I was once asked by a new-promoted chief who was shadowing me, “Hey, you like to read, right? What’s a good book for me?” I perked up and immediately turned from my task at the moment and faced him. I was excited; someone wanted to talk about books! Unfortunately, after recommending a few books on leadership and personal development, my excitement was short-lived. He responded to my suggestions with, “No, I don’t mean that stuff, I’m looking for some fire books, like tactics.” My first thought was, Isn’t there more to the fire service than just strategy and tactics? Absolutely!
There’s a great story in the sports section of the Wall Street Journal today about Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew luck and his love for reading, and more important, his desire to “pass a good book on.”
Football, like firefighting, is very dirty and physical. Both professions wear protective equipment and perform as teams. But, football and firefighting also require exceptional mental skills that answer those so important questions: why, how, and what? The only way to achieve that level of teamwork is through learning together. And a great way to do that is by reading some good books, passing them around, and then talking about them.
Andrew Luck leads in more ways than just on the field. He consistently recommends his favorite reads to his team mates. And they’re not about football. Luck’s book suggestions range from fiction to the classics, depending on where he’s at and who he’s giving them to. By passing a good book on, and then talking about it, he’s influencing more than just the tactics of football, he’s growing other leaders and building a stronger team.
Firefighting books that focus on tactics, chemistry, construction, and administration should be required reading in the fire service. They are the nuts and bolts of our machine work. But also needed are those books that speak to values and character, that increase personal knowledge, and improve analytical and reasoning skills. They are the grease that makes the machine run long and smooth.
So, if you were to ask me, “What’s a good book for me?” here’re a few I would recommend. They will help you discover insights on team building, influencing others, applying intuition, managing things, establishing a culture, and just becoming a better person and a healthy organization.
- Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl
- The Warrior Ethos by Steven Pressfield
- The Essential Wooden: A Lifetime of Lessons on Leaders and Leadership by John Wooden
- Profiles In Courage by John F. Kennedy
- Young Men And Fire by Norman Maclean
- Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
- 5 Minds For The Future by Howard Gardner
- Flawless Execution by James D. Murphy
- Start With Why by Simon Sinek
- Small Unit Leadership: A Commonsense Approach by Col. Dandridge M. Malone (Ret.)
- The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield
- In Extremis Leadership: Leading As If Your Life Depended On It by Thomas A. Kolditz
- The Challenge Of Command by Roger H. Nye
- The 21 Indispensable Qualities Of A Leader by John C. Maxwell
- Warfighting by The U.S. Marine Corp
- Comrades by Stephen E. Ambrose
- The Warrior Mindset by Michael J. Asken, Ph.D. and Lt. Col. Dave Grossman
- Team of Teams: New Rules For Engagement For A Complex World by General Stanley McChrystal
- We Were Soldiers Once… And Young by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore
- Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales
- The Classic Touch: Lessons In Leadership From Homer To Hemingway by John K. Clemens and Douglas F. Mayer
Go here to Books I Recommend to find these books and more.
Go here to Read To Lead Podcast for current book reviews and recommendations.