The best books for leaders scaling themselves to scale their business

Lyssa Adkins Author Of Lead Together: The Bold, Brave, Intentional Path to Scaling Your Business
By Lyssa Adkins

Who am I?

For over a decade I helped people develop their skills and expand their leaderful-ness in Agile Coaching and I kept hearing the same blocker: “This is great and all, but my leaders don’t get it. They are the impediment.” After working with many thousands of Agilists I decided to go into the “belly of the beast” and personally coach leadership teams. What I found were not beasts or even garden variety egomaniacs. Instead, I found well-meaning people who are genuinely confounded by the complexity of today’s business landscape and who struggle with performance-killing team dynamics. Good news: the human technology to “solve” these issues is widely available. We know how.


I narrated...

Lead Together: The Bold, Brave, Intentional Path to Scaling Your Business

By Brent Lowe, Susan Basterfield, Travis Marsh

Book cover of Lead Together: The Bold, Brave, Intentional Path to Scaling Your Business

What is the book about?

Despite the advent of disruptive technologies that have upended the business landscape, the structure of most companies remains largely unchanged, with traditional top-down leadership still the norm. Couldn’t there be a better way to organize work that reflects our modern world - one with nimble, invested leaders rather than disengaged, disinterested employees? The answer is yes!

In Lead Together, authors Brent Lowe, Susan Basterfield, and Travis Marsh offer founders, CEOs, and other leaders a radical new way of working and scaling a business. The audiobook is narrated by Lyssa Adkins, an internationally recognized thought leader in Agile, a coach and guide to leadership teams, and a leader herself.

The books I picked & why

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Scaling Leadership: Building Organizational Capability and Capacity to Create Outcomes That Matter Most

By Robert J. Anderson, William A. Adams,

Book cover of Scaling Leadership: Building Organizational Capability and Capacity to Create Outcomes That Matter Most

Why this book?

This book posits that the most important function of an organizational leader is to create other leaders throughout the organization. That’s right…not problem-solving, not clever strategy, not vision but leadership development. That’s because those other aspects are “table stakes” for the game of leadership in today’s complex business world. What I like about this book is that it is based on a huge pool of data about what makes leaders effective in the 21st-century and many of the insights are drawn from leaders themselves….from the feedback they give when they evaluate other leaders using the Leadership Circle Profile 360° assessment. It’s a nice marriage of relatable info “from the horse’s mouth” and decades of leadership theory borne out by insights from the assessment of hundreds of thousands of leaders. If you want to very specifically know what it takes to be a 21st-century leader, this book is a great place to start.


Evolvagility: Growing an Agile Leadership Culture from the Inside Out

By Michael Hamman,

Book cover of Evolvagility: Growing an Agile Leadership Culture from the Inside Out

Why this book?

This book gives the philosophical underpinning for why creating a leadership development culture in all parts of your organization is essential for working in our VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) business landscape. And, it shows you how to do it with specific practices and new-mindset concepts. It is geared toward organizations with Agile ways of working in the environment, but is also useful if Agile is not present. I especially enjoy the way several theories of adult development are interwoven in this book which makes using them to guide leadership development strategies (your own and others) simpler and more immediately applicable.


Systems Inspired Leadership: How to Tap Collective Wisdom to Navigate Change, Enhance Agility, and Foster Collaboration

By Frank Uit de Weerd, Marita Fridjhon,

Book cover of Systems Inspired Leadership: How to Tap Collective Wisdom to Navigate Change, Enhance Agility, and Foster Collaboration

Why this book?

This one is hot off the presses in 2021. It gathers the powerful principles and processes from Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching and packages them for leaders. It “ups the ante” by showing how a systems-inspired orientation is critical for leaders to take, and why, and how to do it. I especially like that a big portion of the book is meant to be your just-in-time resource when you need to bring forth a specific leadership competency so that you can increase the relationship systems intelligence of the system and lead to much better outcomes. You can just flip to that specific competency and get the juice you need.


Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box

By Arbinger Institute,

Book cover of Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box

Why this book?

This book will give you a much-needed “kick in the keister” as my grandfather would say. It helps you identify the specific way that you are “in the box” of distorted thinking and blaming other people (or yourself) when things don’t go according to plan. This book won’t leave you in the box, though, it offers ways out so that you can start to see your part in the “people problems” around you and change those dynamics completely. You can read this one like fiction because it’s told in a business fable style. I found that made it a delightful read and easier to receive challenging messages. 


Perseverance

By Margaret J. Wheatley,

Book cover of Perseverance

Why this book?

Amazon tells me I have bought this book 8 times. Honestly, I’m surprised it’s that few. I tend to give Perseverance to colleagues and leaders I am coaching. We all need a little help “keepin' on keepin’ on” when we are doing the heavy lifting of inner development and this little book does that. Perseverance manages to be simple and profound, short and deep, and oh, so helpful for functioning in the midst of chaos. You can open it to any “random” page and get the message you need in the moment, or to prepare your mind and heart for the day ahead. Given the permanent whitewater we leaders find ourselves in, the need for this kind of inner resourcefulness is essential, and the need to replenish it constantly.


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