As you can imagine, success has long been a subject of scrutiny, with many asking how one business can thrive where another may fail.
Often it comes back to leadership.
With the right person, with the right set of skills at the helm of an organisation or small business, it can go from success to success.
But what does this right person or right set of skills look like?
Some of the world’s leading business experts have put their thoughts onto paper and we’ve picked out our top publications we consider a must-read for any business leader who wants to see long-lasting success and growth.
5 Books For Business Leaders We Recommend
7 Habits of Highly Effective People
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is a widely acclaimed self-help book written by Stephen Covey. In this book, Covey presents a holistic and principle-centred approach to personal and professional effectiveness. The book outlines seven habits that, when practised consistently, can transform individuals into highly effective and successful people.
The first three habits focus on personal effectiveness. Habit 1 encourages individuals to be proactive and take responsibility for their lives. Habit 2 focuses on the importance of defining one’s goals and priorities through the concept of “beginning with the end in mind.” Habit 3 highlights the need to prioritise and engage in activities that align with one’s values and long-term objectives.
Why these are all personal effectiveness goals, for a business leader this can make a substantial difference to the way you run and manage your business.
The next three habits revolve around interdependence and building successful relationships. Habit 4 encourages individuals to engage in empathetic and active listening, seeking to understand others before being understood. Habit 5 promotes synergy and collaboration, recognising that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Habit 6 emphasises self-renewal, taking care of one’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being to sustain long-term effectiveness.
Again, all of these three habits are key to business and provide a good foundation for collaborative and effective working in the workplace.
The final habit, Habit 7, focuses on continuous growth and improvement. It encourages individuals to regularly engage in activities that nurture personal and professional development, such as learning, reflection, and setting goals.
Overall, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” provides practical advice and timeless principles for individuals seeking to enhance their effectiveness, achieve personal fulfilment, and create positive change in both their personal and professional lives.
Ascentis talks a lot about Stephen Covey and his methods in our practices and especially within our ABC (Ascentis Business Club) which is our quarterly workshop focussed on business growth and evaluating the actions you take to get you to where you want to be.
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Sinek explores the power of understanding and communicating the “why” behind an organisation’s actions and purpose for business owners and leaders.
It’s in this book that Sinek introduces the concept of the Golden Circle, which consists of three layers: the outer layer of “what,” the middle layer of “how,” and the innermost layer of “why.”
He argues that most organisations focus primarily on communicating their “what” and “how,” such as their products or services and the processes they employ. However, truly inspiring and influential leaders start with the “why” – the underlying purpose, belief, or cause that drives their organisation.
It’s up to the business owner or leader to define what this is.
Using a wide range of examples, including Apple, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Wright brothers, Sinek illustrates how starting with the “why” creates a deep emotional connection with people and inspires them to take action. He emphasises that people don’t just buy what a company does; they buy why a company does it.
Sinek also highlights the importance of aligning the “why” with the organisation’s values, culture, and actions. He explores how leaders can create a sense of purpose, cultivate a dedicated and motivated team, and build strong relationships with customers and stakeholders by consistently communicating and embodying the organisation’s “why.”
“Start with Why” offers valuable insights for leaders seeking to differentiate themselves, inspire loyalty, and create a lasting impact. By understanding and effectively communicating their “why,” leaders can inspire others and create a sense of purpose that transcends products or services, leading to greater success and fulfilment.
Leaders Eat Last
Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek is a captivating book that explores the essential qualities of effective leadership and their impact on building successful organisations. Sinek emphasises the significance of leaders prioritising the needs of their team members, creating a culture of trust, collaboration, and support.
Drawing insights from biology, anthropology, and real-world examples, Sinek explains how leaders who prioritise the well-being of their teams foster environments where employees feel safe, motivated, and empowered to give their best.
As a business owner, “Leaders Eat Last” offers valuable lessons. It highlights the importance of building a strong organisational culture that nurtures employee engagement, loyalty, and innovation.
By focusing on the welfare of employees, leaders can enhance productivity, attract and retain top talent, and create a sustainable competitive advantage.
Sinek’s book also emphasises the role of leaders in creating a sense of purpose, inspiring others, and fostering a long-term perspective in their teams and organisations.
Black Box Thinking
This is a compelling exploration of how embracing failure and learning from mistakes can lead to significant personal and professional growth. Syed argues that the key to success lies in developing a “black box” mentality, inspired by aviation, where mistakes are seen as valuable feedback rather than shameful setbacks.
Drawing from various industries and real-life examples, Syed highlights the importance of creating a culture that encourages experimentation, transparency, and continuous improvement.
For someone starting a business or aiming to grow their existing venture, “Black Box Thinking” offers invaluable insights.
It challenges the conventional wisdom that mistakes should be avoided at all costs, emphasising that they are opportunities for learning and innovation if addressed in the right way and with the right attitude.
By adopting a black box mindset, entrepreneurs can cultivate a culture of accountability and adaptability within their organisations. They can encourage their teams to take calculated risks, learn from failures, and use that knowledge to refine their strategies.
This approach fosters resilience, creativity, and ultimately increases the likelihood of long-term success in an ever-changing business landscape.
Daniel H. Pink
“Drive” by Daniel H. Pink explores the science of motivation and provides insights into what truly drives people to excel. Pink challenges the traditional belief that external rewards such as money and status are the primary motivators, instead highlighting the importance of intrinsic motivation—finding purpose, autonomy, and mastery in one’s work. He introduces three key elements: autonomy, mastery, and purpose, which form the foundation for creating a highly motivated and engaged workforce.
For any of our readers looking to start or grow their own business, “Drive” offers valuable perspectives on how to cultivate a motivated and high-performing team. By understanding the intrinsic drivers of motivation, entrepreneurs can design their business structures and processes to provide autonomy and foster mastery. They can align the company’s purpose with the individual values and aspirations of their employees, creating a sense of meaning and fulfilment that cascades throughout the organisation, whatever its size.
Additionally, the book emphasises the importance of providing regular feedback, encouraging creativity, and creating opportunities for growth. By applying these principles, business owners can create a work environment that fosters passion, innovation, and ultimately drives the success of their venture.
For more insight into business growth methods and leadership, speak to the team at Ascentis. We specialise in helping businesses reach their full potential. Find out more when you get in touch today.