5 Must Read Books to Inspire Effective Leadership in 2016

Last year after completing the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, I could not help but laugh when it described me by saying my type “will read almost anything.” True to form I have been devouring books over the last few months. I thought the New Year would be an excellent opportunity to share some thoughts on the ones I have read recently. Read on if you are looking for inspiration, a New Year’s Resolution or perhaps just a regular habit.

These books were read in the following order for no particular reason other than when they came onto my radar. The theme: leadership. Looking back though, they paralleled and built on one another incredibly well despite being from vastly different worlds. They all can stand alone as exceptional reads, but for me the culmination of these particular five books reinforced how the foundation to successful leadership and business is universal. Here is what I learned from a couple culture catalysts, a dreamer, an Army General, a football coach, and two Navy SEALS.

5 Must Read Books to Inspire Effective Leadership in 2016 by Dr. Jessica Trichel Click To Tweet


By Dr. Randy Ross & David Salyers

This easy to read leadership parable is about Dusty who discovers an unlikely sage of business knowledge in his car mechanic. The story follows Dusty through his mentorship lessons as he learns the formulas to living a Remarkable! life both personally and professionally. The simplistic leadership lessons rang true for me when I looked at my positive and negative experiences of being a part of both effective and ineffective business cultures. Ross & Salyer present straightforward formulas in understanding human nature and how to bring out the best in people.


Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

By Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace

As the Co-founder of Pixar, Catmull details his journey of lessons learned while creating Pixar Studios. It is a fun, delightful read with powerful lessons on how to manage people, as well as create and sustain a high functioning company culture. Lessons learned are demonstrated by detailing the stories from behind the scenes of many of the beloved movies of my childhood. This is now one of my new top recommended reads for anyone interested in understanding how to shape innovative business cultures.


Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World

By Gen. Stanley McChrystal

An unlikely read for me as I do not typically venture into the military book realm (but has sparked a new trend). However, this book details how the US Military’s Joint Special Operations Task Force had to adapt to a new style of enemy. Its rigid silos of organizational structure no longer were effective, and in order to succeed they had to radically change how they operated. The strikingly similar parallels I saw in this book and the others blew my mind and enforced how leading in the 21st Century is fundamentally very different than previously praised models.


Above The Line

By Urban Meyer with Wayne Coffey.

This is the story of how the Ohio State Buckeyes became the 2014 NCAA Football Champions. However, Meyer did not want to just retell the story, he wanted to create a manual to detail the principles they followed to accomplish their mission of being the best college football team in the country. He is candid in outlining the leadership training principles and how their relentless effort for “Above the Line” behavior ultimately led their team being crowned National Champions. This book will now live on my bookshelf as a quick reference guide to leadership as it has very clear and concise bullet points of the major points of each chapter.

Full Disclosure: My brother helped with the production of this book, but my recommendation is substantiated by the fact that, at the time of this writing, the book is #3 on the New York Times Business books and #2 in Sports.


Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

By Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

I liked reading this one after the others as it brought home the fact that no matter the strategy, it takes Extreme Ownership on the part of the leader to lead an effective team. This principle was echoed in the other books, but these authors dive deeply into this topic and illustrate the lessons through their experiences on the battlefield as well as in their business management company. (Note: If you plan to read Team of Teams as well, I recommend reading it before this one for a consistent chronology of the combat stories.)

I hope you have had a great start to the year and that you learn as much as I did from these books!