What it takes to be a great leader: A recommended reading list

What it takes to be a great leader. A long list of books to be inspired about. Haven’t checked the cultural applicability, but am sure that there are good points to pick up anyway.


Our image of a great leader is outdated, says Roselinde Torres of management consultancy BCG (TED Talk: What it takes to be a great leader). That all-knowing superhero who both lords over and protects his followers is neither realistic nor effective in today’s business, she says. To prepare for a global, digital, fast-paced future, she offers three questions we should ask of tomorrow’s leaders: How diverse is your network? Are you courageous enough to abandon the past? Where are you looking to anticipate change? Below, read works that explore these crucial questions, with commentary by Torres.

How diverse is your network?

Jazz vs. Symphony
John Clarkeson
BCG Perspectives, 1990

“John Clarkeson, a former CEO of BCG, wrote this piece nearly 25 years ago. ‘Prescient’ best describes his take on how future leaders wouldn’t be able to rely on exclusive decision-making authority, the overwhelming force of personality, or a monopoly…

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