This page includes books which have been instrumental in influencing and shaping my leadership in the past and today. Please note that I have no interests to declare in relation to the authors or the publishers of these books – they’re just worthy in my view of promoting and endorsing.
All the publications have certain things in common. Most importantly, they are rooted in considering who you are and how you are as a leader before they ever consider what you should do. If you are genuinely open to reflecting on yourself as a human being as well as a leader, then these books will open up a world of endless possibilities for you.
First published as far back as 1988, I credit this book with being my first experience of considering and reflecting upon myself as a potential leader. Whilst I found the American flavour of the book a little too sickly sweet in parts, Covey lit a fire which has been burning ever since. I still refer to it today and remind myself and others of the importance of “sharpening the saw” in particular. The fact that this book has had several reprints is testament to its relevance and durability and to the contribution that Covey makes to leaders across the world, even after his sad passing in 2012. Website link
If you haven’t had the opportunity to listen to or meet Andy Buck, make this a priority for you on your journey as a leader. Whilst you’re waiting, read his book “Leadership Matters”. An accompanying journal is also available. There is so much of value within this book; I have read it both privately and as part of a regular “book club” with my school’s leadership team. We discussed the contents for two terms! I give a copy to every teacher whom I employ. If you genuinely reflect on and embrace Andy’s messages, then you’ll be well on your way to becoming the leader you want to be and the leader your school needs. Andy’s Website Link
This book accurately reflects its title. It is a very easy and engaging read which promotes three basic aspects of leadership: Future, Engage ,Deliver.
Brilliantly accessible in a variety of contexts, it provides a secure foundation on which to build your leadership. I loved the chapter on the different types of energies that exist within individuals and an organisation which need to be nurtured and balanced. Could be my school’s next “Book Club” text!
Wow! This book is so much more than a leadership help book. Jocelyn Davis intelligently and passionately uses figures and stories from classic literature to offer her philosophy on leadership. Davis’ knowledge and ability to explain is nothing short of brilliant. Some of the content (the chapter on Frankenstein for example) is also beautifully written – something which you wouldn’t automatically expect in a book of such a genre. Her passionate post script should be sent to those politicians in every country who have responsibility for education. Fantastic. Useful link
I loved the slightly rebellious tone of this book. A mixture of anecdotes and practical philosophy, Morrish starts by explaining how he became a Liverpool fan (this should be taken as a confession rather than a piece of advice!). What follows is a delightful montage of how he has spent his career making sure that his schools “stand out” rather than being preoccupied with a prescriptive, inspectorate definition of outstanding. Needless to say, his schools have reaped the benefit of this approach. Useful link
I love this book because, as with all great writers, the author reveals as much about his character as his thoughts. There’s plenty of light material to reflect on (for example, what type of Mr Men & Little Miss characters are your leadership team?) but there’s also plenty of advice on things such as delegation and appointing leaders.
Stephen’s letters to himself at different ages and stages in his career are deeply reflective and as such, humbly inspiring. The book concludes with a consideration of what we mean by “education” and an introduction to a word I’d never heard – “Ubuntu”, meaning “I am because we are”. Something for all leaders to remember.
Naturally, there are hundreds of coaching books available. My reason for choosing this one, is that it is a great place to start if you don’t have much coaching or leadership experience. Whilst it is very prescriptive (it appears quite “cold” on occasions), the intentions are worthwhile, the method is clearly explained and the process is one that can be practised without too much preparation. Most importantly, it does emphasise the need for the coachee to be in charge of the process. As a leader and coach, that’s an important message to take on board. Website link
Reading should always include an opportunity for some good old fashioned escapism. For this, Gervase Phinn is your man!
His “Little Village School” series take you into rural Yorkshire. Whilst there are some aspects of dialect which are challenging for a Londoner to articulate – even in one’s head! – the stories will take you far away from the troubles of your own setting.