Unlocking the Heart and Soul of Remarkable Leadership, Keith Merron
Remarkable Leadership

Top 10 Books on Leadership

Leaders: Strategies for Taking Charge

Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge

Written in the mid 1980s, this was a breakthrough book on leadership, and it’s teachings endure. Drawn from encounters and interviews with some of the top leaders of our time, the authors speak eloquently about the factors that differentiate great leaders from the rest of the pack. In their book, they defined four critical leadership strategies:

Strategy 1: Attention through vision
Strategy 2: Meaning through communication
Strategy 3: Trust through positioning
Strategy 4: The deployment of self

I was particularly fascinated with the story of Karl Wallenda who was a famous tight-rope walker who defied the odds through positive imaging. The one time he focus on his fear and thought about failure was the one time he plunged to his death. The story spoke volumes of the importance of keeping our focus on the vision.
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Managing for Excellence: The Guide to Developing High Performance in Contemporary Organizations (Wiley Management Series on Problem Solving, Decision Making and Strategic Thinking)

This, too, was a breakthrough book on leadership written in the early 1980s. It’s primary message was that great leadership has less to do with heroic efforts and more to do with creating conditions where others can rise up. Great leaders facilitate culture, teamwork, and strategic execution. This book challenges the prevailing myths of leaders as all-powerful and all-knowing and offers a much more attainable and realistic view of what leadership is and can be.
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Results-Based Leadership

Results-Based Leadership

In a world where authoritative leadership is challenged and often downplayed, it is refreshing to read about the importance of results driven leadership. Having the right consciousness or attitude is great, but if it can’t produce results, then it is of questionable value. The authors of this book offer wonderful insights and specific guidance for how to lead an organization driven toward results.
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Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration

Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration

It may be a bit counterintuitive to include this book as a great leadership book for the focus is not on leadership per se. The focus here is on the forces and factors that produce great results as a group and for this, it is crucial reading for leaders who wants to draw out the best in others. Mining the gold of the group is the quintessential art of leadership and this book offers inspiration and guidance along the way.
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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

This book is also not directly about leadership but in another sense, it is all about leadership. Leadership is about affecting change. Great leaders affect massive change and mobilize groups to take action. The insights in the book are about the leverage points for such mobilization and for this, it is worth its weight in gold.
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Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

Michael Lewis is a brilliant observer of human beings and writes eloquently on a variety of topics. In this book, although not necessarily intentionally, he offers insight into one crucial feature of leadership-that it matters what you measure. By chronically the efforts of one baseball team, the Oakland As, which, with paltry investment in players and low-ticket sales became a consistent top producer to a large extent by analyzing data that others tended to ignore. Instead of measuring home runs, batting averages, and other statistics that appear important but do not necessarily produce wins, they discovered that on base percentage was the winning statistic that produced real results and hired players with that in mind. Their success defied the prevailing wisdom and challenged sacred assumptions. The key takeaway from the book is that often we miss the most important factors that cause success in organizational life. Finding it is the key.
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On Becoming A Leader

On Becoming A Leader

Many leadership books talk about the characteristics of great leadership but few give us a glimpse into how leaders become who they are. Bennis, who I believe is the finest writer of leadership of our time, draws from his vast experience as a leader and as a mentor to other leaders and peeks into the process of learning and discovery that results in great leadership. Equally as importantly, he puts a human face on leaders to show that they too have fear, anxiety, and self-uncertainty just like the rest of us. It is not the absence of these things that make them great, but their equanimity in the face of them.
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The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life

The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life

In a world where inspiration is the key to leadership, this book offers wonderful examples of the kind of leadership that supports others in raising their abilities to new heights. The term “education” comes from the Latin word “educare” which literally means “to draw forth.” In addition to directing and guiding, this book suggests that leadership is about cultivating the talents of others that are inherently already there-the spirit of true education.
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Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within (J-B US non-Franchise Leadership)

Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within (J-B US non-Franchise Leadership)

Like Ghandi’s maxim-“be the change you want to see”-Dr. Quinn believes that to effect deep change, it starts from changing within oneself. This is book is both intended to inspire and provide a guidebook for such a focus. In four sections, Quinn defines “deep change,” discusses the need for personal change, provides insights into the perceptions of an internally driven leader, and challenges the reader to develop a vision that includes the creation of excellence. Each chapter provides specific guidance by inviting the reader to deeply reflect on a set of questions. I love the premise behind the book and it is a valuable departure from the how-to books that just skate the surface of leadership.
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Leadership Without Easy Answers

Leadership Without Easy Answers

Ronald Heifetz is a wonderfully deep thinker in the area of leadership and has a number of books out on the topic. This was his breakthrough book. In it, he presents a new theory of leadership for both public and private leaders in tackling complex contemporary problems, ones that tend to be impervious to simple answers such as crime, poverty, and educational reform, which require innovative approaches and courageous effort. Four major strategies of leadership are identified: to approach problems as adaptive challenges by diagnosing the situation in light of the values involved and avoiding authoritative solutions, to regulate the level of stress caused by confronting issues, to focus on relevant issues, and to shift responsibility for problems from the leader to all the primary stakeholders. Together these approaches offer an appropriately complex and systemic way of understanding and leading large complex change.
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