Ken’s 4 Best Leadership Book Recommendations

It’s important to have a growth mindset. The world changes rapidly and how we stay true to our core values while being responsive to the needs of our clientele will determine our sustainability in success. A common question (or two) that I hear is, what are the leadership skills, the leadership qualities, and key traits that are either present or that you develop using executive coaching. It is the simplest, yet most difficult application you will ever hear: stay relentlessly focused on controlling what you can actually control. And that is only two things: attitude and activity. Said more simply, you can control what you DO – the action you will take and you can control what you think. Everything else is outside your realm of control. Certainly you might ‘influence’ another person, yet that is NOT the same as controlling. Here are a couple of great reads that will help you in terms of self-management, business management, and operational excellence.

You might be wrong: Factfulness by Hans Rosling

The subtitle of this book says plenty: Ten reasons we’re wrong about the world and why things are better than you think. If you are sure of yourself, like so many of us that have a healthy self-confidence, then this book will actually HELP that confidence. You see, knowing that monkeys throwing darts have a better chance of scoring accurately on Rosling’s quizzes helped me realize that it’s okay not to know. Furthermore, he gives tips, tricks, and tools to more accurately assess the world we live in. At a time when the world and especially those vociferous few on social media seem to have absolutely everything figured out, Factfulness has helped me be very comfortable knowing that I likely DON’T know a thing, meaning I can be far more open to additional information.

Let go of control and seek influence: Influence by Robert B. Cialdini

Reminiscent of Dale Carnegie’s timeless tome, How to Win Friends and Influence People, this modern discussion of what really moves minds is well worth your time. Dr. Cialdini’s friendly approach, numerous examples, and psychological background reinforce an enduring truth: having a conversation with other human beings is key to building relationships, persuading (and being persuaded), and of course, building a professional business relationship. Lest you (wrongly) think that he’s giving keys to manipulation, rest assured that ulterior motives are unlikely to succeed. As I read this masterful treatise on consultative relationship building, it struck me that Dr. Cialdini was assuming we all have positive intent. This read is a treatise on modern communication – obviously applicable to roles we may label as ‘sales’; I’d simply add that leaders, whether in operations or team management, would do well adopting this authentic approach to the human condition.

Conversation rather than presentation: The Win Without Pitching Manifesto by Blair Enns

This is a great, short read that came to my attention from a post on Instagram by Chris Do (@thechrisdo), a business marketing expert that has a prominent voice, especially resonating with creative businesses. That said, his suggestions, ideas, approach, and personal accountability for the clients we have (or wish we had) really resonates. This book keeps with that theme acting as a guide for changing mindset, having a conversation with a potential client, and engaging with them rather than “pitching”. What does this have to do with leadership? See if this sounds familiar: you have a new initiative, product, request and you send a memo, have a meeting, and present your fantastic new idea. Then some weeks later you realize there is no traction, no follow-up and zero follow-through. Because you presented (telling isn’t selling). As a leader, it is even more important that your team ‘buys’ your product, your offer, your business philosophy – or there is little hope your potential clients will – or at least in a predictable, repeatable way. Super quick read and well worth it!

You do you (own it): Unfu*ck Yourself by Gary John Bishop

This isn’t a new book by any means, though the desk calendar has become my favorite for the past two years. The author has had follow-up books I have not read, yet this original is a not-so-gentle reminder that everything we do or do not have is based on a decision I did or did not make. If you listen to the book, Gary’s Scottish brogue makes the straight-forward wisdom easier to hear. Delivering objective perspective is a key element to successful executive coaching and this book goes a long way toward helping the reader take an honest inventory of their situation with a clear vision for changing anything you like. Listen for his seven tenets (as I called them in the notes I was taking) and journal how they do (or do not) show up for you. Leaders own the stuff we get wrong and share the credit for all that goes well. Enjoy the accountability lessons.

Conclusion

While reading books on leadership and personal development are critical elements of successful leadership, and therefore successful business, you may be wondering how a coach adds value. Think of it like this: whatever your favorite sport, there is someone that wins championships, frequently more than one. That person also has a coach – giving them objective feedback and guidance from a perspective they cannot see (i.e., the way they hold their club, throw the ball, or move their feet). That’s what we do at Leader’s Cut. We guide you through the practice of leadership, organizational excellence, and confidential conversations so you can win the game of business you’re playing. Next step is to have a conversation with Ken Kilday As a former Fortune 500 Executive Leader and current entrepreneur, Ken works with leaders and their teams to sharpen their skills in the Six Keys to Unlocking Leadership Genius: Communicate, Delegate, Motivate, Recruit, Collaborate, and Develop. Find out what Leader’s Cut can do for your organization by scheduling a no-strings meet-and-greet.

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