Top 6 Must-Read Leadership Books of All Time (Part 1)

Oorja Biz Ops has gone a bit literary this week. We are all passionate readers here and thought it would be a great idea to do some blog posts on must-reads, and here is the first of those. In the next two posts we talk about what we think are the six best leadership books of all time written by true visionaries who have shared their secrets on what it takes to be a true leader, with the world. A lot of us might be off the genre of self-help books, or books which preach about the greatness other men have achieved, simply because of our previous bad experiences with the somewhat prudish and pompous tone and content that a few books of this genre have. We would, however, urge you to let go of that fear, and pick up any of these five books that will develop the leader in you and experience the magic!

1. Meditations, Marcus Aurelius – A book which speaks about the art of leadership, “Meditations: Living, Dying and the Good Life” is one of the masterpieces by Marcus Aurelius, which has stood the test of time. Literally. Even though the exact year of publication is not known, it was written between A.D. 140 to 180. Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor (A.D 121- 180), who wrote “Meditations” in twelve parts, most of which were notes to himself for self-guidance and improvement. He speaks of his experiences as an emperor, his difficulties and his triumphs both as an emperor trusted to mobilize and motivate his empire and of personal musings about life. To cite an extract from the review by Guardian on Meditations at this point, would be apt – “In Marcus’s universe, everything has a purpose, from horses to vine shoots. Man’s purpose, as a thinking animal, is to clear his mind of junk – to rid himself of illusions. The acclaim of peers is one illusion. The acclaim of posterity – “people you’ve never met and never will” – is another: “To be remembered is worthless. Like fame. Like everything.” Discard your vain ambitions, accept that you’re “minuscule, transitory, insignificant”, and you can begin to play your little part in the interconnected whole: “Things push and pull on each other, and breathe together, and are one.”” Hooked?

2. Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankel – Yet another timeless classic, the book is psychiatrist Viktor Frankel’s memoir. Frankel writes about his past in Nazi Germany – Hitler and his minions took away everything that was ever dear to him, including his parents, brother and pregnant wife. The amount of literature on the holocaust is huge, however, what sets this memoir apart is the simple truth it establishes – “our primary drive in life is not pleasure, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.” He not only survived the holocaust, he went on to achieve remarkable success in the field of psychiatry. Frankel’s memoir, first published in 1946, continues to inspire lives through the decades.

3. The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale – A classic yet again. This book has been on the shelf of bestsellers since 1952! The book is a compilation of the author’s experiments with principles to a happy life written in an easy and interactive language. The form of narration was a conscious choice by the author, to make the book readable for different groups of readers. The introduction to his book has the following stated objective – “It is written with the sole objective of helping the reader achieve a happy, satisfying, and worthwhile life.” Being a good leader requires one to have the skill of motivating people. Peale surely did a great job at that, and maybe you can learn a thing or two from him, if you aspire to lead!

Have you read any or all of these three books? Share your review and help our readers decide which leadership book to read next. For those who are still undecided, we have three more recommendations coming up in our next post on this topic.

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