Books to Inspire Great Leaders Include Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals”
Francesca Levy, an editor for LinkedIn, asked her considerable network for thoughts on the books that most inspired people in their careers and or lives.
Find the page where this “inspiration happening” is still going on RIGHT HERE.
Here were Editor Levy’s simple instructions: Write a bit about“…the one book that got them where they are, and described how reading it transformed them professionally and personally.”
The wonderful collage of answers her query got will both amaze you, and inspire you to read something out of the ordinary. Of course we saw the standards of business career success with the likes of books by Covey, Carnegie, Napoleon Hill and the fellow who wrote about the color of your parachute.
Those standards aside, the fun for us was the crazy mix of other books, like “Go, Dog, Go” by Dr. Seuss, and “The Miracle of Mindfulness” by Thich Nhat Hanh, a celebrated Vietnamese Buddhist monk. You can find inspiration in an hundred different written works, all so much more accessible in the age of the internet, that you are doing yourself a disservice by saying “I simply don’t have time to read!”
That article inspired a follow-up (so rare in our hurried world!) that returned to the topic, with reader responses, and many more LinkedIn members shared their own most inspirational book. We share the links here so that you can browse and explore on your own what people wrote about what inspired them. Perhaps there is a book in there for you!
Why seek inspiration through the words of other?
Inspiration unleashes passion, and action.
- Clear understanding of goals results in great alignment of passion (which magnifies its power).
- Motivation to take action (because the reward now looks far more appealing than the risk does daunting) moves your unleashed and aligned passion forward, and powers you past hurdles that life always throws in your way.
We agree with those who found Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals” inspirational, because it reflects our own leadership philosophy of team-building and collaboration. You cannot succeed to your fullest potential without help, and if you shun the collaboration of equally talented people (for fear of being shown up, found less talented, overpowered) you are closing yourself off from the resources you need to truly exceed your own expectations.
Lincoln recognized that his political rivals were exactly the people he needed working with him if he wanted to win the Civil War. He had such a powerful mission, all the best talent available had to be harnessed to the task. It fell to him, as the transformational leader, to manage and guide the work of these gifted people, keep them from each others’ throats (sometimes literally) and keep them on the team and contributing.
If you adopt grand goals (and why not?), you need to cast aside your own fear of the “competition” of powerful, talented people and draw them onto your team.
Let’s put this another way, riffing on a cynical old expression:
“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”
We say making that enemy your friend and collaborator, as Lincoln did, is a far better solution. Most people you work with are not evil, so if you find ways to align your motivations and desires, together you can accomplish ten times what you could alone.
It won’t always work. Some personalities and the motivations behind them cannot get in alignment with you to multiply your collaborative power. The great leader will try, being realistic about tracking how events unfold, and adjust their expectations about the role each person can or should play in achieving the mission.
Does this resonate with you? What aspect of this discussion would you challenge or revise?