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  • Clive Vanderwagen

5 Books That Will Change The Way You Lead

As a leadership coach, here are the 5 books I recommend most to my leadership clients (and why…)


Leadership is a skill that you need to continuously be crafting and honing. It’s a mindset that has to be adopted every day.

That’s why I work with leaders who want to be more potent and want buy-in from the people they work with and for.

No one wants to be a crap leader. I think.

It’s just that many leaders don’t realise that they’re not being as effective as they think they are.

I used to think I was a good leader. And then I started teaching leadership. Man, there are many conversations I would redo.

So, here are five books that have shaped my thinking around leadership. And being a good human.


We are all leaders.

Just some of us get paid to lead other people.

Our main job is to lead ourselves. A good leader is a competent leader of self.


Because leadership requires you to choose emotional responses based on what is best for business, and not on personal feelings.

“A critical element of effective leadership is not to let the immediate take precedence over the important…”


Place people and purpose at the core of your business.

That’s what Joly, recognised as one of the world’s top 100 CEOs by Harvard Business Review, advises all leaders wanting to drive a results-driven business.

Embrace vulnerability, learn from failure, and strive to be your best rather than the best.

Joly emphasises that leading with humanity is the key differentiator in creating a business of value, where people want to work.

“I have come to believe — to know — that purpose and human connections constitute the very heart of business…”


This book blew my mind.

The idea that I had to find my passion in life and then make it my career was ingrained in me.

Newport totally subverts this idea. And while it’s not a leadership book, leaders can get so much out of it.

For themselves and those they lead.

The idea is simple — we become passionate about what we become good at.

“Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.


I know, I know… recommending Brené Brown is so cliched.

But, the book is soooo good!

I loved Daring Greatly, and it made perfect sense to rewrite the book for leaders.

Choosing to lead means putting yourself in the ring and getting your ass kicked. You need to dare to fight for what is most important.

Most often, it’s your people.

“If we want people to fully show up, to bring their whole selves including their unarmored, whole hearts — so that we can innovate, solve problems, and serve people — we have to be vigilant about creating a culture in which people feel safe, seen, heard, and respected.”


Ryan Holiday is a Stoicism evangelist, with stoic tattoos on his body and numerous books inspired by these great thinkers.

This is a book I think more leaders should read. It reframes our role as leaders — to fight the need to be right and great.

The ego is the enemy of ambition, success and resilience, argues Holiday.

A great leader relies on confidence, not ego.

“Those who have subdued their ego understand that it doesn’t degrade you when others treat you poorly; it degrades them.”

These books have shaped how I lead and how I work with leaders. There are so many to add to the list. Hopefully, these are a good start to get you going.

Drop me a mail if you want to discuss your leadership goals


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