7 Essential Holiday Reads for Small Business Leaders

As the Christmas / New Year season approaches, what better way to unwind and prepare for the exciting prospects of 2024 than by sitting down with a great leadership and teamwork read? If you get a chance to spend some time on your own (or if you need an escape!), consider one of these seven essential leadership reads. These books aren’t just enjoyable (and some of my favourites); they are your ticket to emerge as a more insightful small business leader come the New Year and the start of 2024.

1. “The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni

Patrick Lencioni’s “The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team” is a thought-provoking holiday read for leaders – and is probably my personal favourite leadership and team book. This book is at the top of the list, not only because it is the easiest read of the list due to its conversational style, the insights are easily adopted and practical in nature. Lencioni’s insight, “Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare,” will inspire you to address any team challenges and set the stage for a cohesive and high-performing 2024.


If you liked this book, you could also consider:

Book: “Leadership and Self-Deception” by The Arbinger Institute

  • Why: Similar to Lencioni’s emphasis on team dynamics, this book explores how self-deception can hinder teamwork and provides insights into fostering a culture of accountability and collaboration.

2. “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek’s “Leaders Eat Last” sets the tone for selfless leadership. Take a moment during the holidays to reflect on the importance of taking care of those you lead. Sinek’s wisdom, “Leadership is not about being in charge. It’s about taking care of those in your charge,” will inspire you to foster a culture of trust and collaboration within your team.

If you liked this book, you could also consider:

Book: “Team of Teams” by General Stanley McChrystal

  • Why: Like Sinek’s work, McChrystal discusses the importance of collaboration and adaptability in leadership. He provides insights from his experiences in the military, illustrating how dynamic teamwork is crucial for success.

3. “Dare to Lead” by Brené Brown

Brené Brown’s “Dare to Lead” encourages leaders to embrace vulnerability – one step to developing your authentic leadership style. if you read closely, Brene forces you to really reflect and take a good look at yourself and your leadership, ponder ing the words, “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.” Embracing vulnerability can set the stage for a more resilient and open workplace and leadership style in the year ahead.

If you liked this book, you could also consider:

Book: “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth

  • Why: Duckworth’s book complements Brown’s focus on resilience and courage. It delves into the concept of grit, emphasising the role of passion and perseverance in achieving long-term goals.

4. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey

Stephen R. Covey’s timeless classic, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” is the perfect companion for reflection during the holidays. Consider his enduring advice, “The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities,” as you prepare to enter 2024 with a renewed focus on personal and professional effectiveness. What was useful and powerful in the 1980’s can have the same impact on your task, time management and strategic thinking in 2024.

If you liked this book, you could also consider:

Book: “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck

  • Why: Dweck discussion on fixed vs. growth mindsets aligns with Covey’s emphasis on personal development. Both books inspire a mindset shift that helps build for lasting leadership success.

5. “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek

The second of my Simon Sinek recommendations, “Start with Why” invites you to explore the core of your purpose. As you enjoy some downtime during the holidays, ponder Sinek’s words, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” So what is your ‘why’? Sounds simple, and takes much more effort than you would expect to get to the core of your why. This book will help you set the stage for a purpose-driven and inspiring leadership approach in the coming year.

If you liked this book, you could also consider:

Book: “The Infinite Game” by Simon Sinek

  • Why: Because is there enough Simon Sinek? ???? Simon’s follow-up book expands on the concept of purpose in leadership, exploring how adopting an infinite mindset can drive organisations towards long-term success.

6. “Radical Candor” by Kim Scott

Kim Scott’s “Radical Candor” offers a refreshing perspective on communication. While sipping your favorite holiday beverage, consider Scott’s advice to “Care personally, challenge directly.” I would read the whole book before you decide to challenge your in-laws about what they do / don’t do on Christmas Day (and perhaps avoid until after News Years if you have consumed enough to make you brave but too much to make you articulate ????) The approach in the book can pave the way for clearer and more honest communication within your team, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

If you liked this book, you could also consider:

Book: “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler

  • Why: Both books focus on effective communication in high-stakes situations, offering practical tools to navigate challenging conversations with empathy and candor, and align very closely to the IDRIFT model we use in Developing Leaders as the basis of difficult conversations.

7. “Atomic Habits” by James Clear

James Clear’s “Atomic Habits” is the perfect book to set the tone for positive change in the New Year. As you contemplate your goals for 2024, remember Clear’s perspective, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” This book provides actionable insights to shape positive habits within your team and yourself.

If you liked this book, you could also consider:

Book: “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg

  • Why: Duhigg’s exploration of habits complements Clear’s work, providing a deeper understanding of how habits shape individual and organisational behaviours.

These seven books aren’t just holiday reads; they are your toolkit for leadership illumination in the coming year. So kick back, relax, and let the work of these great authors guide you towards a more inspired and effective leadership journey in 2024.

Happy reading and here’s to a fantastic New Year!


For Leaders, Knowing Is Not Enough

‘Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do’ For leaders, knowing is not enough – action is king.

Knowledge alone will not get you what you want. Thinking about what you want will not get you what you want. Telling someone you are going to do something will not get it done.

Buying a book about changing habits (I see you James Clear and your wonderful book, Atomic Habits!) will not change your habits – putting things into action will. Atomic Habits won’t change your life anymore than sitting on the couch will unless you put that knowledge into practice and change some of your routines – and then consistently apply them.

Without taking the risk of applying – and the risk that it might not work exactly as you wished – you won’t make any real progress.

‘Analysis paralysis’ and fear of failure (or fear of success) can hold us back from taking action on what is needed to drive us forward.

If you ‘know’ all of the above, and are still stuck (by fear, by paralysis, by lack of action), be bold and take one tiny action – pick up the phone or DM and we can get you moving. Executive leadership coaching is more than just applying leadership behaviours and skills, it is about moving yourself, your team and your business forward, when all it feels is stuck. They say that ‘a problem shared, is a problem halved’ – when you work in partnership with a coach, halve it again.
executivecoaching executiveleadershipcoaching leadershipcoachingmelbourne knowledgetoaction developingleaders

Are You Looking To Apply Leadership Rather Than Just Talk About It?

Developing Leaders has a range of leadership and management learning programs that can help you go beyond knowledge and take action. From Executive Leadership Coaching, Leadership Assessments and Leadership programs and Workshops, we have a program to get your leadership and management moving in the right direction for you, your team and your business. Become a leader that others choose to follow today.


Efficient Leaders Focus Time And Effort on Important Tasks

One of my favourite models for leaders – the Eisenhower Decision Matrix – and one I love and hate at the same time! Love – because it gets me focussed; particularly on going beyond the Urgent / Important rush of ‘do,do,do’ in the moment, and forces me to focus my attention on some longer term ‘Not Urgent / Important’ tasks that make the difference in 2024.
Hate – because I find it easy to tell myself that I am tired, that social media scrolling is a worthwhile use of my time and that constant distractions are useful. When what they REALLY are – ‘Not Urgent, Not Important’ tasks that should be removed, especially when time is tight to complete things for the end of the year.

Let’s break this down a little:

  1. Urgent and Important Tasks. Short notice tasks live here – and so do those that haven’t been planned well or have been ignored for so long that they have become urgent. It is important for leaders and managers to notice the difference. Was this genuinely urgent or did my procrastination let it become this way?
  2. Important and Not Urgent Tasks. This is the growth area for leaders and managers. The opportunity to ‘get ahead’ of a task / idea / project before it becomes urgent. Skilled leaders use this time efficiently – and create space and make time to think in this space.
  3. Urgent and Not Important. The reply to the email that just arrived in the Inbox – do you need to reply to it right now or is there something more important to be taken care of? Occasionally these types of tasks can get us moving, give us a momentum to get into other tasks. Use this time sparingly and in the aid of other tasks – if overused, the quality important work will never be achieved. Listen out for your excuses seeking to justify your time spent here.
  4. Not Urgent and Not Important. Wasted time is spent here – doom scrolling social media, absently completing some basic task that doesn’t need doing. This space is often used to avoid the other boxes. Sometimes our minds need a rest or a distraction – and this box is full of them. Procrastinators spend a lot of time here justifying what they are doing rather than getting the real work done. Eliminate as much as possible.

Where are you spending your time?
Where could you consciously be spending your time?
What must you do today and what can you delete to make your time more efficient?
As I said – love / hate – particularly when it challenges me. But that is the point, isn’t it?

Need Help In Taking Control Of Your Time?

Developing Leaders Executive Coaching and Emerging Leaders Programs assist leaders and managers develop the skills and behaviours to use time efficiently and complete tasks effectively.. For an obligation free discussion on how a program can be applied and adapted to suit your needs, follow the Calendly link on the Emerging Leaders Program, or enter your details on the page for us to get back to you!
hashtagleadershipcoaching hashtagexecutiveleadershipcoaching hashtagleadershiptraining hashtagleadershiptrainingmelbourne hashtagdevelopingleaders


Does The Perfect Leader and Team Relationship Exist?

Does the perfect leader / team relationship exist? Of course it does – and it takes work and a sense of mutual trust and belonging. It takes leaders who actively encourage and support their team, with a team willing to listen and act on the encouragement and support given. Equally, it takes a team who actively encourages and supports their leader, with a leader willing to listen and act on the encouragement and support given. Do you have that relationship with your leader or your team?

For a team to perform at a high level, the team needs to trust the leader as much as the leader trusts the team. A break down on either side of this trust equation results in poorer performance. High Performing businesses have developed a strong sense of trust between leader and team – a truly symbiotic relationship – which drives performance.

The Role Of The Leader Supporting The Team

In relation to the team, the leaders role is to provide guidance, coaching, energy and clarity when the team needs it. The key phrase here is ‘when the team needs it’. As a leader, one of the hardest lessons to learn is when to apply your will / drive / energy / purpose to the team, and when to provide the team the opportunity to provide those things for themselves. If the leader is only focussed on themselves, they can ‘over apply’ each of these traits, to the annoyance of the team.

The leader places a level of trust in the team when providing each of the listed behaviours – guidance, coaching, energy and clarity. They all take time and effort, and the leader needs to know that those efforts won’t be wasted. One of the key roles of a leader is to provide the team these behaviours when they can’t provide it for themselves – there needs to be a willingness on behalf of the leader to provide it, and a willingness on behalf of the team to accept it. An unwillingness from wither party will result in a lack of trust and poorer performance.

When a leader can’t (or won’t) provide these behaviours for the team, the team loses trust in the leader – which also affects performance. In this way, a high performing team has a truly ‘symbiotic’ relationship with each other – they help improve and sustain each others roles.

Questions: As a leader, team leader, supervisor, manager or small business owner:

  • Do you provide guidance on personal performance and role to your team members?
  • Do you coach your team members on how they can improve, as well as how they can maintain their strengths?
  • Is your energy and enthusiasm easily ‘caught’ by your team? Is your energy infectious? If so, is it raising your team up or pulling them down?
  • Do you provide role clarity and provide your leader with an understanding of their role in the team and / or business?

If you had to think hard on any of these questions, you could be doing more to improve the trust and performance of your team relationship.

The Role Of The Team Supporting The Leader

Just as the leader has input into the teams performance, the team plays a crucial role in the leaders performance – a role that is often forgotten or overlooked.

The team provides the leader support, feedback, energy and clarity when the leader needs it. Leaders aren’t superheroes – they are not and endless supply of energy and positivity – there are times when circumstances can get the down (just like team members). When this happens, high performing teams can fill the void and provide energy, support and feedback to the leader.

Teams that don’t do this demonstrate a lack of trust in the leader, which impacts both the performance of the leader and team. Again, the role of the team and leader is symbiotic – they help improve and sustain each others role.

Questions: As a team member, colleague or peer:

  • Do you provide support to your team leader in the form of encouragement or assistance?
  • Do you provide feedback to your leader on what they did well and what they could improve on?
  • Is your energy and enthusiasm easily ‘caught’ by your leader? Is your energy infectious? If so, is it raising your leader up or pulling them down?
  • Do you provide role clarity and provide your team with an understanding of their role in the team and / or business?

If you had to think hard on any of these questions, you could be doing more to improve the trust and performance of your leadership relationship.

What impact are you having on the team trust and performance of your team?

Do you know the impact you have on your leader and / or team?

If you are unsure of your impact on your leader / team, you should complete the Velocity Leadership CheckPoint? 25 behavioural leadership traits, focussed in 5 distinct leadership capabilities – a ‘must know’ for any leader or team looking to drive high performance. If you haven’t completed the CheckPoint, get in touch with us today to arrange an appointment. Read through the comments and feedback from those that have – many say that it has had a profound effect on how they lead and perform within a team.

Velocity Leadership CheckPoint - Leadership Assessment Tool for Leaders
The Velocity Leadership CheckPoint Is The Start Point For Any Leader Looking To Build Their Leadership & Team Behaviour

hashtagleadershiptraining hashtagleadershiptrainingmelbourne hashtagleadershipskills hashtagleadershipskillsmelbourne hashtagdevelopingleaders