Here’s my top 5 favorite books I’ve read In the past year…

For as long as I can remember, reading has been something I’ve kind of had to force myself to do. I don’t read because I necessarily love reading, but because I love becoming a better leader and all around better human being- I’ve found that reading helps me with both.  

So if you’re like me and don’t necessarily enjoy reading a ton or just simply don’t have the time, I thought I’d help you cut through some of the clutter and give you my top five favorites from the past year or so.

I hope you enjoy it and perhaps discover a few titles to add to your must-read list.

1. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

If you ever have to tap into your creative side you won’t find a more important book to read than this one. Gilbert shows all of us how to tackle what we most love, and how to go up against what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. You may not even consider yourself creative but the author argues throughout the book that it’s a “hidden jewel” inside of each on of us. I loved reading this book so much I hated to finish it!

Biggest Takeaway:  Embrace your curiousity, face your fears and never create for the critics.

2. The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Sean Covey

Alright, confession time: those that have worked with me closely over the years would tell you that as a leader, I can often become distracted easily. I have a tendency to get drawn into the urgent while at times ignoring the most important. My experience is that a lot of leaders, especially a lot of entrepreneurial leaders, struggle with this. And that’s exactly why I would highly recommend this book.

The 4 Disciplines of Execution is a simple, repeatable, and proven formula for executing on your most important strategic priorities in the midst of the whirlwind. By following The 4 Disciplines, you’ll produce results for you and your team that you never have before:

• Focusing on the Wildly Important

• Acting on Lead Measures

• Keeping a Compelling Scoreboard

• Creating a Cadence of Accountability

I’ve read dozens and dozens of leadership books over the years but this is the first one that has shown me how to devise and implement a plan to improve the actual functioning of your organization.

Biggest Takeaway: Start with the end in mind.

3. H3 Leadership: Be humble, Stay Hungry, Always Hustle by Brad Lomenick

In this book, Lomenick shares that these three “H” words - Humble, Hungry, and Hustle – each lead to three of the most important questions that we should ask of ourselves – especially those who lead.

• Who am I?

• Where do I want to go?

• How will I get there?

I read this book this past summer when I was in the middle of my leadership transition and trying to figure out my next steps and it was incredibly helpful to me personally; extremely convicting but ultimately helpful.

I’ve known Brad for years, and it was comforting to me to know that he’s lived this stuff out in his own life and leadership. He’s incredibly gracious with sharing his own mistakes with a desire to see some of the rest of us avoid them if possible. I wish I had read this book years ago!

Biggest Takeaway: Leadership isn’t just about the decisions we make, it’s about the habits that we either intentionally create or passively allow, which drives our behavior - and ultimately our success.

4. People Of The Second Chance by Mike Foster

I don’t know if I’ve ever underlined a book as much as I have this one. Almost every page is stained with my pen or a tear and often both.

Mike beautifully reminds all of us that our not-so-perfect story is an invitation to the  joy of second-chance living.

He reminded me of just how powerful insecurity, shame and judgement can be, but also gave me some great tools to find freedom from their crippling power. For years I’ve said, “It’s ok to not be ok.” It’s been a life message of sorts. And while I believed it with all my heart for everyone else, Mike was the first to help me actually believe that applied to my own life as well.

Big Takeaway: My scars, flaws, and failures are actually gifts that I can bring to the world.

5. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek

This is a must read for every leader who truly want to create an environment where people “want” to show up for work.

The book was inspired by Sinek’s observations while working with companies around the world. He noticed that some teams trust each other so deeply that they would literally put their lives on the line for each other. Other teams, no matter what incentives are offered, are doomed to infighting, fragmentation and failure. In this book he sets out (through some amazing stories and research) to help us understand why.

I’ve always been a big fan of psychology and I love the way he would take concepts from psychology and show us how they are relevant to what we experience in the workplace. I had some real “aha” moments reading through this.  

This book inspired the heck out of me to want to create environments and organizations where everyone wakes up inspired to go to work, feel trusted and valued during the day and goes home in the afternoon feeling fulfilled.

Biggest Takeaway: If you want people to follow you, you have to provide protection for them.

Wanting to grow your leadership toolkit even further? Check out our free guide to creating contagious culture- we hope it inspires and equips you to create and implement organizational values that you’re proud to call your own.

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