There are many skills and traits that form a good leader, some of which I'm admittedly more competent in than others. But lately, I've been hearing less about what makes a good leader and more about what makes a truly great one.
Rather than possess an insatiable drive for greatness or an impressive ability to constantly churn out new ideas, great leaders seem to excel in soft skills. In a world in which half of all U.S. employees have quit their jobs at some point in their career just to get away from their bosses, I've come to find that the secret to great leadership is relationship-building.
But relationships are tough. Wouldn't a simple eight-step guide be helpful? Thankfully, these eight leadership books can help you build, strengthen, and navigate your personal interactions to build better business relationships:
1. 'Give and Take' by Adam Grant
In this The New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, Adam Grant uses his own research to show how success is increasingly dependent upon how we interact with other people. Grant refers to the way most people operate in the workplace as takers, matchers, or givers. While some givers -- those who help others without expecting help in return -- are susceptible to exploitation and burnout, the rest have the potential to achieve extraordinary results across a wide range of industries.
"Give and Take" explores what effective networking, influence, collaboration, and leadership skills have in common and opens up an approach to success that has the power to transform individuals, organizations, and communities alike.
2. 'Top of Mind' by John Hall
Leaders exist in all industries, and they perform all kinds of responsibilities. In this book, John Hall, CEO of Influence & Co., presents his tried-and-true method for any leader -- whether you're a marketing professional, a sales leader, or the founder of your own company -- to create powerful, lasting relationships built on trust and scaled with effective content marketing.
Through real-life stories that are as relatable as they are direct and tactical, Hall explains how to create opportunity for yourself and your business by focusing on what truly matters: real humans and your authentic, personal relationships with them.
3. 'Captivate' by Vanessa Van Edwards
"Captivate" is an emotional intelligence guidebook for leaders -- and then some. As someone who studies human behavior for a living, Van Edwards shares key insights for establishing rapport, building charisma, and decoding behavior patterns in order to transform our interactions with people. Whether you're interacting with your boss, your date, or a networking partner, these simple hacks will act as a field guide for building connections authentically in any situation.
4. 'Giftology' by John Ruhlin
In this unofficial masters class in gifting and relationship strategy, gifting expert John Ruhlin uses data-driven insights and captivating personal stories to reveal the best-kept secret of radically successful leaders: gift-giving with no strings attached.
Ruhlin explains how increased ROI, retention rates, and influence can all be achieved through this one philosophy. Regardless of your industry, this system can completely change your business, relationships, and outlook as a leader.
5. 'The Art of People' by Dave Kerpen
Being successful and attaining the influence you're after doesn't mean becoming a rigid, work-obsessed person who never has fun. In fact, in Dave Kerpen's book, "The Art of People," he emphasizes how important it is to hone your people skills in order to charm and win over those who matter, in both your personal and professional life.
Kerpen brings 53 easy-to-follow tips that will land you one step closer to what you're after. The tips range from how to network to the right questions to ask in meetings -- even touching on the appropriate way to blow off those who won't help you get where you need to be.
6. 'Leading Through the Turn' by Elise Mitchell
Rather than focus all your efforts, attention, and energy on your destination, Elise Mitchell explains in "Leading Through the Turn" how a journey mindset can positively affect your leadership style. While plenty of leadership books describe how to achieve an outcome, Mitchell focuses on navigating and appreciating all the twists and turns on the road to success.
Whether you're just stepping into leadership or you're an accomplished leader who's seeking something more, this book offers an important perspective for finding significance in your work and your life.
7. 'Self-Employed' by Joel Comm and John Rampton
In "Self-Employed," entrepreneurs Joel Comm and John Rampton combine their experiences and observations to offer cutting-edge insights into the personality traits that allow self-starters to thrive in the current entrepreneurial landscape.
Through easy-to-read, thought-provoking commentary, Comm and Rampton delve into the 50 (yes, 50) traits, characteristics, and mindsets that successful entrepreneurs have in common. Ultimately, the book provides a framework for assessing, understanding, and leveraging who you are in order to have the greatest impact and empower your business.
8. 'Ego Is the Enemy' by Ryan Holiday
Through insightful research and compelling anecdotes, Ryan Holiday shares a uniquely philosophical and historical perspective on effective leadership. In "Ego Is the Enemy," he explains that some of the most successful leaders throughout history -- from Jackie Robinson to Eleanor Roosevelt -- have placed the collective needs and goals of a group above their own desires for individual recognition.
Although leadership almost always involves mental, emotional, financial, and maybe even physical battles, Holiday demonstrates that leaders who have the biggest impact on history are those who've conquered their egos.
All relationships take work, but great leaders especially have a responsibility to foster them. These approaches and perspectives from successful industry leaders should give you more than a few ideas to enhance your own relationships.
What have you used to strengthen your own business relationships? I'd love to hear your thoughts below.