5 Must Read Books for Social Enterprise Leaders

Mark Horoszowski

Mark Horoszowski is the co-founder and CEO of MovingWorlds.org.

social entepreneur leadership photo credit to AshokaStarting and scaling social enterprises is hard work. These 5 books provide valuable insights and inspiration to help social entrepreneurs and social intrapreneurs launch and grow projects that make the world a better place.

The key lessons of these books highlight that you need much more than a good idea to make a positive impact. You need to:

  1. Inspire people to follow your vision for a better world
  2. Empower them to accomplish more than you collectively think is possible
  3. Stick through the inevitable startup valley of death
  4. Change entrenched personal, business, and/or political systems
  5. Stay humble and in personal balance so you have the energy to keep going


#1: A Book to Help You Inspire Others

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty?

In studying the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world, Simon Sinek discovered that they all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way-and it’s the complete opposite of what everyone else does. People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers might have little in common, but they all started with why.

Drawing on a wide range of real-life stories, Sinek weaves together a clear vision of what it truly takes to lead and inspire.

Not ready for the book? Here is a great TED Talk.


#2: A Book to Better Empower Those Around You

What You Really Need to Lead by Robert Steven Kaplan

Leadership qualities are not something you either have or you don’t. Leadership is not a destination or a state of being. Leadership is about what you do, rather than who you are, and it starts with an ownership mind-set. For Kaplan, learning to lead involves three key elements:

  • Thinking like an owner
  • A willingness to act on your beliefs
  • A relentless focus on adding value to others

Not ready for the book? Here is a good article summarizing this book.


#3: A Book that Shows You The Value of Grit

Grit by Angela Duckworth

In this must-read book for anyone striving to succeed, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows parents, educators, athletes, students, and business people—both seasoned and new—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a focused persistence called “grit.”

Why do some people succeed and others fail? Sharing new insights from her landmark research on grit, MacArthur “genius” Angela Duckworth explains why talent is hardly a guarantor of success. Rather, other factors can be even more crucial such as identifying our passions and following through on our commitments.

Not ready for the book? Watch her TED Talk.


#4: A Book to Help You Change Things

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath

Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities, and in our own lives?

Psychologists have discovered that our minds are ruled by two different systems—the rational mind and the emotional mind—that compete for control. The rational mind wants a great beach body; the emotional mind wants that Oreo cookie. The rational mind wants to change something at work; the emotional mind loves the comfort of the existing routine. This tension can doom a change effort—but if it is overcome, change can come quickly.

In a compelling, story-driven narrative, the Heaths bring together decades of counterintuitive research in psychology, sociology, and other fields to shed new light on how we can effect transformative change. Switch shows that successful changes follow a pattern, a pattern you can use to make the changes that matter to you, whether your interest is in changing the world or changing your waistline.

Not ready for the book? Here is a great summary.


#5: A Book to Help You Stay in Personal Balance

Presence by Amy Cuddy

Have you ever left a nerve-racking challenge and immediately wished for a do over? Maybe after a job interview, a performance, or a difficult conversation? The very moments that require us to be genuine and commanding can instead cause us to feel phony and powerless. Too often we approach our lives’ biggest hurdles with dread, execute them with anxiety, and leave them with regret.

By accessing our personal power, we can achieve “presence,” the state in which we stop worrying about the impression we’re making on others and instead adjust the impression we’ve been making on ourselves.

Brilliantly researched, impassioned, and accessible, Presence is filled with stories of individuals who learned how to flourish during the stressful moments that once terrified them. Every reader will learn how to approach their biggest challenges with confidence instead of dread, and to leave them with satisfaction instead of regret.

Not ready for the book? Watch her TED Talk.

Did I miss a book? Let me know in the comments below!