It is often said that “Leaders are Readers”. The best military leaders are students of history. They read about the political pressures that create conflict, the tactics of great battles and military theory as espoused by Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, Napoleon, Alexander the Great, etc. The best business leaders are similarly informed. Since time is at a premium for all of us, I thought that for the 4th of July I’d compile my list of the 4 “must read” books for every business owner and manager.
No doubt, some of you are wondering when you will have time to read, I get that. Personally, I always read before going to bed and frequently I read in the morning. I always start out my weekend days with a couple of hours of quiet reading while drinking my coffee. For me, the problem is slightly different. I have been reading for pleasure since I was about 8 years old and I’m protective of my time in a good novel, it’s my one true escapes (along with golf but without the frustration). In addition, I am an auditory learner so I retain information better when I hear it than I do when I see it. Fortunately, modern technology has provided a solution, audio books. I subscribe to Audible and my car is my university. If I’m driving I’m listening. Frequently a passage gets my mind wandering and I may miss a minute or two contemplating something I’ve heard. Since I don’t want to look down to rewind I have a phone mount on my dashboard so my eyes are always looking at the windshield. When I realize I missed something or I want to hear it again I can rewind 30 seconds without taking my eyes off the road. You can even save a clip, the audio equivalent of highlighting a passage, for later review.
Without further ado, here is my recommended reading list.
Want to know how good companies become great companies? Then read this book. Collins studies a group of companies that consistently outperformed the general stock market by an average of 7 X over a fifteen-year period. Unlike Collin’s earlier book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, Jim Collins, Jerry I Porras, Harper Business – 2004, Good to Great follows good companies that make the leap to great.
The Ultimate Sales Machine is not a book about sales. Rather it details how to setup your company to constantly and consistently support your sales efforts. Chet Holmes details strategies for hiring, training and everything else you need to know to create an environment for success.
The best businesses are those that are on a path of continuous improvement but how do you know where to focus your efforts? If you have ever improved a process but didn’t solve the problem then you need to read The Goal. Told in allegorical fashion The Goal will demonstrate why not all improvements have the same effect and will show you how to identify the weak link in your processes.
There are no bad teams, only bad leaders. Don’t believe me, then read this book. Taken from war-torn Iraq and the battle for Fallujah, these lessons have a direct impact on business and businesses and the authors do a masterful job of translating the lessons into ones you can use every day in business.
Have your own “must read” book on either business or leadership? Post it in the comments.