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Five Must Reads for the 2020 Entrepreneur Learn how to be a better leader from these experts

By Caroline Stokes

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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If there is one characteristic shared by all successful entrepreneurs, it's this: they are always learning.

Learning for entrepreneurs is non-negotiable. Charting your own course in life and business means that we must ever evolve to the next best version of ourselves. This happens through continual reading, reflection, and focused action; then a new level of development is reached, and the process begins again.

In an effort to help you get to the next level, I'm recommending five must-read books for 2020. Some are well-known classics and some are newer to the canon. All will elevate your desire for improvement and your ability to connect with other humans. Remember, none of us can go far unless we go together.

I've had an entrepreneurial mindset since I was a child. I'm guessing that you have, too. No doubt you've read dozens of business and personal development books in the never-ending quest to find that next bit of knowledge that will catapult you forward. I've done the same. And if I were only to recommend only five books to individuals seeking to grow their awareness, they would be these. No other books have made such a profound impact on my consciousness or done more for my personal growth.

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What Got You Here Won't Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith.

No matter what levels we attain in personal and professional growth, there is always a higher plane to reach. What got us where we are won't get us where we want to go. In this brilliant, classic book, leadership and business coach Marshall Goldsmith points out common "transactional flaws" common to executives when dealing with employees -- these flaws inhibit greatness. We each have a choice: become a victim to our own success and stagnate, or maintain a "beginner's mind" and stay open to growth. Goldsmith teaches us how to do the latter.

Reinventing You by Dorie Clark.

At one point or another, most of us go through a drastic career change. Not simply a move up the corporate ladder or sidestep to a similar industry: a complete departure from one path onto another that's not well-marked. In Reinventing You, entrepreneur and personal branding expert Dorie Clark provides a roadmap for making the switch. Clark invites us to assess our strengths and realize the unique contribution we can make to whatever industry we pursue. It's a must for any individual going through a career change, or contemplating one on the horizon.

Radical Candor by Kim Scott.

Every manager I know wants to get better at offering feedback, yet few know how to do it. To them I say: read Kim Scott's book. As a former Google employee reporting to Sheryl Sandberg, she offers a brilliant framework for giving feedback that allows teams to produce their best work: "care personally, challenge directly." Scott shows us how feedback can be delivered continuously, best methods for keeping the feedback focused on the work, not the individual, and how to get direct reports to offer feedback to the boss. Healthy teams with strong communication skills are not the stuff of legend; it's an entirely possible reality for your workplace, and Radical Candor shows you how to get there.

Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen.

Continuing with the theme of communication, Thanks for the Feedback flips the "how to give feedback" conversation on its head and instead focuses on how people receive feedback. It illustrates how feedback is at the juncture of two competing desires: the desire to grow, and the desire to be right as we are. Harvard Law School lecturers and entrepreneurs Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen present their findings on what type of feedback helps us grow, and what type disheartens and frustrates us. When we approach feedback -- solicited or not -- with curiosity and grace, we're able to be better.

Powerful by Patty McCord.

A culture of high performance and profitability is what we're all after. Yet in Powerful, Patty McCord shows us how we're getting it all wrong. As former Chief Talent Officer of Netflix and contributor to the Netflix Culture Deck, she outlines in her book how the old model is to endlessly "dangle the carrot" in front of employees -- with promises of perks, bonuses, and promotions. McCord advocates a more honest way, with more integrity: teams should unite over challenging work, and those who don't align with the overall vision should be dismissed. This culture of radical honesty and openness will enable corporations to focus on what matters and achieve lasting success.

While there is always more to learn, these five books will help you get to where you want to be better than any other tools I know. Do yourself a favor and read them as soon as possible to be 2020 ready.

Caroline Stokes

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Author, Executive Leadership Development Coach, Facilitator

Caroline Stokes is CEO of FORWARD and author of Elephants Before Unicorns: Emotionally Intelligent HR Strategies To Save Your Company

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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