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It’s not all about me, I swear! If I’ve learned anything over the course of my career, it’s been that there is no single, “right” way to lead, and engaging in thoughtful dialog with others often yields fresh perspectives and new ways to approach leadership. In that spirit, I thought I’d share an exchange I had recently with Paul DePalma, CEO at ADEPT Leadership. [NOTE: Content has been edited for clarity.]

Paul DePalma: Hi Kara, thank you for connecting with me. I have a quick question, do you have employees who don’t get along with their managers? If you do, as a COO, how do you tackle this? Do you have resources or contingencies put in place to handle situations like this?

Kara Lamphere: I have had this in the past, yes, but, gratefully, not at the moment. As a leader, I find it important to listen to both sides and determine the root cause. Is it that someone is in a position that uses their weaknesses rather than their strengths? Is it simply oil and water? Depending upon the root cause, the solution shifts.

Paul: Yes, I understand. And how did you learn these things? Was it common sense to you, were you taught or mentored, or was it trial and error?

Kara: As cliché as this may sound, much came from my upbringing. As a Christian, I take the heart of a servant leader. Throughout my life, I have met with Buddhists who have also enlightened me, no pun intended, to servant leadership and listening. Having come from a broken home, I also learned many lessons through those trials on why people behave the way they do. There have been one or two mentors in my life, yes. From them, I gained much insight. Lastly, I am an avid reader. I have read some great books on leadership and giving. How was that for too much information? 😉

Paul: Really interesting, and not surprising. It reinforces the importance of learning to interact with others more effectively. Leaders can be made; most aren’t born into the role. Thanks for sharing.

This conversation got me thinking about which books on leadership and giving have impacted me the most and which ones I recommend. Because we all have jobs to do, I decided to limit my recommendations to 5 right now.

  1. “Good to Great” by James C. Collins
  2. “The Art of Communicating” by Thich Nhat Hanh
  3. “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman
  4. “The Go Giver” by Bob Burg
  5. “Give and Take” by Adam Grant

Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts? Do you have any leadership books you recommend? Email me your recommendations or start a conversation at klamphere@midamericamortgage.com.