Diamond6 Book List – Our Top 10 Must Reads on Leadership

After all of our workshops, the number one thing participants ask for is reading recommendations. They want to know what books are must-reads for them to further develop their leadership skills. We thought it was about time that we started meeting this need so we’ve created the first edition of the Diamond6 Book List. We wanted to take advantage of our multi-faceted faculty to provide you with a comprehensive list and, we think we have been successful. You may be surprised by some of their recommendations. Have a favorite leadership book that didn’t make it on our list? Tell us about it!

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
Recommended by: Jeff McCausland

Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point is a must read for contemporary leaders. Gladwell underscores the need for leaders to deal with the most difficult of event – CHANGE. How does it occur? What are the conditions? What type of leaders are able to embrace it? He further emphasizes the “Power of the Few” in any society or organization. Those key people who through insight and determination can in fact make phenomenal differences.

Heroic Leadership by Chris Lowney
Recommended by: Art Athens

Heroic Leadership is the story of the Jesuits who have served the Catholic Church and mankind for over 470 years. The author, Chris Lowney, is a former Jesuit seminarian who left the Order to work on Wall Street , eventually becoming a Managing Director for J.P. Morgan. Lowney provides a fascinating perspective as he presents the four Jesuit leadership principles ; self-awareness, ingenuity, love and heroism  and applies them to today’s leaders and organizations. As Lowney states in his first chapter, “The Jesuit founders launched their ‘company’ into a complex world that had probably changed as much in fifty years as it had over the previous thousand. Sound familiar? They speak to us not as experts in dealing with an antiquated sixteenth-century landscape but as experts in eliciting confident performance despite uncomfortably shifting landscapes.”  This book does not provide a new strategy or methodology, but instead uncovers the timeless foundational elements of authentic leadership.

Leadership is an Art by Max De Pree
Recommended by: Barry Frew

There are many very good books about leadership that I respect. But if limited to only one, my selection would be Leadership is An Art, by Max Depree. It is a short and easy read – a long plane trip or two.  The more experienced or curious you are about leadership, the more insight this book will generate. The most compelling ideas include: abandoning yourself to the strengths of others; approaching leadership as a servant to those you lead; and the signs of leadership are found among your followers are very compelling. It is a read that continues to generate insight for me each time I reread it.

Leading Quietly by Joe Badaracco
Recommended by: Bob Schoultz

This book is the basis for a four hour session I lead with young Seal officers. I call the ideas and guidance in this book “Advanced Leadership”, or “Leadership in the Bureaucratic Environment” – lots of references to Machiavelli and the need to protect yourself, your values and what you want for your organization from people who will readily cut your legs out from underneath you for their own advantage. Good leaders are effective leaders, and they must compete well for position, attention, and resources. Being competent and a good person frequently aren’t enough. It IS a very competitive world out there, and not everyone is nice, honest, or plays by the rules. Ignore that, and it is difficult to really make a difference within an organization.

Good to Great by Jim Collins
Recommended by: David Campbell

Jim Collins and his research team systematically pored through years of financial data, and identified 28 organizations, both public and non-profit, who had a repeated record of good performance.  Then half of the selected group made a  leap forward  to even greater performance, sustained for over 15 years. Collins compared the characteristics of the leadership in the two samples, and the book describes what he found.  Perhaps the most interesting finding is that the “great” leaders were more humble, less flashy than the merely good leaders. He headlined one section, “The Triumph of Understanding Over Bravado.”

Forging the Warriors Character edited by Snider and Matthews
Recommended by: Don Snider

This is a text by West Point faculty and staff that explains the theory and practice of developing the Warrior’s human spirituality, a critical component of their moral character. Both individual and institutional roles are examined and explained the complementary approach used at the Academy.

The Bible
Recommended by: James Powers


The term, leadership, as used in the Bible is much more than instructing managers how to become good leaders in the corporate and/or non-profit worlds. Leadership, as defined in the Bible, is for all of us. Leadership is an attitude, a behavior and an influence. Each one of us needs to exhibit leadership strategies in our relationships with others, in our marriages, in our workplaces, in our child rearing and in every other aspect of our lives. The Bible provides that much needed moral compass.
I use the following as a guide to the best strategy to leading others:  The Golden Rule, Matthew 7:1, “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.”

Leading Outside the Lines by Jon R. Katzenbach
Recommended by: Lily Din Woo

This book talks about how strong leaders balance the best aspects of the formal and informal organizations to energize and motivate their teams, build consensus and trust – resulting in more positive outcomes and productivity. The book uses a wide variety of case studies – the UN, large and small corporations, and even a school – to make its points so there’s something meaningful and helpful for any organization or company.
**A side note from D6: Lily experienced ultimate crisis management at her Chinatown school in New York City when 9/11 happened and she did an incredible job. She and her school are featured in this book making it a must read!**

Food Rules: An Eaters Manual by Michael Pollan
Recommended by: Tanya McCausland

Michael Pollan is the nation’s most trusted resource when it comes to food policy, politics and culture. While he has written many books about the complexities of food policy issues and how our food is changing ourselves, our families and our planet he takes a completely new approach with Food Rules. For anyone wanting to make a healthy lifestyle change personally or to implement wellness within the workplace this books simple and sensible advice will be encouraging. With things like “If it was made by a plant eat it, if it was made in a plant don’t,” and “Eat only foods that will eventually rot” Pollan will help you and your colleagues become more mindful about what you eat and how you eat it in only 112 short pages that include brief entertaining explanations. This would be an excellent gift for your office when starting to implement any sort of workplace wellness program.

Tried by War – Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief by James M McPherson
Recommended by: Tom Vossler

This book by renowned American Civil War Historian James McPherson captures many of the same leadership lessons taught in our Diamond 6 Leadership Seminars. Wartime President Abraham Lincoln was renowned for his use of Time and Timing in exercising his leadership duties. Moreover, as the book illustrates, he was a master at refining the organizational culture, in insuring that everyone was rowing the ship of state in the same direction, toward the eventual victory for the North (Union States). At the same time President Lincoln provides a very positive example of a leader with vision, that is, the ultimate Union victory and the restoration of the Union of States, subsequently known in the singular form of the English language as The United States of America.

This article is from our July, 2011 newsletter. Click here to view all our newsletter articles and features.

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