On numerous occasions I’ve been asked, “Who can I read to become an effective leader at work?” If I have some sense that the inquirer understands what leadership is, what are its parts (i.e., a leader, the followers, the messages, the context, and the goal), and how those parts fit together, I offer these authors without reservation: Rokeach, Glasser, Golemen, Weaver and Greenleaf. For anyone unfamiliar with these names, here is a brief explanation of why each one’s work is important to leading others. These are five good friends who will help you lead well.

1.      Effective leaders understand the individual and collective uniqueness of their followers. To do this, effective leaders act based on awareness of the followers’ value system. MiltonRokeach’s work is indispensable in that he explains what values are, he catalogues them, and he clarifies how they impact human behavior.
2.      Effective leaders understand how humans think. William Glasser’s insights on the connection between thought and behavior warrant (our) attention. Glasser reiterates that all actions grow from the choices we make. In short, effective leaders do not wait for the right emotion to come along; they recognize what must be done and they act.
3.      Effective leaders understand the role of emotion in human behavior. To date, Daniel Goleman’semotional intelligence research stands alone in that Goleman systematically explains what emotions are and how they are best used to achieve an individual or group goal.
4.      Effective leaders understand the role of ethics in human relationships. While social scientists are often reticent to identify behaviors as right or wrong, Richard Weaver, a rhetorician, asserts that standards of behavior are not only important to successful performance, they are essential.
5.      Effective leaders understand that leading others is, ultimately, a selfless act. As RobertGreenleaf makes plain, the leader’s role is not about self-accolades or glory; instead the leader’s purpose is to develop others. Effective leaders act in a way that transforms the follower into a future leader.

While the works of Rokeach, Glasser, Golemen, Weaver, and Greenleaf have generally remained outside of the public eye, they should not remain outside your purview. Take the time, in the near future, to explore the writings of these scholars. When you do, you will improve your ability to lead well.

Dr. Philip Aust is a professor at Kennesaw State University (KSU). He teaches Organizational Communication Audits, Leadership, Training and Development, and Research Methods in the Department of Communication at KSU. Dr. Aust regularly conducts communication consultations for profit and non-profit Atlanta-based companies. He has worked with over 25 companies in the last three years. Email: philip.aust@searchlogixgroup.com