September 17, 2012

More Leadership Books You Should Read

“I cannot live without books.”
– Thomas Jefferson

Here are two more leadership books that have strongly influenced my leadership and management style.

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie

Leadership is a human art.

It’s about creating strong relationships, smoothing conflict and connecting emotionally with others.  “How To Win Friends and Influence People” is the best tutorial in existence on how to improve your relationships and help you become a better leader.

It contains simple and practical advice such as:

  • Avoid arguing.  You can’t win an argument because if you lose it, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it.  Proving you’re “right” alienates others even if you are in fact right.
  • Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.  Criticizing and complaining is relationship poison.  There are ways to communicate a critical opinion without saying “You suck!”
  • Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.  Everyone loves to be praised.  If someone does a good job, don’t keep it a secret.  Tell them!

Each chapter contains a short lesson like the ones above.  Carnegie illustrates each lesson with amusing and easy to remember stories.

When I mention this book to others they often say “Oh yeah I read that.”  Well, they may have read it but they obviously aren’t applying it because they have all the relationship ability of a crocodile.

This book changed my life.  It will change yours as well.  Read it slowly, 1-2 chapters each week.  Then practice the ideas in each chapter for a week before continuing.  I guarantee it will lead to better and more rewarding relationships for you.

PS – Carnegie wrote this book 75 years ago.  It contains some old-fashioned language and examples which may not be familiar to today’s reader.  It’s still excellent because human nature doesn’t change.

“The One Minute Manager” by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

“The One Minute Manager” is short and easily readable.  It contains a narrative story about one manager’s quest to improve his leadership.

The main lessons can be boiled down to: 1) Be absolutely clear in your description of the job and expectations for performance (and non-performance) of your people, and 2) Give constant and immediate feedback.

A “One Minute Manager” can describe expectations or deliver feedback in one minute or less. Especially useful is the book’s advice on how to give positive feedback (praise) and negative feedback (reprimand).

I required all my people-leaders to read this book.  We discussed each chapter in our weekly management meeting.  Not only did it improve their team relationship and performance, but it made my job a lot easier because it set the expectation that I would give feedback immediately.  If someone did something wrong, I’d say jokingly “Ok, I gotta give you a one minute reprimand now.”  They knew what I was doing.  It made negative feedback less personal and much easier to swallow.  Sometimes they’d do the same to me!

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