Top 7 Leadership Books for Army Leaders and Military Folks

In today’s post I want to share my Top 7 Leadership Books for Army Leaders.  These are leadership books that I have read in the past that I found VERY helpful.  I personally believe the information in these leadership books would benefit ANY Officer or NCO, regardless of their rank.  Here are the titles, in no particular order.

# 1 Developing the Leader Within You by John Maxwell – Leadership starts with YOU.  For your team to improve YOU have to improve.  In this book, John Maxwell will teach you how to bring out the leader in you and how to improve your leadership skills.  This is one of the first leadership books I ever read and it’s still one of my all time personal favorites.  This should really be the first leadership book on this list that you read.  Once you get YOU right, you can improve other areas of leadership.

# 2 Small Unit Leadership by Dan Malone – I had to add this book to my list.  It is my favorite military leadership book of all time and I do believe that EVERY Army Leaders should own a copy.   This book is designed for the small unit leader serving at the company level and below: both Officer and NCO.  It focuses on the true purpose of a military leader: to mentally and physically prepare your troops for combat.  It is absolutely loaded with practical leadership tips and advice.  Dan Malone, a retired Army Colonel, shares his real world experience and uses a writing style that is practical, on point and easy to follow.  I give it a 10 of 10.

# 3 How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – Why would I put a book about “winning friends” on this list?  Because all military leaders are in the people business.  No, the Army is not a popularity contest.  However, having good people skills can give you a HUGE advantage over your peers who do not have good people skills.  This book is about connecting with others, learning to think from the other person’s perspective, and learning how to get along with others.  No, you will not be your followers’ friend.  But, getting people to know you, like you and trust you can pay huge dividends in your career.  It helps build loyalty and esprit de corps.  And this is the best book in the marketplace about people skills.  Buy it and read it.

# 4 The One Minute Manager by Dr. Ken Blanchard – This is definitely the shortest book on this list, but don’t let that fool you!  The One Minute Manager is an amazing book about a great fictional leader.  It’s a parable and you can probably read it in an hour or two.  The book focuses on the three most important qualities of a good manager: giving clear expectations, providing continuous feedback and reprimanding/fixing bad behavior.  I really love this book and think it would benefit every Army Leader.

# 5 First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham – This book changed my life.  It is based upon a study of 80,000 successful leaders in 400 different companies, in a wide variety of different industries.  It answers the question: “How do great managers find, focus and keep talented employees?”  I give this book a 10 of 10 and really consider it a must read.  Don’t let the bad title put you off.

# 6 Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager: Increasing Effectiveness Through Situational Self Leadership by Dr. Ken Blanchard – This is another simple, but amazing book by Ken Blanchard.  It is another fictional parable about situational leadership.  The thesis of the book is that good leaders manage different people differently in different situations.  In other words, there is no single style of leadership that works in every situation.  The book provides some good tips and strategies to manage and lead people based upon their personality, attitude and skill set.  This book is a game changer if you really “get it.”

# 7 The Five Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell – John Maxwell is my favorite author on the topic of leadership.  I’ve read most of his books and this one is one of my favorites.  The book covers the five levels of leadership, which are:

– Position-People follow because they have to.
– Permission-People follow because they want to.
– Production-People follow because of what you have done for the organization.
– People Development-People follow because of what you have done for them personally.
– Pinnacle-People follow because of who you are and what you represent.

This book would be really beneficial for anyone who wants to make it to the top in their organization.  A must read for Senior Enlisted and Field Grade Officers.

Final Thoughts

In summary, these are my top 7 leadership books for Army leaders.  I know that most of the books are really not “military leadership oriented” but the leadership principles are still just as important.  I think it would be a wise idea to invest in ALL of these titles and add them to your Leader’s Library.

What are your thoughts?  What is your favorite leadership book for Army Leaders?  Leave a comment below to let me know what you think.

7 thoughts on “Top 7 Leadership Books for Army Leaders and Military Folks”

  1. All of the books above are stellar when it comes to meaningful and proper leadership, especially in the military realm. Although some are natural leaders, it’s beneficial to brush up on skills and new methods to improve your own leadership skills. Highly recommended to read up on leadership – not just in the military.

  2. A great list of books. I've only read the Carnegie book and I read that when I was young and I feel most of it was lost on me at the time. It's good most of the books aren't typical military leadership books. You get plenty of "how to be a military" leader, it's good to know how the other 90% of business works.

    I may be adding a few of these to my book queue.

  3. My favorite leadership book is ‘Doing Business by the Good Book’ – written by David Stewart and Robert Shook. Some people are turned off because it uses lessons from the Bible, but I’ve read it three times and it is far from overly religious bible-beating. The Golden Rule is huge, but so in networking, empowerment, leadership and conviction in everything you do. As a leader you are often put in positions where you don’t know everything but you can either learn or you surround yourself with good people with common goals. If you haven’t read it then I highly recommend it.

  4. Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, should be on everyone’s reading list. The book has been around for more than sixty years, but the information in it is still critical and current. Human nature has not changed since when this book was written in the 1930’s, and probably never will. Knowing how to win people over is a life skill, and it is how business gets done, whether that ‘business’ is in the office, or not. This is a great list, Chuck.

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