We’re all working to be better leaders whether we are managers, executives, project leaders, team leads, or board members. As I’ve spent much of the last three years working in small business, team projects, and local and national not-for-profit boards, I’ve learned a few things, or perhaps watched others struggle with success.
One great joy I’ve found is communicating with up-and-coming staff about successful strategies for lifting their organizations up! Whether you are a local NFP volunteer leader or a paid executive, we’re all learning together.
As a long-time business book editor, I am the first to notice that there is truly not much new in the world of leadership. I’m also usually the first to call BS on concepts that are, well, not my cup of leadership tea. Looking for some great resources for NFP that pass my personal muster, and better, I’ve found incredibly useful? Try these favorites of mine:
- Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, Did you boss make you read this in the 90s? EQ may be intuitive to you, or you may need some help recognizing how to better use it in leadership. Or, you may have to coach a valued staff member though understanding how to develop her or her instincts.
- StrengthsFinder 2.0 from Gallup, Don Clifton This one may be my new favorite leadership reference. Detailing 34 different strengths, you’ll find some you didn’t know you had and how to utilize them for success!
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown Ever feel overwhelmed by life? Ever wonder how some people are able to streamline priorities and focus on what matters? If so, the principles of Essentialism may be for you. From time management to phraseology, this book offers critical advice on deciding how to do less.
- Nonprofit Boards that Work: The End of One-Size-Fits-All Governance, Maureen K. Robinson. Modern boards today have to focus on organizational governance as well as overseeing financial operations, group vision, and strategic goals. If you’re a new board member, this book is a primer on everything from board structure to fundraising.
- The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell, A classic business book defining types of leaders including Connectors. If you’ve not read this one before, it may change your worldview and understanding of how differing types of leaders communicate, succeed, and connect.
- You are a Badass: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, Jen Sincero with Greg McKeown We all need a kick in the pants sometimes. This book is a perfect blend of hard truths, tough love, strong encouragement and positive affirmation that you, girl, are a badass!
- Success with Less: Releasing Obligations and Discovering Joy, by Karen Mangia. Mangia, a Salesforce exec (and full disclosure, a good friend of mine), shares her strategy for success showing us all how to do less and gain more by focusing on what matters. It’s perfect for those at a crossroads trying to define how to move forward without simply just doing more. Every day I try to “press pause,” one of her key tips.
- Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, Liz Wiseman with Greg McKeown. Have you ever worked with a leader who inspired everyone to bring their best ideas and intelligence to the situation? Have you noticed how they make everyone bring their best and improve the entire organization? Multipliers are those leaders who foster inspiration to benefit us all.
- Tripping the Prom Queen: The Truth about Women and Rivalry, Susan Shapiro Barash, Nothing frustrates me more than how some women behave in leadership roles. Backbiting, gossip, triangulating — or worse, telling each other to “lean in” and make themselves more likeable or approachable. This one explores the whys of some female behavior and ways to recognize and change it — without telling you the solution is to excuse it.
- When Millennials Take Over: Preparing for the Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Business , Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant, No matter how you feel about Millennials or Gen Y in the workplace, the future of work will involve understanding how they’ll be changing work — and workplaces in the next few years. This one is a good start on getting comfortable with new work styles. There are a few things I don’t agree with in this book, but his premise is a good start if you’re looking at how to lead younger workers.