Learning crushes knowing in the quest for self-improvement. To adapt and develop leadership skills, one must always be seeking new sources of knowledge and inspiration. One of our favorite ways to do this is to read meaningful leadership books.
So, we asked our Y Scouters to talk about their favorite leadership books and share what specifically left an impact. Check out our top picks for leadership books selected by the Y Scouts team.
Mary Margaret Skelly, Leadership Search Director
Yes, this is a book about yoga and meditation, but more importantly it’s a book about how to approach life in a holistic way so you can be in the best possible position to serve others. Guru Jagat shares how to get grounded, sane, balanced, clear, and focused so that life can be enjoyable and an expression of service. This brings us joy as individuals and also spreads that joy, peace and happiness to other people. This is applicable in every area of life, but it’s critical in a work setting since this is where we spend most of our time. In an incredibly volatile, fast-paced era, one of the greatest gifts we can give those around us is the example of a life gracefully (not frenetically) lived, so they have permission to do the same.
Also, Guru Jagat is an entrepreneur and business leader – she has opened multiple Ra Ma Institutes for Applied Yogic Science and Technology around the country which offer yoga and meditation classes as well as business training courses; she produced an album that won a Grammy; she wrote this best-selling book; and she’s invited to speak at conferences all over the world. She is a true purpose-driven leader. I refer to it almost every day. I have the Kindle version and the hardcover.
Favorite quote from the book: “…There’s enough for everybody and the reason we’re here is to serve others…every moment, everything that we’re doing throughout the day – working, picking up kids, doing schoolwork or whatever we’re doing – we’re actively bringing elegance to the moment. It sounds poetic, but the actual practice is very intensive. It’s meditation in action. From that space, the more we are able to experience glimpses of inner peace, the more the world is going to experience glimpses of world peace. It’s totally and completely related.”
Nick Morrison, Leadership Search Director
It gave me a more structured mindset of servant leadership and how to go about being a resource for others.
Favorite quote from the book: “Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.”
Lexi Collins, Leadership Search Director
It changed the way I look at myself, people and the world around me through understanding behaviors and being compassionate. It completely transformed how I lean into vulnerability both with myself, but also allowing and being open to others being just as vulnerable with me.
Favorite quote from the book: “Blame is the discharging of comfort and pain.” Whenever I find myself blaming someone or something for anything, I instantly ask myself, “Why am I uncomfortable and/or in pain? How can I solve this?” Conversely, when someone else blames me for something I know I don’t have responsibility for, I view it through the compassionate lens that that individual must be in discomfort and pain and ask myself, “How can I help this person be comfortable or not be in pain?”
How many times have you read it? I’ve listened to it fully at least 10 times. Whenever I’m dealing with a difficult situation or am in a funky mood, I instantly play a chapter and somehow it relates!
Brian Mohr, Managing Partner and Co-Founder
Both books reinforced the belief that pursuing a Higher Purpose leads to lasting meaning/happiness. The idea of being in service to a cause(s) greater than your own self gain is the ‘secret’ of life.
Favorite quotes from Viktor Frankl: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Favorite quotes from Coehlo: “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dream.”
“What’s the world’s greatest lie?’ ‘It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That is the world’s greatest lie.”
Adam DiBiase, Director of Research
The answer for me is pretty easy, the book that’s had the biggest impact in my life is the Bible – and it continues to impact the way I think about life and leadership, as every time I read it I’m learning something new. Depending on where I’m at in life, different passages will take on new meanings and I’m able to get fresh guidance from God’s Word.
From my perspective, Jesus’ life and ministry serves as the ideal model for leadership. One of my favorite examples is in John 13:1-17
, where Jesus washes the feet of his disciples despite their protest. The washing of feet in their culture was symbolic of position, and for Jesus to do this was incredibly counter-cultural. He demonstrated that leadership is about serving and loving those under your care, and then commanded his disciples to do the same in their work moving forward.
Jason Gabler, Leadership Search Director
It taught me to center myself through arduous situations; to understand that happiness is a choice and a matter of the perspective we bring to each moment and event that impacts us. Practicing zen has allowed me to see every circumstance as the best possible thing that could happen to me, for they arrive to bolster my evolution into who I am to become. This philosophy has helped me understand life’s challenges through compassion and acceptance, towards myself and others.
Favorite quote from the book: “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge with it, move with it, and join the dance.” – Alan Watts
Max Hansen, CEO and Co-founder
Mindset by Carol Dweck
I read it immediately after suffering a serious concussion that left me with no vision and clarity. It helped me reset the foundation of what I believe are the most important factors in life. The book fully convinced me that the addition for continuous learning is the only real sustainable addition to have in life.
Favorite quote from the book: “Through clever research and engaging writing, Dweck illuminates how our beliefs about our capabilities exert tremendous influence on how we learn and which paths we take in life.” – Bill Gates
I specifically love how she explains how to recognize between having a fixed or growth mindset in everything we do. And most importantly how we can communicate as parents, in business, and in relationships to help others have a growth mindset.
Candi Luciano, Chief Brand Architect
Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work by Liz Wiseman
This book gave me the confidence to believe I do not need to be the smartest one in the room. Instead, I try to show up the most curious. A naive lens can drive impactful outcomes and meaningful experiences.
Favorite quotes from the book: “Sometimes the less you know, the more you can see.”
“Certainty is one of the weakest positions in life. Curiosity is one of the most powerful. Certainty prohibits learning, curiosity fuels change.”