Book Reviews

Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos and Luck - Why Some Thrive Despite Them All

Business writer extraordinaire Jim Collins teams up with Harvard Business professor Morten Hansen to explore historical and modern examples of leaders who took their teams to success while their competition languished or even failed completely. What they found were core behaviors that all great leaders possess and that not-so-great leaders can learn! Read review

Permission to Fail

Today's leaders find themselves in an increasingly complex environment in which they as individuals have less and less control over outcomes. This book explores how leaders can still maintain influence by creating cultures that encourage experimentation and allow the failure of ideas. This openness may just be the difference between survival and irrelevance in the new era of how organizations operate. Read review

Breaking Barriers

As we've all experienced, leadership can make or break a company or ministry. One of the most crippling elements in any organization is fear. Tom Rieger explores the different ways that fear manifests itself within organizations, and gives strategies to break through those fear barriers to unleash true achievement. Read review

Start With Why

There are two different kinds of leadership: those who are simply leaders and those who truly lead. Basic leaders may be able to motivate, but not inspire. Those who truly lead are able to engage their followers and inspire them to act because they want to, not because they have to. The difference between these two types of leaders starts with one simple question: WHY?. Read review

Make or Break Your Church In 365 Days

Have you ever led a church that needed to undergo significant change? Did you feel overwhelmed and lost? Have some of the materials you've turned to been lots of talk with little action? Paul Borden's book provides pastors with practical steps for pastors to not only drive change within their church, but sustain it for the future. Read review

Emotional Intelligence for Dummies

Emotional Intelligence is no longer a novel concept within leadership, but that doesn't mean it's easy to grasp. This month's book follows the familiar "For Dummies" format, providing practical how-to steps to improve your own Emotional Intelligence. Read review

The Top 10 Mistakes Leaders Make

The common pitfalls of leadership covered in this book happen everyday in the workplace as well as ministry. They're so common in fact, that they may seem oversimplified. However, if they were that easy, everyone would do them. Every leader can benefit from the practical reminders and suggestions packed within these pages. Read review

Encouraging the Heart

It probably won't come as a shock, but for many leaders out there, providing positive reinforcement to their team does not come naturally. Giving genuine recognition makes some uncomfortable, while for others it's merely an afterthought that gets edged out by the business at hand. Read Doug's review on a book that not only explains the importance of encouragement in the workplace, but how to make it happen. Read review

Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure

Even though church seems like it should be the safest place to make a mistake, often it's anything but. It is all too common for a church culture to fall into a rut of maintaining the status quo without ever questioning its effectiveness or risking an attempt at something new. In this book, the author argues that failure is actually an essential catalyst toward success. Read review

A Failure of Nerve

Despite the fact that author Edwin Friedmann died before completing his last book, A Failure of Nerve, it is nonetheless an unflinching analysis of our country's sickly and neurotic leadership culture. He provides inspiring calls to today's leaders not to give in to the desire to be applauded and well liked by all, but rather be brave enough to challenge others toward achieving your goals. Read review

Governance as Leadership

Unleash your board's potential by expanding on the foundation of its typical fiduciary responsibilities and allowing it to govern more globally and conceptually. This book explores the different modes of board leadership and how to develop a group of leaders that are exponentially more powerful than "business as usual" allows. Read review

Winning on Purpose

A church can have passion, faith and a desire to grow and win people to belief, however, without a sound governance structure as its under- pinning, all of that energy can self-destruct. John Edmund Kaiser outlines important principles that must uphold a church's structure in order for it to succeed. Read review

The Advantage

Strategy, research and analysis will only get you so far in leadership. Truly exceptional organizations are not only smart, but they're also healthy. In Patrick Lencioni's new book, he describes why an organization's health is essential to its success. Read review

Inspired People

Most leaders are passionate about what they do, however, the same is not always true of their workforce. What if leaders could instill that drive and personal ownership in each and every one of their people? That is truly the Holy Grail of leadership, and it can be done. In his book, Inspired People: How Great Leaders Use Passion, Purpose and Principles to Unlock Incredible Growth, author Jeremy Kingsley explains how. Read review

Learning to Lead

A sharp mind and strong character do not necessarily make a leader effective. There are many factors and behaviors that inspire teams and congregations to follow with a passion. In her book Leading So People Will Follow, Erica Andersen illustrates some of these factors for leaders to put to use. Read review

The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

This book by Seth Godin is for every leader out there who's ever wanted to know how to decide to stick with something through hard times or to walk away in pursuit of a better ambition. Odds are that covers almost every leader out there. This pithy book gives readers quick, memorable cues to help ease the typically hand-wringing decision of "to quit or not to quit?". Read review

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

Nobody ever said that change is easy, but this new book from Chip and Dan Heath contains strategies to make it more manageable. With advice on how to change your mindset, motivate your emotions, and set yourself up for success, this book is a potentially powerful tool for leaders and their staff. Read review

The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery

As leaders, we often strive to construct an identity based on our achievements. What God desires is for us to define our identity based on our relationship with him. This book gives leaders tools to discover the unique people God intended them to be. Read review


The true story of World War II soldier Louie Zamperini is almost beyond belief. He was stranded at sea, captured by the enemy and dehumanized through torture only to return home to a new host of interpersonal struggles. It is a great story that shows God's faithful hand in a life that was far from smooth sailing. Read review

Fake Work

We have all worked with someone who always tries to "look busy," but did you ever think that the work you do might not be truly be efficient or productive? Greg reviews a book that examines the difference between "real work" and a common phenomenon called "fake work" that has implications for the church as well. Read review

Necessary Ending

Modern psychology has made us shy away from closure and finality. However, without pruning unhealthy or obsolete elements from our lives, we prevent new growth from occurring. Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud explains the importance of being able to bring an end to the things in life that hinder us. Read review

Tribal Leadership

Effective leaders take what they learn from every experience at the helm and use it to propel their career, capabilities and team forward. Tribal Leadership examines this tendency of highly skilled leaders. How this book applies to the church environment is both enlightening and startling. Read review

Beyond the Broken Image by Debra Cooper

Anorexia and bulimia are difficult diseases to think about, let alone discuss and treat. Remuda Ranch Treatment Programs Chaplain Rob Heinrich reviews Beyond the Broken Image, a book that unflinchingly looks at the personal side of eating disorders in order to educate and enlighten readers about this taboo subject. Read review

Radical by Daniel Platt

The western, modernized version of Christianity that is practiced in one version or another in today's churches looks nothing like Christ's vision for the church, and it's time we did something about it. This sentiment is the premise of Daniel Platt's book, Radical. This direct, challenging and insightful book will make you examine if and how you are putting the pedal to your ideological metal. Read review

Rework by Jason Fried

Forget everything you think you know about running an organization, church or not. Now go read Rework. This small book packs a powerful punch as it exposes all of the bad habits of the business world, and gives advice contrary to the status quo that will certainly change the way you lead. Read review

Iconoclast by Gregory Bern

Greg applies a Christian perspective on neuroscientist Gregory Bern's book about the brains of history's radicals, rebels and mobilizers. Read review

Linchpin: Are You Indispensible? by Seth Godin

After reading this book, I realized why my work ethic was so different from my father's. It was not that I was unwilling to work hard, but rather I was unwilling to work hard for something I did not feel passionate about. Read review

The Workplace is a Captive Audience, and the Prisoners are Listening by Rick Yeatts

It's no secret that being a believer in the workplace can be tough. Trials will come that test the limits of our faith. What does God desire from his people in these difficult times? How do our trials impact the lost that surround us at work? This article provides some advice and encouragement for when your faith is put to the test. Read review

The House Church Book by Wolfgang Simpson

The modern church is humankind's imperfect interpretation of God's divine blueprint. Throughout history, people have strived to determine what God wants for his church on earth. One movement gaining momentum is the house church format.You may recognize my name as editor of the Emerging Leader e-Newsletter, but this is my first time as contributor. As a current member of a house church, Al asked me to review Wolfgang Simpson's new book on his vision for the future of the house church movement. Enjoy! Read review


Sometimes the riskiest thing a leader can do is to play it safe, and the safest thing a leader can do is to take a risk. Tribes by Seth Godin addresses the changing nature of groups -- from businesses to churches -- and how sticking to the status quo might spell extinction. Vivid lessons for the church abound in this secular book. Read review

The Making of a Leader

A leader's journey rarely follows the same path as another. However, there are similar milestones along that path that are common to all leaders. Dr. J. Robert Clinton's book describes these milestones, helping to give leaders some perspective as they navigate a life of ministry. Read review

Pour Your Heart Into It by Howard Schultz

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Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzer

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Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality by Henry Cloud

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Ordering Your Private World by Gordon McDonald

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Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker Palmer

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Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation by Garr Reynolds

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Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church by Reggie McNeal

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Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman

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Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

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Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.

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It: How Church Leaders Can Get It and Keep It by Craig Groeschel

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Building the Bridge as You Walk on It by Robert Quinn

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