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Summer Reading: 14 Books on Leadership

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Between boating, biking, gardening, soccer practice and other summer activities, be sure to make time for your own personal and professional growth.  

Experts from the Glenn College suggest these good reads for public and nonprofit leaders. From skill building to healthy habits, management development to examples of excellence, there’s a title — or two — on this list for everyone.  

Composing a Life 

By Mary Catherine Bateson 


Suggested by Michelle D. Thomas

Michelle D. Thomas, president of the James Franklin Group, provides professional services focused on empowering women with the confidence and determination to claim their seat at the table.

“The book is a comparative biography of five diverse, impressive women. Bateson (daughter of Margaret Mead) weaves a beautiful story of the daily process of self-invention, not discovery, packed with vulnerabilities. She calls it ‘life as improvisational art form.’” 

Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones

By James Clear  


Suggested by Megan Hasting 

Megan Hasting is the program manager for the John Glenn College of Public Affairs Management Advancement for the Public Service (MAPS) program.

“Clear explores the power of small habits and their compounding effect over time. He provides practical strategies for breaking bad habits, creating positive ones and optimizing your daily routines to achieve remarkable results. The best part is that these strategies can be applied to both professional and personal habits!” 

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

By Stephen R. Covey 


Suggested by Brandi AL-Issa 

Brandi AL-Issa is the chief advancement and strategy officer for the YMCA of Central Ohio, where she oversees strategy, advancement and growth.

“This is a classic text that takes you on a journey of deep self-exploration and development. The book is a solid mix of research, anecdotes and practices/tools. Its worth reading every year or every few years.” 

Boundary Spanning Leadership: Six Practices for Solving Problems, Driving Innovation, and Transforming Organizations

By Chris Ernst and Donna Chrobot-Mason 

Suggested by Elisha Hill 

Elisha Hill, director of leadership development at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, is experienced at crafting leadership and talent management initiatives that achieve diversity, equity and inclusion goals. 

“I recommend this book because it provides a systematic way to approach working collaboratively with others and being inclusive of diverse perspectives. It gives guidance for how to appreciate differences while at the same time creating cohesion and synergy. Every nonprofit leader should read this book as they are constantly navigating the complexities that come with bridging gaps and building relationships with multiple stakeholders.” 

John Glenn: A Memoir

By John Glenn with Nick Taylor

Suggested by Greg Moody

Greg Moody is the director of professional development for the Glenn College and the State of Ohio Leadership Institute. He manages and develops programs focused on the development and growth of over 3,000 public and nonprofit leaders annually.

“John Glenns memoir is the story of a man who broke barriers and changed the world. From his humble beginnings in Ohio to his historic journey into space, Glenns story is an inspiring one of courage, determination, and a never-ending quest for knowledge.”

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

By Chip Heath and Dan Heath 


Suggested by Todd Suddeth 

Todd Suddeth is a senior instructor for the Glenn College as well as founder and leadership coach for Equity Leadership Consulting. He previously served as executive director of the Student Life Multicultural Center at The Ohio State University.

“It is one of the best books I have read about how to successfully implement change in an organization. I love the narrative approach that they used along with the technical terminology. I think it is a must-read if you are or want to be a managerial leader.”

How to Delegate

By Robert Heller 


Suggested by Gar Trusley 

Gar Trusley is president of Gar Trusley & Associates, a management consulting firm, and has conducted management development seminars for over 30 years to help managers apply real-world tools to solve problems.

“This book provides concepts that a person can apply to real-world situations.” 

Becoming a Manager: How New Managers Master the Challenges of Leadership

By Linda A. Hill


Suggested by Todd Suddeth

“The reason that this book stands out to me is because it uses qualitative research to provide valuable information about the experiences you will have as a new manager and skills you will need. In other words, you will learn about the experiences of several new managers that the author interviewed for this book.”

The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

By Ryan Holiday


Suggested by Todd Suddeth

“Great book on how to persevere through challenge through the lens of Stoic philosophy. It is a great page-turner!” 

The Case for Servant Leadership

By Kent M. Keith


Suggested by Greg Moody

“Keith argues that servant leadership is the most effective and ethical form of leadership, defining it as ‘a leadership style that puts the needs of others first.’ This book provides a compelling case for servant leadership and is a must-read for anyone who wants to be a more effective leader.”

Tao Te Ching

By Laozi 


Suggested by Rob Moore

Rob Moore, principal for Scioto Analysis, works to provide policymakers with the information they need to make decisions on critical issues. 

“Growing up, I believed that life was about activity, achievement and competition. Reading Tao Te Ching opened me up to another way of looking at life: Valuing passivity and receptiveness can be a much better way to live.”

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love

By Cal Newport


Suggested by Todd Suddeth

“The author lays out this concept about how to obtain career capital. I think this concept of career capital is a game-changer in educating people on how to think about career development, the role of passion and what you really want from ‘work.’”

Black Faces in White Places: 10 Game-Changing Strategies to Achieve Success and Find Greatness

By Randal D. Pinkett and Jeffrey A. Robinson


Suggested by Marcia A. Chambers 

Marcia Chambers, principal consultant and president of Chambers Consulting Services, specializes in leadership development and training with almost 40 years of experience coaching executives and managers in public and private organizations.

“This book provides 10 great strategies to address particular issues and/or concerns associated with being a member of an underrepresented group. It is a book that is not narrowly focused on how to become successful.”

Keeping At It: The Quest for Sound Money and Good Government

By Paul A. Volcker 


Suggested by Dean Trevor Brown 

Trevor Brown is dean of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, senior advisor to the provost of The Ohio State University and president of the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration.

“This autobiography of Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, chronicles a lifetime of public service and the steely commitment required to make hard decisions when you know they are right but will make no one happy.”  

Do you know a title we should add to this list?

Become a better leader.

Certificate in Public and Nonprofit Leadership applications are due July 7.