Top Ten “Must-Reads” for TEAM LEADERS

by Wendy Soon on May 16, 2014



Not everything about leading a team and working in a team is innate. Nor do you really want to learn these skills purely by trial and error. Here are some people who have learnt their lessons and decided to generously shared them with the public. Spend a few hours reading, and become the best leader of the best team! 🙂


  1. Quiet – the Power of Introverts (by Susan Cain)
    • A team is more often than not made up of members of very different personalities. Usually, the extroverts stand out and get noticed immediately, while the introverts are lost in the crowd. This book points out the very things that you, as a leader, should and MUST know about introverts. It explains why they do things the way they do, and more importantly, it highlights what areas introverts are actually best at doing. Knowing that is important to you as a leader, so you can actively appoint introverts to do things they are awesome at doing (but might not be good rallying for). Understanding your members is the first step to maximizing your team efficiency and satisfaction.
  2. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (by Patrick Lencioni)
    • Knowing the problem is critical in solving the problem, or even preventing it. Learn about the most common dysfunctions of a team from Lencioni, and work towards preventing these same problems from arising in your own team too.
  3. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (by Doris Kearns Goodwin)
    • This is a book that received another boost of popularity after President Obama declared it as the one and only book (other than the Bible) he would take to the White House if he could only choose one. President Lincoln is well revered for his ability to lead and unite a group of vastly divergent personalities and ideologies. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Kearns Goodwin traces Lincoln’s relationship with the political antagonists he knowingly chose for his cabinet. Instead of rallying like-minded individuals who would make his life easy, Lincoln chose to surround himself with ambitious, strong-willed personalities who were unafraid to challenge him. You might want to do so too.
  4. On Becoming a Leader (by Warren Bennis)
    • Professor Bennis, a pioneer in leadership studies, draws from hundreds of interviews to examine the common attributes of great leaders. These include thinkers, scientists, executives and even entertainers. Thus anyone looking for a comprehensive, well-researched book on leadership would benefit from this book.
  5. Leaders Make the Future (by Bob Johansen)
    • A great read for all current or aspiring leaders. It breaks down the daunting, competitive business environment into chewable actionable items that will help you stay strategic, relevant, productive and profitable. It teaches leaders to empower employees, focus on the individual and utilize resources to maximize their value.
  6. Virtual Team Success: A Practical Guide for Working and Leading from a Distance (by Richard Lepsinger and Darleen DeRosa)
    • As virtual or distributed teams become increasingly common in today’s global world, this book becomes an essential in a leader’s library. Based on one of the most comprehensive research study on virtual teams, this book offers recommendations for leaders to enhance virtual team performance.
  7. Leading with Emotional Intelligence: Hands-On Strategies for Building Confident and Collaborative Star Performers (by Reldan Nadler)
    • Good emotional intelligence (EI) is a key to success. Nadler gives a further breakdown for leaders to put this into practice, with step by step instructions on increasing confidence, improving teamwork, enhancing communication and developing star performers with EI. The book even includes worksheets, exercises and quizzes to ensure the leader puts the knowledge into practice.
  8. Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence (by Daniel Goleman)
    • Going hand in hand with the previous book on EI, this book explores case studies of how the best leaders are in touch with their feelings. Definitely effective and inspiring.
  9. Questions of Character: Illuminating the Heart of Leadership through Literature (by Joseph Badaracco)
    • Instead of the usual case / study theory approach to teaching leadership, Badaracco illustrates great leadership through classical literature’s characters! Think Antigone, Death of a Salesman’s Willy Loman, or Things Fall Apart’s Okonkwo. This is also a written version of Badaracco’s popular literature course, “The Moral Leader”, at the Harvard Business School.
  10. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t (by Jim Collins)
    • This is not one of the first books you would really think about when talking about leadership. It is more often recommended as a startup book, or a corporate management book. However, the same leadership skills apply. The reason some companies make the leap while others don’t, is because of the difference in leadership. A leader can not only make or break the team – he can make or break the whole company. Knowing this from a company angle will help you see the bigger picture and lead your team well, right from the start.

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