3 Books That Made Me a Better Manager

As leaders, we must take a genuine interest in the leadership of others. One of my favorite ways to do that is through reading books by seasoned leaders. Reading speaks to the decisions in our past and future. @@Reading confirms the path behind you and challenges the path in front of you.@@

Over the years, so many books have shaped me as a leader. All have shaped different parts of my leadership: the soul, the vision, the personal disciplines, skills and much more. In today’s post, I want to introduce the top 3 books that have shaped the management side of my leadership. These are the books that have most influenced how I lead the Staff Team at Mission.

Great By Choice by Jim Collins

Jim Collins introduces 3 principles in this book: Fanatic Discipline, Productive Paranoia and Empirical Creativity. These principles ensure steady advancement over the long haul. Within fanatic discipline, the most influential concept has been the 20 Mile March. A 20 Mile March keeps an organization focused on the discipline for the immediate climb ahead, leading to the eventual summit. Here’s how:

20 Mile Marching helps turn the odds in your favor for three reasons:

  1. It builds confidence in your ability to perform well in adverse circumstances.
  2. It reduces the likelihood of catastrophe when you’re hit by turbulent disruption.
  3. It helps you exert self-control in an out-of-control environment.

The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

Patrick Lencioni's books are known as “leadership fables,” as they are fictional stories that introduce leadership principles. In this book, Patrick introduces 5 dysfunctions: 

  1. Absence of Trust: The fear of being vulnerable with team members prevents the building of trust within the team.
  2. Fear of Conflict: The desire to preserve artificial harmony stifles the occurrence of productive ideological conflict.
  3. Lack of Commitment: The lack of clarity or buy-in prevents team members from making decisions they will stick to.
  4. Avoidance of Accountability: The need to avoid interpersonal discomfort prevents team members from holding one another accountable.
  5. Inattention to Results: The pursuit of individual goals and personal status erodes the focus on collective success.

These dysfunctions and their solutions are the framework I use in leading our Director’s (Ministry Leaders) Meetings.

The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni

In Lencioni’s only non-fable book, he melds concepts together to point out that an organization’s greatest advantage is its health.

I have found that Collins’ 20 Mile March concept leads right into the principles in this book. The biggest takeaway in this book is developing a Playbook for your team. Your Playbook asks these 6 questions:

  1. Why do we exist? (Mission/Vision)
  2. How do we behave? (Team Values)
  3. What do we do?
  4. How will we succeed? 
  5. What is most important – right now? (Thematic Goal or 20 Mile March)
  6. Who must do what?

When it comes to your managerial leadership, what books have been most influential?