One of my greatest life lessons after 30 years of working is there is so much wisdom available to me.

Not far behind that nugget of learning is that people are the key to accessing that wisdom: bosses, mentors, colleagues, family and authors. One of the ways we quiet people learn is through books. I love books! I’ve read hundreds of books on all sorts of topics over time, and yet when all is said and done, I find myself going back to my favorites over and over again.

Several of my friends are posting great books they’ve read recently, which I love. My favorite publishers and authors list the top books of the year – all amazing books I will never have the time to read. My slant on this book conversation is something I learned when visiting an executives office and saw a few well read books prominently stacked on his conference table.  When I asked what the stack of books was all about, he told me those were the best books that he had ever read.  He had a lot of good books, and lots of favorites, but these were the few that he continued to go back to time and time again.

Given that, I wanted to share my favorite books with you, and share a bit on what’s behind my choice.  It will tell you more about me and where I’m at in life – if you’re interested.

Holy Bible: While I’m definitely not a disciple or apostle, I am drawn to the word, the promise and the story of our Lord.  As an executive coach and facilitator I use character as a filter for client selection, and believe that Jesus is a great model for worth while.

Synchronicity:  Joseph Jaworski (son of Watergate lawyer) wrote this book as a journey to his inner path of leadership, especially as we watched his father, and later saw the ‘predictable miracles’ that played out in his life.  It was a very powerful book that gave me the opportunity explore the moments of life that most influence my career and beliefs.

Now Discover Your Strengths:  While the latest research for leadership is reinforced by positive psychology, Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton had a hand in launching the strengths revolution.  When I help leaders establish their development plans, I often use the StrengthsFinder to give them a clear picture of what natural strengths they have to build on.  Not everything is an area to improve.

The Gifts of Imperfection:  Brene’ Brown is now one of my favorite authors. I’m reading a third book of hers, and yet it all began with this one. My high standards are helpful in so many ways, but when I start to expect this of myself in everything I do, it becomes a slippery slope.   Brene’s words offer me the opportunity to let go of who I think I’m becoming, and enjoy who I am today.

On Becoming a Leader:  I’ve designed and facilitated many leadership programs, and yet I now believe many if the most important questions and discussions are centered on knowing who I am.  You’ve probably heard the wisdom that states that leaders need to understand themselves before helping others.

Leadership & Self-Deception:  Again, here is another book that had me looking inward so that I can help others improve.  Yet, if we are deceived by our assumptions and beliefs, our work as leaders is undermined.  Not only did it take me several reads to really understand this fable, but it is often the book that those I coach cite as making a great impact in their understanding of leadership.

From Success to Significance:  Creators of the Half-time Institute share how the definition of success changes over time for leaders.  Years later in life, those who have significant executive roles find that success as they knew it is no longer the only measure of success.  I enjoy working with people on the long view and the implications it has for them.

Built to Last:  Jim Collins and this book in particular are one of my all-time favorites!  He bases his work on research, yet brings it to life in ways that I can understand and wrap my brain around.  Each chapter brought a revealing idea, and looking over the table of contents today, I want to read this again and think about what it means for my clients.

The Coaching Habit:  This is the newest on my list, and as an executive coach, it has great relevance to what I help executives through. I had the good fortune of hearing Michael Bungay Stonier at this years Linkage GILD Summit.  He was fabulous.  As a coach we take questions very seriously, and Michael has found a way to distill the coaching process into seven core questions, and is putting his work in front of every manager and leader to carry out effectively.

I see some great books on the horizon for me, given the recommendations of other.  I can’t wait.  If I did this same analysis in a year or two, you would probably see a few replacements for the best of my best.  I hope so.

Let me know what you think of my selection, and let me know what books I missed and why.  Isn’t it great that we can collectively recommend, and ultimately have different lists?


I (Dan Loichinger) am an executive coach and chair for executive roundtables in Madison, Wisconsin.

I serve business owners and executives who want the best for those around them, and share my passion for human potential, organizational leadership and dynamic growth.

By growing their capability as enterprise leaders, they engage their workforce, build healthy families, accelerate company growth, and create great jobs in their community.

Feel free to comment on my post, or send me a note at  I welcome your thoughts.  They will help me grow and learn even more.