It’s easy to assume that leadership is something that you’re born with. As early as school, people seemed to be pulled out and labeled as “leaders.” If you are not one of those people, or if you have struggled with qualities that are usually associated with leaders — assertiveness, charisma, decisiveness — it can be easy to feel defeated and assume that when people talk about leaders, they’re just not talking about you.
Perhaps some people are natural born leaders, destined to shine and attract followers as soon as they begin to interact with their peers. But for most people, leadership is a skill to be developed over time, through reflection, study and practice. One sure way to work on developing yourself as a leader is through reading. Books can give you insight into the skills you should be developing to grow yourself as a leader and provide practical advice on developing those skills.
There is no shortage of books on developing leadership skills. In fact, there are more than one million business books in print, and a great deal of them deal with growing yourself as a leader and manager. So how do you choose which books to spend the time reading?
One great way to choose your leadership material is by asking those around you. Talk to the people around you, especially those whose leadership skills you admire, to find out what books have helped them to cultivate their skills and leadership styles. Talk to coworkers, bosses, leaders in your field and admired colleagues. There’s no better recommendation than a personal recommendation from someone you know.
Another way to narrow down your book choices is to think about the traits you would like to develop. Think about the goals and traits that are beneficial in your field. As you read book descriptions and scour the many recommendations for books on leadership, look for books that appeal specifically to the set of skills or set of goals that you are striving toward. Look for books that are aimed at developing the kind of leader you hope to be.
Of course, just reading about becoming a leader isn’t enough to transform you into the leader you want to become. You have to work to put what you read about into practice. Make sure you reflect on the books you read and practice the principles they advise. There are plenty of worksheets and workbooks to take advantage of, as well as online courses. You can consider joining a book group, leadership development class, or professional development group that supports putting leadership principles into practice. If you can’t find a group to join, you can consider forming your own group of peers you know who are working toward developing the same leadership skills you are.