"These works are not musings," says Randall S Peterson. “They are the collective leadership lessons from case studies and life experiences, of some of the most infamous figureheads, spanning history.”
1. Authentic Leadership: Courage in Action by Robert W. Terry (1993)
What is leadership without action? Robert Terry’s book is an example of authenticity in its truest form. Authentic Leadership provides a practical set of tools and methodologies for leaders to reference and enhance their everyday actions. Terry contends that leadership is co-dependent: on the ability to frame issues correctly, as well as to call forth an authentic response. The base material considers traits – courage, vision, ethics, and spirituality – which together, create a foundation for sustained, effective leadership.
2. Servant Leadership by Robert Greenleaf (1977)
Robert Greenleaf had great faith that servant-leader organisations could change the world.
In his second major essay, ‘The Institution as Servant’ (1972), he recognised that organisations, as well as individuals could be servant-leaders. There he said: “This is my thesis: caring for persons, the more able and the less able serving each other, is the rock upon which a good society is built.” Traditional leadership involves the exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid.” By comparison, the servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first, and helps perform at the highest level. This is not a bible of ancient philosophy; it is a set of leadership practices.
3. The Art of War by Sun Tzu (5th century BC)
Strategy isn't a matter of list-making, it is the preparation to react swiftly and appropriately to any given situation. This ancient Chinese military manual has been the source of inspiration for notable leaders from Napoleon and General MacArthur to Marc Benioff and Bill Belichick. Comprised of 13 sections, each dedicated to a different aspect of battle strategy, the book is packed with timeless insights for setting and achieving goals – the ancient art of executing strategy for success.
4. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (1532)
Machiavellianism is one of our darkest personality traits. Though no person would profess a desire for a ‘Machiavellian' boss, one with disregard for morality, with a focus on self-interest and personal gain, the Italian philosopher's controversial treatise remains a timeless reference for understanding such leaders. Machiavelli argues the merits of being loved, feared and hated. Thought, in the end, he calls for leaders to strive to be loved.
5. Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing (1959)
Courage, positivity and decisiveness: three traits of any hero. This against-all-odds survival tale of explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and his 27-member crew, is an enduring leadership allegory. When the 1914 Antarctic voyage remained trapped for over a year in an ice floe, Shackleton's extraordinary leadership efforts is said to have almost singlehandedly saved the lives of his entire crew. The story’s lesson: to motivate and inspire in the face of extremity, in this case, the bitter cold and life-threatening deprivation.
6. Never Give In! The Best of Winston Churchill's Speeches by Winston S Churchill (2003)