I’m running a session of Engage & Grow, our employee engagement program, and one of the tasks in the sessions is that each person shares a leadership lesson that has influenced them.

As the facilitator, I went first.  Which got me thinking about my top leadership book recommendation right now, and that book is Leaders Eat LastSimon Sinek.

Business Leadership Book 1: Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

See, I first had a key leadership role as a U.S. Army Lieutenant right out of college.  Talk about being in over your head.  I had no fricking clue what being an Army officer was about.  Thankfully, I had two awesome Warrant Officers who taught me what to do.

And then I read Leaders Eat Last, and I remembered the top thing I learned in the Army.  Regardless if it was PT in the rain, getting paid, time to eat, or submitting people for awards, there was a specific order that things happened in.  If something BAD is about to happen, the leader goes first.  If something EXCELLENT is about to happen, the leader goes last.

There’s tons more in the book but those two sentences are a damn good summary that every leader – in my opinion – ought to remember and live by.  Got a shitty task coming up?  Lead from the front and do it first.  Company celebration meal?  I hope you’re at the end of the line.  Take care of your people.  They made you all the money!

Business Leadership Book 2: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith

My second most favorite leadership book right now is What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith.

Here’s the gist – the things that you have done up until this point got you to this point.  Therefore, doing more of the same things will NOT get you any further.  I know, Captain Obvious strikes again.

But.  The lesson is right in front of you – if you keep doing what you have been doing, good or bad, you will not grow, your organization will not grow, and at the end of the day, you won’t get anywhere “beyond” this.  Whether you’re an executive, an owner, or a front-line leader, the things that got you your most recent promotion are not the things that will get you your next one.

So, what should you do differently?  In Marshall’s book, there are 21 specific areas to work on to get to your next step, whatever that is.

Business Leadership Book 3: The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

My third favorite leadership book currently is The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.

Keller started a little company you might know of called Keller Williams Real Estate.  The central question of the book is “What is the ONE thing I can do right now, such that all other things become easier or unnecessary if I complete it?”

Wow.  That is a powerful question!  What is the thing, right now, that if you do it, everything else will become easier or unnecessary?  That sounds like the Holy Grail of time management to me.  Of course, easier said (or written!) than done.

Is it worth some thought time to decide what that one lever in your business is such that if you press it, everything else is easier?  I think so.

Combine that with my fourth favorite leadership book of ALL TIME, which isn’t a book at all.

It’s the Scientific Method.

Not-a-book 4: The Scientific Method

I can’t remember where I first read this, and I can’t say I’ve practiced it always either, sadly, but when I first understood what it means to make and test a hypothesis in business, it changed my thinking dramatically.

Take that one thing comment.  It is a straightforward learning task to set it up as a hypothesis – I think that doing such and such with a singular focus will make everything else in my business easier.  Then do such and such and see if it worked.  If not, test a different hypothesis.

Such a simple thing, but I see everyone from solopreneurs to the leaders of multi-billion dollar businesses skip this simple test.  And in return, they miss out on many, many learning opportunities.  They set thoughts up as decrees, rather than as hypotheses.  And then if the decree doesn’t work, they blame the people who were supposed to implement it.

But, maybe it was a stupid decree.

Wouldn’t it be easier to make that a hypothesis, test it, learn and incorporate the lessons into your business?  I think so.

And that is why the Scientific Method is my favorite leadership concept of all time.  The process sets up learning in your organization and gives a chance to refine your business instead of getting irritated by people who won’t follow your decrees!

If you think you might be ready for leadership coaching to make your job a bit easier – we’re here.

At ActionCOACH of Madison, LLC, we’re licensed to provide the premier activation program for employees in the entire world!  If you want to benefit your employees being passionately committed to your business, call us TODAY at 608-441-7862 or email mikemckay@actioncoach.com and ask about Engage and Grow.