The Best Books On Leadership Communication

The Books I Picked & Why

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

By Robert B. Cialdini

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Why this book?

Anyone who expects to be a leader understands that they must be a persuasive communicator: to gain buy-in for their goals and projects, to help others rally around a mission or cause, to build loyalty among team members, to energize people to “go the extra mile” when they’re tired and see few rewards for their efforts.

This book identifies, categorizes, and illustrates the six ways leaders communicate to reach people logically and emotionally to change hearts and minds. I love this book because it rings true to my own experience.


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Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life

By Paul Ekman

Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life

Why this book?

Having read so very many books on body language (and having written a couple myself), I love finding a book that provides much broader cross-cultural research and deeper insights on a specialized, important aspect like facial expressions!

How shocking to learn that there are more than 500 micro-facial expressions, telling people exactly what we feel about any given situation! To be able to read such facial expressions would give leaders an incredible advantage as they communicate—negotiating around the conference table, . . . conducting a job interview, . . . or strategizing with a potential partner, . . . or choosing a spouse!


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Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships

By Daniel Goleman

Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships

Why this book?

For more than three decades now, we’ve seen corporations, nonprofits, and governments go under because one or more of their executive leaders proved emotionally unstable. Those leaders were either narcissistic, paranoid, bipolar, impulsive, or immature (temper tantrums, poor coping skills, crying, withdrawing, pouting).

Without self-awareness—and the awareness to identify emotional instability in others—leaders cannot hope to connect genuinely and build personal influence and loyalty among colleagues and staffers.

I love this book because of its research and real-life case studies. With almost every chapter, you’ll say, “Oh, I know that guy or gal!”

Better: You learn how to cope with them (or maybe more importantly, you learn if it will be impossible to ever cope with them).


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The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You

By John C. Maxwell

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You

Why this book?

In Maxwell’s book, the essence of leadership communication is reduced to one concept: integrity of the leader within. That is, leaders can’t communicate values, visions, and ethics that they don’t internalize. His message to readers: Don’t try to preach what you don’t practice because it won’t sell and it won’t jell with those you lead!

Basically, the heart of his message comes from the Biblical verse, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Leaders know that they can NEVER depend on logic alone to build a compelling case. As a leader, their communication must appeal to emotions as well. And being a likeable, approachable, humble leader makes the all-important connection.

What’s more, “the leader within,” unfortunately, can cause the disconnection!


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The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations

By Barry Z. Posner, James M. Kouzes

The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations

Why this book?

Once again, I love books based on solid research—all the better if based on several decades of solid research, as is the case with this book. The authors, both consultants and university professors, have collected data and lectured worldwide on how leaders communicate to make things happen in both large organizations and in smaller entrepreneurial ventures.
Once again, they have real-life stories “right from the front lines” of ordinary people who learned to use their communication skills and influence to do important things—in many cases, without title or position.

Kouzes is a Fellow of the Doerr Institute for New Leaders at Rice University. Posner is an endowed Professor of Leadership and Chair of the Management & Entrepreneurial Department, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University.


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