow

Good To Great, Jim Collins

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