Books about leadership


This is the best book I have read on leadership. The author commanded a nuclear submarine in the US Navy. He turned round the performance of the worst performing boat in the fleet to become the best – and it had a lasting effect beyond his tenure, as well as the men (they were all men) under his command subsequently doing disproportionately well in promotions.

There is no padding in this book. The author describes the situations that occurred in his career, what he did well and what he did wrong, and how he learned from them. He describes how he applied those lessons and why, and and the conditions necessary to make it stick. The bottom line here is a focus one desired outcomes rather than following process. The key requirements are control, competence, and clarity. One significant area that it’s helped me articulate more clearly is in regard to delegation. Delegation is so over-touted by managers who haven’t a clue how to do it. It’s a mantra in business that’s mouthed without meaning every day. The point made in the book is that delegation assumes that power is there to be delegated whereas a more effective goal is to achieve a leader-leader relationship rather than leader-follower, where each person has their own goals, competencies, and authority. More directly in most business settings, there’s no point trying to delegate if your people aren’t competent or clear on what they need to achieve. If either test fails, it’s the manager’s responsibility.


This is an entertaining read with some straightforward easy to use principles to improve your coaching. The hard bit is doing it.


If you’re interested in leadership, and being a leader, this is a good book to read. The author has developed his methods over many years of experience, learning honestly from his mistakes, and keeping an open mind as to what works. His goal is to get people to trust him, at which point he’s in a position to lead, and to ask those people to do things for him. Although cover of the book touts just ‘five rules’, there are in fact many checklists of guidance to follow which are summarised at the back of the book. You can simply do a read-through, and get the idea, or you can take is as a workbook and spend time going deep, and really practicing the methods. As a read, it’s a combination of engaging real-life stories, some exposition of the theory, and sometimes a bit too much verbiage. Some points are over-made. Whether that’s to hit the required word count I don’t know, but I would expect a good editor to tighten it up a bit. Nevertheless, if it’s subject that you’re interested in, it will repay the effort.