The 6 best leadership podcasts that CEOs should listen to

The best leadership podcasts are packed with nuggets of wisdom, stories of successes and failures and fascinating people with unique depths of experience. For leaders, these podcasts are invaluable for growth.

The best part is that these podcasts are free and can be taken anywhere. The best leadership podcasts give leaders instant access to some of the world’s finest leadership minds, giving far more value to leaders than your typical documentaries or news programs.

Here are six of the best leadership podcasts available now, all of which feature leaders who have spoken to Vistage members.

1) Jocko Podcast with Jocko Willink

The Jocko Podcast is hosted by Jocko Willink, a retired U.S. Navy SEAL who’s earned the highest levels of recognition for leadership.

Willink hosts deep reviews of classic war and leadership books on his program, which often runs for two-to-three hours. He also hosts guests — including veterans, scholars, and business leaders — to discuss their lives and views on leadership.

Willink embraces “extreme ownership,” or owning problems and their solutions, no matter if the problems were their fault. Leaders who embrace ownership embrace humility, which Willink says is one of the most important things an organization can have.

“When there is humility in an organization, people set their ego aside, take responsibility for things going wrong, and fix the problem,” Willink told Vistage.

2) Better with Michael Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work

Michael Bush, a business leader for the past 25 years, brings his insights to the Better podcast, which is run by his company, Great Place to Work. The Better podcast stays true to the Great Place to Work mission of helping organizations become a great workplace for all.

The podcast dives into tactical issues, such as how executives can create caring and trusting cultures. But the Better podcast also delves into social issues, including social inequality and sexual harassment at work.

Listening to Better can help leaders dip their toes into controversial-yet-important topics they will likely encounter and create better environments for their employees.

3) A Bit of Optimism with Simon Sinek, author and speaker

Simon Sinek, a speaker and author with millions of fans, wants leaders to feel more optimistic at work. On his podcast, A Bit of Optimism, Sinek hosts a multitude of guests — executives, activists, researchers, athletes — to talk about life, love, and leadership.

The episodes of A Bit of Optimism are shorter and more digestible than most, typically running just north of 30 minutes. In recent episodes, Sinek has delved into the benefits of failure, raising more resilient children, and the future of branding and design.

Sinek said that he hopes his show brings what its title promises: A little bit of optimism.

4) At the Table with Patrick Lencioni, author and president of The Table Group

Patrick Lencioni is best known for his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, which examines the pitfalls that organizations face as their teams come together. He uses his leadership podcast, At the Table, to have deep discussions on topics that are similarly difficult for managers.

In one recent episode, “So You Want to Fire Someone,” Lencioni discusses the steps that every leader must take before cutting someone from their team.

In another episode, he discusses how many executives are adrenaline addicts who often get burnt out and how they can reconnect with their purpose at work.

This podcast is perfect for leaders who have a tough problem and want to find new solutions.

5) Jim Collins, author and speaker on business management

Jim Collins, author of the legendary book Good to Great, doesn’t have a podcast, but his website has a media section rich with insight. This gives leaders access to Collins, one of the finest leadership minds of our generation.

For example, here’s a full talk that Collins gave at the 2015 Global Leadership Summit. In that talk, Collins discusses seven questions that all leaders — especially young leaders — should ask themselves. These questions include: “Will you settle for being a good leader or will you grow to become a great leader” and “How will you change the lives of others?”

Leaders who want to be great rather than good should tune into Collins’s website. Collins pulls no punches, teaching leaders how to face brutal facts, deal with employees who don’t fit, and understand why there’s an inverse relationship between power and leadership.

6) A Life of Climb with Vistage CEO Sam Reese

A Life of Climb is Vistage’s leadership podcast for CEOs.

Much like Vistage group meetings, A Life of Climb features conversations on topics that leaders often face alone.

Each podcast is broken into two parts. In the first, a Vistage Chair talks to a member about overcoming a challenge they faced. In the second half, Vistage CEO Sam Reese talks to the Chair about the lessons learned and how CEOs can apply those lessons at their own companies.

Topics thus far have included innovating in the face of adversity, how leaders can manage explosive growth, and how leaders can build their teams for long-term success.

For executives who crave leadership development, A Life of Climb is a great way to gain insight and push themselves to greater heights on their leadership journey.

The best leadership podcasts aren’t passive entertainment — they’re tools for growth. Each of these podcasts can provide leaders with insights and moments of truth, spurring positive change.

Related resources

Category: Leadership


Avatar About the Author: Vistage Staff

Vistage facilitates confidential peer advisory groups for CEOs and other senior leaders, focusing on solving challenges, accelerating growth and improving business performance. Over 2…

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