By Stacy Eads
April 4, 2023

Leaders are readers

Fill your reading list with leadership insights.

If you didn’t make time for significant business reading in 2022, it’s a great goal to set in 2023. Spring is a lovely time in Oklahoma to grab a good book and sit on your back porch swing, absorbing the rays and the knowledge.

“Leaders are readers!” is a common mantra among business coaches. In fact, my mentor, Verne Harnish, founder of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) with over 16,000 members worldwide, is a voracious reader. He chaired for 15 years EO’s premiere CEO program held at MIT, the Birthing of Giants (a program in which he still teaches today), and at any given moment, can rattle off a bare minimum of 50+ books, complete with author names and major selling points. He’s like a walking, talking “Google of books,” I swear!

So, in honor of my mentor, here are Verne’s top 10 books from 2022 with a little “coaching insight” thrown in for good measure. I’ve provided you with a bit of spring inspiration, including the Amazon link to the book, key takeaways from the reading, and any one-minute video recaps or blogs to make the reading list a little lighter. 

The list is broken into our 4 Decisions every company must get right in order to scale with less drama and chaos: people, strategy, execution, and cash.

PEOPLE: What’s In It for Them? 9 Genius Networking Principles to Get What You Want by Helping Others Get What They Want by Joe Polish

  • Key Takeaway: In making the right connections with the right people in the right way, there is one key question: “What’s in it for them?” In figuring out how to make others’ lives better, you become a magnetic and valuable person with whom people want to collaborate.

STRATEGY: The Crux: How Leaders Become Strategists by Richard P. Rumelt

  • Article Recap
  • Key Takeaway: The process of diagnosing a key challenge/constraint and then creating a response is the best theory we have for strategy creation. Starting with long-term goals gets all of this backward. 

EXECUTION: The Frictionless Organization: Deliver Great Customer Experiences with Less Effort by Bill Price and David Jaffe

  • Key Takeaway: Measure the number of customer contacts per unit/service (CPUs) sold. The goal is to continue to move this number down, not just to be excellent in handling customer contacts.

CASH: Beating Inflation: An Agile, Concrete and Effective Corporate Guide by Hermann Simon

  • Insight Video
  • Key Takeaway: The CEO must warn the workforce against price illusion. If sales are inflated by inflationary prices, but real profit stagnates or economic profit vanishes, then nothing is gained.

Other books for leadership and life:

Kick Up Some Dust: Lessons on Thinking Big, Giving Back, and Doing It Yourself by Bernie Marcus and Catherine Lewis

  • Summary Video
  • Key Takeaway: Four factors were key to Bernie’s success: he was passionate about Home Depot, understood the risks, was not afraid of failure, and told the Home Depot story to anyone who might help his team reach their goals.

Play Nice but Win: A CEO’s Journey from Founder to Leader by Michael Dell

  • Summary Video
  • Key Takeaway: This biography details how Michael Dell scaled his firm to $100 billion and orchestrated the “Deal of the Century.” I encourage you to listen to the book – Michael narrates it himself. 

CEO Excellence: The Six Mindsets That Distinguish the Best Leaders from the Rest by Carolyn Dewar, Scott Keller, and Vikram Malhotra

  • Summary Video
  • Key Takeaway: Written by three McKinsey Senior Partners, they answer the question “What does a CEO really do?” in those firms that excel. There are six: setting the direction, aligning the organization, mobilizing through leaders, engaging the board, and managing personal effectiveness.

Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect by Will Guidara

  • Insight Video
  • Key Takeaway: After transforming a middling brasserie in New York City into the #1 restaurant in the world, the founder details how all firms can reach beyond providing good service (what you do) to delivering hospitality (how you leave people feeling).  

The Advisory Board Playbook: People Power Profits by Nancy Mayer

  • Key Takeaway: All scaleups should utilize an advisory board. This book provides the playbook for how to identify, recruit, compensate, and get the most from this crucial resource.

The 80/80 Marriage: A New Model for a Happier, Stronger Relationship by Nate Klemp, Ph.D. and Kaley Klemp

  • Insight Video
  • Key Takeaway: Anyone in a longer-term relationship will suffer from the illusion of fairness. Instead, bring “radical generosity” to the relationship. This book details how to make this a reality.

And although he’d never place his own books on his annual top 10 list, I will tell you three more books of note for your spring and summer reading list. Verne Harnish, the founder of Scaling Up, a global executive education and coaching company with over 200 partners on six continents, has spent the past four decades helping companies scale up. He is a connoisseur of case studies and business stories that help him see pattern recognition among key themes, always editing his work and keeping up with the latest trends in recent releases, such as:

  • Scaling Up Compensation details five design principles for turning your largest expense into a strategic advantage. Get compensation right, and it can add magnitudes more top-and-bottom-line growth while helping you attract and retain your A-players.
  • Scaling Up Revised Edition has been significantly updated in 2023 since its last release in 2014, including a new chapter focused on “The Exit.” A true, must-read for your entire top leadership team.

I hope you enjoy your reading list! Please remember my promise to you: If you choose to read any of the tree Scaling Up business books to see how this platform system could streamline your company, I’ll be delighted to meet with you for one hour (at zero charge) to answer any questions you have about the book. Reach out anytime on my website.

I’m here to help, not sell. In fact, in 2023, 90% of my coaching practice is full at least 12 months in advance! I’m just a born and raised Edmondite who ran an Oklahoma software company for a decade, using Verne Harnish’s Scaling Up book and free online worksheets by themselves. I feel I’m personally proof you can DIY bootstrap as much as possible through reading books. All you need is the willpower to scale up your business and directions to your nearest Edmond bookstore!

“Today a reader; tomorrow a leader.” – Margaret Fuller

If you’re going to take me up on this “tower of guilt” with books upon books stacking up higher and higher, you might as well bring your leadership team along for the fun ride, right?

Have you heard of the Better Book Club? It’s actually NOT an Oprah-style book club for casual reading. It’s a company reading reward platform.

You can gain insights into your leadership culture with the ability to view stats like the most popular books, the biggest readers on the leaderboard, who is reading a title today, and what’s next on their reading list.

See how your team is improving right before your eyes! Teammates can even follow colleagues and connect over certain book lessons. Leaderboards encourage healthy competition and gamification among the team, too. 

No, I don’t own stock in the program; I just think it’s a pretty snazzy tool you can explore. Want more info? Check out their website.

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About Stacy Eads

Edmond native & UCO Alumna, Stacy Eads, is an award-winning “Most Admired CEO” who scaled her company as a Woman in Tech before becoming an International Scaling Up Business Coach. She now empowers other CEOs from $2M to $200M to embrace their leadership potential through quarterly strategic planning. Her talent is in high demand to CEO Coach, Train Teams, and Speak at Events in both the U.S.A. and Canada.

Stacy Eads’ career affiliations include 50 Women Making a Difference award, Circle of Excellence award, Torch Ethics award, Most Admired CEO award, Edmond Chamber & UCO Mentor, Better Business Bureau of Central Oklahoma Board of Directors, TEDx OKC Speaker Coach, and Ambassador Chairwoman for the Greater OKC Chamber of Commerce.