Top 10 books for federal leaders in 2011

Published on April 26, 2011 on

I’m going to embrace the concept of a list and share with you my favorite five leadership books from 2010 as well as five classics. Each book is an easy read and includes actionable ideas for federal leaders looking to navigate the ambiguity and challenges that lie ahead.

Number one on my list of great 2010 reads is Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. Fans of the Heath brothers will know that you can fly through their books during a Metro commute and finish with a set of concrete ideas for initiating change, whether you’re leading from the top, middle or front lines of your agency.

Of course, if you’re going to effectively lead change, you’ll need to effectively build and use a broad internal and external network of folks.Leading Outside the Lines: How to Mobilize the Informal Organization, Energize Your Team, and Get Better Results , by Jon R. Katzenbach and Zia Khan, offers federal leaders working on interagency efforts a way of getting ahead of the curve.

If you’re looking to motivate your team–and perhaps yourself–you should check out Daniel Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us . I spoke with Dan earlier this year, and while we shared some of his research in his Federal Coach interview, it is definitely worth your time to take a deeper dive into his book.

Another source of inspiration is If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government by William D. Eggers and John O’Leary. The authors use examples of our government’s successes and failures to offer a road map for federal leaders.

Finally, don’t forget about yourself as a leader. Marshall Goldsmith (who’s also a panelist with On Leadership) is an outstanding executive coach and a wonderful author. His book Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It offers a helpful guide for leaders looking to stay on top of their game.

Now, here are classic leadership books that I highly recommend for the year ahead.

The Leadership Moment: Nine True Stories of Triumph and Disaster and Their Lessons for Us All by Michael Useem

Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great by Jim Collins

The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm by Tom Kelley and Jonathan Littman

The Heart of Change: Real-Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations by John P. Kotter and Dan S. Cohen

Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading by Martin Linsky and Ronald A. Heifetz