TLDR; Leadership books are not for leaders, they are for followers with aspirations of becoming a leader.
I never considered myself a leader. I have been in leadership roles, but the real mission when you are in a role like that is to make sure your team has what they need to be successful. That's it. I have read (scanned really) a few leadership books recently and they have long anecdotes to talk about how they overcame an obstacle, reached a level of success in their perspective, and mostly how amazing they are. Those long narratives lead back to a few simple guidelines (not rules) that are consistent in almost all of them.
- Be Bold - This is often describe as Be Assertive, Be Confident, If it scares you, then do it. It is one of those ambiguous terms that trigger a sense of pride, motivation with no real specific action on how to do it.
- Listen More - There are a plethora of quotes around this, "you can't learn anything if you are the one talking", and things like that. This I agree with, people often feel immediate action is necessary without gathering the right amount of information to make an informed action.
- Ask for Help - This is not as common as the first two. Some books view this as a weakness, but it is how you really empower people to be part of the team, and it makes your job even easier.
- Take Action - Analysis Paralysis is the biggest error that I have seen "leaders" make. They are so afraid to make a wrong decision that they make no decision and is always guaranteed to fail.
- Network Outside your Comfort Zone - There are entire sections of bookstores dedicated to this. How do you interact with people? How do you reach out to a C-Level exec? How do you find these people? This is become REALLY easy with social media and the internet. Go on linkedIn, find a company you are interested in, find employees, reach out to them. Its that easy. I've connected to so amazing CTOs by simply asking some questions. More often than not, they love that someone wants to learn about their experience, and go back to guideline 2 and 3.
- Be Consistent - There is a caveat to that, be consistently better. You can be consistently late, consistently rude, and consistently unemployed. Be consistently on time, nice, helpful, and respectful.
- Always Be Learning - You can't stagnate in any industry. As soon as you do, you will be replaced by someone who is learning. Learn something new at least once a month, I try to do it once a week. A new programming language, a new product, a new technique, a new something. It keeps your mind fresh for learning and you will retain more the more you keep learning.
No long stories, no long explanations. Those are the guidelines of almost every leadership book. Now, the next big question is what action should I take?
Immediate Action you can take - Find a leader you are interested in. Find out where they work. See if they are on Twitter/linkedIn/Facebook or even TikTok. :-) Then reach out to them. Here is an approach for a simple message:
Hi, I'm really interested in learning more about your company and some of the problems you have encountered in your journey. I would appreciate any guidance and direction on what I should do to get an opportunity to work with you in the future. Thank you for your time and excited to hear from you.
Nothing fancy, simply a request for guidance. That's it. I hope that gives you some time back from reading 20 leadership books that all say the same thing. Help your team, Listen, Keep Learning, and Make a decision and then move forward with it.
Ok, one quick q/a that I love about making a decision:
Q: Three frogs are sitting on a log, one makes a decision to jump off and go swimming. How many frogs are on the log?
A: 3, making a decision with no action means nothing.
Go Make Something Amazing!