“..and a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge.”
It is said that great leaders are not born, they are made. But the ‘how?’ part doesn’t have an equally simple answer.
Leadership Development, at best, is a muscle that needs constant & consistent flexing, throughout one’s life, to stay in shape and prove efficient. An impactful leader not only inspires their team to excel professionally, but also inspires them to become the best version of themselves. And this is only possible when they themselves are consistently working on improving themselves.
Transformational leaders are always open to learning. And, what better way to learn than through books? The impact of regular reading on leaders across industries is well documented. So much so, that many business publications like Harvard Business Review claim that ‘those who lead, read.’
Many business people claim that reading a diverse range of books makes for better leaders. This is because leaders are then able to derive insights from various fields like psychology, sociology, economics, among others to come up with more innovative solutions.
Furthermore, reading helps boost one’s verbal intelligence and adds to the vocabulary, making a leader effectively articulate. Also, they are able to entertain various points of view more effectively and can handle negotiations better.
So, what kind of books do transformational leaders prefer?
The answer is - all kinds.
There are no rules when it comes to reading. However, for people looking to invest in books that can help their leadership development journey, here’s one that is recommended by *9 out of 10 business critics
A book that continues to be a business classic, On becoming a leader explores what it means to be a transformational leader in depth. Warren focuses on the skills that leaders need to possess and refine in order to become transformational and create significant impact.
According to Warren, great leaders are all unique in their own ways and yet, every great leader has a certain set of values in common. These values allow them to look beyond just their designation and limited professional responsibility and become transformational, in the true sense of the word -
Leaders create and not complain. Having an absolutely clear vision of what they want to achieve is essential for a leader to be able to inspire others around him. Effective leaders don’t shy away from getting their hands dirty when it comes to working on their vision.
A vision, regardless of how revolutionary it might be, is useless without passion to chase it. What usually separates a great leader from the rest, is their passion. Ideas are dime a dozen, but perseverance and consistency born out of passion are what lead to unconventional products and unprecedented success. Thus, transformational leaders need to be passionate about their vision to be able to transform them into reality.
Another indispensable quality for a great leader to possess is integrity. Any one can talk the talk, but it’s the leaders who also walk the walk, the one who embody the organization’s and their own personal values in everything they do, are the ones who create the most impact.
As a matter of fact, Gen Z, or the youngest generation to join the workforce recently, don’t value numbers but the actual values that the leader in question embodies and inspires. Furthermore, employees of all generations and backgrounds are more likely to align with the company’s values if their manager / leader reflects the same in their actions. Integrity is an innate quality that cannot be taught, but rather it gets reflected in the actions of an individual. And leaders known for their integrity leave the maximum impact on everyone they meet or work with.
Perhaps the only leadership trait that cannot be learned but rather, it needs to be nourished and earned is trust. A transformational leader does not simply inspire their team but also earns the trust of people around him.
From internal team members to external stakeholders, a great leader is respected and considered trustworthy by anyone he comes in contact with. This allows them to initiate conversations, inspire vision, and even negotiate better.
Thus, for leaders looking to leave a mark, earning people’s trust is paramount. And, perhaps the most effective way of earning trust is to align your actions with your words. This is because the actions of a leader will always reflect and inspire the vision for the rest of the team. And a lack of alignment between the leader’s words and their actions can result in people losing trust in the leadership, and even organization’s overall vision.
‘What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say’
- Ralph Waldo Emmerson
What makes a leader truly great is their ability to constantly challenge their own limits and reach for unconventional and unprecedented goals. A vision that is rooted in creativity, ambition, and curiosity is the one that often ends up changing the world.
And this curiosity needs to be paired with yet another indispensable leadership quality -
For a leader to truly inspire and be transformational, they need to be absolutely fearless in their pursuit of their dream or vision. With the aforementioned qualities at their disposal, the conviction to pursue their individual vision is the oen thing that can help leaders achieve the impossible, and inspire their teams to strive for greatness.
A go-getter attitude combined with risk calculated risks can make all the difference when it comes to innovation and unconventional solutions. And it’s these innovative and out-of-the-box steps that can help a leader truly transform the world around them.