An interesting question – what is the best leadership book?

I was just paying my bill after a rather nice lunch, whilst at the same time reading Tools And Techniques Of Leadership And Management by Ralph Stacey.

Stacey “That looks interesting, do you know anything about leadership?” said the young guy serving me.

I explained that I had offered to review the book and was finding it so interesting that I was reading it in detail rather than the broader skim that reviewing normally requires. I will be posting a review of the book in due course, suffice it to say that I am finding it extremely stimulating, relevant and ‘on the mark’ as regards leadership today and effecting change in organisations.

We had a bit of an interchange and then this guy asked “So what do you think is the best leadership book?” “Well” I said “give me a minute to have a think about that” and so he went away.

Now it is of course a totally unanswerable question, not only because of the tens of thousands of leadership books out there but also because of the best depends not only on my own judgement but his own needs. So when he came back we had a brief conversation about the difference between leadership and management (yet another blog will be exploring whether this distinction really exists) and how, in my view, leadership is partly about what you do and even more about who and how you are. I have a proposition that the way to become more effective leader is to become a bigger and better me – role models may be useful, but they are all different and if you do manage to isolate the common attributes of Margaret Thatcher, Gandhi, Richard Branson, Hitler, Jesus etc. then you end up with a minimum entry requirements to leadership rather than the difference that makes the difference.

So in the end I recommended two titles, books that have had a great impact on me. The first was Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People and the second JS Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

7 Habits  JLS

Two very different books and yet books that I know from my own personal experience have helped me become a better me.

I would be interested to know how you would response to a similar question.

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