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10 must-read leadership books for 2018


Are you planning to catch up on some reading over the holiday break? If so, you may want to check out our top picks below. We’ve rounded up 10 compelling books for IT and business leaders, each of which is sure to offer guidance and nuggets of wisdom that you can take back to the office on Jan. 2. 

In the spirit of the holiday, we are giving three lucky readers a book of their choice from the list. See below for contest details, and enter to win!

Twitter Contest Details:

Enter our Twitter contest for a chance to win a title of your choice. Here’s how:

  • Follow us on Twitter: @4enterprisers
  • Tweet us with a link to this page and include the hashtag #CIOBooks

Sample tweet: Hi @4enterprisers, I’d like to win one of the books from your 2018 Leadership reading list: #CIOBooks [Click to Tweet].

You must enter by 11:59 p.m. ET Dec. 8, 2017.  Winners will be selected Dec. 13, 2017, and notified via direct message on Twitter. Read the official rules. Good luck!

By: Gene Kim, Nicole Forsgren, and Jez Humble

Book description: For years, we’ve been told that the performance of software delivery teams doesn’t matter – that it can’t provide a competitive advantage to our companies. Through four years of research, Dr. Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble, and Gene Kim set out to find a way to measure software delivery performance – and what drives it – using rigorous statistical methods. This book presents both the findings and the science behind that research. 

Why you should read it: Leaders who want to take their DevOps practices up a level would be wise to grab the latest from Gene Kim and IT Revolution. This book aims to answer a tough question for DevOps teams – how to measure their success. 

By: Steven J. Stein 

Book description: An organization’s success rests on the backs of its leadership. At all levels, true leadership is about much more than management and task distribution – it’s about commitment, collaboration, nurturing talent, developing skills, fostering relationships, and so much more. The EQ Leader integrates the essential factors of successful leadership into a concrete blueprint for the future’s leaders.

Why you should read it: Emotional intelligence is increasingly seen as a must-have for today’s leaders, and this book can help CIOs work on theirs in the new year. One reviewer said, “What I loved about this book was the amount of research that had been gained from thousands of leaders all over the world providing strong evidence of what makes a successful leader. I really liked how it pulled on neurological aspects of what makes good leaders and the future of leadership in general.”

By: Malcolm Frank

Book description: When systems running on Artificial Intelligence can drive our cars, diagnose medical patients, and manage our finances more effectively than humans it raises profound questions on the future of work and how companies compete. Illustrated with real-world cases, data, and insight, the authors provide clear strategic guidance and actionable steps to help you and your organization move ahead in a world where exponentially developing new technologies are changing how value is created.

Why you should read it: “Must read for anyone in technology-related leadership,” one reviewer said. “Straightforward, comprehensive, practical. Cuts it straight down the middle between AI dystopia and utopia! It all depends on leadership in the end.” Pick up this book if AI is on the agenda for 2018. 

By: W. Craig Reed

Book description: Written by a former U.S. Navy diver, this book draws from the author’s experiences and beyond to reveal key truths about the nature of teamwork, and expose the core of effective team leadership. The 7 Secrets of Neuron Leadership shows you how to put the right players in place and give them the support, guidance, and direction they need to bring home exceptional results.

Why you should read it: At the intersection of ancient Greek philosophy and modern neuroscience research, you’ll find the secrets to motivating a team to succeed, this author says. Leaders seeking to communicate more effectively, push toward greater results, and get the best from their teams next year may want to check out this book. It shares wisdom from military and business leaders alike. 

By: Tim Ferriss 

Book description: We all need mentors, particularly when the odds seem stacked against us. To find his own, four-time #1 best-selling author Tim Ferriss tracked down more than 100 eclectic experts to help him, and you, navigate life. Through short, action-packed profiles, he shares their secrets for success, happiness, meaning, and more. No matter the challenge or opportunity, something in these pages can help.

Why you should read it: One of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Business People,” Ferriss offers lessons and life advice on a variety of topics from a wide range of experts and celebrities. Leaders will find tidbits that they can apply to their careers – like how to say no, and how to see obstacles as opportunities. As one reviewer said, “Take notes, because you’ll want to revisit these nuggets of wisdom often.”

By: Mark Schwartz

Book description: In A Seat at the Table, CIO Mark Schwartz explores the role of IT leadership as it is now and opens the door to reveal IT leadership as it should be – an integral part of the value creation engine. With an easy style, Schwartz reveals that the only way to become an agile IT leader is to be courageous – to throw off the attitude and assumptions that have kept CIOs from taking their rightful seat at the table. CIOs, step on up, your seat at the table is waiting for you.

Why you should read it: “Make no mistake: DevOps represents a different way of thinking about IT – and requires a different leadership model,” wrote Schwartz in a recent article for The Enterprisers Project. In his book, he dives into the four big concerns of CIOs and how each are flipped upside down in the world of DevOps. If you are getting stuck in your agile practices, this book is a must-read. 

By: Chris Johnson,‎ Matt Johnson

Book description: As the world speeds up faster and faster, organizations and their people try to keep up. This pressure to do more with less has reached epidemic levels of concern and organizations are panicking on how to recruit, retain and attract the best talent for the future. Burnout, low engagement, and overwhelming stress are jeopardizing organizations’ ability to scale and win. As outdated performance models of the past crumble under pressure, Matt and Chris show you how to build and protect your most valuable asset – your people.

Why you should read it: Talent will continue to be a challenge for CIOs as they move into the new year. This book promises to offer the tools needed to maximize the performance of your team, which naturally helps you to retain your best talent and attract more like them. Since virtually all CIOs struggle with this issue, it’s worth checking out some new tips and strategies. 

By: Chip and Dan Heath

Book description: While human lives are endlessly variable, our most memorable positive moments are dominated by four elements: elevation, insight, pride, and connection. If we embrace these elements, we can conjure more moments that matter. Many of the defining moments in our lives are the result of accident or luck – but why would we leave our most meaningful, memorable moments to chance when we can create them? The Power of Moments shows us how to be the author of richer experiences.

Why you should read it: “If life is a series of moments, the Heath brothers have transformed how I plan to spend mine,” writes author Adam Grant in his review of this book. This book explores not only the why behind some of the most meaningful moments of our lives, but also the how. In doing so, the authors provide a recipe for companies to cook up their own powerful moments to engage employees and win over customers. 

By: Leonard Sherman

Book description: Businesses often find themselves trapped in a competitive dogfight, scratching and clawing for market share with products consumers view as largely undifferentiated. But there are notable exceptions in which enlightened executives have changed the rules to grasp the holy grail of business: long-term profitable growth. Rather than joining the dogfights raging within their industry, companies such as Apple, FedEx, and Starbucks have chosen to become metaphorical cats, continuously renewing their distinctive strategies to compete on their own terms.

Why you should read it: “This book seamlessly integrates key elements of today’s strategic thinking to guide newly-minted MBA graduates and seasoned executives alike,” one reviewer said. “Sherman asserts that sound strategy and effective execution are more relevant than industry structure to achieving long-term profitable growth, which he demonstrates can be attained in any industry if executives focus on continuous innovation to provide consumers with meaningfully differentiated products and services.” 


Book description: The pace of business is accelerating, and organizations are demanding more from their information technology teams. As IT teams around the world rise to these new challenges, they’re realizing that radical change isn’t a matter of tools alone. It’s also a matter of culture – the values that underpin behaviors, influence problem-solving capability, and facilitate truly revolutionary potential. In this book, more than 20 contributors from open source communities, companies, and projects offer hard-won lessons and practical advice for creating a more open IT department – one that can deliver better, faster results and unparalleled business value.

Why you should read it: Today’s organizations need to ditch slow processes, outdated business models, and old-school, top-down hierarchal structure. But these are often so entrenched in a company’s culture that it’s hard to know where to begin to change. This book delivers advice from more than 20 CIOs and IT practitioners, industry leaders, and technologists, on how open principles are reshaping IT organizations and how to create powerful cultural change in your group. Full disclosure: This free ebook was created by our colleagues at The Open Organization.

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