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August 2016 Management Toolbox: 10 Books to Help You Strengthen Your Leadership Skills


It has never been easier than it is today to access resources to help you develop your leadership skills. In fact, you may feel overwhelmed by all that is available. How do you go about selecting the materials that will be most valuable to you? If you aren’t sure where to begin, start with this list of books – and related resources – that can be found in executive suites and MBA programs across the country.

1. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Author: Simon Sinek
Read It Because: You want insight into what successful leaders and organizations – think Apple, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Wright Brothers – do differently to motivate others and achieve excellence.
If You Like It: Check out Sinek’s popular 18-minute TED talk ( and follow him at

2. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You
Author: John C. Maxwell
Read It Because: Maxwell, one of the most popular management experts in the world, has distilled everything he has learned about leadership throughout his career into just over 300 pages.
If You Like It: Pick up some of his other popular leadership books – “The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential” is a solid choice – and catch up on Maxwell’s online posts at

3. HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Leadership
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
Read It Because: This anthology features articles from top leadership experts, such as Jim Collins and Daniel Goleman. Each piece runs about 20 pages or less.
If You Like It: Check out the entire series of “HBR’s 10 Must Reads” books, which focus on topics from change management to managing across cultures. Or, for quick access to Harvard Business Review resources, head to

4. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
Author: Daniel H. Pink
Read It Because: Pink draws on 40 years of research to make the case that humans are not driven to perform based on rewards, but rather find motivation in autonomy, mastery and purpose.
If You Like It: Read a copy of Pink’s “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future,” and check out his Pinkcasts (, a new series of short videos that offer helpful information for today’s executives.

5. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Read It Because: You want to turn strong safety habits into epidemics within your organization. In this book, Gladwell deep dives into the ways small, targeted actions can push ideas over the edge and make them spread like wildfire.
If You Like It: Read “Tipping Point Leadership” by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne at, or flip to “Optimizing Your Safety Observation Program” by Thomas Arnold in this issue of iP.

6. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
Author: Stephen R. Covey
Read It Because: This remains one of the best-selling personal development books of all time, written by one of the world’s most respected leadership authorities.
If You Like It: Check out “The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness,” Covey’s follow-up book.

7. The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations
Authors: James Kouzes and Barry Posner
Read It Because: This classic – which has been in publication for over 25 years – uses more than 100 case studies and examples to illustrate what the authors refer to as “The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership.”
If You Like It: Find out about professional development opportunities, sign up for “The Leadership Challenge” newsletter and more at, and follow Leadership Challenge at

8. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
Author: Susan Cain
Read It Because: You manage a variety of people and want to better understand how introverts and extroverts operate in the business environment.
If You Like It: Watch Cain’s TED talk about the power of introverts at

9. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High
Authors: Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler
Read It Because: You are motivated to improve your ability to communicate clearly and effectively in tough situations.
If You Like It: Find out more about becoming a crucial conversations trainer at or read a copy of “Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change.”

10. Managing Oneself
Author: Peter F. Drucker
Read It Because: You know that managing your own career is as important as leading and mentoring others, and you want to improve your self-management skills with assistance from Drucker, often referred to as “the father of modern management.”
If You Like It: Read “Classic Drucker,” a collection of some of his greatest “Harvard Business Review” articles.

Management Toolbox

Kate Wade

Kate Wade is the managing editor of Utility Fleet Professional and Incident Prevention magazines. She has been employed by Utility Business Media Inc. since 2008.