Great leadership books can give you a confidence boost on those difficult days.
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For people who are running a company or trying to start one, potentially day-ruining events are always lurking just around the corner, waiting to pounce.
When they do occur, and after you’ve extinguished whatever business-related fire has ignited because of them, the best thing you can do is to pull yourself up and get back to effectively leading your company as quickly as possible.
For those challenging days, I like to remember the lessons I’ve gleaned from the many leadership books I’ve read.
Here are seven of those lessons–and my interpretations of them–from seven inspiring books:
1. “The true measure of leadership is influence: nothing more, nothing less.”
It does not matter what your title is, who you are leading, or what your vision is. Everything boils down to influence.
Everything that contributes to your leadership does so because it increases your influence among the people you serve as a leader. True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed, assigned, mandated or given. It can only be earned and measured by the currency of influence.
2. “The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be.”
- Love by Leo Buscaglia
A great leader can only be a great leader in their own skin. That is why introverts, extroverts and all kinds of other people can become good leaders in their own way.
There is no ‘best’ way to be a great leader. But there is only one way to be a good one: ‘your way.’
3. “Personal proficiency is the ultimate rule of leadership, and it starts by knowing yourself and survives by investing in yourself.”
Without personal proficiency and continuous learning, it is difficult to be an effective leader and certainly impossible to last a long time as one.
Here are my takeaways:
- Practice clear thinking and know yourself.
- Tolerate stress and demonstrate learning agility.
- Take care of yourself physically and mentally.
4. “Great leaders use failure as a wake up call. They turn their attention inward for reflection and introspection.”
Struggle is a natural part of leadership and it is the struggle itself that promotes growth. Although it sounds like a paradox, you retain power by acknowledging your vulnerabilities. Others are unable to take advantage of you when you recognize and improve your shortcomings and face your fears.
An easy way I remember and communicate this principle is “Always look in the mirror first, and then the window.” And pay attention to catch yourself if you ever skip that first step when evaluating failure.
5. “Don’t get stuck by an excessive need to be me.”
Each of us has a set of behaviors we define as ‘me.’ These behaviors can be positive (hardworking, analytical) or negative (perfectionist, not good with names) and we think of them as the true essence of being ‘me.’
By labeling these behaviors as ‘me,’ we prevent ourselves from ever changing them. Great leaders don’t say “That is just the way I am.” They instead try to improve and become the best leaders they can become.
6. “Trust in truth and don’t tolerate dishonesty.”
Without honesty and transparency, leadership has no stable ground to operate on. It is much easier to lead in an environment where everyone knows what is going on and everyone is free to share a dissenting point of view backed by evidence.
7- “It is the people stupid. If your dream is bigger than your team, you have got to give up the dream or grow the team.”
The most important part of any business is the people since nothing can happen without them. Don’t push the wrong people to do the right thing and don’t do the work yourself because you have the wrong people.
Instead, as leaders, we first have to acknowledge that what we are leading are people who have emotions, aspirations, needs and shortcomings. As leaders, we serve those people, not the other way around. The best we can do is to hire the right people, lead them efficiently, and communicate our vision to them.
Leadership is something that you will never be able to perfect. All you can do is keep learning from each experience (and helpful books) and continue to strive to be the best leader you can be.
What leadership books do you like? Let me know in the comments.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.