Leadership will be the most important skill for the treasurer of the future, as per the recent Deloitte 2022 Global Corporate Treasury Survey.
Source: Deloitte 2022 Global Corporate Treasury Survey
Going forward, business and finance skills will not be enough to lead the treasury function. “The treasurer of tomorrow will not only need to possess treasury domain expertise, but leadership, risk management, and technology skills to better navigate strategic treasury priorities of tomorrow”, states the survey report.
As treasurers grapple with inflationary pressures, interest rate hikes, geopolitical uncertainty, market volatility, war and a looming global recession, they need to be cognizant of the fact that they are never too far away from the next big unexpected event. To respond effectively, they will require all the data, experience and resources they can gather, but more importantly, they will need to step up and demonstrate extraordinary leadership skills – all while keeping an eye out for the next crisis.
Former President of the United States, Harry S. Truman, famously said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” Reading leadership books can help you become a better leader, thinker and communicator, while also giving you a comparative leadership and knowledge advantage in today’s uncertain political and economic environment.
We decided to compile a list of leadership books that will help you lead through uncertainty, seize the opportunity in crisis, hone your judgment, problem-solving and people skills, and strengthen your leadership abilities.* Here’s our list.
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
Thought-provoking quote: “If you want to make a big impact as a leader then you have to make a big influence on everyone around you.”
Book description: Leadership has become increasingly complex in recent years. The times are difficult, and it can be challenging to get people to work together. Businesses, government, families, communities and teams are all crying out for good leaders to help them. This is where the principles outlined in The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership can help.
Maxwell has revised and updated the 25th anniversary edition of the bestselling book for the next generation of leaders. He has added new insights to the timeless laws, including fresh stories, observations and lessons learned since he originally wrote the book. Each law is like a tool, ready to be picked up and used to help you achieve your dreams and add value to other people. Discover how these powerful and valuable leadership truths play into your strengths. Follow these laws and learn to lead – not just for yourself, but for the people who follow you.
Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
Thought-provoking quote: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
Book description: In his work with organizations around the world, Simon Sinek noticed that some teams trust each other so deeply that they would literally put their lives on the line for each other. Other teams, no matter what incentives are offered, are doomed to infighting, fragmentation and failure. Why?
The answer became clear during a conversation with a Marine Corps general. "Officers eat last", he said. Sinek watched as the most junior Marines ate first while the most senior Marines took their place at the back of the line. What's symbolic in the chow hall is deadly serious on the battlefield: Great leaders sacrifice their own comfort – even their own survival – for the good of those in their care. Sinek illustrates his ideas with fascinating true stories that range from the military to big business, from government to investment banking.
Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
Thought-provoking quote: “I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.”
Book description: Leadership is not about titles, status and wielding power. A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and ideas and has the courage to develop that potential, to paraphrase Brown. When we dare to lead, we don’t pretend to have the right answers; we stay curious and ask the right questions. We don’t see power as finite and hoard it; we know that power becomes infinite when we share it with others. We don’t avoid difficult conversations and situations; we lean into vulnerability when it’s necessary to do good work.
But daring leadership in a business environment defined by scarcity, fear and uncertainty requires skill-building around traits that are deeply and uniquely human. The irony is that we’re choosing not to invest in developing the hearts and minds of leaders at the exact same time as we’re scrambling to figure out what we have to offer that machines and AI can’t do better and faster. What can we do better? Empathy, connection and courage, to start.
Wooden on Leadership by John Wooden
Thought-provoking quote: “The best leaders are lifelong learners; they take measures to create organizations that foster and inspire learning throughout. The most effective leaders are those who realize it’s what you learn after you know it all that counts most.”
Book description: Wooden on Leadership contains the best of Wooden’s observations, covering everything from teamwork and self-control to concentration and dealing with defeat.
Featuring pivotal moments in Wooden’s own leadership journey, the book focuses on Wooden’s 12 Lessons in Leadership and his acclaimed Pyramid of Success, illustrating the mental, emotional and physical qualities essential to building a winning organization. The book shows you how to develop the skill, confidence and competitive fire to “be at your best when your best is needed” – and teach your organization to do the same.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
Thought-provoking quote: “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.”
Book description: Sun Tzu's The Art of War is one of the world's best and most influential leadership books of all time. The Art of War is composed of 13 chapters. Each one is devoted to a different set of skills related to warfare, which can be used to uncover powerful leadership and business lessons. The book imparts one of the most important lessons for leadership success: self-awareness, which will give you the ability to fathom how you and your competitors will react in different situations. It is this knowledge that will make the difference between success and failure. In The Art of War, you will also discover lessons to enhance leadership qualities, how to get the best out of people, how to communicate clearly and effectively, and how to overcome obstacles.
While the book is focused on war and battle and was written for military strategists and generals, it translates very well for modern day organizational leadership, which explains why the book has been read by professional consultants, corporate and private investors, CEOs and other business leaders and executives worldwide. The book has even appeared in the classic movie Wall Street, in which Gordon Gekko states, “I don’t throw darts at a board. I bet on sure things. Read Sun Tzu, The Art of War. Every battle is won before it is fought.”
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
Thought-provoking quote: “Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.”
Book description: No leader makes it alone. Leaders know that great teamwork powers extraordinary organizations, so a leader must know how to both guide their team and be a team player. The lessons in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team are more relevant than ever in building a cohesive team dynamic, particularly now, as many business leaders and executives struggle to develop a strong and unified team.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team reveals the five behavioural tendencies that go to the heart of why even the best teams struggle. Lencioni offers a powerful model and step-by-step guide for overcoming those dysfunctions and getting everyone rowing in the same direction. By understanding the things that might cause a team to fail, you can learn to avoid and address them. As a result, you build your leadership skills while also developing a stronger and more efficient team.
Reading leadership books can have a huge impact on your treasury leadership trajectory, helping you make informed decisions and embrace constant change in a volatile, uncertain, complex and competitive world.
Take heed from the wise words of Harry S. Truman: “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” Use leadership reading to build a resilient and evolved treasury team and to identify and groom treasury, finance and organizational leaders of the future. For all you know, it might also inspire you to write a book on treasury leadership someday.
*This is an independent compilation of leadership books. It is not ranked in order of preference, nor have we received any compensation or commission from any of the authors (or publishers) of the six books included in the article.
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