The drive to better ourselves is embedded in our DNA. From the first time our earliest ancestors made the shocking discovery that a rock made a better tool for smashing things than a bare fist, the race has been on. These days, of course, it’s far less about finding new and innovative ways of smashing things, and far more about other, more intangible skills. Nonetheless, it is that same basic drive that impels us and compels us ever onward.

Next to agriculture, writing has probably been humanity’s greatest invention. It allows authors to speak to us over time, long after the person who originally penned the words has returned to the dust from whence he came. There have been many, many books on leadership, and the mysterious qualities that make for a superior leader. If you haven’t read the five titles below, you owe it to yourself and those working under you to do so.

The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People

Do you know what the seven habits are? Can you name them? Even if you can, this book belongs on every leader’s bookshelf and should be referred back to often. It is author Stephen R. Covey’s masterwork on the subject. The methodologies outlined here are all about dignity, service, and fairness, three traits that every leader worth his salt must posses in vast quantity in order to be successful. If you haven’t read it, make this your first stop.

First, Break All The Rules

I’m not sure it is possible to codify being a brilliant maverick of a leader, but Buckingham & Coffman certainly give it their best in this groundbreaking work. It first identifies many of the world’s greatest leaders, then analyzes what it is about them and their methodologies that are different from those of the rank and file. In those differences lie their genius, and the secrets to their success. If you’ve been aching to break out of the mold, this book will open the door for you. All that remains then, is for you to muster the courage to step through it.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

Authors Chip and Dan Heath give us an illuminating look at our own psychology. The epic, internal struggle that rages in each of us between our rational and emotional selves, and the demons that struggle creates. These are the true barriers to change, and while this book is not itself, and does not offer, a magic spell that can banish those demons, it does help a great deal in the understanding of them. It is in that greater understanding that we can ultimately overcome them, and make changes when change is hard.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

An illuminating work by Daniel Pink, it is hard to understate its importance. In knowing and deeply understanding what motivates not only us, but those who work under us, we can forge a vastly stronger enterprise that is fulfilling for all who participate in it.

The Four Hour Work Week

Tim Ferriss is unconventional. He’s a maverick, yes, but he’s much more than that, and “The Four Hour Work Week” is a book you must read cover to cover to fully appreciate. You may not fully accept or agree with all of Ferriss’ conclusions or methods, but one thing you will appreciate is that he pushes the envelope. He’s very, very good at pushing that envelope, and that makes his book an absolutely essential addition to your library.

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