Learn the Key Traits of Strong Leaders With These 5 Leadership Books

Learn the Key Traits of Strong Leaders With These 5 Leadership Books | Leadership | Emeritus

Businesses worldwide are currently facing multiple challenges, including keeping up with the latest technological advancements, hiring and retaining skilled talent, and focusing on innovation. Organizations need influential leaders with traits like discipline, persistence, passion, and control to manage teams successfully during uncertain times. One of the best ways to acquire these traits is by gaining lessons from the top leadership books

In this blog, we shall discuss the following: 



Data Analytics Books

  • Top 5 Leadership Books
  1. Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, and Alan Eagle
  2. How Life Imitates Chess by Garry Kasparov
  3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
  4. My Autobiography by Alex Ferguson
  5. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

1. Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, and Alan Eagle

The Trillion Dollar Coach primarily explains the leadership style of Bill Campbell, a renowned coach, business executive, and authors’ mentor. It is a compilation of Campbell’s management principles. The book also includes snippets of around 80 interviews with people who knew Campbell, and they shared their learnings. 

Campbell focused on the following four qualities in people who could become great managers: 

  1. Smartness: This has less to do with academics and more to do with the ability to learn new things quickly and make connections. It’s called the ability to make “far analogies”.
  2. Hard-working. 
  3. High integrity.
  4. Grit: Leaders should be passionate and find their way back even after facing multiple setbacks.

The Trillion Dollar Coach highlights that the primary role of a manager is to help their team members grow. This is possible when leaders promote trust and support, creating an environment where people feel liberated. In fact, the book emphasizes the importance of strong interpersonal connections and that leaders should build communities, both within and outside of work. It further explains Campbell’s philosophy that good leaders grow gradually by being curious and focusing on learning new things. This makes it one of the best leadership books to understand essential leadership qualities. You can go through the detailed chapter-wise summary of the book here

2. How Life Imitates Chess by Garry Kasparov

Leadership has an uncanny resemblance to chess. Both require making strategic moves, thinking ahead, envisioning future outcomes, adapting to the situation, and being patient. In the book How Life Imitates Chess, Kasparov explains the lessons he learned as a world-class chess competitor for over 20 years.  He shows how those lessons can be implemented to lead a successful professional and personal life. 

This book is another remarkable item on the list of the best leadership books one can read today. It states that in chess, the real challenge is making progress when the player doesn’t see a favorable outcome. Not being afraid to move forward even when there is no clear direction is the characteristic of a leader. The book also highlights that being talented and hardworking does not make one a winner. Achieving success requires analyzing your methods and how they help you reach certain decisions.

How Life Imitates Chess is one of the best books on leadership.  It offers remarkable leadership lessons about how effective decision-making is based on two critical factors—intuition and instinct. Laced with wisdom and humor, this book is an inspiration for leaders, especially during challenging times. You can find the chapter-wise summary of the book here.

ALSO READ: What is Leadership? Definition, Meaning & Importance

3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey 

This is one of the most simple yet effective leadership books in the self-help genre.  It highlights small actionable changes people can make to improve the quality of their lives. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People lists the following life-altering habits a lot of people might be aware of but fail to adopt:

  1. Being proactive: It means being in charge of one’s life and actively seeking opportunities. Instead of letting others define their actions, people should take responsibility for their choices.
  2. Begin with the end in mind: Covey encourages readers to think about their funeral and what their loved ones will think about them in the end. He instructs readers to define some key principles or life values and to abide by them.
  • Prioritize things: Covey encourages readers to introspect the habits they can follow to improve their personal and professional lives.
  • Listen to understand: This habit involves actively listening to people to improve interpersonal relationships. Instead of listening to respond, people should listen to understand.
  • Synergize: This is one of the best leadership habits that focus on collaboration and synergy to achieve better outcomes.
  • Sharpen the saw: It means focusing on continuous learning or personal development to recharge.
  • Think of favorable outcomes: The book also stresses that people should adopt a cooperative mindset instead of a competitive one.

Covey measures success not only with fame or wealth but through personal growth and fulfillment. The book further explains that people don’t see the world as it is. They overcomplicate it and view the world from other’s lenses. These habits can not only impact lives but also enhance leadership abilities. The book serves as a transformation guide for leaders and is one of the best books on leadership. You can listen and watch the chapter-wise summary of the book here

4. My Autobiography by Alex Ferguson

This book is a guide on leadership lessons by Alex Ferguson, one of the greatest managers in the history of British soccer. It comprises his anecdotes and expressions as the manager of Manchester United for almost 27 years. My Autobiography explains that the key traits of leadership are discipline, control, teamwork, and motivation. Ferguson says, “Once you bid farewell to discipline you say goodbye to success.” The book further highlights the other pillars of leadership—preparation, persistence, and consistency. It also emphasizes that leaders should know how to identify and channel their team’s hunger. It is indeed one of the top books on leadership for people who are passionate about sports. You can listen and watch the book’s summary here.

ALSO READ: How to Practice Well-Being Leadership

In this book, the authors who are former U.S. Navy officers introduce the readers to the famed SEAL leadership training manual. Extreme Ownership emphasizes three key elements for becoming a leader—extreme ownership, discipline, and a growth mindset.

It is one of the most influential leadership books you will ever lay your hands on. It explains the key characteristics of a strong leader and also mentions the traits a leader should not possess. These include:

  • Being confident but not cocky
  • Courageous and not foolhardy
  • Attentive to details but not obsessive
  • Humble but not passive
  • Should be able to take complete ownership and exercise decentralized command
  • Competitive along with being a gracious loser

One of the most meaningful quotes from the book is, “Leaders must always operate with the understanding that they are part of something greater than themselves and their own personal interests.” You can watch and listen to the book’s summary here. 

ALSO READ: 8 Types of Leadership Styles and How to Choose Yours

The top books on leadership share strong and impactful leadership lessons, guiding the readers to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. Along with reading these books, professionals also need to gain practical skills. And the best way to do that is by pursuing an online course. Emeritus’ online leadership courses teach the latest leadership frameworks, theories, and methodologies. They also help learners acquire relevant skills and gain practical leadership lessons. Explore Emeritus’ online leadership courses and advance your career today!

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About the Author

Content Writer, Emeritus Blog
Sneha is a content marketing professional with over four years of experience in helping brands achieve their marketing goals. She crafts research-based, engaging content, making sure to showcase a bit of her creative side in every piece she writes. Sneha spends most of her time writing, reading, or drinking coffee. You will often find her practicing headstands or inversions to clear her mind.
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