July 25, 2024
Monty Cerf

Monty Cerf On The Best Leadership Books for Aspiring Leaders

As someone with a wealth of leadership experience in the world of finance, Monty Cerf is always looking to add more tools to his arsenal. Learning never stops. Leadership requires a commitment to lifelong learning. Those who prioritize continuing education can position themselves to offer the very best to the teams they manage and the clients to whom they provide service.

A great leader is never satisfied. They are constantly learning. One way to grow as a leader is to read from the vast library of leadership books written by and about leaders who demonstrated notable and learnable characteristics of leadership. Here, Monty Cerf provides a short sample list of book recommendations for aspiring leaders.

Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times, by Donald T. Phillips – Here Phillips extracts from the vast literature on Lincoln a clear delineation of leadership principles that help explain his extraordinary leadership success. Many core principles are enumerated: listening, persuading rather than coercing, managing criticism, building alliances, and exuding unshakable integrity in your interactions with others. This is very readable even if you aren’t a Lincoln scholar.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln – Doris Kearns Goodwin – For those of you willing to go deeper into the history of this leadership genius, this is a fine book. It features, as the title suggests, Lincoln’s exceptional willingness and ability to empower his political rivals to build a strong working team. If read in conjunction with the first book above, one needs go no further to digest many, if not most of the essential principles of leadership.

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tsu – Roughly translated as “The Way of Virtue.” Modern thinkers have no monopoly on deep wisdom that resonates through the ages. 2600 years ago, Lao Tsu wrote this short gem that Monty Cerf turns to regularly. It is at the core of Taoist thought and has had an influence on many leaders from Confucius to Churchill. It’s short and remarkably accessible to the modern reader.

The Agenda Mover: When Your Good Idea is Not Enough by Samuel B. Bacharach – Here, this Professor of Leadership at Cornell, captures one essential principle: that having great ideas is not enough. One needs the social skills, EQ, political competencies, call it what you will, to transform ideas into consensus into actions, into results.

Wisdom at Work: The Making of a Modern Elder, by Chip Conley – Here Conley explores the secrets of thriving as a mid-life worker in any role with any formal title: marry wisdom and experience with curiosity, a beginner’s mind and a willingness to evolve, allowing one to impart wisdom t others from a place of humility and emotional intelligence.

The Inner Game of Tennis: The Ultimate Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance, by Timothy Gallwey – One wouldn’t think that tennis offered the secret to better performance and leadership, but it does. This 1974 modern classic explains the tension between your conscious and unconscious minds, and how this conflict relates to performance, specifically through the lens of tennis. The player of the inner game comes to value the art of relaxed concentration above all other skills’ he discovers a true basis for self-confidence that allows him or her, in or outside of tennis, to prevail. Extending the tennis metaphor, the book is really about self-esteem, trust, the subconscious, learning, jealousy, and how to communicate with yourself as you face the many challenges of the outside world. The principles here are helpful to any leader.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey – Monty Cerf isn’t the first or last person to recommend this classic book to aspiring leaders. The book covers seven different essential habits of successful people that can translate into any industry. This book can serve as a blueprint for those who are serious about being effective in any context, corporate, public service, non-profit or other. Readers will walk away with a better understanding of everything from tackling difficult decisions to effectively prioritizing objectives.

Leadership and Self Deception, by the Arbinger Institute – Monty Cerf believes that the best leaders can set their egos aside and put the needs of the team above their personal accolades. It’s not uncommon for those who seek out leadership positions to be the most talented person in the room, but it’s important for leaders to view leadership as a chance to think of others first. The story of Leadership and Self Deception is a parable about a self-absorbed man who must learn to humble himself for the betterment of the group. It’s a book that can deliver a very important message that will resonate with aspiring leaders.

How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie – This classic book will help aspiring leaders understand the importance of emotional intelligence. Leaders who have book smarts but lack emotional intelligence will have a difficult time inspiring their team members, which is because they won’t be able to connect with them on an emotional level. People need to feel like their leader understands their needs and genuinely wants to help them achieve their own goals. Those who read How to Win Friends and Influence People will gain valuable lessons in emotional intelligence.

The 360-Degree Leader, by John C. Maxwell – Monty Cerf recommends this book to individuals who currently find themselves in an undesirable spot on their leadership journey. Those who have a passion for leadership should know that they don’t have to hold a manager title to influence the people around them. Many people with lofty titles within an organization have shown that they had the ability to inspire others long before they received their promotions. The 360-Degree Leader is a great lesson in earning respect as opposed to expecting respect.