Five Leadership Books to Read in 2018

leadership books

One of my favorite things to do after a long day at work or in my down time is to read. But, I didn’t always find picking up a good book relaxing and therapeutic. While in school, I found it tedious, boring and would avoid it at all costs. I dreaded book reports and reading assignments. As I moved on from school and entered into professional life, I have discovered how powerful and rewarding reading different books can be. I have enjoyed books in various genres, but in particular, I have reaped the most benefits from leadership books.

I would like to share with you some of my favorite leadership books that have allowed me to look at both my professional and personal life from a new perspective. I recommend the following five books that have given me more clarity, helped with goal-setting, provided insight on what it takes to be a great leader and more:

1. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

When it comes to great leadership books, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” instantly comes to mind. Steven R. Covey introduces seven action steps to become a better leader. Covey’s No. 1 habit is “be proactive.” One of the key points is “proactive people recognize responsibility and don’t blame circumstances or conditions for their behavior.”

He furthers that point with the second habit, “begin with the end in mind.” This pertains to thinking about who you are, what you represent and where you want to go. Covey recommends developing a personal mission statement to focus in on your values and ultimate destination. There are quite a bit of tidbits and lessons on leadership to take away from Covey’s classic. This is a must-read.

2. Developing the Leaders Around You by John Maxwell

John Maxwell has published over 70 books on leadership. His “Developing the Leaders Around You” is a great read for lessons in leadership. Some of the key takeaways from the book include:

  • “Acquiring and keeping good people is a leader’s most important task.”
  • “A lofty title does not help a poor producer.”
  • “Everything falls and rises on leadership.”

Maxwell also provides tips on various levels of leadership from trust to communication to consistency. This is an excellent read that provides a large array of beneficial information to enhance your leadership tool kit.

3. The Mentor Leader by Tony Dungy

Let’s change gears from classic leadership authors to a Super Bowl-winning coach. Tony Dungy is best known for coaching Peyton Manning and becoming the first African-American head coach to win a Super Bowl. Outside of coaching, he has become a successful author and published “The Mentor Leader” filled with great lessons on leadership. My favorite quote from the book which summarizes Dungy and the book the best is, “Five words: it is not about me.”

Dungy’s main point throughout the book is influencing and mentoring leaders around you. His greater point is mentoring makes you a better person and leader, in addition to the people you are influencing.

If you’re a fan of Dungy, I would recommend “Uncommon and Quiet Strength” as your next read.

4. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

Business specialist Patrick Lencioni has published quite a few different books on business management, teamwork and leadership. However, his most notable one is “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.” He focuses in on the components of a team within an organization. His five dysfunctions speak to aspects of quality leadership.

Reading this book will provide great insight on components of a quality team and how that is dependent upon solid leadership. His No. 1 dysfunction is “absence of trust.” Trust is a concept that you will find as a common theme in many leadership-based books. Lencioni provides a unique and intelligent angle on trust in organizations and the impact it has on leadership.

5. The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh

My final recommendation is my favorite book on leadership, “The Score Takes Care of Itself.” The author is Bill Walsh, three-time Super Bowl-winning head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. I consider him the Bill Bellicheck of his time, but with a more dynamic personality.

While autobiographic in nature, Walsh provides many lessons and examples of leadership. The messages are delivered in a colorful and insightful way. My top takeaway from the book is, “Control what you can control.” Walsh provides a great example: A person cannot control 20 percent of a football game. Weather, officials and bad bounces cannot be controlled. Walsh encourages to focus your effort and preparation on the other 80 percent of the game. This is a telling lesson to keep in mind in both personal and professional endeavors.

While these five books take on various perspectives and angles, they all deliver a powerful message to enhance your leadership skills. They are worth checking out to help better enhance your endeavors in 2018. Happy reading and I hope you enjoy these books as much as I did!

Ty Verdin
Ty Verdin is a professional staff member in the department of sports and recreation at Kennesaw State University. He currently serves as the senior coordinator of club sports. Contact him at

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