Ten-ish Must Read Books

Tremendous (as Charlie was often called) was spot on, at least in my experience. About this time 5 years ago, I had just been invited to join the Executive Team at a franchisor HQ in South Seattle. I had been training and equipping small business owners and their teams to scale and grow quickly. Doing well in that role, I got my break!

Learning to Grow

At that time I was literally practicing (albeit imperfectly) skills and tools that I had learned two years previously at an off-site training day led by Shandel. When I first learned about her process, it was vital pivot in my formation as a leader. By the end of the training, I made my way through a long line of people to personally express my gratitude for her wisdom and ask to keep in touch!

Little did I know that her training was to be the training ground for healthy leadership. And that Shandel taught me to bring #nextlevel action every day as a new member of the Executive Team.

How did you fare in your first executive level role?

Well, in addition to skillfully wielding the tools Shandel equipped me with, I dove head first into the books. I began forming new friendships with the likes of Bob Burg, Jim Collins, Stephen Covey, Mark Sanborn, Pat Lencioni, etc. I was so hungry to grow. So in large part, thanks to Shandel and a diverse group of humble, phenomenal authors, I was able to add more value than I was taking in return.

Asking the Right Question

Now fast forward to today, in which a day does not pass without being asked one of three questions.

  1. What are you reading right now?
  2. What book would you recommend for “X” situation?
  3. How do you choose the books you’re going to read?

While these are good questions, I usually ask a clarifying question to get to the root of the ask. I typically want to know “why”. In other words, I’ll say, “Will you help me understand why you’re asking and what you hope to gain?”

Previously I’ve taken the baited question hook, line, and sinker. So eager to “help” I would take a question at face value and unknowingly give a less than helpful response. Yes, I answered the question, but did I really serve the person to the best of my ability?

Wait, that doesn’t necessarily compute. Will you put your point another way?

The value of really helping someone is partnering in a way (whether in word or action) that you actually serve them in the best way possible for them. In other words, give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. (Chinese Proverb)

I share all of this as a qualifier before listing what I believe to be the top ten-ish books* that everyone should have to read. Primarily because the real X factor is what do you most need to learn and grow in (as all of us are in perpetual need of growth whether we realize it or not!). It’s more about where you’re at versus what has worked for me that you now hope will work for you.

Bottom line, unless you have a high level of personal awareness, understanding where you need to learn and grow, then stop what you’re doing and figure it out. And, yes, we can help you do that too.

What Do You Need to Read?

For those of you who know where you’re at and ready to be better, faster, smarter, more helpful, etc. Here is my list of the top books you should read if you want to learn and grow to be holistically healthy.

  1. The Advantage by Lencioni
    • After reading this Shandel knew our firm needed an Organizational Health Coach. Ironically, when I read this book in 2014 I said that I was going to grow into an Organizational Health Coach. This book will help you learn how to measure what matters most so you can be a healthy organization, team, or small business.
  2. The Anatomy of Peace by Arbinger Institute
    • I love this book because of what it represents. In a word, alignment. The Anatomy of Peace is a great read that will help you learn how to do more of what you need to do, namely connect peaceably with humans. It deconstructs how to create alignment and health in your relationships.
  3. Collaborative Intelligence by Markova & McArthur
    • This book is especially helpful when it comes to figuring out your personal wiring. Clarifying how you hear, understand and communicate is imperative. This book clarifies collaborating with others in a fun and applicable way. If you’re working with people or building teams read this!
  4. Extreme Ownership by Willink & Babin and QBQ by Miller & Levin
    • Now look, I get it. I shared two books. The reality is that these are different sides of the same coin. Extreme Ownership is vitally important. Equally imperative is QBQ. How so, you ask. These authors will share a perspective on life and leadership that you are unlikely to have. QBQ is 115 pages. Extreme Ownership is 320 pages. If you have less than an hour to read, start with QBQ but add Extreme Ownership to the list.
  5. The Go-Giver by Burg & Mann
    • If I could, I would recommend the ENTIRE Go-Giver series, but that would be a third of my Ten-ish must reads in and of itself. The Go-Giver will help you understand how to add more value than you take in return and grow into a holistically healthy human. I have given more Go-Giver’s away than any other book.
  6. Good to Great by Collins
    • This was the first business book that I was given by my girlfriend. I read the book and realized that I needed to marry Sarah… and eventually I talked her into it! Collins brilliantly lays out what it takes to become great. And the truth is, it may not be what you thought. Although, this book uncovers just about every area of management, tactical planning, strategic thinking, and the list goes on.
  7. How People Change by Lane & Tripp
    • This book is really great at simplifying the personal change process. It not a business or self-help book. It is primarily a faith-based book that focuses first on one’s heart or attitude and then builds out the functional change process. To be clear, it is steeped in a faith-based approach to life and leadership.
  8. Mindset by Dweck
    • Mindset helps you learn how to develop a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset (which like me, you likely have!). In so doing, you will be able to be a more fully present and helpful person, partner, parent, professional, etc.
  9. Scaling Up by Harnish
    • This is a fun read! Well, fun providing you want to perpetually be learning, growing and becoming a more helpful leader, entrepreneur, manager, etc. Harnish and team help coach you on ordering your business priorities, focusing on what matters most and then scaling effectively.
  10. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Covey
    • This is a classic. I likely don’t need to explain much here. If you want to increase your influence across the spectrum of life, including personally and professionally, start here. Learn to become proficient in all the areas of life that matter most.

I realize that I did not list some really quality and influential books. I would genuinely like to hear your thoughts on which book(s) are missing and why. If nothing else, you can look forward to reading Shandel’s list of top books that is forthcoming!

Pulling for you,

Alan Andersen

*Listed alphabetically-ish

This article previously appeared at Shandel Group. If you enjoyed this post, read Shandel’s book, Clarity: Focusing on What Matters.

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