Leadership Reads for a New Year

It’s no secret, when you’re in the midst of doctoral work (courses or dissertation), the idea of reading anything that doesn’t relate to the doctoral journey is out of the question.

There just isn’t time.

I finished my doctorate about 10 months ago now and took a new job 2 months after that. So, I have still been a bit behind in my reading list. Shocker. I want to change that this year.

My hope is to finish a few leadership books on my list and revisit a few old favorites. As I was putting together my list for the year, I thought it might be worth sharing.

I hope you enjoy, and of course — feel free to comment on your favorite reads as well.

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Joseph Grenny

I have benefited from crucial conversations and try to have those when they’re needed. They are always really hard but extremely beneficial for the recipient. I hope this book gives me some valuable tips to get better at them.

Stress-Proof Your Life: High Performance Under Pressure by Eliz Green

After hearing Eliz Green speak at HighEdWeb this fall, I knew I had to put this book on the list. I certainly need to do a better job of managing my stress, and I hope this book gives me some great tips to keep stress from getting the best of me.

I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times by Monica Guzman

This book was part of the campus reading at my institution this fall, and the author is coming to campus. As I want to continue learning more about how to be better and how to recognize biases, this book has great strategies about having those important conversations to learn and grow in a curious and not questioning way.

Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott

I heard Kim Scott speak at AMA in 2020 and used her book in a leadership course I helped teach at a prior institution. The idea of how to have tough, honest conversations in real time is something I still use today. Hoping I can learn additional tips in a re-read of this one.

The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhou

As a new manager a few years ago, I could have benefitted so much from this book. I felt so lost and didn’t know what to do on so many occasions when the entire room would look at me to make a call. This read will be a gift to my past self and hope it helps me continue to grow as a manager of teams.

The Likeability Trap: How to Break Free and Succeed as You Are by Alicia Menendez

I have struggled with wanting to be liked as a leader, especially coming from a peer first before moving into leadership roles. As a female, I feel a strong sense of pressure to be likable. I’m hopeful this read gives me strategies to keep the need to be liked in check, so it doesn’t distract from supporting my teams.

How Good Do You Want to Be?: A Champion’s Tips on How to Lead and Succeed at Work and in Life by Nick Sabin and Brian Curtis

Football runs in my blood. We watch college ball most weekends, so I have heard just about all the sports analogies. I also had a former team member highly recommend this one and share it was a good mix of athletics and practical. I am excited to see what I learn from one of the greats.

The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times by Michelle Obama

Any book where a former First Lady can share about her mental health struggles speaks to me. As a strong, confident female leader I am guilty of feeling like I need to have it all together all the time. The vulnerability of Mrs. Obama appeals to me in this one, and I hope this read helps me to be more confident in admitting my own struggles and how they impact me.

Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change by Stacey Abrams

This book takes on systemic structures that exist, and I hope it helps me to learn to be a better leader because I am aware of these structures and how to advocate so that others have opportunities. As a white female, I may not be the target audience, but I hope the read will help me to learn more about others in my community.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

This is a revisit for me. In a previous leadership class, we talked about growth mindset and grit. I am hoping that revisiting this read reminds me of the power of working at something and always being willing to learn something new. As a higher education professional, this book really aligns with the concept of life-long learning.

One response to “Leadership Reads for a New Year”

  1. This is a great list, Carrie.


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