A colleague recently asked me to recommend my favorite books on the subject of leadership. I’ve ready quite a few, and there are many that offer generic lessons and stories, leaving the reader with little more than a loose definition of leadership. There are two leadership books I strongly recommend. Both present rigorous exercises and practical tools for helping leaders do the hard work of developing their self-awareness and their commitment to personal accountability for managing their own behavior and inspiring the desired behavior of others.

The first book is Language and the Pursuit of Leadership Excellence by Chalmers Brothers and Vinay Kumar. This book builds on its predecessor, Language and the Pursuit of Happiness (a must-read) by exploring the elements and influences of language in the context of leading others. It helps leaders understand how they view the world, and then how to develop the language they use to create the context for organizational success.

The second book is Clear Leadership: Sustaining Real Collaboration and Partnership at Work by Gervase R. Bushe. This book encourages the reader to do deep self-reflection, covering topics rarely seen in other leadership books, like emotional fusion and self-differentiation, which are necessary but often taboo subjects in organization life. Both Clear Leadership and Language and the Pursuit of Leadership Excellence communicate a foundational philosophy that leaders are human beings first, imperfect works in progress who must focus on self-development while simultaneously supporting and inspiring entire organizations.

Both books offer practical tools to help leaders transform entrenched personal and organizational patterns and stimulate effective and productive communication. One final distinction between these two books and other leadership books is that most leadership books attempt to teach the reader how to do leadership, while Clear Leadership and Language and the Pursuit of Leadership invite the reader to be a leader.

Rick Buccheri
Director of Programs