I first saw this book, HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Leadership, on a list of recommended leadership books from Amazon. I scanned the contents, and saw the names of several authors of other books that I have read and enjoyed; in addition, it’s put out by Harvard Business review, which has a strong reputation. That was enough to convince me to pick up a copy and read it.
It has since become a frequently referenced book by me. I have found useful thoughts and ideas in most of the chapters, and those thoughts (and quotes) have made their way into a number of posts that have appeared on my blog in the last several months (this month, I referenced one of the articles – The Work of Leadership, by Ronald Heifetz and Donald Laurie – several times). Of course, some have resonated with me more than others, but I think I found the whole book to have value.
The book contains ten chapters; each one is reprint of an article published in the Harvard Business Review sometime in the last 25 years. The intent is that these ten articles represent some of the most important and influential articles and authors that have shaped leadership theory and practice over the last couple of decades. It includes articles from authors such as
- Daniel Goleman (author of Emotional Intelligence), in an article that introduces his thoughts on emotional intelligence
- Jim Collins (author of Good to Great and Great by Choice), in an article that explains “Level 5 Leadership”
- John Kotter (author of Leading Change), in an article that examines and presents “What Leaders Really Do”
- Peter Drucker (author of The Effective Executive), in an article about what makes an effective executive
- Peter Senge (author of The Fifth Discipline), in an article that explains that the best leaders are the ones who don’t try to be perfect at every skill
- And several others
I think this is a great resource to have on your leadership bookshelf. It contains summaries and short discussions of some of the most influential leadership ideas of the last two decades, so it gives you a synopsis of these ideas without having to read the full works of the authors. As I read through the chapters, I wrote an outline of the main ideas of each article on a separate 4×6 notecard, so that I would have my own personal quick-reference guide for each of the concepts. Whether or not you do the same, I do think this can be a great resource for you.
Various Authors (2011). HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Leadership. Harvard Business Review Press: Boston, MA.