Storytelling is critical to the work we do as facilitators at Leading Teams.

It allows us to build relationships and show empathy with the team we’re working with by sharing our own experiences and helps people to learn through the messages in the story.

I have always been a reader but over the years have drifted in and out of summer-time reading to relax and switch my brain off and reading for my learning and leadership development. It was a client of mine recently who shared that he had shifted his habit of glancing at his phone before heading to bed and instead, reading 10 pages, that has inspired me to make it a nightly habit.

It was a few years ago when I wasn’t in great shape; not feeling like I was good enough in most areas of my life, that I took a bunch of books to read over summer and 1 changed my life. When I read Brené Brown’s “I Thought it Was Just Me (but it isn’t)”, it was like it was written especially for me. It helped me to re-shape my personal trademark and remind me what was important to me and the value I can add to others as a leader. I think it was a bit about reading this book at exactly the right time, but I love books that have this kind of impact.

We have collectively put together this list of books that have had a profound impact on us as leaders and team members.

They all have ties to the importance of relationships, purpose and conversations for individuals and teams.

Some might not have been intended to be leadership books but the author’s storytelling ability has made them too compelling not to share.

We hope you enjoy

These are in no particular order – all are excellent.

1. I thought it was just me (but it isn’t) – Brené Brown

Recommended by Martine Harkin

I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't)This book by the bestselling author Dale Carnegie, had a huge impact on me when I first read it. Brené talks about how our imperfections are what connect us to one another and to our humanity. Our vulnerabilities are not weaknesses; they are powerful reminders to keep our hearts and minds open to the reality that we’re all in this together.



2. Chop Wood Carry Water (How to fall in love with the process of becoming great) – Joshua Medcalf

Recommended by Simon Fletcher

Chop Wood Carry Water (How to fall in love with the process of becoming great) - Joshua MedcalfThis book uses a story to convey to the reader that it is the process that needs to be focused on, not the outcome. It contains links to Personal Trademarks, action plans, self-reflection & review.





3. The Gold Mine Effect by Rasmus Ankersen

Recommended by Jake Bridges

The Gold Mine Effect - Rasmus AnkersenThis book reflects on powerful examples of teams and cultures that have succeeded despite not having the best facilitator’s or the most money. This links to our high-performance models origins of getting more from less.




4. Coaching for Performance by John Whitmore

Recommended by Maree McKeown

Coaching for Performance by John Whitmore
A practical and straightforward book for those wanting to get a sense of what is possible in the on-going process of giving and receiving feedback in the workplace.





5. Culture Code by Daniel Coyle

Recommended by Aaron Rogers

Culture Code by Daniel CoyleThis book has great stories of the highs and lows of teams in many different industries from around the world and strongly links back to our high-performance model.





6. The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Lencioni

Recommended by Shelly McElroy

The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick LencioniThis book is a fable, it encapsulates the magic of storytelling and relating to real life examples. Lencioni builds rapport with you as a reader and brings you on the journey. There are some pinnacle questions to digest and the back section with tools and techniques that can be implemented by anyone.




7. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey

Recommended by Kurt Wrigley
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen CoveyFor me this book is powerful as it talks about the shift required for self-mastery. This occurs by resisting a natural urge to look outside & blame others and instead looking inside and taking responsibility.
It provides a practical framework for time management. It also has great examples of teamwork, collaboration & communication and a focus on continuous improvement.




8. How to win friends and influence people – Dale Carnegie

Recommended by Ellie Pietsch

How to win friends and influence people – Dale CarnegieThis book provides such simple tips that will help Leaders think about their role in influencing their teams, by empowering people around them. It still resonates after almost 60 years!





9. The Choice by Edith Eger

Recommended by Tim Ferguson

The Choice by Edith EgerIn this memoir Edith provides great insights into the power of purpose. With countless examples and stories from her own story as a survivor of Auschwitz, a mother, a wife and from her work as a psychologist.




10. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

Recommended by Tim Ferguson

A Fine Balance by Rohinton MistryIn this novel Rohinton provides a great insight into culture, relationships, and resilience. Set in India is 1975 four strangers are forced to help each other as unrest mounts as the Government declares a state of emergency.





11. The Leading Edge – Holly Ransom

Recommended by Anna Sallows

The Leading Edge – Holly RansomThis book is a collation of stories and insights into Holly’s immense experience as a leader and interviewer. She keeps in simple in the way she structures the book and includes so many powerful examples of what you can do to develop your leadership skills.




12. Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl

Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor FranklNo book list for us at Leading Teams can be complete without including this book from Viktor Frankl. Whilst it is only a small book the message and lessons are immense, Frankl outlines how he used purpose and mental fortitude to survive against insurmountable odds.




13. Any Given Team – Ray McLean

Any Given TeamYes, Ray McLean is the founder of Leading Teams but he is also an expert facilitator, who has spent most of his career thinking about how to improve team performance and why leaders need to invest in their team’s dynamics.

Any Given Team is the origin story of Leading Teams through Ray’s eyes as he established the link between improving performance and investing in team dynamics. As the title suggests these learnings are applicable to any group of people who call themselves a team.



14. Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart – Gordon Livingston

Recommended by Daniel Healy

Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart – Gordon LivingstonThis was the first book our co-founder, Ray McLean ever recommended to me. Livingston provides a list of 30 truths for living that he has captured over his lifetime from his career working as a psychiatrist and his personal life.




15. Australia Day – Stan Grant

Recommended by Brendan Maher

Australia Day – Stan GrantNot purposely written as a leadership book, Stan Grant outlines some uncomfortable truths in Australia and what leaders/ the country need to do to take responsibility for them. This is an inspiring insight into what leaders do, none better than Grant himself.




16. Super Teams – Khoi Tu

Recommended by Jesse McLean

Super Teams – Khoi TuIn this book Khoi compiles seven examples of vastly different teams that all achieve great success, the common thread they all share is their clarity and understanding of their purpose.





17. Expert: Understanding the Path to Mastery – Roger Kneebone

Recommended by Martine Harkin

Expert: Understanding the Path to Mastery – Roger KneeboneAs the title suggests this book is about how to become an expert at something. Kneebone investigates and interviews hundreds of experts to ascertain what makes them tick and what makes them successful at what they do.





18. High Performing Habits – Brendan Burchard

Recommended by Damien Hill

High Performing Habits – Brendan BurchardExamines six habits that the author links to high performance. Contains some good questions and commencing statements/prompts that provoke thought and can guide a self-audit of your performance.




19. Simon Sinek – Start with Why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action

Recommended by Lucas Gamble

Simon Sinek – Start with Why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take actionThis is Simon’s first book, in it he outlines how successful leaders have used their why/ their purpose to influence others. He looks back on leaders from the past and highlights what they all have in common and how that shapes how they think, communicate and act.




20. Inner Game of Golf – W. Timothy Gallwey

Recommended by Gavin Mahony

Inner Game of Golf – W. Timothy GallweyThis is the best book I read that discusses self-talk and how it can impact on performance. Whilst I am not a golf player the insights shared are universal, this book tackles the psychological aspect of the game and identifies how you can perform more consistently using your inner self-talk.




21. Teamwork – Ray McLean

Teamwork – Ray McLeanRay’s second book is a collection of stories from our team and their clients. Stories of how clients have invested in their team’s dynamics, built relationships and established a common purpose. These stories are all completely different but they all have the similar thread of business improvement and resilience under pressure.

Martine Harkin

Martine Harkin

Martine joined Leading Teams in 2008 after an 11 year teaching career. Martine is a Facilitator/Partner based in Melbourne.

Learn more about Martine.