Understanding your own behaviours is the first step to start-up success, according to author and leadership coach, Janine Woodcock.

Photo of Janine Woodcock

We’ve teamed up with Janine to take us through some of her must-read books for entrepreneurs.

Janine says: “As a start-up founder, you’re more likely than the average business person to be undertaking a self-directed learning journey. While your focus will naturally fall to thinking about the more operational side of starting and scaling a business, a parallel focus on leadership will not only positively influence the strategic decisions you’re making from the offset, but will assist you in one of the most vital aspects of becoming (and remaining) successful – understanding your own behaviours.

“But how do you get started? The Harvard Business Review reports there are over 15,000 leadership books currently in print, with more emerging every week - not to mention the many millions of articles online. Rather than drowning in academic theory, I recommend these three very practical leadership titles that heavily influenced my choice of career in leadership and ultimately my own book, The Power of Choices: 7 Steps to Smarter Decisions about Work, Life and Success.

“Each over a decade old, all three have stood the test of time, remaining stalwarts of the leadership genre. These books are easy to understand and offer highly practical insights and exercises that founders can periodically factor into their busy schedules.

“While each approaches the leadership theme from different angles, all have baseline practices that are highly relevant to the fast-moving paradigms of the modern start-up landscape.”


Quiet Leadership: Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work by David Rock. 

Janine's verdict: “Given how many hats a start-up founder wears, it’s no surprise that one of the most common behaviours among this group is a tendency towards ‘over control’. For a business to grow, founders need to not only identify when to relinquish that control, but how to do it. Referred to as both 'practical and profound’, Rock’s 2006 book encourages leaders to give their teams ‘permission to think’ through a practical framework of questions. These questions are designed to facilitate a leader’s professional and personal growth to allow them to relinquish control with confidence.”

The Inspirational Leader: How to Motivate, Encourage and Achieve Success by John Adair. 

Janine’s verdict: “When you’re thinking leadership, look no further than John Adair who, to my mind, is one of the best authorities on the subject. In this book, Adair uses actual conversations between himself and an executive to explore the nature of leadership and deliver insights in an informal and easily digestible manner. This book was instrumental in helping me understand how much excellent leadership is dependent on knowing oneself first.”

The Decision Book: Fifty Models for Strategic Thinking by Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschappeler. 

Janine’s verdict: “Founders are always being told to ‘think strategically’ but often, it's hard to know how to ‘shape’ ideas and theories. Published in 2008, this book is full to the brim with brilliant models to help a leader do just that. Rather than wading through deep business, management and leadership theories, this book leads the reader through the practices of decision modelling and problem mapping and how those functions can intersect with personality, society and human connection.”

If you are starting out on the road to start-up success, see our latest events - which can help you on your way.