17 Best Leadership Books Every Leader Must Read

Best Leadership Books

 Even the most talented managers can learn something new. Self-improvement is a journey of discovery that can help you manage your teams more effectively.

Reading is a highly valuable learning process any leader can do. Through reading, you’ll learn:

  • how to understand others,
  • make better decisions,
  • see from a new perspective,
  • and improve yourself from the experience of others.

No matter where you’re on your leadership journey, there’s always something to learn! And there are usually books that can help you.

Here are some of the most high-recommended leadership books that are a great place to start.

Discover Your True North

By Bill George

Having a good cause and a strong internal motivation is not enough to create leadership where none exists already. However, this book details how you can use your passion and authentic values to become a leader people will want to follow.

This book details an effective process to help you develop a highly productive leadership style. By the end, you will have learned:

  • your driving motivations
  • how to define your core values
  • how to build a team of supporting people around you
  • and what it takes to lead others in today’s world.

Crucial Conversations

By Kerry Patterson, Ron McMillan, Joseph Grenny, and Al Switzler

Communication is an essential skill for any leader. It becomes especially important in difficult conversations when stakes are high.

This book is a fantastic resource to teach you how to be prepared for high-stakes conversations. Using a six-minute mastery technique, you will learn how to prepare for high-impact situations.

The writer details how you can be more persuasive and not abrasive. The technique used is through better listening, especially when those you’re working with are blowing up or not talking.

Finally, you will learn the skills that allow you to convert crucial conversions into action plans that get results.

Beyond the Wall of Resistance

By Rick Maurer

Change is a constant part of business. But resistance to change can cause 80% of projects to fail. As a good leader, you need to learn to manage, adapt to, and lead change. If you’re finding there is resistance to the changes going on in your organization, this book can support your projects.

You’ll get practical, actionable advice on rallying your team around valuable changes. Techniques you will learn to include how to communicate and persuade others to see the value in it. The book doesn’t just cover resistance from employees either. You will learn about getting less resistance from suppliers, customers, other team leaders, and others.

Lessons are taught with the author’s experience and case studies. You can also learn from the latest change management studies that can be used across industries and corporate structures.

Conscious Business

By Fred Kofman

How do you embed responsibility and values into your organization? This is the topic addressed in Kofman’s book. The focus is on building integrity and authenticity into every aspect of your business, from top to bottom.

With the growing expectation of responsibly run businesses, leaders cannot afford to skip this read. It’s a well-thought-out, useful guide to help you actively promote the values you want in your team, department, or business as a whole.

The book includes sections that allow you to promote the pursuit of happiness in a sustainable method that can support growth and happier employees. With higher levels of employee dignity, you can expect better performance from your teams.

Dealing with Darwin

By Geoffrey Moore

Many businesses thrive in their early years. However, market change is a constant and many businesses don’t grow once they’re out of those early stages. This is often because change is happening in all industries at a phenomenal rate.

So how do you, as a leader, ensure you can keep up? This book teaches you more about evolving your business for the next stage of its existence.

Through the teachings of the author, you will learn how to better communicate with your team. Then you can lead your team to be more agile by being more flexible and competitive against threats.

On Becoming a Leader

By Warren Bennis

Leaders are not born, they’re made. This is the central belief of leadership expert Warren Bennis. This book collects his years of experience and teachings in a central masterpiece. You will learn what qualities and attributes define a leader and how you can adopt those same traits.

Whether you’re a new or experienced leader there are high-impact skills that you can learn in this book.

Many of the best leaders in the world have read and implemented the teachings that are included in this book. And in today’s modern and turbulent world, the lessons and insights are a must to get the most from your organization and the team who help you run it.

Excellence Wins

By Horst Schulze

As co-founder of the Ritz-Carlton brand, Schulze has incredible insight into what it takes to lead a successful business through many different challenges. His approach is to build excellence in every area of your brand, starting from the top.

From this book, you’ll get a look into the principles that pushed Schulze to the top. Learn about leadership as an acquired skill, true customer focus, and building a solid culture of excellence in your business, no matter what industry you’re in.

Excellence Wins is a great story from the lessons learned through Schulze’s own experiences in managing and building a strong brand.

Good to Great

By Jim Collins

What is the main difference between exponentially successful businesses and others? That’s the question that guides Collins’ book Good to Great. After five years of extensive study, he writes about the difference between good companies and great ones. Through examples and case studies, you can learn the unifying factors that great companies share.

The concepts in this book are aimed at making you jump from ‘good enough’ to so much better. As a leader, these ideas can help you shape your company from the inside out. There are vital lessons and examples that you can implement immediately and skills you will learn that will last a lifetime.

Primal Leadership

By Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee

Did you know that studies have shown there’s a strong connection between emotional intelligence and leadership qualities? Utilizing emotional intelligence you can build a more cohesive team that is more effective and productive.

Originally published as a short article in the Harvard Business Review, the authors of this book decided to expound on their research. They will give you more context and help explain how you can apply the lessons to your organization.

The research in this book is highly rated, and the researchers did a great job at making it relevant for leaders and managers today. This is actionable information that you can use to better yourself today.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

By Stephen R. Covey

Covey’s book comes highly recommended by successful people around the world. It gives a grounded look at the principles that guide highly effective living. The strong focus of the book is living an authentic life, centered around preserving human dignity.

These principles are exceptionally helpful for leaders in every industry. With the emphasis people place on integrity and authenticity in leadership, this book will be a helpful guide for anyone who wants to be in a position to lead others.

While the book is over 30-years old, the messages that it delivers are just as important today as they were when the book was first published.

The Leadership Challenge

By James Kouzes and Barry Posner

Built on a foundation of solid research, this book is like the holy grail of leadership advice for anyone looking to up their game and become a more effective leader. The focus of the book is largely on tackling huge challenges that leaders come across in business today.

With more than 100 case studies to learn from, it’s a helpful learning resource for people at all points in their leadership journey. One of the fundamental beliefs the authors share is that leadership is learned, and this book goes a long way to proving that point.

To help you learn there are practical tools, worksheets, and a systemic approach to benefit your journey.

Start with Why

By Simon Sinek

Giving people a reason why can increase compliance by 50%. And this is the lesson that Simon Sinek provides in his inspirational book. Through this book, the motivational speaker teaches you how to lead a team towards your vision without forcing them to follow you.

Adding to your persuasive skills will improve your effectiveness as a leader. You will dig deeper into your motivations and contagious passions and give you the power to get others to commit to your success.

Whether you’re leading a small team in a large multinational business or starting a small business, there are skills you can utilize with ease.

First, Break All the Rules

By Marcus Buckingham

Following the rules isn’t always the path to success. Buckingham gives an in-depth look at a long-term Gallup study that details the habits, actions, and unique differentiators that set top-performing managers apart from others.

If you want to learn how the most successful managers encourage the best performance from their teams, this book will help you get an inside look at what they have in common. It’s full of great insights that can help you learn to mimic the success of some of the greatest business leaders today.

Some of the examples included within the book are from the biggest corporations in the world. Others are leading entrepreneurs in small, but highly successful businesses. Therefore, the differentiators that are mentioned in this book are valuable to all.

Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

By Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan

What does it take to get things done in the modern world? This book focuses on the shift in how work is done, with an emphasis on the importance of breaking away from outdated expectations and embracing radical change. The book focuses on the three core elements of any business: people, strategy, and operations.

Great leaders are often known for their ability to make things happen, even in challenging environments. Find out the secrets to becoming a more effective doer and leading yourself and your team to success in a constantly shifting marketplace.

The book utilizes the best case studies from the business world. This includes the diverging paths that were used by innovative business leaders like Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan. By the end, you should create a brand that is enhanced and succeeds with realism, dialogue, and intellectual honesty.

Dare to Lead

By Brené Brown

Brown argues that leadership is not about the title or the position you hold. Instead, leadership is about how you take responsibility for getting things done, developing others, and inspiring your team to achieve goals.

Dare to Lead gives a new take on what it means to be a leader and how you can harness your uncertainty to lead with greater authenticity.

If you’re ready not to shy away from the challenges when there are easier options, then this is a book that you certainly learn from ease. And with the lessons learned, you can improve your business and team’s performance.

Learning to Lead

By Ron Williams and Karl Weber

Take a journey through the process of learning to lead, starting from the beginning. This book follows a natural progression of how you can become an inspirational leader. You start by learning how to lead yourself and then learn how to adapt skills to lead others. Finally, the book ends in teaching you how to lead organizations.

If you’re looking for a way to harness the leadership abilities within yourself to grow your skills, this is a useful read.

The book includes a range of lessons including how-to:

  • improve the focus on your own career.
  • avoid the common professional pitfalls, wrong turns, and wasted efforts.
  • build an effective team and lead them.
  • effectively resolve interpersonal challenges and inevitable conflicts.
  • create and maintain your leadership voice and master the right communications.
  • communicate a vision to a team and lead an organization to deliver on that vision.


By John C. Maxwell

A singular success isn’t enough to carry someone through their entire career. If you don’t grow and change throughout your team leading others, it’s difficult to build the kind of success you’re looking for in the long run.

Maxwell has had a long career in leadership. This book shares his experience along with case studies from other great leaders. The main theme of the book follows Maxwell as he details 11 fundamental shifts he went through during this career and how they transformed his leadership style over time.

Some of the shifts that you will learn include adapting from plan A to option A and ladder climbing to ladder building. Each shift in this book has specific support and guidance to help you implement these shifts in your own career.


Leadership is a skill that can be learned through reading leadership books, listening to leadership quotes, and practicing those skills in real life. Good leaders never stop learning. Put these books on your must-read list to help grow your leadership skills and invest in your future.

About the Contributor

17 Best Leadership Books Every Leader Must Read 1

Georgi Todorov is the founder of ThriveMyWay, a place for online entrepreneurs, bloggers, SEO specialists, and freelancers to find success in their own way.

LinkedIn: Georgi Todorov
Twitter: @GeorgiTodorovBG


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