leadership books

3 Leadership Books for Dance Coaches

I believe that all of us want to grow. In our hearts, we know there is more out there. There is more we can be. There is more we can give. And there is more we can do. Personally, leadership books are one of my favorite indulgences on my own path for growth.

There’s actually a theory in psychology by Abraham Maslow which states that all humans have an internal drive for personal growth and discovery. But you don’t need a theory to know that, I’m sure you feel it. It’s why we listen to podcasts, read books, go to school, and set goals every year.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know, the more that you learn the more places you’ll go!” – Dr. Seuss

One of my goals for 2018 was to read a personal development or business book a month, and I’m happy to say I did it! It got me thinking about my favorites, so I want to share three of my top leadership books with you because I don’t think I’ve ever met a dance coach that was ok with the status quo and happy to just repeat the same year over and over again. I believe we’re all searching for something to learn, a way to grow, and a path to new heights. So here are three leadership books you might consider reading in 2019.

There are referral links below. If you click through and take action, I’ll receive a small compensation at no additional cost to you. My full disclosure is here.

Dare to Lead – Brené Brown

Maybe you’re already a fan of everything this wonderful Texas woman writes, but whether you’ve read any of her other books or not, this one should definitely be on the top of your 2019 list. 

Most of the research is based on business, both large corporations and small companies, but it all applies to what we do as coaches. Leadership principles hold whether you’re working with teenage dancers or members of a Fortune 500 company. 

Brené Brown defines leadership as: Anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes and has the courage to develop that potential.

We are all leaders, and even more importantly, we are coaching future leaders.

Brené talks about how our greatest challenge as leaders is not that we are scared or afraid, but how we react to being fearful. You will have times where you are feeling less than courageous as a coach. Days were you’re not sure of your decisions or how to handle a situation. But in this book, Brené teaches you about the different kinds of armor leaders put up to shield us from the difficult work. I promise you will see yourself in at least one of them. It’s an eye-opening process to understand how you have armored up rather than “rumbling with vulnerability,” or handling the challenging situations in front of you.

Even better, she gives you the strategy to combat that armor. She explains how to start to tear it down and learn to lead your team with courage.

I love the final note in her book as well. Courage is contagious. So, if you can learn to be a brave leader, you will create a culture of brave leaders, where dealing with difficult situations with grace, handling tough conversations, and being courageous, are expected. How we show up as leaders creates the culture of our team. Everything starts with you, so I hope you dare to read the book, do the hard reflective work, and become a brave leader.

5 Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Lencioni

This is a great book that my assistant coach gave me years ago. (Because she’s awesome and always looking for new ideas for growth too. Thanks, Lindsey!). I re-read it this year with a new lens, looking for strategies to create a better team culture. The book is written for business to learn how to create more effective teams, but even though it’s all about business and companies, I believe the principles are directly relevant to our work as dance coaches. It’s generally about the 5 culture issues that make a team ineffective. Maybe one of these issues is holding your team back right now:

  1. The absence of trust
  2. Fear of conflict
  3. Lack of commitment
  4. Avoidance of accountability
  5. Inattention to results

Developing a strong culture is our #1 job as a coach. If the culture is negative or uninspiring, we can never achieve the goals we want, or even enjoy the season for that matter. For many of us coaching right now, I think a lack of accountability and a fear of conflict (because of parents or administrators or whatever) are some of our biggest roadblocks to a positive team culture. Patrick Lencioni does a wonderful job giving examples of what this looks like in the business world, and it is easy to see how we can apply his ideas to our teams and improve or culture in all of these areas. It’s definitely worth the read!

Catch Them Being Good – Tony Dicicco & Colleen Hacker

This one is unique and especially wonderful for us because it’s written about coaching female athletes. Now of course that’s not 100% of who we coach, but it is certainly a large majority. 

If you follow other sports or championships at all, you may remember the day (or seen pictures later) when the US Women’s Soccer Team won the World Cup in 1999 and Brandi Chastain ripped off her jersey to expose her sports bra, dropped to her knees in celebration, and sparked a much larger conversation about women in sports.


The book Catch Them Being Good, is written by the coach of that team, Tony Dicicco and the team’s sport psychologist, Dr. Colleen Hacker. It’s a wonderful combination of coaching strategies, mental toughness tools, and a good old fashion sports story grit, passion, and achievement.

The book includes exercises on how to build team cohesion in a group of girls, and advice about what to do if an athlete wants to quit because it’s too hard. You can also read about Coach Dicicco’s coaching philosophy which is inspiring in and of itself.

The book is both practical and inspirational. It’s a great true story of an incredible group of athletes and their coaches, with a peak behind the curtain of how they made it happen so that you can do the same with your team.

Dive Into These Books in 2019!

As we approach some time off at the end of the year, this could be the best time to be re-inspired mid-competition season. Or the perfect opportunity to give another coach in your life a simple and thoughtful holiday gift. I hope you dive into a book (or listen in Audible, no shame in that!) and find a new source of motivation and encouragement.

Let me know what you think and please share your favorite leadership books. I’m always looking for another one! 

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