“Not all readers are leaders but all leaders are readers” — Harry S. Truman
As far back as I can remember I’ve always been interested in the subject of influence over the human psyche. Growing up we had a home library full of books from my mothers studies in Jamaica.
Amongst them were books on psychology, health, history, etc. As a little boy, I use to read through the psychology books she had collected over the years. I use to think deeply about the capabilities and the unknown of the human mind.
When I ventured into the professional world, I quickly started to size up “the battlefield.” Watched and learned the social codes of the warehouse and found a way to rise to power and influence. But I decided to use my power and knowledge of influence for good.
These are the books that informed me on how to play the game of politics, power and persuasion. I’ve been blessed to have not only being exposed to books on the human psyche and Social dynamics but to put them into practice as well.
By no means is this list complete. There are still plenty books I’ve read, still reading and books I want to read on this subject. Feel free to drop your book recommendations in the responses!
The 48 Laws Of Power By Robert Greene
“No one wants less power; everyone wants more. In the world today, however, it is dangerous to seem too power hungry, to be overt with your power moves.” — The 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene
I first heard about this book from a Drake song(I know). Many people refer to this book as vindictive or manipulative. But how I see is that if you aren’t, at the very least, aware of these laws of power they can and will be used against you at your own detriment.
Robert Greene does a great job at drawing from historical figures and events to provide context for each one of these laws. The laws are distilled from the contexts themselves due to the fact that us humans interact in a specific ways that yield to specific principles that illustrate our self human motivations.
If you want to be an effective leader you have to read this book. You don’t have to weaponize these laws. But they can serve as a shield against those who would conspire to use them against you.
The 33 strategies of war By Robert Greene
“It’s better to be a warrior in the garden than a gardener at war.” — Unknown
At times you’re going to have to go to “war.” In leadership, you’re bound to be met with opposite political forces that conspire to snuff you you.
Being armed with tactics and strategies are of good use. Once again Robert Greene draws on. historical campaigns at war to educe strategies that can be used in the political arena to fend off bad actors in the fight for power and influence.
And I want to make this clear. You may not want to fight, but that doesn’t mean others aren’t going to want to fight you.
Spiral Dynamics In Action By Prof Don Beck PhD et al
“…this book uniquely offers the application of Spiral Dynamics in various geo-political settings in industrial domains and organizational spaces.” — Spiral Dynamics in Action, Prof. Don Edward Beck et al
To be honest, I just picked this book up. I spent $24 dollars on it because I truly feel that it embodies what I stand firm on, pulling from multiple disciplines in order to solve complex problems.
Essentially this books mission is to assist leaders in a variety of organizations, corporations and the public sector.
One of the main focuses of this book is the applications of underlying principles of nature in order to do away with the old school, hard driving, rigid, top down management and leadership schemas.
This book is very attractive to me because I stated in my last article that leadership in the 21st is a whole different ball game.
As I read through this book, I recommend you do the same if you want to expand your horizons as a new age leader.
The Effective Executive By Peter F. Drucker
“The Effective Executive is both a concise blueprint for effectiveness as an executive within an organization and a practical guide to manag- ing oneself for performance and achievement, whether within an organization or on one’s own.” — Peter F. Drucker
I’ve heard a lot of great things about Peter Drucker, probably because he was born in November like myself. Or it could be that he’s phenomenally gifted in conveying the art of leadership and management.
In “The Effective Executive” he’s far from abstract, though. He emphasizes some objective points in order to be an effective executive.
These points are:
- Knowing what to contribute
- Setting priorities
- Time management
- Discernment in where to place your best efforts for the most impact
- Putting all of the above together with skillful decision making.
Whether you are in leadership role or management, you should grab a copy of not only this book, but all books written by Peter Drucker. I haven’t read all of his books, but I get the feeling from reading this one that he has plenty more insight on various leadership and management scenarios.
The End Of Power By Moisés Naim
“We know that power is shifting from brawn to brains, from north to south and west to east, from old corporate behemoths to agile start-ups, from entrenched dictators to people in town squares and cyberspace.” — Moisés Naím
I didn’t read this book yet but bare with me. The premise of this book is that power is decaying. Power is no longer centralized within the hands of the few.
Without having read this book(yet) I am going to make the assumption that this decentralization of power, in the traditional sense, is due to the fact that the internet, the virtual world is cutting out the middle man.
This is what digital currency built on blockchain technology is about right? This is also why tech companies and small businesses that didn’t exist not even 12 years ago are popping up and mining as much data from their audience as possible.
It is not totally possible for the solitary individual to built an island of their own. Free from the constraints of traditional desk job worship.
At this point in this article, I’m heavily considering starting a leadership and social dynamics book club of some sort. Or maybe not. In either case I’m going to be updating this article sporadically as I read more books on leadership and social dynamics.
Leadership & Self-Deception By The Arbinger Institute
“Self-deception actually determines one’s experience in every aspect of life.” — Leadership and Self-Deception, The Arbinger Institute
I think this may have been the first book I picked up when I made the decision to step into my role as a leader.
The title itself says it all. Leadership & self-deception are two things that do not go together yet there they are. The still have to co-exist. That’s because the ego is prevalent to our navigation of this life experience. It is present in every area of our lives. This means that self-deception is present in every area of our lives.
But when it comes to leadership, we have to take special note of self-deception it because undermines our influence and our perceptions of other people, including the people we’re responsible for leading.
This book does a great job of making you aware that accountability is vital in leadership. It holds the mirror up to you in order for you to check various aspects of yourself that facilitates self-deception.
Influence: The Psychology Of Persuasion By Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D
“Although there are thousands of different tactics that compliance practitioners employ to produce yes, the majority fall within six basic categories. Each of these categories is governed by a fundamental psychological principle that directs human behavior and, in so doing, gives the tactics their power.” — Robert B. Cialdini
Leadership is all about influence. All of the skills you possess is only a means to an end, that end being influencing others to work toward a common goal. Influencing people to do the right thing.
In this book, Robert B Cialdini breaks it down to about 6 principles:
- Commitment & Consistency
- Social Proof
Each one of these principles play on basic human conditioning, programming and nature within multiple contexts.
For example, scarcity is used in e-commerce via the countdown timer. You’ve seen it plenty of times: “Buy within the next 4 hours and get 15% off!”
Your anticipated regret is activated due to scarcity via the countdown timer. The next thing you know, you’re spending $100 on something you don’t need.
Reading is one of the best tools you have in your arsenal when it comes to improving leadership skills.
Many of these books contain a high level of research that supports many of the underlying principles.
Books by people who spent a considerable amount of time in leadership roles is the best resource, better than well-researched books, in my opinion, because the experienced author has their own first hand experience in application of various leadership and management theories.
Whichever source you decide to pull knowledge from. Be sure to apply what you learn in the real world or what you learn will be useless.