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If you would have asked me 10 years ago what my favorite books was, I probably wouldn’t have been able to say anything. Growing up, I didn’t read much. I was all about sports and left reading to the “smart” kids. It’s funny how much has changed.
I think my love for reading started back in 2011. Just six months after getting married to my wife, I had a double hip replacement at the age of 26. This left me stuck at home and out of work for quite some time. I spent my days recovering in a rented hospital bed set up in our living room. You can only watch so much TV…so I began reading books that friends and family had dropped off for me. Finally, I found a genre that interested me. After reading, “Lone Survivor,” by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson, I became hooked on non-fiction, real-life stories about real people who were inspiring others.
Since then, in the last nine years, I’ve read more than I have in my entire lifetime before. I now consider myself somewhat of a reader. Recently, I read a good stack of books, but I wanted to highlight four of my top picks that I consider “Must-Read” Leadership books.
Four Must Read Leadership Books:
“The Captain Class: A New Theory of Leadership” by Sam Walker
Your best players on your team or most talented individuals in your organization aren’t your best leaders, or captains. Author Sam Walker recognizes seven character traits that separates great leaders from good leaders, which are:
- Extreme persistence and focus
- Aggressive play that tests the limits of the rules
- A willingness to do thankless jobs in the shadows
- A low-key practical and democratic communication style
- Motivating others with passionate nonverbal displays
- Strong convictions and the courage to stand apart
- Ironclad emotional control
This book explores the top 16 tier 1 teams of all time such as the 1997-2016 San Antonio Spurs, 1956-1969 Boston Celtics, 1996-1999 United States National Women’s Soccer Team, 1986-1990 New Zealand All Blacks Rugby Team, and more! Tim Duncan, Wayne “Buck” Shelford, Yogi Berra, Mireya Luis, Bill Russell, Carles Puyol, and more among some of the greatest captains of all time, and not for the reasons you may think. Are you willing to “carry water?”
“Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives our Success” by Adam Grant
Top rated professor at the Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania and Author breaks down three reciprocity styles in this book, which are:
Find out why “givers” rise to the top, even in cut-throat competition at work, and “takers” gain a poor reputation and are seen as selfish. Looking for the best leader for an organization? Seek out “givers” because they put the group in front of themselves and don’t look for any credit. How to spot “takers?” They might kiss up to their superiors but treat their own employees poorly behind the scenes. They are constantly telling egotistical stories to make people fell less than, and use “I” instead of “we” when talking about the company.
I wish I read this book early on in my management career. Relying heavily on personal accolades and results was preventing me to understand that people and relationships were most important. Fortunately, going through this experience and growing pains helped me when I first started coaching basketball. Yes, I love winning, but watching a player grab his diploma four years later or land his first job is just as internally gratifying.
“The Infinite Game” by Simon Sinek
This book resonates with me because I’ve been in retail for 13 years. In retail, we are basically measured on our success based on our monthly results. Since we are determined winners or losers based on our monthly results, that is the “Finite” Game.
Author Simon Sinek explains the purpose for the “Infinite” game is to outlast your competition and sustain success over a long period of time. The “Infinite” game teaches us to win the war, while the “Finite” game is just winning the battle. There are 5 components of will if we are to succeed in the “Infinite” game:
- Just Cause: The burning desire that gets you out of bed in the morning, and your passion for outlasting the competition.
- Courageous Leadership: Playing the “Infinite” game will force you to stand up against the norm, and stay true to your “just cause”.
- Vulnerable Team: Working without fear of retribution and retaliation.
- Worthy Adversary: In the “Infinite” game, we are competing against ourselves, but it’s always good to have healthy competition that you respect enough to constantly adapt or tweak your own strategies.
- Have an Open Playbook: Implement flexible plans to pursue your “just cause”. Be transparent with your team, so everyone is on the same page. Holding things close to you chest in fear of having that idea exposed is a disservice to everyone.
Think about College basketball. Does a loss in November dictate how you’re playing in March when it really counts? Are you playing the “finite” game or the “Infinite” Game?
“The Mamba Mentality: How I Play” by Kobe Bryant
3am wakeups, countless hours studying film, meditation, and thousands of jump shots a day. Get in the head of five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant and find out what made him so successful. I was so impressed with the amount of preparation and attention to detail Kobe attacked each day with. This book really defines what it takes to separate yourself as a competitor and bring the best out of others by setting the tone. His best skill was being aware of his mental and physical being.
I bought this book while shopping at Barnes & Noble with my five-year old daughter back in October 2019. I read it cover to cover right away and it has been displayed on our coffee table since then. When I found out about the tragic loss of Kobe and his daughter Gigi in January 2020, I was devastated. Like Kobe, I’m also a dad of all girls, and couldn’t help to reflect on my own family, which really hit home. The reason he worked out at 3am was so that he could be home to make his daughters breakfast and drive them to school in the mornings. Whether I’m competing at work, or in a basketball game, I have to make sure I’m competing at home for my family. That’s the most important.
What books are you currently reading? I’d love to get some new recommendations from you! Please comment below or contact me to let me know!