The Ordinary Leader

10 Key Insights for Building and Leading a Thriving Organization

An ordinary leader is someone who leads a small organization or team that is doing great things. They manage the majority of the world’s workforce, but they don’t lead large corporations or big government agencies. Ordinary leaders are rarely written about in books or quoted in magazines. They are, however, important. Maybe not globally, but in their own realm of influence, their leadership makes a difference.

Author Randy Grieser presents 10 key insights for building and leading a thriving organization. These are the principles he identifies as instrumental to success as a leader. Writing for leaders everywhere, he inspires, motivates, and explains how to make each insight a reality in your organization.

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Randy’s Recommended Books

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

by Elizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead Books, 2015).

Beautifully written. Yes, I just used the word beautifully to describe a book. I was hooked after the first few paragraphs, and I couldn’t put it down until it was finished. This book will get your creative juices flowing, and you will be primed for innovation. If not now, eventually you need to read this book! Words, style, concepts – everything about it is simply beautiful.

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Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

by Daniel H. Pink (Riverhead Books, 2011).

This book challenges assumptions about motivation and provides a new lens through which to view employee engagement. Practical techniques for increasing motivation are provided throughout. The book is well-researched and the writing style makes it easy to understand the concepts presented.

Pour Your Heart into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time

by Howard Schultz (Hyperion, 1999).

I love stories about building something special, and this is one of the best stories out there. From beginning to end, there are meaningful observations about how decisions were made at Starbucks. If you are working at scaling your organization, this book will be helpful in your planning. If you do read it, you will soon want to read the follow-up book, Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul. This book reads like a novel – enjoyable, accessible, and applicable to a wide audience.

Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2012

by Carol J. Loomis (Penguin Publishing Group, 2013).

Buffett is so much more than an investor. He is also a leader and an entrepreneur. His unique, genuine, and sometimes humorous insights are found throughout these pages. This book is one of the longest ones listed here, but it is easy to read.

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business

by Patrick Lencioni (Jossey-Bass, 2012).

This book provides practical guidance for how to build and sustain organizational health. In my view, this is the most actionable book on this list. The writing style is very accessible and the content is laid out in such a way that you can quickly refer back to it when you need to.

The Motivation Manifesto: 9 Declarations to Claim Your Personal Power

by Brendon Burchard (Hay House, 2014).

I usually run fast and far from self-help books, but this one is different. If you need some help with motivation, this is a great place to start. The book’s style is rich and complex, and it requires time to fully integrate and appreciate each sentence.

The Truth about Leadership: The No-Fads, Heart-of-the-Matter Facts You Need to Know

by James M. Kouzes & Barry Z. Posner (Jossey-Bass, 2010).

If I were teaching a university course in leadership, this would be one of the books I would require students to read. The book provides a review of the essential elements of leadership and is laid out in a practical, easy-to-read style that flows easily from one chapter to the next.

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

by Steven Pressfield (Black Irish Entertainment LLC, 2002).

This is a different kind of book than you would normally expect to find on a list of leadership books, but it’s simply an amazingly insightful and masterfully crafted piece of work. If you are currently procrastinating on starting something, this book will give you the boost you need. Though it is small in size, this book requires slow, focused attention to fully appreciate.

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

by Seth Godin (Portfolio, 2008).

Godin is a master wordsmith who, in a just a few short sentences, will have you thinking about leadership in different ways than you ever have before. For those of you with no time to read, this is a quick and accessible book – it’s the shortest book on this list.