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Six Books on Leadership Worth Actually Reading

No one springs forth from the womb a fully formed leader--but some books can shorten the learning curve
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Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur (Wiley; $34.95)
This manic collection of typography, photographs, sketches and graphs is actually a crowdsourced collection of expert advice designed to help you disrupt your industry. You'll learn how to think about your business in new ways, ask the right questions to find new opportunities and develop a plan for your company's evolution. Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You'll Ever Need
Harvey Mackay (Currency Books; $16.95)
Mackay teaches how to network strategically without being disingenuous. He delivers a solid mix of advice and action to help build an effective network that returns on your time investment. The tone gets a little "rah-rah" at times, but this is a master networking class that goes far beyond business cards and LinkedIn invitations. And the list of 16 contacts everyone should know is just plain smart. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It
Michael Gerber (HarperCollins; $18.99)
If you've already read it, read it again. This seminal book on entrepreneurship teaches business owners how to get out of the day-to-day rut and resume the role of visionary. Its straightforward, no-nonsense style helps you spot ways to make your business more effective and efficient, freeing you to look for the Next Big Thing--and still have a life of your own. Gerber reminds you how to be in charge, which is a lesson even leaders need now and then. The Wall Street MBA: Your Personal Crash Course in Corporate Finance
Reuben Advani (McGraw-Hill; $18.95)
No MBA? No problem. The Wall Street MBA takes the role of mentor, coaching on the basics of corporate accounting and financial statements. While it could have easily veered into the mind-numbingly dry, the book has an engaging tone and is full of anecdotes that make it an accessible read on finance basics for growing companies, including accounting standards, operational and capital cost analysis and valuation strengths and weaknesses. The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century
Thomas Friedman (Macmillan; $16)
The Pulitzer Prize winner and former New York Times foreign affairs columnist has updated his bestselling The World Is Flat, sketching out the fast-paced changes of the 21st century in a global economy. From values and technology to economics and shifting socioeconomic profiles, Friedman chronicles the changing world and the factors contributing to these shifts. Even local businesses need to understand the opportunities and threats of a global economy, and this book is an excellent primer. The Godfather
Mario Puzo (Signet; $9.99)
Leaving aside the murder and mayhem, this blockbuster 1969 novel holds its share of leadership profiles. Issues like managing multiple businesses, dealing with problem employees and fighting off cutthroat competitors (often, quite literally) will feel familiar to every business leader--even if Victor and Michael aren't exactly perfect role models.

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