How to grow in leadership and communication

January 15, 2020 | 0 comments

Years ago one of my colleagues in China asked me about a book I had read the year before and for the life of me, I could not recall anything of substance. What?!

As soon as I finished a book, I moved on to the next one without building in any reflecting time. So, I chose a pretty notebook and started to write down a short blurb for each book I read. Sometimes my blurbs are brief summaries, other times, I write down what I want to remember from a book.

Recently I was asked what I’ve read in the last several years related to leadership and communication. I love nonfiction, so it’s not surprising my list was long-ish, almost too long for one post. But who doesn’t love a good list? For your sake, I disciplined myself not to say too much about any one book. If you’d like to know more, just ask!


Without further ado, here are the 26 books I read in the last five years related to leadership and communication.

1. Me, Myself, and Bob: A True Story About Dreams, God, and Talking Vegetables by Phil Vischer — “This is a story of dreaming big and working hard, of spectacular success and breathtaking failure, of shouted questions, and, at long last, whispered answers.”

2. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk — “Thanks to massive change and proliferation in social media platforms, the winning combination of jabs and right hooks is different now.”

3. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger — Berger reveals the “science behind word-of-mouth and social transmission.”

4. slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations by Nancy Duarte

5. Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences by Nancy Duarte — The power in a story of going back and forth between what is and what could be.

6. Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering and Success by Lee Daniel Kravetz and David B. Feldman

7. Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone and Shalia Heen — I’m realized I have so much I want to say about this book, I’ll do a separate post. So good!

8. With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God by Sky Jethani — An absolute must read. The end.

9. The Weekly Coaching Conversation: A Business Fable about Taking Your Team’s Performance and Your Career to the Next Level by Brian Souza — Not my fav read, but a good reminder as a leader to be intentional with those I work with.

10. Sticking Points: How to Get 4 Generations Working Together in the 12 Places They Come Apart by Haydn Shaw — So many “ah-ha!” moments reading this!

11. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell — This book offers “a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, suffer from a disability, lose a parent, attend a mediocre school, or endure any number of other apparent setbacks.”

12. Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant — “There are three broad styles of interpersonal dealing: taking, matching, and giving. Here’s the counter-intuitive part. If we look at the most successful people—the happiest, the most likely to be promoted, etc—they are generally givers, and if we look at the least successful, they too often tend to be givers.”

13. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown — “The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right thingsdone.”

14. The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply Transform Your Church, Team, and the World by Peter Scazzero — Highly recommend! “Scazzero shows leaders how to develop a deep, inner life with Christ, examining its profound implications for surviving stress, planning and decision making, building teams, creating healthy culture, influencing others, and more.”

15. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek

16. Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown — “In analyzing data from more than 150 leaders, Wiseman has identified five disciplines that distinguish Multipliers from Diminishers.”

17. Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert B. Cialdini

18. The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business by Patrick Lencioni — An absolute must read! I’m using this book with the Connection Group Facilitators this fall.

19. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

20. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

21. Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life by Susan David

22. The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Sean Covey, Jim Huling, and Chris McChesney — Absolute must read.

23. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport — Excellent. So good on understanding how the brain works and the importance of building in time for deep work. I have been frustrated that I’m stuck doing so much shallow work, this book was a big help to bring change.

24. The Power of Healthy Tension: Overcome Chronic Issues and Conflicting Values by Tim Arnold — My new fav book; I love it so much I have worked in these ideas into talks I’m giving at writers groups around Denver, a presentation I made in Germany to cross-cultural workers, and a keynote address I’ll give in February at a cross-cultural conference to mainly those who send people overseas. Suffice it to say, the impact this book has had on my thinking and understanding of situations that are a part of life is far and wide and if you get with a two-foot radius of me, you’re gonna hear about this book!

25. 5 Voices: How to Communicate Effectively with Everyone You Lead by Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram — Here is an Instagram post I wrote about this book.

26. The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization by Peter Drucker

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Because we have started a new decade, I recently did a reflection of my reading the last decade, you can see it here. What are some of your must-reads for communication or leadership?


Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Amy Young

Amy Young

Life enthusiast. Author. Sports lover. Jesus follower. Supporting Cross-cultural work.

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