The Best Books About Leadership

By Richard E. Boyatzis

The Books I Picked & Why

Human Motivation

By David C. McClelland

Human Motivation

Why this book?

To me, an important book should: (1) help us to understand and see things differently; (2) be based on careful research and empirically based; and (3) stand the test of time.

Motivating others is the primary purpose if leaders. McClelland led research into the unconscious processes that motivate people. Using projective techniques and latent coding of myths, folklore, music, prayers, literature and such, he and his colleagues unlocked the deeper messages socialized into people. In this book, McClelland reveals a rich 50 year history of rigorous research from psychology, anthropology, sociology, and history. His theory of motivation is the most liberating and useful, as well as validated through voluminous research. He compiled and updated his many books, articles and those of colleagues in this, his last magnum opus. If you wish to learn about Needs for Achievement, Affiliation and Power and how they explain everything from effectiveness to relationships to the rise and fall of economies, read this book! It is my Bible on motivation and continues to provide answers, guidance and inspiration decades later.


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Working With Emotional Intelligence

By Daniel Goleman

Working With Emotional Intelligence

Why this book?

Besides motivation, leaders inspire or turn off the people around them. A person’s competencies (behavioral habits with a common unconscious intent) describe and enable a person to lead others effectively, or not. This book is a marvelous integration of the research of others and touching stories to illustrate how emotional intelligence affects our lives and work. Taking a behavioral approach, Dan shows how EI and SI competencies matter. It provides guidance amid an onslaught of dense academic research and pop psych marketing about EI. This is the real thing! It helps explain how there are key competencies (i.e, behavioral habits) that are components in how you manage and use your own emotions and how you build, maintain and enhance relationships with others.


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The Empathy Effect: Seven Neuroscience-Based Keys for Transforming the Way We Live, Love, Work, and Connect Across Differences

By Liz Neporent, Helen Riess

The Empathy Effect: Seven Neuroscience-Based Keys for Transforming the Way We Live, Love, Work, and Connect Across Differences

Why this book?

Of all of the competencies that repeatedly predict effective leadership and creating and maintaining of key relationships, is empathy. At the heart of any relationship and perhaps the only antidote to rampant narcissism in our society is empathy. As a prominent psychiatrist and scholar, Helen chronicles decades of research and explains the neural mechanisms that enable us to relate to others, build better relationships ad even inspire others. Her personal stories and those of patients and colleagues make the research come alive with compassion and meaning.


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The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

By Peniel E. Joseph

The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

Why this book?

Leadership makes a difference. The turmoil of race relations anywhere in the world is severe and costly to humanity. In the US, two leaders stand out as moving us ahead and are still the icons of seeking and gains in race relations. There approaches were diametrically opposed until revelations created a convergence. This compelling book tells the details, approach, and impact of two courageous leaders that we can learn from when facing anti-racism as well as seeking a better world.


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Moving Up without Losing Your Way: The Ethical Costs of Upward Mobility

By Jennifer Morton

Moving Up without Losing Your Way: The Ethical Costs of Upward Mobility

Why this book?

Like most countries of the world, the US is built on waves and steady immigration. As one of the few countries where upward mobility is possible, and economic prosperity abounds, we have been a magnet for immigrants wanting a better life for themselves and their children. Professor Morton extends the challenges of marginality, social class, as well as ethnic and racial and gender prejudice to the experience of modern day immigrants. Her stories and research reflect the experience any of us have had as immigrants or children of them. She also explains how the cultural and identity changes needed to go beyond surviving to thriving often involve letting go of previous parts of ourselves and identities.


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