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17 Books Every Leader Should Read

This article was part of our annual Cosmic Conference series and this year our focus was all about (re)Designing the Employee Experience. From Sept. 28th - Oct. 21st, 2022 we explored all things EX. Check out all conference sessions and insights here.

We always wrap up our Cosmic Conference and Centaur Stage live sessions with a series of rapid-fire questions for our speakers. It’s a fun way to end the session, and it gives us some food for thought and great recommendations!

Here’s what the 2022 #CosmicConference guests had to say about what books every leader should read:

John Preece: Stolen Focus by Johann Hari. The author explores why the world is facing a focus crisis, and what to do to improve your attention span.

Laurel Farrer: Start with Why by Simon Sinek. This book highlights the importance of purposefulness in leadership.

Tony Jamous: Leadership and Self-Deception by Arbinger Institute. This book is great for developing self-awareness - it teaches you how to recognize your flaws more clearly, and notice other people's talents and needs more generously.

Scott Armstrong: Scott recommended 2 books. When by Daniel Pink, where the author gives readers compelling insights into the science of good timing.

The second book is Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman. The author teaches readers how to build a meaningful existence by accepting the finitude of time, and challenge the fixation on “getting everything done”.

Dr. Susan R. Vroman: What Works by Iris Bohnet. The author of this book explains how we can reduce gender inequality biases in the workplace and government.

Chase Warrington: The Culture Map by Erin Meyer. This book is suitable for both your professional and private life. It helps you better understand and navigate cultural differences.

Adam Booth: The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. The author explores the issues managers face daily, offering the knowledge he has gathered from creating, running, purchasing, selling, investing in, and managing technology companies.

Jennifer Dunsford: Dare to Lead by Brené Brown. The author shares a skills-based, practical playbook with what they’ve discovered about removing our everyday “mask”, and how to embrace braver and more daring leadership styles.

Claudius Boller: Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. In this book, the author spans the entirety of human history, from the earliest people to set foot on the planet to the revolutionary—and occasionally catastrophic—achievements of the cognitive, agricultural, and scientific Revolutions.

Dr. Agustin Chevez: The Pilgrim’s Guide to the Workplace by himself. Agustin invites you to travel with him as he writes from the viewpoints of a researcher, architect, workplace consultant, and pilgrim. You will be rewarded with a journey that challenges your preconceptions about how we use space to host the constantly changing idea of work

Dr. Connie Hadley and Jonathan Yeo: Fearless Organization by Amy Edmondson. This book is about how to create a psychologically safe environment where people are not afraid to speak their minds. The book outlines how this has lasting impacts on various aspects of work including the creative process, the refinement of leadership, and the correct implementation of accountability.

Jose Santos: Think Again by Adam Grant. The author fuses research and narrative to discuss how to build the intellectual and emotional muscle we need to change the world.

Breeze Dong: Breeze recommended 2 books. Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux, a book all about the solution to outdated organizational systems: enlightened organizational structures and practices.

The second book is Atomic Habits by James Clear. This book is the go-to manual for changing poor habits and forming good ones in four simple steps. It demonstrates how little, incremental daily routines add up to significant, positive change over time.

Marilyn Zakhour: High Output Management by Andrew Grove. The book offers a thorough description of a manager's role and purpose in an organization.

Tala Odeh: The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Acor. The book discusses a psychological theory that links happiness with one's own life to success at work. According to this theory, people will be more successful if they are happier.

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