Leadership is the ultimate evergreen skill – it will never be obsolete. Whether you’re managing a small team of creatives or sitting at the head of a massive international company, strong leadership is a universal key to success.
But aside from chalking up real-world experience on your daily grind, how can you improve your leadership skills with books, courses, tools, and other resources?
Here are some insights from today’s top leaders on the resources that have helped them the most.
A book can level up your leadership in just a few pages. Here are some leadership book recommendations that everyone should read.
“David Marquet’s book Turn the Ship Around has been extremely helpful when building my company, MitoQ. It gives tips on how to create a leadership team that has high levels of accountability and transparency. The book is a great reminder that taking the time to encourage my employees will prompt them to work independently and take ownership of creating solutions for challenges I may not have even identified yet. Building a trustworthy staff and inspiring them to be successful is fundamental for any business.” – Shaun Price, Head of Customer Acquisition at MitoQ
“The keys to success in business typically involve hard skills like sales and systems. But, coming out of the pandemic, it’s never been more vital to discover soft skills like empathy and collaboration. The classic How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a must-read for anyone looking to improve their professional relationships. This book teaches the principles of how to better understand people so that you can build stronger, longer-lasting connections. You learn that it creates an instant connection when you address someone by their name, and they tend to listen to you more attentively.” – Zach Okhah, MD, Founder and Chief Surgeon at PH-1 Miami
“To improve your leadership skills, look at how the pros are doing things. It always helps to see illustrations of success. Read articles and books about what some of your heroes in business are doing, including how they started their companies, how they maintain their success and how they overcame challenges they’ve faced along the way. Many top leaders in business have written their own books as well which can offer helpful insights about the process of ushering a successful business into fruition and how to think outside the box.” – Dennis Hegstad, Co-Founder of LiveRecover
“Some ideal ways to improve your leadership skills include taking courses that offer ways to improve on managing employees and inspiring them to do their best work. There are also some great books out there that offer leadership lessons. These include Shoe Dog by Nike founder, Phil Knight, and Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t, by Jim Collins.” – Rob Chang, CEO and Director of Gryphon Digital Mining
What is more important than mindset to achieve any goal in this world? Leadership is a skill like any other, and the right mental approach is required to succeed.
“A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes. He also must be smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.” – John C. Maxwell, Author and CEO of the John Maxwell Company
“In the world of business, it’s amazing how quickly some things change, but how many basic structures and ideas still remain the same. Whether you run a physical or online store, or if you offer business services or tools, you’ll quickly find that it’s nearly impossible to avoid the occasional customer problem. This is no reflection on your company – but how you opt to deal with it certainly is!” – Travis Killian, Owner and CEO of Everlasting Comfort
“As a leader, you should strive for continuous improvement. It’s easy to get complacent when you’ve had success, but there are always parts of your business and your role that can be improved if you examine them objectively.” – Eric Kaye, Founder and Chief Evangelist of Kayezen
“A great way to improve your leadership skills is to listen to podcasts. Oftentimes it can be difficult to read a book, it can be time-consuming, especially if you have a commute every day to work. A podcast gives you the ability to listen to successful world leaders, CEOs of major fortune 500 companies, sales experts, etc. You can listen to a podcast any time you want, it’s fantastic and will sharpen leadership skills!” – Aidan Cole, Co-Founder of Hide
“Don’t be intimidated by the things you do not know. Never stop learning. This can be your greatest strength and make you distinct from everyone else.” – Sara Blakely, Founder of Spanx
From psychology assessments to online apps, now is the time to build up your toolbox and use these powerful resources to improve your leadership abilities.
“Improving your leadership skills is a key aspect of being a good leader. You can use the Princeton MCG Leadership Blind Spot Assessment to help assess your blind spots. Determining where you have blind spots in your leadership skills will help you to grow in those areas. This test will help you find blind spots in your company, team, markets, and yourself. Once you have found your blind spots you will be able to create a plan to strengthen those spots.” – David DiLorenzo, President of Valentino Beauty Pure
“A tool that I have found to be particularly useful in improving leadership skills is the Lynda Personal Effectiveness Tips. Lynda offers a robust catalog of training material in many areas such as government, education, and business. There are multiple courses on personal effectiveness and other leadership skills.” – Omid Semino, CEO of Diamond Mansion
“It is important as a person and a leader with a company to constantly improve and grow. A great tool for leaders to help improve their leadership skills is Harvard’s Implicit Association Test. It’s an online test that measures beliefs and assumptions that you make on a daily basis. This tool is updated periodically to reflect current times, which means you are able to take it every few years. Knowing what attitudes and assumptions you make on a daily basis will help you to be more aware and correct yourself when this happens.” – Elliot Kim, CEO of Brevite
“The Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator can be a great tool to assist leaders in improving their leadership skills. This test can help to point out your personality type. This knowledge can help you to learn how to respond to tasks, communicate, and delegate responsibilities as a leader. Knowing this will lead you to improve your overall leadership style, which will benefit everyone.” – Ajay Mehta, CEO of Birthdate
“Use the IHHP Performing Under Pressure Assessment to help you improve your leadership skills. This assessment focuses on circumstances that cause leaders to underperform. The test is quick and free, so it’s a great tool to use at any level of leadership. You will then receive an overview of your strengths and weaknesses. You can use this assessment to then work on improving your weaknesses and become a better leader.” – Alex Czarnecki, CEO of Cottage
Great leaders combine soft skills like communication with sharp analytic abilities. Don’t forget to run the numbers to gauge your ongoing performance.
“In a time when employee retention is at an all-time low, one of the best ways to improve your leadership skills is by looking at your retention rates. If you find that you’re hiring new employees a lot more than you’d like, or if your new hires don’t make it past the first week, then your company culture (or your leadership skills) may be to blame. When inclusivity and diversity are more important than ever before, providing a culture that will keep everyone – of any age, ethnicity, or experience level – happy and engaged, should be your HR team’s top priority.” – Jared Zabaldo, Founder of USAMM
When you become a leader, you’re a leader for life – there is no finish line on this journey! Use these tools to sharpen your skills and commit to the craft for the long haul ahead.