What Are Our Foundational Principles? Books That Have Shaped Leadership Network, Part 1

Who are the conceptual thinkers that have helped shape Leadership Network's unique approach of moving from ideas to implementation to impact? Since our founding in 1984 we have become the nation’s leading catalyst for connecting innovative church leaders. Our primary conceptual pioneers are Peter Drucker, Everett Rogers, and Lyle Schaller — the first three authors named below.

Leadership Network's CEO, Dave Travis (pictured right), recently presented a list that he describes as some of the key titles that have shaped, and will continue to shape, our work with our clients (church leaders we serve, also known as innovation partners).

Over the next five days we will share this list with you (with subsequent issues here: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5). We hope you can benefit from this list personally, while also getting a deeper look at the heart and soul of Leadership Network. 

Part 1: Foundational Thinking                                                                                 

  •  Diffusion of Innovations – Everett Rogers (most recent is 5th edition)
    Deep, scholarly and dense, but worth all the time and effort to truly digest. The further one goes in Leadership Network's processes, the more the theories continue to enlighten and inform. Anyone can read the book. 
  •  ​​The Executive In Action Peter Drucker 
    A compilation of three of Drucker’s classic works including Managing for Results, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and The Effective Executive. I favor this book over Managing the Nonprofit Organization, although that work is also worth a read. 
  • The Interventionist Lyle Schaller.
    This is his most recent book on introducing change in churches, this one from the perspective of an outsider such as a consultant or denominational leader. For a great overview of Schaller himself and his 96 books see Wisdom from Lyle E. Schaller by our own Warren Bird.


  • Great by ChoiceJim Collins
    Hard to pick just one Collins book since he writes so few and each builds upon the last. In this case, I think the concepts of long term success through Specific, Methodical and Consistent steps is vital for our future. Runner up: the same author's Good to Great.
  • The Power of Positive Deviance: How Unlikely Innovators Solve the World's Toughest Problems – Jerry Pascale 
    This book was a decade in the making after the article in Fast Company. I think the additional illustrations are worth it, but the insights are also found in this article from 2000, found here – http://www.fastcompany.com/42075/positive-deviant
  • The Loyalty Effect  Frederick Reichheld
    Shows how sticking with the same clients, partners and staff yields increasing results.
  • The Innovator’s Dilemma – Clayton Christensen 
    The original thinking in this series illustrates how current market leaders are subject to upstarts and why. There are multiple follow ons, but I think this is the best.
  • The Experience EconomyJoe Pine and Jim Gilmore 
    The importance of thinking through the total design of an experience to maximize what you are trying to do with a customer.
  • Making Ideas Happen – Scott Belsky 
    More pragmatic than the others. But is helpful in that we can’t just live in the world of ideas, we have to drive them to implementation. And I think our brand promise is ideas to implementation to impact.
  • The Four Disciplines of Execution – Chris McChesney 
    I think this is helpful in thinking about lead measures vs. lag measures and what really drives execution in any organization. And not just helpful for our own internal work but for clients as well.

  • HalftimeBob Buford
    Until Bob Buford’s next book comes out — which describes in detail his relationship to Peter Drucker — this one has the best sense of our founder’s values.
  • The Dan Sullivan Question Dan Sullivan 
    The author is the founder of Strategic Coach, a program that several on the Leadership Network team attended before we entered our era of offering peer groups we call Leadership Communities. The question in this little book contains the key to helping create value for a client. You can read this with great profit in less than 30 minutes.