Tap into your leadership potential using Dr. John Mellinger's list of inspirational, educational books about leading, conflict resolution, discipline and communication.
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity; David Allen
Why Mellinger likes it: “It’s a great book on time management, with particular emphasis on how to capture and organize ideas and events, and be free to be fully engaged in the moment rather than distracted by the whirlwind of activities and interruptions that surround us.”
Choke; Sian Beilock
Why Mellinger likes it: “This book contains an interesting summary of modern cognitive science as pertains to performance under pressure, and how we can help learners and ourselves overcome in high stakes settings.”
The Road to Character; David Brooks
Why Mellinger likes it: “The Road to Character is a wonderful book that includes a number of mini-biographies of leaders and how their personal flaws and learning to manage them became the fulcrum of character development and leadership impact in their diverse lives. Also a very reflective book on the deteriorating ‘moral ecology’ of our times.”
Make It Stick; Peter Brown et al.
Who should read it: “Educational leaders. This book summarizes modern cognitive science and how we can help learners optimize their long-term retention of learned material, cognitive and technical.”
Good to Great, Great by Choice, Built to Last, How the Mighty Fall; all by Jim Collins
Why Mellinger likes it: “These books summarize a career of organizational leadership research by one of the best contemporary communicators on the subject. They summarize best corporate practices for growth and sustained success. A personal favorite theme in this work is that of the ‘Level 5 leader’ who exhibits ambition for the corporate good alongside personal humility.”
Leadership in Turbulent Times; Doris Kearns Goodwin
What it’s about: “A summary of the lives of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson with a focus on the leadership lessons each of these very different historical figures exhibited.”
Team of Rivals; Doris Kearns Goodwin
What it’s about: A historical review of Abraham Lincoln’s management of his cabinet made up of former political opponents, and how he managed their collective talents in a time of upheaval for the corporate good. Reportedly the only book on ‘leadership’ that Barack Obama took with him to the White House.
Conscious Leadership; Jim Detmer et al.
Why you should read it: “These authors have helped some substantial medical entities around the country with their processes, including corporate mergers and starting new medical schools. Detmer et al. provide a nice summary that encourages the reader to take a constructive approach to leadership challenges, with strong themes about ownership, interpersonal effectiveness, communication skill, and a growth rather than a victim mindset.”
Growing Physician Leaders; Mark Hertling
What it’s about: “This book is about a former Army general who now works with a large health system in Florida, focusing on developing physician leadership in the organization. It offers a strong call for the necessity of physicians developing leadership and management skillsets in the current climate of health care crisis and reform.”
Fierce Conversations; Susan Scott
Why Mellinger likes it: “The author highlights the fact that life is about relationships, and relationships are nothing more than a series of conversations that demand honesty and integrity, especially about difficult issues, in order to be effective. Applying her principles would transform the communication patterns of individual and corporate life. The cost of dishonesty and unauthentic communication is something she highlights, and offers concrete suggestions to address.”
Visioneering; Andy Stanley
Why Mellinger likes it: Another book written from a pastoral context, it offers an excellent set of principles about vision development and execution, working from the biblical story of Nehemiah as foundational material. The author also has a leadership podcast that is not explicitly religious and offers excellent material including interviews with other thought leaders in both corporate and nonprofit environments.
American Icon; Bryce Hoffman
Who should read it: “Those who like stories to illustrate leadership themes. This is the story of the turnaround at Ford Motor Company led by former Boeing engineer and project manager Alan Mullaly. The story of how he changed the corporate culture at Ford from a self-serving, dog-eat-dog environment to one that promoted group problem solving and accountability is powerful.”
A Passion for Leadership; Robert Gates
Why Mellinger likes it: “This book is written by a former director of the CIA and President of Texas A&M University. His insights about leading in bureaucratic organizations, and the special challenges and opportunities of serving in the public sector, are based on a career of work in such settings and very applicable to our world in a state supported educational institution.”
Our Iceberg is Melting; John Kotter
Who should read it: Those looking for a quick read. This wonderful and short but pithy parable by a change management guru from Harvard is about a group of penguins who are forced to consider and engineer change, and navigate the challenges involved with memorable strategies that are applicable to health care and any area of life.”
Crucial Conversations; Kerry Patterson et al.
Why Mellinger likes it: “It’s an excellent summary of principles to follow in having the difficult and critical conversations that we so often fumble or derail over.”
The Way of the Shepherd; Kevin Leman et al.
What it’s about: “This parable is about leadership based on lessons learned from caring for sheep. Principles related to managing others effectively are memorable and universal.”
Resilience; Steven Southwick et al.
Why Mellinger likes it: “It’s a timely and succinct book by two psychiatrists, one of them now dean at Icahn SOM at Mt. Sinai/NYC, who have studied Hanoi Hilton survivors, and distilled principles around personal resilience and a growth mindset that are very pertinent to current pressures in health care and life in general.”
The Power of Habit; Charles Duhigg
Why Mellinger likes it: “Duhigg provides an excellent contemporary summary of the science of habit formation and how it can be used in personal and organizational growth. He highlights the impact of habit and discipline formation in defining constructive or destructive trajectories in our lives.”
The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership; Steven Sample
Why Mellinger likes it: “It’s an engaging book that takes contrarian approaches to many leadership maxims by a former President of the University of Southern California. My personal favorite is that leaders shouldn’t read anything that is less than 400 years old to be sure it has stood the test of time.”
Getting to Yes; Roger Fisher et al.
Who should read it: “Those who would like to improve their negotiation skills or learn how to master difficult conversations. This book provides an excellent outline of basic negotiation skills, including how to engineer constructive dialog around areas of conflict or disagreement. Focusing on problems, interests, options, and agreeing on objective criteria are highlighted as tools.”
Peace @ Work; Pam Theisen
Why Mellinger likes it: “Theisen gives readers a short summary of principles for conflict resolution, including highlighting having clear goals, creating a safe environment, sharing of perspectives, and agreeing on a way forward.”