Categories: Founders + Leaders

by Jeffrey Prag

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Categories: Founders + Leaders4.7 min read

by Jeffrey Prag

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In a world of change and volatility, today’s leaders are expected to understand and engage in a broader set of global issues. And what better way to broaden your horizons than diving into a new book? Here are five books we think all leaders should read in 2023.

There are obvious benefits to picking up a regular reading habit—from improving your concentration and memory to health benefits like lower blood pressure and better sleep patterns. But in a world of constant change and growing volatility, reading presents an invaluable opportunity for CEOs and founders alike.

Today’s leaders are expected to understand, and engage in, a much broader set of global issues—most of which go far beyond the board room.

Brands that lead with intention, purpose and a genuine interest in the issues their customers care about perform better. And the more diverse your reading list is, the more prepared you’ll be to realize your business’s full potential and expand your impact.

The following titles have inspired new ideas in our work with clients, brought change to our own organization and helped us reflect on our personal journeys. We hope you add them to your 2023 reading list if you haven’t already.

“Running with Purpose” by Brooks CEO Jim Webber

This memoir follows Jim Webber’s takeover of Brooks Running in 2001. As the brand’s fourth CEO in two years, he faced significant challenges. So, Jim devised a one-page strategy that he believed would save the company and lay the foundation for Brooks to become a leading brand in the athletic and fitness categories.

This is the pinnacle of a great turnaround story—one sure to inspire you to niche down on your target audience. Jim tells the story of how the company retooled itself by focusing on athletes rather than weekend warriors, allowing the company to rebrand as a running company rather than a casual sneaker company. We love this story because we regularly advise our clients to understand their market by becoming highly focused and specialized in their field.

“Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by author Daniel H. Pink

If you’re struggling with finding the motivation to launch a new product, scale your businessor expand your team, this book should be next on your list. Daniel H. Pink reminds us that the old carrot-and-stick approach to success isn’t the best form of motivation.

Instead of focusing on monetary gains, this book suggests that the secret to high performance and satisfaction in our careers is the innately human need to find meaning in our lives, bring ideas to life and do better by ourselves and the world.

“Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike” by Nike Co-Founder Phil Knight

Starting, growing or pivoting a company is daunting. You have a team, customers and investors watching your every move, supporting—and sometimes questioning—your path. This memoir reminds us that success isn’t linear. Even the world’s most recognizable brands with billion-dollar revenues start from ground zero and experience costly mistakes along the way.

To us, Phil Knight’s story embodies the grit, determination and faith you need to bridge the gap between idea and execution, and the innate trust you must put in your team to stay the course when things get tough. We recommend this book for any entrepreneur at any stage in business, but especially for those grappling with big changes within their organization.

“Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know” by organizational psychologist Adam Grant

“Intelligence is usually seen as the ability to think and learn, but in a rapidly changing world, there’s another set of cognitive skills that might matter more: the ability to rethink and unlearn.” This is the key message in Adam Grant’s latest book, which uses research and storytelling to help develop the mental and emotional muscles we need to stay curious and bring about real change.

This book is a must-read for anyone in a leadership position. It will force you to leave the comfort of conviction behind, question your opinions and open yourself to other people’s points of view, allowing you to engage with your team, customers and even your competitors in a more meaningful way.

“Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by leadership strategist Greg Mckeown

Do you feel like your days are spent being busy but unproductive? Are there tasks in your workday that bring more resentment than ROI? This book is an essential read for leaders who are teetering on the edge of burnout or losing sight of their “why” in business.

Greg Mckeown helps you find clarity on what tasks are essential and what you can leave behind so you stop overexerting yourself and put your energy where it’s most impactful. As the description reads, “The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.”

Your reading list doesn’t have to be the only source of expert insight when it comes to your business.

When you work with us you’ll have an interdisciplinary team of experts in your back pocket. We’re game to wear whatever hat you want us to, from Chief Growth or Strategy Officer to Chief Marketing Officer and Creative Department.

Get in touch to learn how we can help you deliver measurable value at every stage of your business (and offer even more book recommendations along the way).

Howbridge is a growth advisory firm that helps companies take the next step to market leadership.

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