In today’s episode we outline the ten best podcasts for leaders in 2019.
Welcome to episode 53 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we tackle one of today’s biggest leadership challenges.
As leaders, podcasts offer a tempting solution to continuing our professional development and keeping in touch with broader trends. We can simply pull on the headphones and learn about almost anything. But with over 700,000 active podcasts, it can be hard for a leader to know where to start. Fortunately I’ve done the heavy lifting for you, with today’s episode outlining the ten best podcasts for leaders in 2019.
It’s important to note that these are the ten best podcasts for leaders - they’re not the ten best podcasts about leadership. Instead, they provide a broad range of perspectives, topics and approaches.
You’re unlikely to love them all - there’s clearly an element of preferences around style and content. But if you pick up one or two new podcasts then hopefully this episode has served its purpose.
And, for the pedantic, I’m actually going to list 14 podcasts - there were a few ties along the way. I have links to all of the podcasts in the show notes.
So, for dramatic effect, I’m going to start at number 10 and work my way up.
As leaders it’s important to challenge our perspectives and broaden our thinking, which brings me to number 10.
10 - Akimbo by Seth Godin
Seth Godin is one of the most popular and successful authors and bloggers of our time, producing content at a frenetic pace. It’s a little hard to tie his Akimbo podcast down, but he’s bound to challenge your thinking and bring new perspectives to the way you lead. There’s a solid 15% of what he says that I tend to either disagree with or think he has gotten completely wrong. And there’s a solid 15% that makes me think about the world in a completely new way, so that seems like a fair trade off. Episodes vary dramatically in length from 20 minutes to 45 minutes.
Teamwork, engagement and culture are rich topics to explore and it’s helpful to have a seasoned expert to guide the way. And who better to that than Patrick Lencioni at number 9.
9 - At The Table with Patrick Lencioni
Patrick is a well known author of books including The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. The podcast is setup as a chat between Pat and a few of his work colleagues. The format is pretty casual and relatively new, so they’re still bedding down the style a little bit. Episodes are around 30 to 40 minutes.
People are diverse and difficult to understand, but having deep insight into what motivates and drives others is a key part of leadership. That’s where podcast number 8 comes in handy.
8 - Hidden Brain from NPR
Hosted by Shankar Vedantam, this podcast is a gem which combines science and storytelling to uncover the often subtle forces that drive our behaviour. Always thought provoking and really well produced. Episodes range from 25 minutes up to an hour.
Setting up workplaces that are engaging and motivating is what leaders do to achieve results, and that’s the focus of podcast number 7.
7 - WorkLife with Adam Grant from TED.
As an organisational psychologist, Adam’s podcast focuses on motivation and meaning at work. He’s a university professor and the author of several books, including cowriting the excellent Option B with Sheryl Sandberg. Get your thumb ready to skip past the adverts, but otherwise it’s well worth adding to your list. Episodes are released in seasons and are around 30 to 45 minutes.
We operate within a broader economic and historical landscape, and our number 6 podcast combines both.
6 - 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy - BBC World Service
To be honest, history and economics were two subjects I wasn’t great at, but Tim Harford combines the two brilliantly. Each week he explores an aspect of our modern economy by focusing on an invention or discovery that changed the path of business and human life. Episodes come in around 10 minutes.
How do you get the best out of your day? That’s where number 5 comes in.
5 - How I Work - Amantha Imber
If you enjoy listening to me each week, then why not add another Australian psychologist to your podcast playlist. Amantha’s podcast is typically interview based, with some shorter tip-based episodes. The focus is on personal productivity - how successful people from a range of backgrounds get the most out of their day. That ranges from musicians to entrepreneurs and even a magician. Interview episodes are around 50 minutes and come out weekly.
Economics doesn’t have to be boring, as the two podcasts at number 4 demonstrate.
4 - Planet Money - NPR AND Freakonomics
Planet Money is one of the podcasts I enjoy the most. A really interesting take on economics presented in an engaging way. The show has fantastic hosts and a great format. Freakonomics builds off the success of the book by the same name. Again, an interesting take on economics. It can be a bit hit and miss, so it’s worth working through the enormous back catalogue to pick out topics of interest. Either are great ways to build your confidence as a leader around economic trends. Planet Money is around 20 minutes, and Freakonomics is around 40 minutes to an hour.
Maybe you need some practical leadership tips. Our two podcasts that tied at number 3 can help you there.
3 - Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast AND Lead to Win with Michael Hyatt
Craig Groeschel is a prominent leadership speaker who is also the founder of a large multi-site church in the US. He presents really practical content that’s equally applicable in business and not for profit settings. If you’re after practical leadership advice, the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast is hard to beat. Another one to check out is Lead to Win. Again, some great practical content, although a little heavy on the self-promotion at times. Both are around 25 minutes.
Keeping up to date with the latest news can be hard, particularly if you want to take a broader view. The two podcasts at number 2 are designed to do exactly that.
2 - The Inquiry - BBC World Service AND Economist Radio - Economist
When it comes to taking a global perspective, it’s hard to beat the BBC and the Economist. The Inquiry is topical and comes out weekly, whereas Economist Radio comes out on weekdays and covers several stories. As leaders it’s challenging to step out of our own organisations and take a truly global context. Either podcast will help you to do that.
It’s fantastic to learn from the experiences of people who have grown successful organisations, which brings us to number one - which is, again, a tie.
1 - How I Built This with Guy Raz AND Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman
You should give both of these podcasts a go. How I Built This provides fascinating background to entrepreneurs and their journeys to build successful businesses. The episode with James Dyson is a great place to start. My only complaint is that they do throw in quite a few reruns into your podcast feed without marking them up as reruns. Masters of Scale is incredibly well produced, drawing together interesting guests into well formulated stories around a theme. Episodes range from about 40 minutes to an hour.
So, as you’re likely to hear on each of the podcasts I’ve recommended, why not help others to find this podcast by providing a rating and review. It does help us to creep up the charts which in turn helps others to find us.
And finally, a couple of pieces of news from Leadership Today. We have just launched the Midweek Motivate. If you already subscribe to the Leadership Today podcast it’s a bonus episode that will turn up in your feed every Wednesday. And if you haven’t subscribed yet, why not just click on the subscribe button now. The goal is to provide one practical tip that you can apply right away to help get over that midweek leadership slump. And our Boost Your Assertiveness three week online course is live. Go to leadership.today to check out a free preview of the first two days of content.