Box of Crayons Blog


Phil Wilson’s Five Essential Books for Being a More Approachable Leader

Today my guest blogger is Phil Wilson, the author of The Approachability Playbook: 3 Essential Habits for Thriving Leaders and Teams. Phil has spent years researching — and showing — the connection between approachability and successful leaders. So I’m thrilled that he agreed to share his favourite books on being a more approachable leader.

Book 1: Outliers

By Malcom Gladwell

This book describes in vivid detail why good leadership isn’t just good for business; sometimes it’s a matter of life or death. Gladwell describes how “power distance” makes those you lead unable to share the unvarnished truth with you – and how that can cost you everything as a leader.

Book 2: Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used

By Peter Block

Block’s classic book teaches that all leaders are really just internal consultants, and consultants can’t really force anyone to do anything. Instead, the consultant’s superpower is in influencing others by building relationships and helping their team.

Book 3: Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us

By Dan Pink

You can’t motivate by threatening or cajoling; in fact, when you’re doing it right, the leader should “disappear.” Pink does a fantastic job describing two-factor motivation and why leaders who create what I call the “right space” will get high performance without trying, thanks to their team’s intrinsic motivation.

Book 4: Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success

By Adam Grant

Will your employees like you more if they catch you spilling coffee all over yourself? Grant says yes, strongly making the case that anything that lowers barriers and makes you appear more real, normal and human also makes you more approachable as a leader.

Book 5: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

By J.K. Rowling

If you’re not reading fiction to become a better leader, you should start. Two of my favourite leaderships lessons from the Harry Potter series are: those who use power or fear to get what they want (Voldermort) ultimately fail; and even those who at first appear unapproachable (Hagrid, a half-giant) can become a child’s most trusted confidant by being warm, understanding and reliable.

Meet Phillip B. Wilson

Phil Wilson is the Chief Evangelist of Approachable Leadership. He speaks and writes as a national expert on leadership and creating positive workplaces. He is the author of multiple books, including his most recent, The Approachability Playbook: 3 Essential Habits for Thriving Leaders and Teams. The Playbook is a practical guide to developing that one leadership behaviour that could change everything. Proven by research and with real-life leaders, approachability creates a space where employees feel free to do their best work; where they feel valued and respected enough to speak freely and express their ideas; and where they feel just as important as every other member of the organization.

Twitter: @ApproachableLDR

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