When I was a newspaper reporter in the late ’90s, navigating my way daily through epic Chicago traffic always felt like a huge time suck. The way home was especially miserable. Though the drive was only about 20 miles, it generally took at least an hour on a good day — or two hours or more in bad weather. And Chicago doesn’t have great weather.
I could only listen to so much radio before I’d feel antsy and that time was a-wasting. Fortunately, I discovered that the library near my office had a huge collection of audiobooks, and I began taking full advantage.
The books on tape (I know, I’m dating myself) allowed me to escape mentally from the stop-and-go gridlock while making productive use of the car time. The commute whizzed by, and I would arrive home feeling less stressed out and more enlightened.
Whether you commute 15 minutes or two hours, you can make it time well spent. Audiobooks will transport you to another world, teach you something new, or help you develop your skills. When you get where you’re headed — in your career, not just on that drive — you’re ready to perform to the best of your ability.
There are a wealth of excellent audiobooks devoted to leadership development. Consider these four highly rated — and well-narrated — audiobooks for making the most of your commute.
1) The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, 10th Anniversary Edition: Follow Them and People Will Follow You
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is an oldie but goodie, and one of the best-selling leadership books of all time. It’s written and narrated by leadership guru John C. Maxwell, described by many as the world’s most influential leadership expert. Covering timeless tenets like the Law of Respect and the Law of Empowerment, Maxwell backs up each law with examples from real companies and effective leaders. As you drive, you can mull over the book’s exercises and self-assessment tools.
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2) Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter
A former executive at Oracle, Liz Wiseman called on her own experience — and interviews with more than 150 executives — to write Multipliers with Greg McKeown, author and CEO of THIS Inc. They argue that the world is comprised of two types of leaders: those who siphon away others’ abilities and intelligence and those who motivate people to think creatively and exceed expectations. Packed with anecdotes, data, and analysis, the book describes five disciplines that distinguish Multipliers (the motivators) from Diminishers (the takers). You’ll hear how to develop skills and practices that everyone can use to become a leader who elicits the best from people.
3) It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership
For a more personal take on leadership and the opportunity to hear General Colin Powell tell his own stories, try It Worked for Me. It centers around the Thirteen Rules that Powell adhered to throughout his life, from his military career to serving as Secretary of State. His rules, like “Share Credit” and “Have a Vision. Be Demanding” apply to any leadership challenge. Throughout the book, Powell uses these rules as a framework for his descriptions of effective leadership and how he applied them over the course of his career.
4) Unbeatable Mind: Forge Resiliency and Mental Toughness to Succeed at an Elite Level
In Unbeatable Mind, retired Navy SEAL Mark Divine tells gripping personal stories with vivid and captivating detail. Divine is a former CPA and entrepreneur who started SEALFIT and the Unbeatable Mind Academy, as well as a former SEAL who served for 20 years before retiring with the rank of commander. He offers numerous tips and training tools for improving mental clarity and concentration for thinking, operating, and leading, as well as thoughts on how to be an authentic and service-oriented leader. While you’re driving, you’ll learn to think and act decisively, build resiliency and mental toughness, and act as a leader with integrity.
So take the stress out of your commute — and gain the skills that will help you grow as a leader, too — by tuning in to an audiobook instead the sound of traffic.