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Impactful Leadership Books

Leadership Books

Here, five industry leaders share their top leadership books that have helped them and their business improve over the years.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”  

This quote by President John F. Kennedy perfectly encapsulates the importance for leaders to seek out new information and be lifelong learners. A great way to soak in this vital information and gain professional growth is through leadership books.

Here, five industry leaders share — in their own words — the leadership books that have had the most impact on them and why.

leadership books

Joe Cirulli, the owner and CEO of Gainesville Health and Fitness

In 1998 I read an article from the Harvard Business Review called “Building Your Company’s Vision.” It defined everything I needed to do at that point of our business. I never really paid attention to who the author was until six or so years later when I read “Good to Great.”

It was then I realized Jim Collins had written it. Then I read his book, “Great by Choice.” These books and his original article helped create clarity within our company that has guided us ever since. Also, hearing Jim Collins speak has been powerful.

Karen Raisch-Siegal, the executive director of LifeWorks of Southwest General

The book I use in both my personal and work life is “The Oz Principle” by Craig Hickman, Roger Connors and Tom Smith. For me, this book reminds me of the importance of our own accountability and attitude. Our personal accountability or lack thereof impacts everyone and everything around us. 

What I reference a lot to staff from the book is “Above and Below the Line.” If you imagine a line and that above the line is where you take accountability, do it, solve it, own it and see it. Below the line are things such as ignore, deny, finger point, or wait and see. We need to get things done, work as a team and do the best we can each day. Some days it is easy to fall below the line. The key is not to stay there. 

I also use this “Above and Below the Line” concept to make decisions in my life. Does making the decision make me feel above the line feelings such as happiness, excitement and a positive attitude? Or do I feel the below the line feelings such as fear, resentment or anger? There is so much more to this book, but for me this concept has truly made a difference.

Matt Wright, the partner and the general manager of The Fort Athletic Club

The No. 1 book I have given to industry friends, personal friends and always provide when asked for a recommendation has been, “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor. The research and data behind the power of happiness shines brightly throughout this text. It’s perfect for the reader who loves to learn the science behind the literature. It discusses the influence happiness and a positive mindset has on our personal lives and in turn our professional lives, which I feel translates to leaders and our teams across the industry. Coming out of one of the most challenging years we have had, this is a must read as not only will this book impact you, but your focus on happiness will shine brightly to those around you as well, both at work and at home.

Sheldon McBee, the executive director at Universal Athletic Club

At Universal Athletic Club, we take pride in our operational ability to integrate new members, retain members and use measurable systems to grow personal training. There are three books our team has recently read that really challenged us as leaders. One of the most influential books I read recently was “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber. This book really helped me strategize how to position the right person for the right job, seek third-party solutions where needed and ensure every operational procedure was scalable. 

As we invest a significant amount in “human capital” to integrate new members, we found the books “Atomic Habits” by James Clear and “No Sweat” by Michelle Segar particularly powerful. These books taught us the tremendous impact that behavior modification and the science of motivation has on getting new members to choose exercise habits they can stick with. In the fitness industry, quite often the art and science of motivation and healthy habit forming is designated to trainers, coaches and dietitians. Applying the lessons from these books with operations, sales, marketing and member integration teams shifted how we sell, guide and coach our members to better success.

Lisa Gorsline, the president and general manager of Corpus Christi Athletic Club 

My favorite go to book is “The Oz Principle” by Roger Connors, Tom Smith and Craig Hickman. My team and I have read this book together as a group, not once, not twice but three times. We seem to keep going back to it. By reading the book, we found it’s important to work hard, but it’s also important to not get lazy. To avoid this, we learned the need to take these steps: Muster the courage to see what needs fixing, find the heart to own up and solve the problem ourselves, gain wisdom from our mistakes so we can continue improving, and execute by using whatever means necessary. The opposite of this is being passive and accepting things as they are without trying at all. Doing nothing or blaming others will only lead us down a path of failure.

I highly recommend this book for any fitness facility. The Oz Principle takes its name from The Wizard of Oz. The journey of Dorothy and her friends is the metaphor that is used throughout the book to highlight our own journey of accountability. It has assessments, tests and is a very easy read. 

As I always say, don’t follow the yellow brick road, but pave the road that will lead you to your goals and success. This road will have roadblocks but knock them down one at a time and you will reach the road of destination.  

Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is the assistant editor for Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com

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