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10 Leadership Books That Should Be on Your Radar Going Into 2019

10 Leadership Books That Should Be on Your Radar Going Into 2019 - Warren Buffett attributes his success to reading. To emulate his knack for smart books, start with these 10 leadership tomes.
10 Leadership Books That Should Be on Your Radar Going Into 2019

When an investing student asked billionaire Warren Buffett for his key to success, he didn’t point to his thrifty lifestyle, investing strategy or peer network; he pointed to a stack of books.

“Read 500 pages like this every day,” Buffett told his Columbia University class. “That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”

Buffett, whose business empire spans over a dozen big-name brands, spends as much as 80 percent of his day reading. His favorite books range from economist John Maynard Keynes’ classic Essays in Persuasion to former U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s Stress Test.

Whatever your tastes, you’ll never be the Buffett of your space if you can’t make time to read. Whether you’re looking to learn about leadership, technology, marketing or personal growth, you’re sure to find it in this list:


1. Data Science for Executives by Nir Kaldero

There’s a reason why data science is the second fastest-growing sector in the U.S. job market: Every enterprise needs data science, yet few leaders actually understand it. “Data Science for Executives” examines how businesses can implement data science and AI initiatives. Written by Nir Kaldero, vice president and head of data science at Galvanize, the book tackles myths, provides practical strategies and explains why data science will be essential to every type of business.

2. WTF?! (Willing to Fail) by Brian Scudamore

After building a multimillion-dollar company in the unglamorous junk removal industry, 1-800-GOT-JUNK CEO Brian Scudamore wanted to share his belief that determination is a leader’s most important asset. He talks about his experiences with toxic employees, uninformed business decisions and financial swings. “WTF!? (Willing to Fail)” offers lessons in cultivating gratitude, turning barriers into building blocks and standing back up after taking a business beating.

Patty McCord’s “Powerful” claims that most corporate motivation initiatives waste resources. Instead of performance reviews, perks and bonus plans, McCord advocates for a simpler system: go-for-broke honesty and challenging work. McCord, who served as Netflix’s chief talent officer, offers an inside look at how Netflix used this formula to build its famed culture and, in turn, an increasingly valuable company.

4. The Motivation Trap by John Hittler

Pick up this science-based book to understand why carrot-and-stick motivation simply doesn’t work. Transformational business coach John Hittler discusses how his experiences coaching individuals, groups and companies revealed the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Hittler asks what companies would look like if team members were responsible for motivating themselves and shares strategies for creating high-performing teams that enjoy their work and act with autonomy.

5. Unlearning Leadership by Guy Bell

Guy Bell’s “Unlearning Leadership” addresses Bell’s belief that businesses place “the good of the organization” above that of its employees. Bell contrasts the poor results companies achieve when they put shareholder value on a pedestal with the achievements of businesses that put people first. Bell examines how leaders can invest in self-discovery, empathetic leadership and transformative thinking.

6. People Processes by Rhamy Alejeal

In “People Processes,” Rhamy Alejeal, CEO of Poplar Financial, calls out a perennial problem with HR teams: the prioritization of processes over people. To reduce turnover and improve performance, Alejeal tells company leaders to automate as many of their HR operations as they can. He offers a how-to guide to help executives optimize rote functions like onboarding, payroll, reporting and compliance through technology.

7. Growth IQ by Tiffani Bova

Tiffani Bova’s “Growth IQ” aims to help readers “get smarter about the choices that will make or break your business.” A former Gartner vice president and current innovation leader at Salesforce, Bova tells executives to resist the urge to imitate competitors’ growth strategies and instead chart their own. Bova explains how all successful growth strategies can be broken down into 10 paths.

8. We Are All the Same Age Now by David Allison

Demographics are destiny, right? Wrong, according to marketing consultant David Allison, who explains that attributes like age and sex are all but useless in predicting behavior. After analyzing his 75,000-person study, Allison found that personal values are people’s true motivators. Through a system Alison calls “valuegraphics,” he teaches readers to use values-based models to improve organizational efficiency, decrease internal politics and prepare for industry disruption.

9. Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke

As a former World Series of Poker champion, Annie Duke knows a thing or two about bets. Here, Duke offers a guide for making tough choices in the face of uncertainty. She lays out a framework for objectively assessing what’s known and what isn’t and minimizing destructive decision-making.

10. Break the Wheel by Jay Acunzo

Jay Acunzo, founder of Unthinkable Media and HubSpot’s former head of content, helps readers make the best choice for their situation. To break free of conventional thinking, Acunzo shares six fundamental questions that readers can ask, regardless of the task at hand, to find their path forward.

There may never be enough hours in the day, but you can’t afford to let 2019 slip by without some smart reading. Each book here contains insights you need to deal with 21st-century challenges as broad as data science, HR automation, word-of-mouth marketing, and modern culture-building. After all, if Warren Buffett can find the time, you can, too.