The Reading Corner: These Books Will Teach You How To Be A Leader

Leadership. What is it? How would you describe it?

Many people believe they would make a great leader, but very few actually would. As history shows us time and time again there are certain individuals who manage to balance the juggling act to direct their teams to success, whether it be military, business, survival or otherwise. Here we look at some of the best books by brilliant leaders both good and bad that will enable you to learn from their lessons, giving you the edge when it comes to leading your own team.

Endurance, By Alfred Lansing

The tale of Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic adventure in 1914 is one of true legend. His ship the Endurance set sail from England on the long journey toward Antarctica where he and 27 crew members would attempt to cross the continent from west to east on foot. In a mission that ultimately failed, what transpired from the expedition is a remarkable tale of natural leadership, heroism, determination and level headedness. Alfred Lansing details the astonishing journey of Shackleton and his men drawing on countless interviews, diary entries from the crew and meticulous research and captures the Shackleton’s iconic leadership in a way that makes the reader feel as if you are perched on Shackleton’s shoulder witnessing everything first hand, side by side with the crew every step of the way.

Published by Basic Books, Available Amazon.com

Super Pumped: The Battle For UBER, By Mike Isaac

Journalist Mike Isaac has written a real belter of a book in Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber. It traces Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick’s trajectory from floundering startup founder to the muscle of Silicon Valley to the epitome of tech evil and everything that is wrong with the industry, and with it a decade of excess and self-delusion. Isaac’s meticulously reported account finds astonishing new lows, like an executive in Thailand shoving a female employee’s face in a pile of cocaine or Kalanick himself, writhing on the floor of a meeting room at the Le Meridien hotel in downtown San Francisco after Bloomberg published a leaked video of the CEO berating a driver. Yes he really did that.

Mr.Kalanick was ousted from Uber in 2017, following a series of scandals around sexual harassment, surveillance of government officials, and huge amounts of privacy violations. Super Pumped is an essential read, functioning, in a way, as a simplified translation from techspeak to plain english and allows us to decode the industry’s dizzying ascent over the past decade, to the point where decisions made by a roomful of men on Market Street now have the power to change the face of a city or dictate wages and tips (or lack thereof) for millions of drivers. Kalanick was once seen as a visionary, changing the lives of millions, but like all great leaders in history Mr.Kalanick was riddled with flaws and his empire and troops soon suffered from a maze of questionable decisions and bad life choices. Essential reading for anyone who runs a business or is starting to think about. A tale how things can quickly go from crazy idea to an absurd and completely outrageous company culture that was as destructive as its founder and leader. There are many, many lessons to take from the book and it’s one of our favourites so far this year.

Published by W.W Norton & Company, Available Amazon.co.uk

Team Of Rivals, By Doris Kearns Goodwin

If Abraham Lincoln can unite his cabinet and the country around abolishing slavery amidst war, you can probably reconcile conflicting personalities in your company. Meshing people of divergent ideologies into a team or group is an admirable leadership trait. In Team of Rivals, Kearns Goodwin recounts the story of how Lincoln surrounded himself with the best people, despite their differences. He was humble and unafraid to be challenged: two traits that will serve every leader.

Published by Simon & Schuster, Available Amazon.co.uk

The Obstacle Is The Way,
By Ryan Holiday

Ever wondered how great generals won impossible battles? How that startup CEO turn a nightmare that would possibly bankrupt them into a gold mine? Well, The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday is for you. Holiday is a man who dropped out of college at nineteen to serve as an apprentice to best-selling ‘modern Machiavelli’ Robert Greene and is now a media consultant for billion-dollar brands. He was also the director of marketing for American Apparel, learning that even if your brand is generating controversy it’s also potentially generating publicity. Ryan has taken inspiration from philosophy of the Stoics of Greece & Rome such as the famed Caesar of Rome Marcus Aurelius and more to guide you through every situation, showing that what often blocks our path actually reveals another that is better, using the Stoic philosophy – ‘that what is in the way, is the way‘ and that it can be applied to any situation. It’s a formula that was invented more than 2,000 years ago, its effectiveness has been proved in battles and board rooms ever since. This is the one book any leader or would-be leader needs in their life.

Published by Profile Books, Available Amazon.com

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