Leadership is not about who you know, or why you know it, or how much you are paid to lead. It's often about what you know and how you apply that knowledge. That's why I've decided to scour the best books on leadership that were published this year and present a quote from each that, in my opinion, distills its information down to its most useful tip.
1. Resilience is critical to success in leadership
"A few years ago, two former business school professors of mine, Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, author of Power, and Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, did an informal study of my Stanford MBA classmates to discern what factors were the most influential in determining which students would 'make it' and which would not. (As I recall, they were not looking for those who had made it as measured by dollars earned, but those who are most successful all around in achieving their goals and dreams.) After eliminating many different factors, they landed on resilience as the one defining skill and behavior that allowed some to stand out from the rest. After all, it wasn't that none of us face that adversity--we all did. But some were able to pick themselves up and brush themselves off and move on, while others were not."
Denise Brosseau in her book Ready to Be a Thought Leader: How to Increase Your Influence, Impact, and Success
2. You must bridge the communication gap created by leadership
"Most successful people have little interest in listening to those individuals who cannot add value to a situation or topic but force themselves into a conversation just to hear themselves speak. Good communicators address both the what and how aspects of messaging so they don't fall prey to becoming the smooth talker who leaves people with the impression of form over substance."
3. Leadership is, at its core, about the mobilization of ideas
"Leadership is about setting a direction. It's about creating a vision, empowering and inspiring people to want to achieve the vision, and enabling them to do so with energy and speed through an effective strategy. In its most basic sense, leadership is about mobilizing a group of people to jump into a better future."
John P. Kotter in his book Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World
4. Good leaders are highly aware of their own vulnerabilities
"The role played by blindspots is to meditate between the poles of self-confidence and self-doubt. A leader with too many blindspots can be overconfident, even blindly arrogant, and exposed to a range of risks."
Robert Bruce Shaw in his book Leadership Blindspots: How Successful Leaders Identify and Overcome the Weaknesses That Matter
5. Leaders equip people for success beyond their own purview
"Entrepreneurial leaders foster in people the feeling that they are personally successful--the hallmark of leadership."
Derek Lidow in his book Startup Leadership: How Savvy Entrepreneurs Turn Their Ideas Into Successful Enterprises
6. The role of a leader is primarily to care for others
"And when a leader embraces their responsibility to care for people instead of caring for numbers, then people will follow, solve problems and see to it that that leader's vision comes to life the right way, a stable way and not the expedient way."
Simon Sinek in his book Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't
7. Take time to reflect and lead in the moment without stopping only to focus on problems
"Most leaders can barely breathe through the blur of activity, much less reflect on and register the best of what is happening in the present moment. And on the rare occasions when they do step back to assess the situation at hand, they focus on the problems, ignoring the opportunities."
Kathryn D. Cramer in her book Lead Positive: What Highly Effective Leaders See, Say, and Do
8. Trust in leadership can be distilled down to four basic elements
"Trust in others (and their trust in us) depends on four elements: reliability, congruence, acceptance, and openness."
Joanna Barsh and Johanne Lavoie in their book Centered Leadership: Leading with Purpose, Clarity, and Impact
9. Body language trumps spoken instruction
"Remember, every communication is two conversations, the spoken content and the body language. The body language always trumps the content when the two are in conflict. So in planning your content and failing to think much about your emotions, which drive your body language, you're leaving that to chance--the more important of the two conversations."
10. Hope in leadership comes from analyzing success and feedback
"To increase your chances of moving toward your ideal self, challenge any self-defeating thoughts. Keep in mind your past accomplishments, candidly assess what has stopped you from achieving goals, as well as your personal beliefs about your abilities. Consider relevant feedback from others about what you have achieved and what your potential is. This helps increase your sense of hopefulness, which research has shown is critical in imagining and realizing the ideal self."
Stewart D. Friedman in his book Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life