I’ve talked to hundreds of leaders in my life. One of the common themes of these conversations is “turning points”—those books, movies, people, or experiences that made a profound and almost instant difference in a life of leadership.
I’ve been pondering my own “turning points” recently, largely because I’ve been increasingly asked about them so often in the Q&A sessions that follow my speeches. It has been pleasant to think back on those moments and the good that came from them.
So, let me list three books and three movies that have shaped my life of leadership. Perhaps you’ll find profound turning points in them too.
Seabiscuit – This movie is about one of my favorite themes in human behavior: a band of friends getting fixed and fixing each other all while committed to a great cause—in this case an unusual racehorse. I love this film and think about it almost every day.
Apollo 13 – Watch the character Ed Harris plays. He models tremendous leadership as well as the skills of building a culture of success, even during a dire national emergency. I’ve actually used this film in leadership seminars.
Chariots of Fire – Great leadership is much about solving moral quandaries. That is the heart of this epic movie, one of my favorites.
Relaunch: How to Stage an Organizational Comeback – Mark Rutland
This book is primarily about the art of the organizational turnaround, but I found it profound in its broader leadership insights too. I consider it essential.
The Goal – Eliyahu Goldratt
This book is a sleeper phenomenon. It has sold millions of copies, and yet it would not appear on most lists of influential business books. It is an intriguing novel that portrays immensely important management lessons in memorable ways. Read it and then adapt its lessons for your industry.
When Character Was King – Peggy Noonan
There are many styles of leadership. I like pondering as many as I can. Ronald Reagan practiced a type of leadership that was so natural, anecdotal, and even theatrical that it hardly seemed like an approach to leadership at all. Peggy Noonan captures Reagan’s grace in perhaps the best short biography of this American president.
That’s it. Go forth and conquer. Have a great weekend.