2016 Summer Reading List for Current and Aspiring Leaders

Author By Jim Lara

My quest this summer (and beyond) is to free myself from some of the distractions that are “time killers” so I can focus on more rewarding and enjoyable life pursuits. In addition to working with our clients at Gray Stone Advisors, I want to do more of the things I love outside of the office: reading, thinking, cooking, flying, and, of course, having a lot of fun!

For the third straight summer, I’m sharing with you some inspiring reads that are on my Kindle and nightstand.

As you’ll learn, the following titles are mostly related to leadership, transformation and mindset. I highly recommend them for becoming more self-aware and helping to break down barriers.


“Leading Change,” by John P. Kotter

Given the volatility in world markets, the frenetic pace of corporate life and the turbulence in the business aviation industry, the principles explored in “Leading Change” are never more relevant or poignant. With fewer than 200 pages, it’s a quick commentary on the requirements for success in the 21st century.

First published in the 1990s, “Leading Change” is now considered a classic of the genre. (The edition I’m reading has a newer preface written in 2012.) For anyone seeking a view into what leading transformational change looks, feels and smells like, this book is essential reading.

I found it really tough to put down—and I was even up reading at 2 a.m. today! A word of caution, however: This book is not for the passive or those with limited stamina.

“The Game Changer,” by Dan Sullivan 

As a lifelong learner, one of the many ways that I stretch myself is by participating in Strategic Coach®, a program founded by Dan Sullivan. A veteran coach to business leaders (mostly entrepreneurs), Dan has authored 30+ publications, and I’ve read many throughout my 10 years in his program.

“The Game Changer” is a blueprint for entrepreneurial mindsets that helps us create “multiplier breakthroughs,” which aid in the transformation of markets and industries. Dan’s techniques and insights, combined with the thinking of people like John Kotter, produce (for me) tremendously inspiring and challenging growth opportunities. I make every attempt to use this game-changing mindset within our practice, for the benefit of our clients.

“The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles,” by Steven Pressfield

Dubbing itself a cross between Sun-Tzu’s “The Art of War” and Julie Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way,” Pressfield’s book aims to help us overcome resistance so that we can achieve “the unlived life within.”

Whatever you’re ready to tackle—be it a new way of getting healthy, a job promotion or an entrepreneurial venture, it’s most often resistance that blocks the way.

“The War of Art” emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition, and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline. Think of it as tough love . . . for yourself.

“The Laws of Lifetime Growth,” by Dan Sullivan and Catherine Nomura

Co-authors Sullivan and Nomura have just this year expanded and reprinted their successful leadership book, calling it “The Laws of Lifetime Growth.”

The following 10 pillars contribute to what the authors call a “Growth Mindset.” I hope I’m not giving any “meat” away by sharing their concepts, which are timeless and serve as a powerful reminder for all business aviation leaders.

As Sullivan and Nomura teach us, always make your:

  1. Future bigger than your past;
  2. Learning greater than your experience;
  3. Contribution bigger than your reward;
  4. Performance greater than your applause;
  5. Gratitude greater than your success;
  6. Enjoyment greater than your effort;
  7. Cooperation greater than your status;
  8. Confidence greater than your comfort;
  9. Purpose greater than your money; and
  10. Questions bigger than your answers.

So that wraps up my third annual reading list for current and aspiring leaders. If you haven’t seen my other reading lists from the Summer of 2014 and 2015, check them out now!

And, for other perspectives, you might enjoy “What CEOs are reading,” which was just posted on McKinsey.com.

Tell Us: What books are on your to-read list this year? We’re always looking for recommendations, so we’d appreciate you sharing the title, author’s name and a short synopsis in the comments section below.