This reading list originally appeared in the spring edition of The Master’s University Magazine.
Leadership is a complex, wide-ranging, and ultimately irreducible subject. Context, background, training, and aptitude are but a few factors that impact how we even define leadership. That said, here are several books that I recommend to help leaders better understand leadership and grow in whatever role God has placed them in. Of course, one could list many books specific to a particular industry or leadership context, but in terms of general leadership orientation and foundational principles, I think the following texts are very helpful.
Proverbs 9:10: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
Christ-honoring leadership can only be found in knowledge of, and submission to, the Creator. Leadership is fundamentally a question of influence. Influence is fundamentally a question of trust and credibility. Trust is fundamentally a question of character. True character (that which is both authentic and pure) is fundamentally a question of being saved and sanctified. Credibility is fundamentally a question of knowledge and wisdom. This is an extremely short explanation for a very complex topic!
If character is considered a key factor in quality leadership, integrity is near the top of any list of essential characteristics for any leader. Originally published in 1997, this short but powerful text provides a biblical framework for a life of integrity, illustrated primarily in the life of the Apostle Paul. The Church is in dire need of believers who live with conviction and unwavering commitment to the Word of God. Such qualities extend even beyond the doors of the church, calling Christians everywhere to live lives of faithfulness to godly character.
First published in 1989, Bennis’ work has stood the test of time in a field fraught with fads and flashy gimmicks. In the mind of the author, leaders can be forged through disciplined study and careful self-reflection. Insights and illustrations of quality leadership fill out this classic reader on the practice of leadership (as opposed to a more academic treatment).
A slightly more academic treatment, but accessible none the less. This is an excellent book that confronts the age-old issue of “silos” in organizations. The authors ague that, while silos isolate, healthy boundaries are beneficial lines of demarcation that help people work together efficiently and understand one another better. The book details ways in which leaders can identify and leverage boundaries in helpful ways.
This is perhaps the least academic of my recommendations, but this easy read is based upon the military practice of many senior military officers making it a practice to never eat until all of their soldiers have been served (even if that means none is left for them). This book includes a bit of psychology, but for the discerning believer, the examples and ideas are helpful illustrations of how to be a servant leader.
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