Leadership is something we all recognize, but struggle to describe clearly. As I sifted through the overwhelming range of titles focused on this topic, I noticed how leadership can manifest in ways that can be linear, nonlinear, random, chaotic, emotional, caring and even psychotic (note this article about CEO’s, for example).

To provide a sense of what I mean, I’ll touch on just one title below (A First Rate Madness …). After getting through some definitions and vocabulary, the author takes us through an amazing ride describing how many of the great leaders during times of stability are exactly the wrong people for the role during times of radical change (think Neville Chamberlain vs. Winston Churchill as just one use case mentioned in the book along with several others). A surprising trait among a number of the great ones is their encounters with mental illness including manic depression, as this enables a degree of empathy and understanding needed to accurately size up and act upon entirely new challenges.

Here’s our topic starter list (with thanks to Jeff Balin for recommending several of these):