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The Power of the Pen: 6 excellent books on leadership development

We all have that one book — the one that shaped who we are as leaders. For some of us, it may have been more than one book. For others, perhaps we’re still on the lookout for the book with the “A-ha” moment that makes it all click.

For me, that book was Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge. It’s one of my all-time favorite books. It can read a little academic, but it shaped my view on the definition, value and importance of a shared company vision.

If you’re still waiting to find your transformative read — or if you enjoy continually learning and honing your leadership development — here are six great books on leadership as recommended by the executives and founders who are a part of The Watercooler, our online community for leaders.

1. “Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Business” by Ricardo Semler: “Here’s this guy running a major industrial company with 8,000 employees, and he’s doing all sorts of unconventional stuff, and it’s working,” one Watercooler member wrote.

2. “Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise and Other Bribes” by Alfie Kohn: “Do rewards motivate people?” Kohn asks. “Yes, they motivate people to get rewards.” Kohn offers a more successful strategy for working with people rather than doing things to them.

3. “The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done” by Peter Drucker: Drucker examines how managers actually spend their time versus how they think they spend their time and what the gap between the two tells us.

4. “Turn the Ship Around: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders” by David Marquet: This book was described as “a wonderful illustration of having people live up to your high expectations rather than down to your fears.”

5. “Drive” by Daniel Pink: Pink examines the elements of true motivation — autonomy, mastery and purpose — while exposing the “mismatch” between what science knows and what business does.

6. “Radical Candor” by Kim Scott: Scott shows managers how to be successful while retaining their humanity and creating an environment where people love their work and those with whom they work.

What’s your favorite book for leadership development? Tweet us at @KnowYourTeam. And for more recommendations on leadership development books and other insight from business leaders, check out the Watercooler in Know Your Team. We’d love to have you.

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Written by Claire Lew

CEO of Canopy. My mission in life is to help people become happier at work. Say hi to me on Twitter at @clairejlew.