9 books that Inspire corporate leaders the most
Do you aspire to be a great leader? Do you want to develop skills that great leaders possess? Well, one of the key skills that great leaders often possess is “Reading”. Like Harry S Truman said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”
Yes, reading is a habit that most famous leaders develop consciously for their personal as well as professional growth. It helps them obtain deeper wisdom, and clarity of thought and aids them in continuous self-development.
One important question that comes to mind, is how does one choose the right book for oneself? Of course, you can check out what others are reading, surf the internet to check out a few trending good books, or as we did, simply ask a few corporate leaders to share at least one of their favorite books while also sharing what inspired them about the book!
In this article, we are sharing with you the inputs received from 9 such prominent people in the corporate leadership space.
ALCHEMY by Rory Sutherland
The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don’t Make Sense
The author of this book Rory Sutherland is Vice Chairman of Ogilvy UK and Founder of its Behavioral Science Practice.
Behavioral Science is an up-and-coming field that has seen massive growth and acceptance, especially in the last decade as economists, politicians, and leaders in corporate and civil society have started to understand that human beings behave very differently from the seemingly logical assumptions that have been the bedrock of our policies and practices for years.
This book is an interesting take on how the hidden subconscious impacts decision-making in human beings- and how it can be influenced to solve some complex human problems in easy, cost-effective ways. It is filled with intriguing examples of how we can do more with less, or sometimes by doing nothing- i.e. by least intervention if we focus on what the author calls ‘psycho logic’ as opposed to conventional logic and wisdom. The author says- and correctly so- ‘The best ideas don’t make rational sense: they make you feel more than they make you think. While obviously, this is an ad man’s take on ideas and should not `be confused to represent say the scientific community, the implications of this are manifold and widespread.
The book could have been a bit shorter, but overall worth the time. It’s a fun read for anyone interested in behavioral theory, advertising or in general — for anyone who likes to decode human behavioral patterns.
Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director, AVIVA LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY INDIA LTD
QUIET by Susan Cain
The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”
This book is highly useful for people who are introverts and wish to make a mark for themselves in this competitive world. “A closet introvert myself, I really found Susan’s book so very relatable. It threw light on how each person is different and how in our personal and professional lives, we end up serving and rewarding those that are more outgoing, more visible, more conversational, and so on. In doing so, we neglect those who aren’t and this is doing a disservice not only to them but to the larger ecosystem that loses out as well. Susan beautifully ties in the social and business landscape that has led to this unfortunate state of affairs. The book has just the right mix of anecdotes, case studies, and scientific experiments that validate Susan’s guidance and is, therefore, educational in many ways. A must-read for anyone who works is an environment that involves people, which I would surmise, would be everyone!
Head of HR, IPG DXTRA
FROM IMPOSSIBLE TO INEVITABLE by Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin
How Hyper-Growth Companies Create Predictable Revenue
This book has been called ‘The Sales Bible of Silicon Valley, and I think this non-official title is fair enough, as the book provides a straightforward template for growing a company 2-to-10x.
A few key ideas the author brings to the forefront:
- It’s essential to start with nailing a niche.
- To build up predictable revenue, you need to have a predictable lead generation first.
- It’s also critical to make your sales scalable. One of the essential components here is sales specialization, in other words, splitting prospecting and closing activities between your sales professionals to let them stay focused and more efficient.
This book is a good pick for entrepreneurs who have an idea in mind and look for guidance on how to make money with it in a sustainable way. Yet I think it’s a great read not only for SaaS startups and techies but also for consultants, small businesses, and literally anybody who wants to grow their sales.
With some twists, From Impossible To Inevitable might even be seen as an actionable guide for an individual’s career success and growth.
CEO and Founder at HRForecast, an HR tech expert with a focus on cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence and Big Data.
ZERO TO ONE by Peter Thiel
Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future
This book is considered to be more of an influence on entrepreneurs especially startups than a business leadership book. And this is where I strongly disagree. Peter Thiel’s offering to the world- “Zero to One” is in fact a most fundamental lesson in business leadership and literally lays down the rules for becoming the Cutting Edge Leader that the world needs, in 2022. Or 2032. Or maybe 2100.
3 key lessons from the book to substantiate my biased love for this book are –
- If you are seeking growth and innovation, try vertical and not horizontal. This means as a business leader, you could stop chasing the race of being faster, better, smarter, and cheaper than the next Joe in the market. Instead, it means that you compel yourself to look at your business in a maverick way which basically does not threaten competition. Rather it could eliminate competition. Don’t go from 1 to n. Go from 0 to 1.
- Monopolies are fabulous. And hey, while we may cry about consumer choice, the fact is consumers themselves create monopolies. Do you use google? Windows? Maggi? I rest my case.
- A founder (can as well be a business leader) has to have a vision. Even the most adventurous traveler will have a ticket to the first destination. As a business leader, so should you. Have a crazy delusional weird vision.
Director, The Mind Stream
Entrepreneur | Polymath| Mindset Coach | NLP Practitioner | Design Thinker | YouTuber | Public Speaker
PEAKS AND VALLEYS by Spencer Johnson
Making Good and Bad Times Work for You — At Work and in Life
We are living in unprecedented times. Each one of us is being challenged in a unique way and we are oscillating between success and failure — sometimes occurring within moments of one another.
I recently read a book — Peaks and Valleys by Spencer Johnson which changed my view on lasting success (Peaks) and failure (Valleys). It’s a journey that I’ve undergone and has helped me rediscover myself. Peaks are moments when you appreciate what you have; valleys are moments when you long for what is missing and to obtain more peaks, one must manage his valleys well.
So, the question arises, how do we manage our ‘peaks’ and ‘valleys’?
It’s very important to understand that both ‘peaks’ and ‘valleys’ are connected. The errors you do in good times shape bad times whereas the wise things you do in bad times shape good times. The critical thing is to manage the ‘peaks’ well — do not be arrogant or egoistic as it takes you off a peak quickly. Let’s focus on making things better and doing more for others. It Is important to manage the resources well for the next ‘valley’ could be around the corner.
On the other hand, failure (‘valley’) is an important part of life. We fail in many small things — new year resolutions, diet & fitness plans, etc. We also fail in some bigger things — relationships, careers,s, etc. At times these failures in one part of our life impact the rest of our lives — an unhappy marriage impacts performance at the workplace or vice-versa. It is important to remember that fear keeps us in a valley longer.
Head Field HR & Franchise HR Partnering, Yum.com
THRIVE by Arianna Huffington
The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder
It’s SO difficult to pick 1 book, but one of my favorite books for business has been Thrive by Arianna Huffington.
It’s not your traditional business book; however, it has heart and kindness in spades, not only from a business perspective but from a very personal and vulnerable viewpoint. From the moment I opened the book, I knew it would resonate deeply with my values because she headed chapters with words like ‘well-being’, ‘wonder’, and ‘giving’. Arianna discusses how she worked to the point of collapse, and it was then that she dared to redefine her success and what it means to live an indeed ‘good life.
As I read this book, I found myself nodding and smiling with a sense of deep knowing that what she was talking about was heart leadership and kindness in our workplaces and our world, all of which I am deeply passionate about. Throughout the book, many wonderful examples of how she overcame the more traditional idea of what success looks like and replaced it with meaning. Arianna states, ‘…there’s a collective longing to stop hurting our health…by striving so relentlessly after success as the world defines it…instead tap into the riches, joy and amazing possibilities that our lives embody’. This is a book for nurturing our souls in life and business.
CEO and Founder, Metta Leaders, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
The Kindness Mentor | Workplace Kindness Expert | HR Consultant | Mental Health Advocate | Happiness & Mindfulness Coach | Barefoot Walker, Squeezy Hugger, Sunshine & Rainbow Chaser
ATOMIC HABITS by James Clear
Tiny changes, remarkable results. An easy and proven way to build good habits and break bad ones
This book gives excellent guidance on how to develop a foundation for being a better person every day.
It provides information on habit development and reveals practical ways for forming good habits, breaking harmful ones, and mastering the little-minuscule behaviors to achieve spectacular outcomes.
Atomic Habit is loaded with little practical bombs that may be used to repair behaviors.
It is, in my opinion, the first great book about realizing the power of habit. James Clear, the author, takes the approach of being entirely practical and straightforward to use. It delves deeply into each and every phase of habit formation. At the end of the day, everything in our lives is determined by the minor and insignificant habits we do on a daily basis. Bringing about change in people while closely monitoring every element resulted in significant results.
The Atomic Habit has taught me two things:
- Don’t think about goals; instead, concentrate on the system.
- Motivation is ineffective. Create an atmosphere that encourages your behaviors.
Founder, Ucanji, a leading skill learning platform
DISRUPTION PROOF by Brant Cooper
Empower People, Create Value, Drive Change
One thing in life is certain: change is constant. “During the pandemic, while the world slowed down but the pace of change inside that world took double speed”. Thanks to the innovation in the digital age. Faced with unprecedented complexity and uncertainty, like most business leaders, I too struggled to see the way forward.
One important observation I had while reflecting on changing pace around us was that management in companies is still largely based on what was most effective in the Industrial Age. Though, they survived the box era, service era, and SAS era however the struggle is now visible in the network & digital era. Disruption Proof offered a new approach that addresses our current reality.
Through powerful case studies of notable corporations like Intuit, 3M, Cargill, and more, Cooper demonstrates how, with the right mindset and practical strategies, companies that focus on creating value for customers can thrive in the 21st century. What really stood out for me in the book Disruption Proof was how to:
- Empathy — develop an understanding of customers and colleagues that lead to insights (empathy)
- Exploration — run tests to challenge assumptions
- Evidence — leverage data and insights to breakthrough biases
- Equilibrium — balance operational execution with learning
- Ethics — manage behavior to match corporate values
With Cooper’s action-oriented advice and tools, what really appealed to me in adopting a new management culture, one where the management acts like Investors, where leaders become shareholders in success and create an empowered entrepreneurial environment for the employees.
Group CEO, BYLD Group
LOSING MY VIRGINITY by Richard Branson
How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way
Fascinating. Brilliant. Entertaining. Inspirational. Bold.
Sir Richard Branson’s rollercoaster memoir is one of the books that influenced me the most. The book talks about his journey of launching the Virgin Group, the initial days and struggles, and Virgin Music and Virgin Air launch among others.
The book sheds light on how a small newbie organization could connect with its users and dare to do things differently to go against the big daddies in the industry who thought they were indispensable until Virgin was launched.
One of the quotes from the book that I took to heart is — Train People Well Enough So They Can Leave, Treat Them Well Enough, So They Don’t Want To. We follow this to the T at Connect2MyDoctor, where the journey of building a great product is fulfilled by the team that watches each other’s back.
The book is easy to read and is an autobiography without equal.
CEO and co-founder of Connect2MyDoctor
More than anything else, habits determine destiny. The master skill of life is not a specific habit, rather it is the power to create a new habit. Considering the subject matter of the books being read by this successful corporate leader and their perspective, we definitely believe that you must read and learn new things.
When you start reading you start developing the habit of success. In the words of a leader, the “book is a reminder of being honest to yourself and be focused on your value”. So start reading, start expanding your horizon.
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