There are a lot of books on leadership out there, but there is only one that tells you how to be a leader… or as I’d say, “How to not suck at life and instead work to inspire those around you to be great.” Some folks believe that leadership is born and not learned; I disagree. While some folks are probably better suited to become strong leaders, the skills of leadership can be adopted by anyone in any situation and put to good use. Much of it seems like common sense once read, but are things that people often forget.
The book is called FM 6-22, also known as The U.S. Army Leadership Field Manual.
If you’ve ever been faced with having to lead a group of any size, this book will provide invaluable help. It covers leadership characteristics, leadership presence, leadership intelligence (both ways!), and topics like how to extend influence beyond a single link, how to lead by example, how to lead by authority, and how to provide direction, guidance, feedback and priorities. And it covers how important all of those topics are.
Finally, it covers a topic the “business school” leadership books often omit, how to deal with the stress of being a leader; a topic of great importance as you lead your teams into new projects, initiatives and essentially ask the people under you to trust you.
As a side note, I think this books is also for the “cheerleader” type of leaders (what I tongue-in-cheek call bullshitters) because it helps those kinds of leaders understand that not everyone can just rally around an idea forever. They need evidence, confidence and a feeling that the leadership is competent in being leaders. Being a cheerleader is fine, as many cheerleaders might know what’s happening under the hood and have enough confidence in themselves to just tell everyone “it’s gonna be awesome, we’re gonna be rich if you just build this,” but for many workers that won’t fly. You have to tailor your messages to your audience, and nobody knows how to do that better to a diverse group of individuals than the US Army.
In closing; go get this book or ask me for a copy; I keep a bunch around.