15 Writers Shaping How We Think about Leadership

Leadership is no longer about command-and-control. Barking expectations don’t motivate people. It irritates and diminishes a leader’s effectiveness. After all, leadership is learning how to motivate people to want to do something.

So what does leadership look like in the 21st century? These 15 writers have a body of work that can help you adapt to a more relationally-driven approach to motivating people to want to do their best.

Brene Brown: From Rising Strong to Daring Greatly, Brown lovingly, and with humor, shines the light on leadership topics many of us want to ignore: getting back up when we fall, courage, vulnerability, shame, and worthiness. These are real human realities that today’s leaders must discuss, explore, and learn from.

Adam Grant: Whether learning about givers, takers, and matchers in his extraordinary first book Give and Take, or really what it takes to transform the world in Originals, Grant’s work will guide you through ideas that shift how you can have a positive influence on people and the world.

Bob Chapman: As CEO of Barry-Wehmiller and co-author of Everybody Matters, Chapman is the shining star example of executive leadership in the human-age. If you are looking to find a balance between business and people demands, Chapman is your guide.

Tom Rath: In his most recent book Are You Fully Charged, Rath paints the case that meaning, interactions, and having the energy to do your best are vital for today’s leaders. You’ve got to care for yourself before you can care for others.

Arianna Huffington: Thrive was a revelation for me about living a whole life and loving it. In a 24/7 world, leaders need to know how to find this for themselves or find themselves depleted. Huffington’s new book, The Sleep Revolution goes deep into one of the means to a thriving life–getting a good night sleep.

Jurgen Appelo: In his upcoming book, Managing for Happiness, Appelo gives leaders plenty of insights on how to make the workplace meaningful, purposeful, engaging, fun, and productive. Appelo has his finger on the pulse of what is shifting in employee expectations and how leaders need to respond.

Susan Cain: While the conversation about introverts and extroverts is decades old, Cain shined a fresh light on the topic. In Quiet, she sparked a more informed conversation about introversion and introverts. For leaders, Cain’s message is key to understanding people.

Simon Sinek: The popular Start with Why and Sinek’s follow-up, Leaders Eat Last,connect creating a business built on purpose to leading one with your humanity intact.

Dan Pink: Understand what motivates people: It’s an essential knowledge area for leaders today. Pink’s Drive is the required reading if you want to help people live into their potential.

Patrick Lencioni: With Lencioni’s rich body of work, there’s so much to pick from. If you want a primer of his work, pick up The Advantage. His upcoming book, The Ideal Player, drills down into teamwork and team players. Creating great teams today takes more than simply wanting one.

David Burkus: Your success today can’t rely solely on ideas of the past. Burkus’s latest book, Under New Management, presents new ideas for a new era of business–one that promotes community, transparency, flexibility, flatter organizational structures, and more. Leader’s today need to know what trends are changing the nature of running a business.

Amy Cuddy: What does your body language communicate about what you’re thinking? About your confidence. Self-awareness is essential for effective leadership. Cuddy explores this in insightful, useful doses in her book Presence.

Whitney Johnson: Speaking of self-awareness, Johnson invites you to answer a key question for leaders today: have you disrupted yourself? We get complacent as human beings. Complacency makes for lazy minds and ideas. There is no time for these two performance drainers in a hyper-competitive work environment. Check out Disrupt Yourself, Johnson’s, second book. A must read for anyone who wants to grow.

Travis Bradberry: If Amy Cuddy and Whitney Johnson teach us about self-awareness, Travis Bradberry builds on their message. He teaches us about emotional intelligence in his book Emotional Intelligence 2.0. He makes it easier to understand how to increase your emotional quotient (EQ). We need more leaders with higher EQs.

Liz Wiseman: Multipliers is a fantastic message for today’s leader: how do you magnify other people’s intelligence and capability. This takes a bit of selflessness. We need more of this today. Wiseman’s book is one to keep by your bedside.

There you have it. Top writers doing some needle-moving thinking towards enlightened leadership. Treat yourself. Update your library with any of the above writers’ works. Your people will thank you. Your personal satisfaction with your work and yourself will grow.


This post originally appeared on Inc.com


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Change Leader | Speaker | Writer Co-founder and CEO of ExchangeGain. Passionately explores the space where business & humanity intersect. Promoter of workplace optimism. Believes work can be a source of joy. Top ranked leadership blogger by Huffington Post. The Optimistic Workplace (AMACOM) out 2015

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