One of the hallmarks of a great leader is an insatiable desire to learn more. Truly remarkable leaders never brag about how much they know nor claim to have all the answers. Leadership demands humility, curiosity, and a willingness to be challenged. 

For all these reasons, we’re always working on broadening our own horizons by reading as much as possible. Sometimes it’s a lonely world for leaders who may not have peers they can look to for guidance and advice. Books are an opportunity for successful leaders to help build the capacity of others. 

To help you get started with your own reading list, we’ve rounded up a handful of our favorite books that we read this past year. Some are particularly poignant given the ups and downs of 2020, but all are great reads for leaders who want to expand their leadership skills for the upcoming year and beyond. 

Our Top 5 Recommended Books for 2020

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

Synopsis: In an effort to understand why some organizations succeed and others fail when it comes to creating tight-knit teams, author Simon Sinek dives into a variety of environments. From the boardroom to the battlefield, he unearths the core principles that matter to exceptional work culture. 

Why it’s a must-read: “Leadership practices that emphasize inclusion and mutual support, create safe spaces where individuals and teams feel free to take risks, share important information, and strive to help one another succeed are those he puts forward as aspirational examples,” says Chris Ihrig, CEO of Fired-Up! Culture

Water the Bamboo by Greg Bell

Synopsis: Author Greg Bell examines the role of focusing on core values to achieve long-term goals through the metaphor of giant timber bamboo. This incredible plant can grow 90 feet in just two months but not until it’s been watered regularly for three years. 

Why it’s a must-read: For leaders trying to think strategically about the importance of daily tasks, milestones, and objectives as part of bigger goals, this book is perfect. “It’s all about how long it takes to nurture and follow through on an idea,” says Tim Yeomans, Executive Vice President of Fired-Up! Culture

Make Your Bed by Admiral William McRaven

Synopsis: In 2014, Admiral William McRaven gave a commencement speech that quickly went viral. It started with a simple rule: make your bed. It details McRaven’s life as a Navy Seal and offers practical advice for leaders who want to build the capacity of themselves and others. 

Why it’s a must-read: The lessons of the book speak to being our best self when we are learning, growing, striving, and persevering. McRaven provides many examples where he learned from and relied on others to help him succeed.

The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason

Synopsis: This classic bestseller approaches timeless financial advice by going back in time. Clason’s parables recall lessons learned from ancient Babylon and include seven rules for ensuring the financial security of individuals and organizations. 

Why it’s a must-read: “People ask me why I think this is a leadership book. It’s all about discipline and personal responsibility, and so far as leadership goes, it’s essentially finance 101,” says Yeomans. “It’s kind of the building blocks to being a leader.” 

Wise Beyond Your Field by Nancy K. Napier & The Gang

Synopsis: Author Nancy Napier takes the idea of “thinking outside of the box” to new levels in this diverse exploration of leadership success. By talking to leaders who sought unconventional solutions to common problems in their fields, Napier provides an opportunity for others to start thinking more creatively about their own strategies. 

Why it’s a must-read: This book truly speaks to the importance of a positive and supportive organizational culture and offers critical lessons on the subject of team engagement. 

Book Clubs: A Team Opportunity

One of our favorite ways to digest new books is by sharing them with our teams through book clubs. It’s a great way to foster conversation, engage with others, and boost work culture. If you need guidance in facilitating this, don’t hesitate to reach out!

To view our full reviews of these titles, and many others, check out our Fired-Up! Reading Room here!