My Favorite Books I Read Last Year

Almost every year, I post a handful of my favorite books I read the previous year. As you can see below, my list for 2019 was heavily weighted with leadership books, not just organizational, but personal leadership. The styles vary, and so do the authors. These are the books I was able to “eat the fish and spit out the bones”—and enjoy far more “fish” than “bones.”

1. The Ride of a Lifetime, by Bob Iger

This autobiography of the CEO of Disney contains the insights he gained after leading the enterprise for 15 years. Bob is warm and vulnerable as he shares his failures and successes and what he discovered about his ego, personality, and approach to leading. I was keenly fascinated by his descriptions of purchasing Pixar, Lucas Films and Marvel. Any leader can gain from this account of a leader who never forgot his humanity.

2. The Outward Mindset, by the Arbinger Institute

I have appreciated every book written by the psychologists at the Arbinger Institute, the first one being Leadership and Self-Deception (A top 10 book of all time for me). This book clearly outlines the value of cultivating an outward paradigm toward others, instead of our instinctive self-preservation and quick, band-aid solutions to problems. This book will transform your perspective on how to achieve peak performance.

3. Dare to Lead, by Brene Brown

Brene Brown has become a favorite author of mine over the last five years—me and a million other readers. This research psychologist at the University of Houston explains the power of authentic and even vulnerable leadership with teams. Her big three ideas in the book are brave work, tough conversations, and whole hearts. Worth your read.

4. Culture Code, by Daniel Coyle

This book was timely for me this year, as Growing Leaders went through a re-org. I saw again the power that team culture plays and how to create a positive and magnetic environment for our team. Coyle offers memorable case studies and practice ideas for any team (sports, business, education, military, etc.) to perform at their very best.

5. The Courage to be Disliked, by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

I picked this book up at the end of the year and was immediately compelled by its content. The Japanese authors are both students of Alfred Adler, a 19th giant in the field of psychology. They walk readers through a conversation between a philosopher and a young man about self-direction, self-care, self-forgiveness, and mind-decluttering.

6. The Only Leaders Worth Following, by Tim Spiker

Tim Spiker is a friend of mine who has lived out the concepts of this book. He explains brilliantly why leadership is a question of “who” not “what.” Like a tree is defined by its roots, the book explains how good leaders are first and foremost good humans (people) and how accumulating skills without identity can sabotage anyone’s leadership.

7. Dare to Serve, by Cheryl Bachelder

Chery Bachelder is the former CEO of Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen. She turned the brand around from a fledging one to a thriving one. As you can tell from the title, Chery did it through changing the way headquarters approached leadership. They won the trust of franchisees through serving their frontline people. The book is full of solid ideas.

8. Know What You’re For, by Jeff Henderson

The book’s subtitle is: A Growth Strategy for Work and Even Better Strategy for Life. My friend of almost 20 years, Jeff Henderson, offers handles on how to lead your team or organization in a magnetic way by maintaining perspective on the big ideas which mean the most to you. It’s a small book, a simple read but a profound source of ideas.

My Favorite Books I Read Last Year