What Book Or Resource Has Shaped Your Leadership Style?

What Book Or Resource Has Shaped Your Leadership Style?

In the quest for leadership excellence, we've compiled insights from fourteen CEOs and Founders, revealing the books and resources that have profoundly influenced their leadership styles. From embracing team structures to empowering teams and valuing their voices, discover the effects of the diverse and transformative leadership resources that these top executives swear by.

  • Dan Sullivan Books Help Recreate Team Structure
  • Leverage Podcasting for Networking and Learning
  • Understand Visionary and Integrator Roles with ‘Rocket Fuel’
  • Define Leadership Beyond Authority
  • Navigate High-Stakes Conversations with 'Crucial Conversations'
  • Learn Greater Good Leadership from Sci-Fi
  • Apply Practical Advice from 'The Making of a Manager'
  • Secure Early Wins with 'The First 90 Days'
  • Apply 'The Art of War' to Business Strategy
  • Incorporate Podcasts and Fearlessness
  • Build Authentic Relationships with 'Never Eat Alone'
  • Lead with Integrity Inspired by 'Delivering Happiness'
  • Achieve Growth with 'Atomic Habits'
  • Improve Dynamics with The Drama Triangle
  • Empower Teams and Value Their Voices

Dan Sullivan Books Help Recreate Team Structure

Dan Sullivan's books have caused a complete mindset shift for me—twice. The first was through 10X is Easier than 2X, then through Who Not How. It felt like every chapter in both had that 'Aha' moment.

Who Not How has completely changed the way I recruit and structure teams. Having the right people in the right seats is my priority. Once I have that, the rest of the pieces fall into place.

Simon Purdon
Simon PurdonCEO, Bold SEO

Leverage Podcasting for Networking and Learning

Hands down, it is starting my own podcast, and it has been more valuable than any book I could read. The networking effect I get from podcasting is worth the effort alone, and I get the chance to learn from other CEOs and entrepreneurs. Imagine getting to have a 1-hour call with one of your peers; this is what I get once a week, and it is worth more than the marketing value a podcast brings.

John Wright
John WrightCEO, StatsDrone

Understand Visionary and Integrator Roles with ‘Rocket Fuel’

One leadership book that shaped how I think and how I lead others is Rocket Fuel, by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters. This book became the basis for their entire "Traction" library and methodology.

Their theory divides leadership into two different types and styles: the Visionary and the Integrator. What's interesting and important is this: you need both of these skills/gifts for a company to be successful. Unfortunately, most leaders are either one or the other - Visionary or Integrator - not both.

As a leader, the key is to know which type you are and to find (and rely on) your counterpart. This is the best way to drive success.

This theory helps to explain why and how great companies were so successful: when visionary leaders have integrators to make the vision real: Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak, John D. Rockefeller had Henry Flagler, etc.

This book helped me to see how people typically fit more into one category than another, and helped me to realize all the skillsets necessary for a visionary organization to grow and prosper.

Janet Granger
Janet GrangerCEO/Marketing Strategist/Mentor/Coach, Two Beagles

Define Leadership Beyond Authority

This is a great question. To answer, one must understand the meaning of leadership. It has different perceptions, as not everyone thinks the same. As per the dictionary, leadership means the action of leading a group of people or an organization. Personally, to me, it is way bigger than that.

A leader does not become a leader by coincidence. To me, leadership is being authoritative, being assertive, being able to communicate effectively, being able to listen, and last but not least, being able to understand the needs of the people who are being led.

There are so many books I can name which I have read on leadership, but if I had to pick my top two, they would be Your Next Five Moves: Master the Art of Business Strategy and How to Win Friends & Influence People. These two books have helped me tremendously with listening to business owners who need help understanding their own business model.

Starting a business and running a business are two different things. Anyone can start a business, but sustainability is the hardest part of any business, and as a result many go out of business within the first two years of their operations. Some start a business and expect an immediate return, which, once again, is a flaw in their business thinking and strategy.

Yes, numbers do matter significantly on the balance sheet in businesses, but one must not forget the importance of building long-term relationships with their clients and others. Without that, a business is impossible to sustain by itself, and the balance sheet won't mean anything. No matter how much we have and continue to evolve in the tech and AI world, nothing beats the good old successful ways of shaking hands with people and being able to converse in person.

Sid Gandotra
Sid GandotraFounder & CEO, Eminence Rise Media

Navigate High-Stakes Conversations with 'Crucial Conversations'

One book that's been incredibly helpful for me as a leader is Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Al Switzler, and Ron McMillan. Tough conversations aren't exactly my forte, but this book gave me some practical frameworks for navigating those high-stakes situations.

The biggest takeaway for me was learning to separate facts from emotions and stories. This helps me approach difficult discussions with a clear head, and focus on solutions. It's definitely a skill that takes practice, but Crucial Conversations has been instrumental in making me a more confident leader.

Scott Gabdullin
Scott GabdullinCEO and Founder, Learo

Learn Greater Good Leadership from Sci-Fi

It may seem very odd, but I think the Robots and the Foundation series from Isaac Asimov shaped me into the person I am today.

What does sci-fi have to do with leadership? Well, it taught me to think about the greater good, not in terms of 'what is best for me.' Yes, Asimov's robots were programmed to act in the interest of all humanity, but you can read between the lines, even if you're an adolescent, as I was when I first read his books.

Ironically, or not, this has helped me indirectly throughout my career. Setting an example for your team, acting in their interest, will ultimately lead to a work environment where willing people can flourish, not feel like it's just another job to pay the bills.

Ionut-Alexandru Popa
Ionut-Alexandru PopaEditor in Chief and CEO, BinaryFork

Apply Practical Advice from 'The Making of a Manager'

The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo is a gem for business leaders looking to navigate the transition from individual contributor to manager. What makes this book invaluable is its practical advice and real-world insights into the challenges and opportunities of leadership.

For me, this book has been transformative in shaping my leadership style by emphasizing the importance of empathy, communication, and empowerment.

Zhuo provides actionable strategies for building trust, giving feedback, and fostering a positive team culture. Her emphasis on leading with authenticity and vulnerability has encouraged me to embrace my strengths and weaknesses as a leader, and to create an environment where my team feels safe to do the same.

One key takeaway from The Making of a Manager is the idea that leadership is not about having all the answers but about empowering others to find solutions.

This mindset shift has allowed me to delegate more effectively, encourage innovation, and foster a sense of ownership among my team members. Overall, this book has been instrumental in helping me develop a leadership style that is both impactful and authentic.

Marissa Sabrina
Marissa SabrinaCreative Director, LeadLearnLeap

Secure Early Wins with 'The First 90 Days'

One book that has been particularly invaluable to me as a leader is The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter, Updated and Expanded by Michael D. Watkins. This book provided me with critical insights into navigating complex transitions, especially when I moved from a marketing executive role to CEO.

The strategies outlined helped me understand the importance of securing early wins to build momentum, and establish credibility within the organization. Applying these principles has shaped my leadership style to be more strategic and proactive, particularly during the critical initial stages of new leadership roles.

Mark W Lamplugh Jr
Mark W Lamplugh JrChief Executive Officer, South Jersey Treatment Management Company

Apply 'The Art of War' to Business Strategy

The Art of War by Sun Tzu is a timeless strategy book that CEOs can benefit from due to its insights into leadership, competition, and strategic thinking. As a CEO, you face complex challenges and competition in the business landscape. Sun Tzu's principles emphasize understanding your environment, assessing strengths and weaknesses, and making calculated decisions.

The book teaches the importance of adaptability and flexibility in strategy, which is crucial for CEOs navigating changing markets. It also highlights the value of intelligence gathering and strategic positioning to gain an edge over competitors.

By applying concepts from The Art of War, such as knowing your enemy and yourself, you can better anticipate challenges and opportunities. The book encourages strategic patience and efficiency in resource allocation, enabling you to maximize your company's potential. Embracing these teachings can lead to more effective decision-making, and ultimately contribute to your success as a CEO.

Aparajit Bhattacharya
Aparajit BhattacharyaExecutiveDirector, Zopper

Incorporate Podcasts and Fearlessness

My co-founder, Jose Jacho, introduced me to the HBR (Harvard Business Review) IdeaCast, and it has proven to be an invaluable resource. Given my hectic schedule, I reserve my reading time for fiction books or poetry, hence why The Tim Ferriss Podcast, How I Built This, and Masters of Scale have become constants in my rotation. One book that particularly inspires me is Walk Through Walls by Marina Abramović. I firmly believe that fearlessness, coupled with kindness and empathy, are essential qualities in the leaders whom I admire.

Diliana AlexanderFounder and Executive Director, FilmGate Miami, FilmGate Interactive, The Downtown Media Center

Build Authentic Relationships with 'Never Eat Alone'

Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi is an invaluable book that has significantly shaped my leadership style. The core premise of nurturing authentic relationships resonates deeply with me. Ferrazzi emphasizes that the currency of success is not merely talent or skills, but the network of people you connect with and share value with.

This book has inspired me to be a relationship-oriented leader. I make conscious efforts to build genuine connections with my team members, understanding their aspirations, strengths, and motivations beyond just their roles. I prioritize face time through team lunches, coffee chats, and open-door policies.

Additionally, Ferrazzi's principles have taught me the importance of reaching out to my professional network, offering support, and seeking advice. I've learned to be generous in sharing knowledge, making introductions, and celebrating others' wins. This fosters a culture of trust, collaboration, and loyalty within and beyond my organization.

Rather than a top-down, authoritarian approach, Never Eat Alone has ingrained in me a leadership style centered around empowerment, mentorship, and creating an ecosystem of mutual growth. It has been an invaluable resource in shaping how I inspire, develop, and build lasting connections with my team and network.

Nicole Smartt Serres
Nicole Smartt SerresSMB Advisor & Investor

Lead with Integrity Inspired by 'Delivering Happiness'

A book that I found useful in contributing to the leadership style that I most desire to execute is Delivering Happiness, written by the former CEO of, Tony Hsieh. This form of leadership, led by Tony, exemplifies the true meaning of treating your employees with integrity.

Brandon Jay
Brandon JayCEO, IMA Entertainment

Achieve Growth with 'Atomic Habits'

Atomic Habits by James Clear has effectively changed not only how I lead, but also how I show up for myself.

In the quest for growth, we so often think big picture, and have big goals. Leaders need to think that way; it's our job. However, to affect change, you can start small. The smallest of steps compound into remarkable results over time. Tiny wins and breakthroughs not only help get you toward your goal, but they also help ignite your brain activity, and that brings momentum to other initiatives.

Melissa Glick
Melissa GlickFounder, Peak CEO

Improve Dynamics with The Drama Triangle

The Drama Triangle, a transactional analysis tool developed by Dr. Stephen Karpman, influenced my career, my books, and my leadership.

The idea is that when there's relationship dysfunction, it can be identified by three orientations–Victim, Rescuer, and Persecutor–represented by three points on the triangle, with the Victim landing on the bottom in the one-down position. Dr. Karpman developed this tool for his therapy work, and I adapted his methods and ideology to improve leadership and workplace relationships.

This tool helps you to recognize dysfunction and take responsibility for your personal and professional life.

Marlene ChismCEO, Marlene Chism Consulting

Empower Teams and Value Their Voices

One resource I've found in my leadership style is to ensure everyone has a voice. Being in leadership doesn't mean it's 'your way or the highway,' because valuable employees are a resource that isn’t always replaceable. My goal as a leader is to empower my team, give them room to grow, and provide constructive criticism.

Kevin Smith
Kevin SmithCEO, E Perspective

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