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Recommended Reading List – Part A

Effective leaders are eager to learn and receive feedback on their performance. A major resource for learning is reading books. Some highly effective people we have met read on average 15-20 books a year, while mere mortals typically read 2 – one in the first week of their holiday and one in the second!

As you journey towards greater effectiveness as a leader, here are some recommendations from us of books that will inspire, educate and encourage you.

Why not consider consider these first, and plan to read them over the coming year?

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” – Stephen Covey

This practical book is the fundamental guide on principle-centred living, personal effectiveness and inter-personal skills.  The book is available in over 20 languages and is a 15 million copy best seller.

“The 8th Habit – From Effectiveness to Greatness” – Stephen Covey

No!  We do not get commission for recommending Covey’s books!

In the 7 Habits book Stephen Covey gives us a framework to become more effective in every aspect of our lives. In his “The 8th Habit”, he opens up an entirely new dimension of human potential, and shows us how to achieve greatness in any position and any setting.  All of us, Covey says, have within us the means for greatness.  To tap into it is a matter of finding the right balance of four human attributes:  talent, need, conscience, and passion.  At the nexus of these four attributes is what Covey calls voice – the unique, personal significance we each possess.  Covey exhorts us all to move beyond effectiveness into the realm of greatness – and he shows us how to do so, by engaging our strengths and locating our powerful individual voices.

“First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently”  – Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

This book results from two surveys over a 25-year period, involving a million employees and managers from a range of companies, industries and countries.  The first survey asked what talented employees needed from their organisations.  The answer?  Great managers.  So the second study explored how great managers find, focus and retain talented employees.

This study identified 12 questions that measured the strength of a workplace and the core elements needed to find, focus and keep talented employees.  It found that people leave managers, not companies.  Affirmative answers correlated with the higher levels of productivity, profit, retention, and customer satisfaction.  UK-born, US-based Buckingham’s book highlights four ‘keys’ to what the best managers do differently.  It provides plenty of material for managers to work through with their teams.

Good to Great: Why some Companies Make the Leap… and Other’s Don’t – Jim Collins

This is a book that will re-pay careful reading.  Warm to his ‘homely’ style or not, Jim Collins’ arguments as to what makes an organisation sustainable are based on a significant amount of research and should be taken seriously.

Not just limited to the ‘bottom line’, he suggests the winning formulae he has identified work as well with the social welfare sector (and proves this in a follow-up monograph).

This book could be read with profit by anyone in a leadership role – if for no other reason than for Collins’ definition of ‘level 5 leadership’ – “a combination of personal humility and professional will”.  Something to which we can all aspire.

Part – B  Additional Reading.  

 There is a bewildering array of books in the business section of bookshops, so we have provided a selection here that we would recommend. All are generally available online. Some of the books are also available as audio books.

It is not intended to be a definitive or complete list, so please add to this with books that you find helpful, informative or inspiring – and tell us so we can benefit, too!


Man’s Search for Meaning                  –        Viktor Frankl

Creating a Purposeful Life                  –        Richard Fox

Synchronicity                                                  Joseph Jaworski

The Road Less Travelled           –                  M Scott Peck

The Hero’s Journey – A Voyage of Self-Discovery               –                  Stephen Gilligan & Robert Dilts

Why Men don’t Listen & Women can’t read Maps  –                  Allan & Barbara Pease

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus  –                  John Gray

Leading Teams and Coaching Others

Leading your Team                                        Andrew Leigh & Michael Maynard

Trust Matters                                                  Ken Blanchard, Cynthia Olmstead and Martha Lawrence

Coaching for Performance                           John Whitmore

Leadership and Management

Inspirational Manager                         –       Judith Leary-Joyce

Built to Last                                          –         Jim Collins & Jerry Porras

The Dance of Change                         –         Peter Senge

Our Iceberg is Melting                        –        John Kotter

The New Leaders (Emotional Intelligence)          –        Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatsis and Annie McKee

Finding our Way:  Leadership For an Uncertain Time                   –        Margaret Wheatley

Servant Leadership – A Journey Into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness         –        Robert K Greenleaf

The Leadership Challenge          –        Kouzes and Posner


Who Moved my Cheese?           –                 Dr Spencer Johnson

The Art of Possibility                                    Rosamund & Benjamin Zander

First Things First                                –          Roger Merrill & Stephen Covey

Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway         –      Susan Jeffers

The Heart of Success                          –        Rob Parsons

The Fifth Discipline                             –        Peter Senge

Personal Power                                   –        Anthony Robbins

NLP at Work                              –                  Sue Knight

Learning and Creativity

The Inner Game of Work           –                  Timothy Gallwey

The Learning Revolution              –       Gordon Dryden & Jeanette Vos

Time to Think                             –       Nancy Kline

Creative Thinking                              –        Edward De Bono

Six Thinking Hats                               –        Edward de Bono

How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci          –        Michael Gelb