If you want to be a great leader, you know that, in addition to what you learn on the job and from your employer, you have to educate yourself. We’ve assembled a strong list of radio’s best leaders to help you reach your goal. We asked these great radio leaders to tell us — and you — what three books are must-reads to become a strong leader.
Honesty is a trademark of good leadership, so I must admit I am not a big believer in reading self-help or how-to books. To me, leadership style is so personal and so much is innate that it really can’t be picked up in “Seven Easy Steps.” Gut feeling and doing what comes naturally is essential to being a believable and authentic executive. If people think you are acting a certain way because that is what it said to do on page 53, then you are in for a rude awakening.
That said, here is my PSA for reading. It is more beneficial to me for people to read biographies of people they admire who just happen to also be good leaders, to see how it is an organic part of their life story and dovetails with their core personality. And don’t forget, unless it’s the rare case where your mentors were also authors, nothing beats direct conversation with the people you know, who know you, and who have walked the walk.
Today’s world lends itself to many avenues for self-education. My personal preference is utilizing more interactive and engaging opportunities. There are so many books written by great leaders from all walks of life, each showcasing his/her own individual style. Rev. Billy Graham, widely considered one of the most influential leaders in modern history, left us a great footprint to follow for reading material. He was a consultant to many presidents and the most powerful leaders in the world and taught life principles from one book: the Bible.
I am a firm believer in staying on top of everything that moves within this industry and continuing education at all levels. Knowledge is power. Instead of reading entire books, I find myself researching, reading articles, attending seminars, viewing webinars, podcasts, blogs, etc., to learn from experts and industry leaders. For me, it has proven to be a better method of education and time management.
If I need further information, I’ll reach out to the authors or speakers and discuss the material. By doing so, I’ve created some great relationships with experts over the years, and now I call them friends. I’m not sure that would have happened if I had only read their books — after all, we are in the communication business.
Big River Broadcasting
I’ll actually provide four, with two by the same author.
Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers Into Leaders by U.S. Navy Captain David Marquet.
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek (faster for some to listen to his TED Talk).
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek.
That’s a tough question because if you stop with only three, you are in real trouble. I like books that inspire, mainly because as a leader, you need the energy and enthusiasm that continuous learning can bring. Checking my library, several books have numerous tabs, including Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, and Built to Last by James Collins. More recently I have learned from Bob
Wright’s book The Wright Stuff, which is a great story about the Wright brothers and the challenges they faced and overcame building their flying machine.
Meredith Elliott Powell articulates the importance of the ownership mentality in Own It. You should also check out Jonathan Taplin’s Move Fast and Break Things, which will get you excited about the challenges we face as technology changes and how we need to be prepared if we are to survive in local radio.
As an actively serving colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, I’ve spent a great deal of time reading books that educate and update my approach to the art of leadership. My leadership style is holistic and agnostic to either my civilian or military environs. As such, there are three great books that are standouts in my collection. These books can be applied to any situation, whether in commerce or in combat.
Start with Why by Simon Sinek. The “Golden Circle” of building a coalition always starts with the why. The why always informs the what, who, when, where, and how. Why defines the task, purpose, and end game of any plan. More importantly, it establishes values and beliefs.
My American Journey, the biography of Gen. (Ret) Colin Powell. This is an aspirational account of how the son of immigrants — and now a legendary military officer — finds his path to success. Gen. Powell writes about how mentors shaped his life. Particularly interesting are “The Powell 13 Rules of Leadership.” These anecdotal maxims offer great conflict resolution ideas to today’s thorny problems.
Leading Change by John Carter. This book describes the eight-step change model that, when applied vigorously, transforms organizations in times of change. It’s a very intuitive read and a must for every leader.
The number one read has to be Good To Great, it is just the best book for leaders to understand why some companies make it and some don’t. I also like The Five Dysfunctions of a Team; it’s just a fun quick read that is done with great story telling. My third read would be a fun book that has nothing to do with leadership but is just a great story. Good storytelling beats good selling any day, and I always need to stay on top of my storytelling skills.
Rather than spend time defining three, I’d suggest to anyone reading this the one book that I found to have made the biggest impact on how I operate isn’t a book you’d assume would be on the list. If you have a moment for a quick read that will totally turn the way you operate upside down I’d say read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. Eye-opening and life-changing for me. Definitely not your typical “be a good CEO book,” but I would highly suggest everyone get out to read or download it.
Sun Broadcast Group