Do you think that you have to be born a great leader? Think again. You can learn how to become an effective and successful leader with these compelling books. Get reading to bring your leadership skills up to date and get results!
Top 5 Leadership Books for Beginners
Dive into your leadership journey and maximize your skills with these top picks for new leaders.
1. The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential by John C. Maxwell
Maxwell is widely considered the guru of the leadership world. The 5 Levels of Leadership outlines each level a leader must establish and optimize. A highly motivating and practical book, this is considered recommended reading for all aspiring leaders.
2. The Ordinary Leader: 10 Key Insights for Building and Leading a Thriving Organization by Randy Grieser
Not all leaders are in control of huge corporations or big businesses. This book focuses on strategies suitable for small and medium-sized companies. Leaders are found in every sector and manage a major portion of the world’s workforce. Follow these 10 insights to develop your team.
3. On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis
Bennis popularized the belief that leaders are made, not born. This book offers essential insights for anyone starting out on the path of leadership. Bennis guides you to develop your self-knowledge with authenticity. He describes the 10 essential qualities that are required of all great leaders.
4. Learning to Lead: The Journey to Leading Yourself, Leading Others, and Leading an Organization by Ron Williams with Karl Weber
This book delivers practical and tested advice you can apply at any stage of your leadership journey. This honest and highly readable account details Williams’s personal story as an executive. It encourages those new to the business world to focus on personal integrity to help you rise gracefully to the position of CEO.
5. Developing the Leader Within You 2.0 by John C. Maxwell
A classic amongst the leadership genre, this updated version further clarifies the need to develop your personal vision and value. Maxwell explains that developing the leader within is critical before one can lead an organization. Focusing on the true heart of leadership, this book includes personal development advice to grow yourself and your organization.
Books on Self-Leadership
Work on transforming yourself before you can transform others.
6. The Truth About Leadership: The No Fads, Heart-of-the Matter Facts You Need to Know by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner
Discover the fundamental truths of leadership that apply to all leaders. Using decades of research they define the 10 essential laws of successful leadership. Leaders need to believe in themselves, understand their motivations and strive to continually learn. Find out how to unearth your individual qualities and refine your attributes to make a positive difference.
7. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
Brown provides 10 guideposts to overcome unattainable expectations that can prevent great leadership. With a focus on authenticity and living your truth, this includes plenty of takeaways to apply to your life. This will transform the way you view your interactions, place your emphasis on self-worth, and discover your unique value.
8. Immunity to Change: How to Overcome it and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey
Change can feel uncomfortable and difficult but is a necessity of life and growth. This book provides powerful techniques to discover your potential and overcome your natural resistance to change. By investigating your limiting beliefs, you can move beyond assumptions that prevent growth.
Leadership Books on Leading a Team
Getting the best out of your team can drive your business to greater things. These books can help.
9. Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization by Dave Logan, John King, Halee Fischer-Wright
Each organization is comprised of a few to a few hundred tribes. Tribal Leadership shows you how to identify these tribes and use them for maximum effectiveness. By understanding the unique nature of each tribe, leaders can effectively increase productivity. Knowing how team dynamics work can drive development and transform the culture of your organization.
10. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni
An instructive leadership fable detailing the five common stumbling blocks all teams face. Lencioni provides practical steps enabling leaders to navigate challenges and create cooperative teams. The exercises are easy to implement and will improve any team experiencing difficulties.
11. Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin
Godin believes we can belong to many tribes and move in and out of these over time. Leaders need to be confident and driven to reach out and lead their tribe. A useful book if you are looking to lead a community, business or movement.
Leadership Books on Leading Organizations for CEOs
A useful selection to help CEOs radically transform their organizations.
12. The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations by James Kouzes and Barry Posner
Learn how to become a great leader by understanding interpersonal dynamics. Drive your company to the next level by inspiring others to work towards a common goal. The five practices of exemplary leadership provide a clear roadmap to achieve success. Focus on your current strategies and learn how to improve and adapt them.
13. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek
Leaders Eat Last focuses on the team, rather than the leader. It recognizes that both external and internal dangers can confront leaders. Sinek describes how creating a circle of safety can minimize these dangers. Discover how to create a work environment where people feel inspired and happy.
14. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose by Tony Hsieh
Applying the science of happiness to the business world, Hsieh describes how an organization can create a great company culture and customer satisfaction. Learn valuable lessons about setting up and leading a successful business. This is a practical and readable account with plenty of actionable advice.
Leadership Books on Leading Organizations for Entrepreneurs
Create winning organizations by improving your entrepreneur leadership.
15. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
Horowitz is an experienced Silicon Valley entrepreneur. This is an open and honest account of the difficulties of establishing and running a business. It provides clear advice for business leaders on overcoming difficult experiences encountered on the way to the top.
16. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry, Jean Greaves, Patrick Lencioni
A developed emotional intelligence (EQ) is crucial for success. The ability to nurture solid relationships is a critical skill to master. Through recognizing your own feelings and those of others, you can advance your company and create success. Increasing your EQ improves both your self-management and the leadership of others.
17. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
A classic book drawing with a wealth of useful advice about creating meaningful relationships that last. Become the best you can be by developing your understanding of human relations. Carnegie concisely sums up easy to internalize principles of human interaction.
Leadership Books for Young Leaders
It’s never too early to start learning how to lead. These books will put you on the path to greatness.
18. Managing Up: How To Forge an Effective Relationship With Those Above You by Rossane Badowski
This book appears to be aimed at those who aren’t in leadership positions. However, it is a great primer to aid every aspiring young leader in their journey to the top. Understanding how to influence and motivate others is a key skill that can be honed with practice. Focus on relationships and climb the corporate ladder with confidence.
19. What Philosophy Can Teach You About Being a Better Leader by Alison Reynolds, Dominic Houlder, Jules Goddard and David Lewis
Using philosophical thinkers, this book outlines an alternative to the traditional hierarchical leadership structure. Indispensable for future leaders, this will encourage you to reflect on your purpose. It focuses on treating team members as individuals to generate the best results and satisfaction.
20. Great Leaders Have No Rules: Contrarian Leadership Principles to Transform Your Team and Business by Kevin Kruse
Kruse provides actionable techniques which turn the traditional idea of running a business on its head. Offering an alternative approach to widely held ‘rules’ of business, he maintains that rules are there to be broken. The primary focus of leadership should be on the people who make up the team. Kruse inspires you to believe everyone is a leader in their own right.
Leadership Books for Women
Tap into your unique inner resources and transform the way you lead.
21. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
Drawing on personal experience in the business world, Sandberg inspires women to focus on what changes could improve their leadership. This book is a great tool in helping you develop the confidence and empowerment to be proactive in business.
22. In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice From Over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs by Grace Bonney
This is a collection of interviews with women from a wide range of disciplines. This book will inspire you to follow your passions, achieve your business dreams and feel empowered. This book provides plenty of advice to women running companies and explains how they can lead them to success.
23. She Thinks Like a Boss : Leadership: 9 Essential Skills for New Female Leaders in Business and the Workplace by Jemma Roedel
Roedel encourages you to step into your leadership role with confidence and command respect. Particularly useful for those new to leadership or women struggling with their leadership roles. This includes practical tips to help you master negotiation, develop communication, and overcome your fears.
Leadership Books for Introverts
From Abraham Lincoln to Mark Zukerberg, introverted leaders can excel in the political and business world.
24. The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength by Jennifer Kahnweiler
In the extroverted world of leadership, the strengths of introversion are often overlooked. Kahnweiler, with the use of hundreds of examples, shows how introverts can quietly succeed in the workplace. This book will help you to step out of your comfort zone and become an inspirational leader with actionable steps.
25. The Introvert Entrepreneur by Beth Buelow
Introverts work differently. Buelow explains how introverts can utilize their strengths and overcome their weaknesses to reach entrepreneurial success. You will gain valuable insights into how the introverted approach can be an asset to the business world. Discover solutions to common introvert problems such as networking and align with your values.
26. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Cain explains that the qualities associated with introversion aren’t negative. This book reveals the secret powers of introverts and how they can cope in an extroverted world. This is essential reading for leaders who want to get the best out of their team and develop the skills of all members of the workplace.
Leadership Books on Political Leadership
The political arena demands compelling and assertive leaders. Navigate your way through difficult times with these books.
27. Leadership In Turbulent Times: Lessons From the Presidents by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Drawing on the experiences of four presidents, Goodwin’s study focuses on their different paths to leadership. It features the influential lives of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson. You will reflect on your own qualities as you read about their different styles of leadership.
28. The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy by Michael Lewis
Lewis opens up the world of US government agencies and administration with insight and intrigue. The book presents important lessons in an engaging and readable way. It offers a bleak view of what could happen if these federal agencies continue to be unappreciated. This book inspires you to value all members of your team to encourage success.
29. The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political Leadership in the Modern Age by Archie Brown
A book to challenge your preconceptions of what makes a successful leader. This is a thorough exploration of political leaders in different regimes. Discover how collective and collaborative styles of leadership may in fact be stronger than traditional authoritarian styles.
Trending Leadership Books
These popular books can teach you a thing or two about making your way in the world.
30. Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
In order for leaders to inspire others, they need to have a clear idea of their ‘why’. Often it is easier to understand what your role is instead of why you are doing it. This book will guide you in developing your understanding of your why. It teaches you how to communicate it to others to create team loyalty and grow your company.
31. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts by Brené Brown
In this book, Brown draws attention to the mental blocks that can be experienced as a leader. This includes fears surrounding conflict and feelings of vulnerability. By redefining these as strengths, she teaches valuable strategies to combat and overcome your perceived weaknesses.
32. The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger
Following the journey of the former CEO of Disney, you will discover how he built up his teams and the decision-making processes he used. Iger explores the four principles needed for effective leadership. These are courage, decisiveness, fairness, and optimism. This book covers the importance of emotional intelligence in business.
Leadership Books to Change Your Perspective
Sometimes an alternative viewpoint can help push through blocks. These books present a different perspective on leadership.
33. The Weekly Coaching Conversation: A Business Fable About Taking Your Team’s Performance – and Your Career – to the Next Level by Brian Souza
By defining the leader as a coach, Souza invites leaders to transform their view of the leadership role. The task becomes focused on the team rather than the individual. This book helps your team to realize and fulfill their potential by applying a coaching framework. The techniques are easy to apply and result in improving the talents and performance of your team.
34. The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership by James C. Hunter
This captivating book teaches a simple truth of leadership through an anecdotal account. A successful leader is one who rules with authority rather than power. By focusing on nurturing caring and respectful relationships, becoming a servant leader to your team will yield results. This is a simple introduction to the principles and application of servant leadership.
35. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink
Great leaders need to understand people. They need to be aware of what motivates others to act. The author of this book explains how a sense of purpose and autonomy motivates people more than punishment or reward. Learn how to engage your team by prioritizing autonomy to develop a passion for the organization.
Best Leadership Books
These classics are guaranteed to provide valuable insights into the field of leadership.
36. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t by Jim Collins
Based on extensive research, this business book outlines why some companies remain good, while others reach greatness. Packed with insights that can be applied to any business, this classic text will teach you how to leap from good to great. Collins explores the 5 levels of leadership and how to improve to reach the next level. He states that great leaders are level 5 leaders, who exhibit humility and portray a lack of ego.
37. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
The basic principle of this book is that everything is your fault. The good and the bad. If you perceive your team to be at fault, then it is because you haven’t led them effectively. This enlightening book shows you that by accepting full responsibility, you are in a position of power and accountability.
38. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
A classic in the world of self-development, this book is an international bestseller. Covey’s book outlines powerful strategies to increase productivity in the personal and professional world. Applying this wisdom will change your life from the inside out. It includes very relatable principles that once adopted, can create positive results.
What books do great leaders read?
Great leaders understand the value of learning from others. Most CEOs read around 4 books a month. Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates all attribute their success to their reading habits. Books about human relationships and biographies of successful people rank highly.
What are the best-selling leadership books?
Some of the best-selling leadership books include The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, Start With Why by Simon Sinek, and On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis. For more details about these books, refer to the descriptions given above.
What leadership books are the most quoted?
The most quoted books are those written by gurus of the leadership world. This includes John C. Maxwell, Warren Bennis, Dale Carnegie, and Stephen S. Covey. These books are great resources for quotable leadership lessons.
How can you get the most value from leadership books?
Apply the advice given to real-life situations and reflect on your results. To further develop your knowledge, search for relevant TED talks and subscribe to popular leadership YouTube channels.
Being in the position of a leader is very different from leading effectively. The books in this article will inspire you to take action, confidently manage people and achieve your business goals. Start reading, apply the techniques and go from a good leader to a great leader.