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Simon Sinek recommends

The leadership expert shares books and films that illuminate the qualities that make a great leader — and tips on how you can become one.

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    Man’s Search for Meaning

    Viktor E. Frankl
    Beacon Press, 2006

    This is essential reading for anyone interested in the topic of purpose. Because Frankl’s personal experience was so extreme, the lessons are that much more stark. And, most importantly, his lessons are universally applicable to all our lives.

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    Turn the Ship Around

    L. David Marquet
    Portfolio Hardcover, 2013

    So many leadership books are either theoretical (written by people who study it but don’t do it) or by people who look back and try to explain how they did it. Though both valuable, most leadership books are also very hard to implement as prescribed. That’s what makes Marquet’s book is so remarkable. A submarine commander, he used to obey traditional models of leadership … until they failed him. Unable to change any variables (people, technology or equipment), the only thing left for him to change in order to achieve success was how he acted as a leader. Based on real life events, Marquet presents his ideas in a superbly practical way — perfect for implementing.

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    Guns, Germs and Steel

    Jared Diamond
    W. W. Norton & Company, 2005

    I’m a fan of books that challenge our assumptions, and Diamond offers us a new and remarkably simple way of looking at our world. Learning to challenge existing assumptions is core to effective leadership for it trains us to keep an open mind.

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    1421: The Year China Discovered America

    Gavin Menzies
    William Morrow Paperbacks, 2008

    This is another book that trains us to keep an open mind. It offers a theory of how the Chinese discovered America 70 years before Columbus. The practice of being open to new ways of seeing things makes a leader open to the ideas of others — an essential characteristic of great leadership.

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    Universal Pictures UK, 2011

    I cry every time I watch this documentary by Asif Kapadia. It is the most remarkable illustration of what it means to do something for the love of it. It draws a stark contrast between someone who does something for the passion versus someone who does something for the numbers.

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    Lorber Films, 2013

    Though not intended to be a documentary about leadership, Vikram Gandhi’s exploration as to why we look for gurus to follow is a perfect metaphor for true leadership. Namely, when those we choose to follow encourage us to find our own strength.

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    Susan Cain
    Broadway Books, 2013

    Leaders needn’t be the loudest. Leadership is not about theater. It’s not about dominance. It is about putting the lives of others before any other priority. In Quiet, Cain affirms to a good many of us who are introverts by nature that we needn’t try to be extroverts if we want to lead. Simply being ourselves is more important — and more effective.