Three great leadership books

leadership development strategy May 01, 2022

Hi there 

During the lockdown, some of us have started a reading group for people who are interested in developing a community of learning. We meet on line regularly and read some well known and not so well known books. It’s been running for six months now and so far, we have completed two books and are part way through a third. I thought that a quick review of each book would be of interest and perhaps help to you. 

So here goes…Three mini book reviews…

Resonant Leadership was our first book.

This was published by Annie McKee and Richard Boyatzis in 2005 and provides a call to action for professionals and leaders to live a more balanced life. A life that isn’t characterised by work overwhelm and sole dedication to the job; to the complete exclusion of other just-as-important aspects of our life, such as health, wellbeing, family and relationships. It provides a more balanced answer to constant thinking about and commitment to the job by introducing the concept of becoming a Resonant Leader. A Resonant Leader is one who introduces Mindfulness, Hope and Compassion to their work and lives, together with constantly building Renewal in their lives through taking just as much care of their Minds, Body, Heart and Spirit.

The book, Resonant Leadership, contains many case studies, activities and exercises to raise self awareness and take positive straightforward action. There are lots of stories of leaders who have sadly got their balance wrong, together with a good sprinkling of truly uplifting stories of leaders like Colleen Barrett of Southwest Airlines, who gets it right and whom we can learn positively from. 

I personally found Resonant Leadership a great read, and Annie and Richard have done a great job in conveying a thoughtful message of balance that can be applied to any job role, or indeed any position in life, not just leadership. Resonant Leadership is very much recommended for anyone who may be experiencing overwhelm and uncertainty right now, or who simply wishes to learn about some easy-to-understand frameworks for personal growth.

Primal Leadership

Our second book was Primal Leadership, which is almost a sequel to Resonant Leadership. Published eight years later in 2013, it saw Annie and Richard going on and teaming up with famed Emotional Intelligence pioneer, Daniel Goleman. The book adds Daniels’ model of Emotional Intelligence to the concept of Resonance. It’s therefore a very good handbook on the making of combined Resonant and Emotionally Intelligent leader. It would be especially useful for those who struggle with self awareness, self management and relationships at work or at home.

Primal Leadership fully explains the four domains of Emotional Intelligence and their nineteen associated competences. The book then explains the six styles of Leaders, broken down into four Resonant Types and two Dissonant Types. From Commanding type to Visionary Leader.

Another fine read with lots of case studies. It has fewer exercises than Resonant Leadership, however for those interested in taking things further, there is also a field guide available called Becoming a Resonant Leader, which is a very practical handbook with less theory and more actions to focus on.

I really enjoyed Primal Leadership, as a book that teaches an easy-to-understand model of Emotional Intelligence and Leadership. Good for anyone interested in self awareness, self management and in improving relationships.


Our third book is Flourish. 

Departing a little away from the topic of leadership, this is more in the Human Behaviour category of management books. After looking at whole range of titles - from Drive by Daniel Pink to the business titan, Good To Great by Jim Collins, we settled on Flourish by Dr. Martin Seligman. It is a book with many practical ideas, tools and models to learn from and apply in staying well and healthy.

PERMA, Maslow and the Losado Ratio

So far, we are four chapters in and we have read about how Martin has adapted his thinking from his first book on his Authentic Happiness model to develop his PERMA model for the creation of authentic wellbeing in our lives. PERMA is Martin’s acronym for Positive Emotions, Engagement (Flow), enriching Relationships, Meaning (having a greater good) and Achievement. 

I can see patterns between Martins PERMA model and Maslow’s thinking, but it’s not quite the same. One thing that really comes across is the great quality and academic rigour in all of Martin’s writings and ideas. It is a very impressive piece of work and must have taken an age to research. Many of the group are enjoying it greatly and an interesting learning is in Chapter Four.

The Losado Ratio

In Chapter Four, Martin references something called the Losado ratio, which is the ratio of positive to negative conversations that are held, in an organisation. 

For organisations to thrive, studies have shown that a healthy ratio of 2.9:1 (positive versus negative conversations should be taking place. You see… I said his work was accurate) And in personal relationships it has to be more like 5:1 ! This is just one fascinating learning that we have enjoyed from the early chapters in Flourish. 

Other learnings, include lessons on how important kindness and gratitude are and how they can make a huge impact on our lives and those of others. Not something that is spoke of too often in the high pressure world of business. 

That’s all for now, but I hope this update on our reading progress in the past six months of lock down, is interesting and helpful to you and might even give you ideas for a good read.

Kind regards, stay safe and until next time,


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