Do You Have a Favourite Leadership Book?

Stacey Ashley
6 min readNov 10, 2023

Leaders are readers. Do you read to grow your perspective and wisdom?

Which of your books is your favourite? What a question. And to be honest, I don’t have a favourite. But I thought I’d share with you some of the reasons that I love each of my books, and then you can choose which one maybe works for you or would be useful for you.

So my very first book was The New Leader. It took me 10 years to take action on creating this book. But I finally found a way that worked for me, and that is through voice recording. So for those of you who don’t know, I voice record all my books. I get them transcribed, and then I edit from there. And I find that that process really works for me.

The New Leader

What I noticed when I was in my corporate life and career, was that so many leaders were promoted from roles where they were the expert in their particular domain, and then given a leadership role. Salesperson to sales manager, IT analyst to IT manager, accountant to finance manager, and so on.

And the opportunities are there to progress their career, the challenge is, that in many organisations, they’re not onboarded in terms of management and leadership. They’re not given the support and the structure to help them be successful. It makes it very challenging to make that transition from being a team member to leading the team.

But more than that, The New Leader, is sharing with more experienced leaders, some of the foundations that perhaps they missed. So that they can make their own leadership practise easier by mastering some of those foundations, and in turn can pass on those key leadership essentials, so that those who follow them, the future leaders, the emerging leaders, can have an easier path because it’s been paved for them.

First Lead Yourself

My second book, First Lead Yourself, is about getting people to recognise that leadership is more than just doing stuff or talking about leadership. It’s very different to be a leader, to embody leadership, to really show up as a leader. I think that it’s important, particularly in this day and age, that leaders tap into all of their resources, not just their head brain, but everything that they bring to their roles. And in doing so, it’s easier and more authentic, but mostly it’s more human. It empowers leaders to have the opportunity to lead with heart, which I think makes a powerful difference in terms of the impact that they can have, and how easy it is for them to actually become, know, do, and be leadership.

Not long after I wrote or published this First Lead Yourself in 2020, the pandemic arrived. I found myself really wanting to really help the leaders that I was working with because they were really challenged. With that, I didn’t want to give them something burdensome.

Show Up21

And so I wrote a really simple, easily actionable book called Show Up21. This was really about giving leaders strategies that they could implement immediately to continue being a leader under really trying, challenging, and unnavigated circumstances.

What’s been really interesting is that while I wrote that book in 2021, I’m finding that it’s still very relevant. All of the strategies in there are super applicable to the complex unfolding environment that leaders are facing today.

You’re On Mute
Power Up

I wrote books four and five at the same time. You’re On Mute was written simply because I was encountering so many leaders who were challenged to find their leadership way online. They were losing presence, influence, and authority. They were becoming invisible. There were lots of reasons for that. Some simply didn’t have the skills to go online, some didn’t recognise the importance of being able to operate as a leader in an online or in a hybrid environment. And so this book was really about raising the awareness on two levels.

Firstly, the big picture importance of having a leadership presence in all the different workspaces and environments, and being able to easily transition between those. The second is really about the small screen. Sharing some of the foundational things that can set you up for success, so that you are bringing leadership presence into your online approach.

Book five, Power Up, written concurrently, is an incredibly important book. I was approached in 2021 to work with one of my great clients in the hotel sector. The brief was our general managers are in distress. They were now a long way into this extreme set of circumstances, and they were struggling to find ways to continue to show up as leaders. A lot of people lost their jobs in the hospitality sector, and this organisation was in exactly the same position.

The core of it was that these hotel general managers weren’t actually able to perform their primary role, which was to offer hospitality. And for people in hospitality, they live and breathe it. It was very confronting and very hard to deal with. And yet they kept showing up to support their team members who remained, as well as reaching out to past team members, all while continuing to support those customers that they had. Many general managers had gone from overseeing many departments to effectively carrying the keys for the hotel.

And so this programme was rolled out to about 500 general managers across the Pacific region. It was incredibly successful. The feedback about the strategies I had shared, how much more positive and in control these leaders felt, and they had a real opportunity to be able to make a difference as leaders. I decided to share this information with a much broader group of people around the world.

Big Leadership

My most recent book, Big Leadership, is a more challenging book, in that I call out a challenge to leaders because I believe that the expectation of leadership has changed. We now need leaders who have a more comprehensive and ever-growing perspective of the role of leadership, of their own leadership, and that they have a clear responsibility to step up and expand themselves as leaders. To have bigger vision, to make bold decisions, and to take brave action, so that they can proactively create the future rather than hoping for the best.

Big Leadership is designed to be provoking. The world needs more true, great leaders right now in every area you can possibly imagine. And so my hope is that this book will be a catalyst for that.

I hope that this summary of my books has been useful.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Stacey Ashley

Dr Stacey Ashley is a Leadership Visionary. She typically speaks at conferences, develops leadership strategy and programs, consults and coaches.