A great trainer is someone who also has a deep understanding of leadership.
There are many levels on which trainer needs and uses that knowledge:
1/ trainers educate leaders
2/ trainer often needs to be a leader
3/ each participant is the leader of their life and can benefit from advancing their leadership skills.
That is why the Trainers Toolbox team decided to share this recommendation of eight great books about leadership:
1. The Leadership Challenge by Barry Z. Posner and James M. Kouzes
One of the best leadership books ever written, The Leadership Challenge structures leadership in five practices that make a comprehensive framework for leadership. One of the most important tasks of leaders is to bring out the best in themselves, as well as in the people they lead. This framework is not purely theoretical – it is based on Kouzes and Posner's extensive research of practical examples of exemplary leaders. The book goes deep into these five practices, providing the reader with an understanding of what these are and why they are crucial for a leader, but also providing a longer list of practical commitments through which each person can build up their own five practices of leadership.
2. Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
Simon Sinek books on leadership, Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last, focus on modern business leaders. He is a visionary whose vision is to “Imagine a world where almost everyone wakes up inspired to go to work, feels trusted and valued during the day, and then returns home fulfilled.” He believes that the way to get there is through implementing new model of leadership – one based on deep values, trust, safety and building right conditions and environments for trust and cooperation. According to him, the best leaders “know how to build the right conditions, and the best organizations inspire a culture of working together to confront danger and seize opportunities.” In his two books, Sinek digs deeper into on which principles such leadership and organizations can be build.
In “Start with Why” he explors why some people and organizations are more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others and what makes them attract loyalty from customers and employees, and makes their success repetitive and sustainable? He builds his discovery that people won't truly buy into a product, service, movement, or idea until they understand the WHY behind it and the values of the leader or the company, into the idea of the golden circle – well explained in the Start with Why book, but also in his first TED talk.
In “Leaders Eat Last”, Sinek takes his theory a step further and suggests that the most important characteristic of the leader is to make his people feel safe and build a circle of trust around them. In this book he digs into why that is so, what that really means for the leader and how to build it. If you wish to check out his style before getting into the book, his second TED talks follows the theory from Leaders Eat Last
3. StandOut 2.0 by Marcus Buckingham
“StandOut 2.0” is a continuation of Marcus Buckingham's work on strengths, previously presented in “Now, Discover Your Strengths” (published in 2001) and its successor “StrengthsFinder 2.0” (published in 2007). Behind these books there is some of the most extensive research ever done on human strengths, virtues and talents, which the books present in structured and practical ways (with assessment tools included). In StandOut 2.0, Buckingham takes the same strengths-based approach and applies it to leadership. He suggests that to get the most out of people, you must use your strengths but also build on their strengths through the strengths-based approach. He presents many practical and action-based ways how to do exactly that. StandOut 2.0 also includes an assessment and a comprehensive report on one's dominant strengths.
A similar style of thinking about leadership can also be found in the “Strengths-Based Leadership” book by Gallup. Here you can find out details about the differences between these two fairly similar books.
4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
This famous leadership classic is not just a great leadership book, but also a great book for developing self-leadership – you have to put your own vision, habits and focus in place in order to be able to lead others successfully.
It outlines 7 life principles, calling each of them a habit: the first three habits are personal, about managing your own mindset, attitude and priorities; the second three habits are about connection and attitude towards others; the seventh habit is about personal development and growth.
The book also touches upon shaping your own personal mission in life. According to Covey, “Peace of mind comes when your life is in harmony with true principles and values and in no other way.” An extra point of inspiration is that the author truly walks the talk with his life example.
5. Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux
This book is very different than the rest of this list. It does not single out one important person as a leader, but instead it speaks about a new vision and model of building organisations based on self-organised leadership.
It challenges the existing hierarchies in organisations and presents a new approach, one that searches for more “soulful” workplaces - more authenticity, community, passion, and purpose.
It puts the need for more enlightened leaders behind the need for enlightened organizational structures and practices. Perhaps this books is not about classical example of leadership… but it definitely might be leadership of the future.
6. The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership by James C. Hunter
According to Hunter, leadership should not be based on power, but rather grounded in authority, which is built on a foundation of relationships, love, service, and sacrifice. Through its storytelling style of wisdom, the book talks about strengthening the bonds of respect, responsibility, and caring with the people around you and building leadership from that space.
7. The Power of Servant-Leadership by Robert K. Greenleaf
Robert K. Greenleaf is a former AT&T executive whose model of leadership puts the focus on serving others, including employees, customers, and the community. After 30 years of dealing with this topic, in the book Greenleaf puts together eight essays on servant-leadership, providing many of his best insights into the nature and practice of servant-leadership.
8. Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
What’s leadership without a purpose? One of the best books ever written on the topic of purpose and meaning of life is Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”. This deep and impactful book brings together Frankl’s theory of logotherapy, from his perspective as an experienced therapist, with the practical side of his strong and intense experience in a concentration camp. With many vivid examples and strong experiences, this book is widely mentioned as “favorite” and “great inspiration” by many admirable people.
Which would you like to look into, from this colorful range of diverse approaches to leadership? And would you have any other to recommend, that we might have missed out? Do let us know in comments J
And don’t forget – books are just the first step – actions and implementation is what counts!
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About the author of the article
Mirna Šmidt is the founder of Trainers Toolbox, trainer passionate about learning, getting things done, creating great training content and delivering it in an enthusiastic and energetic way. Being trainer since 2008, Mirna developed rich knowledge in positive psychology, NLP, evidence based training, coaching, and many other innovative trainer's tools and techniques. Next to Trainers Toolbox, she is also a founder of Happiness Academy, project aimed at educating and inspiring people to lead happier and more fulfilling lives. Read more about Mirna at www.mirnasmidt.com.
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Mirna , initiator of Trainers Toolbox, is a trainer in love with training tools and innovative games, positive psychology, NLP, and everything that makes learning more impactful and engaging.