That leaders must set aside time for reading is a point often expanded on in terms of startup advice. But delving into the pages of books benefits even the most seasoned employers. After all, surveys aplenty praise it as essential to leadership development.
Fiction, according to Annie Paul in the New York Times, “stimulates the brain and even changes how we act in life“. More importantly, she points to research explaining the improvement of empathy and the ability to understand someone else’s point of view. Other reports indicate its use in making us better communicators, decision makers and goal setters.
But while we all love a good story, it often helps to get caught up reading a business book. Not only does it boost creativity, it exposes how those within and outside your industry are enabling growth. And like most genres, there are numerous options to choose from.
If you’re not sure where to start off, then why not try reading the recommendations of these 11 UK leaders?
1) Robert Dagge, MD at Dynistics
“I’d recommend TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking, which guides readers on how to do a presentation like a TED speaker. It’s fantastic because it lists everything I think I do in a presentation anyway, but probably don’t. It takes presenters back to basics and gives invaluable advice on how to give a compelling presentation at events, sales pitches and so on.
“The other is Beermat Entrepreneur. A relatively old book but still very relevant in business today. It provides no nonsense advice on launching and running a bootstrap startup. The book covers the basics really well and I feel it is a must-read.”
2) Hubert Da Costa, VP EMEA at Cradlepoint
“My favourite is The Go-Giver. It’s about a young and ambitious salesman who seems to be getting nowhere fast. It had such an impact on me that I bought copies for colleagues and became an evangelist for its simple but effective message.
“I won’t give away its ‘Five Laws of Stratospheric Success’ in case you have yet to enjoy the book yourself, but suffice to say they add up to turn what we are led to believe is the accepted contemporary approach to business (what’s in it for me?) on its head in favour of an approach which asks what we can give.
“Reading over the lessons a protagonist has learned in a book such as this can often prompt you to draw comparisons with your own motivations and the lessons you have learned along the way in your personal and professional life. And once I similarly focused on what I could give and the value I could add for customers, I started to see the returns for myself.”
3) Heather Baker, CEO of TopLine Comms
“if you’re going to do some reading then definitely get Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. This book taught me a valuable lesson about what’s truly most important and saying ‘no’ to everything else. This approach freed up my time dramatically; suddenly focusing on sales and strategy was something I did, not something I wanted to do.
“One profound result is that we stopped pitching for cheaper jobs. Not only because they were less profitable, but because it sent the message that we were playing in a lower league. Changing our thinking saw an immediate upturn in average sale value. We now attract bigger clients with bigger budgets and higher standards. Our work is also of a consistently higher calibre.
“If you’ve ever found yourself stretched too thin, feel simultaneously overworked and underutilised, or, and this one was a biggie for me, feel like your time is hijacked by other people’s agendas, then Essentialism is the game changer you’ve been looking for. This book changed my life and the business.”
4) Georgina Nelson, founder of TruRating
“I really wanted to put forward The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. This is the Bible for all entrepreneurs.
“The book speaks to you and gives comfort in challenging times as well as practical advice on issues you’ll face – but more than simply citing the practical scenarios Horowitz also addresses the psychology involved – the emotions which hit the hardest for the founder / CEO.
All the topics and issues that you don’t learn at University or business school are covered. You put it down feeling stronger, more determined and optimistic.”
Read on for more reading material on superbosses, moving fast and tricks to boost engagement.
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