9 Leadership Books That Every Leader Needs to Read

Looking to improve your leadership game, but don’t have the time or funds for an expensive seminar? Thankfully, there are plenty of leadership books to read by talented, experienced authors who can give you some great tips on how to become a better leader.

These books written by authors with unique backgrounds walk you through a variety of approaches, techniques, and philosophies to help you find the leadership style that’s right for you. Leadership takes many different forms, and what works for one CEO may not work for a different team manager.

Let’s take a look at some of these business books that have the power to make you a great leader.

Leadership Books You Should Read

Dare to Lead

Dr. Casandra Brené Brown is a well-known research professor who studies human relationships and psychology. She’s produced a variety of well-read works and even has her own TEDTalk.

In her book Dare to Lead, she talks about how status is not important when it comes to leadership. The most important element of leadership is courage. She implores leaders to rise up with vulnerability, resilience, trust, and bravery in order to lead from whatever level they work from.

It takes bravery to admit failures, do the work no one wants to do, be straightforward and candid with your teammates, and be vulnerable about when you need help. Pick two values you will never abandon and let those guide you through the tough stuff. Throughout the book, Brown dispels the myth that vulnerability and courage cannot coexist.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Author Patrick Lencioni draws from his experience as a businessman who has written for the Harvard Business Review, Fortune, and The Wall Street Journal.

He believes that leadership is more about the success of the team than the autonomy and power of those in charge. A good leader’s job is to help each member of the team achieve at their highest level through what he calls “productive conflict” and the value of trust. Lencioni goes through example situations and shows the reader how to handle problems with grace.

If you like having a more hands-on learning experience, he offers quizzes following each chapter, giving you the chance to grade yourself on what you’ve learned.

The Power of a Graceful Leader

Some people divorce who they are at home from who they are in the office. People have a division between who they are as a family member and who they are in their company, and the space between them is “the inner voice.” This inner voice is crying out to tell you that there is a more effective way to lead.

Alexsys Thompson believes that leadership styles should not be separate from who you are as a person.

Thompson writes that you should take the integral parts of yourself and make them a part of your leadership style. In doing so, you will make more effective choices, create more lasting relationships, and feel joy as a leader. Taking the personal to professional will give you a more gratifying experience in your leadership role.

Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity

Author Kim Scott worked as a leader in powerful companies like Google and Apple. She taught a management course during her time at Apple. She left to create her own company that creates executive education, helping businesses integrate the techniques from Radical Candor into their companies.

The foundation of Radical Candor is rooted in the idea that as a leader, you have more options than being a pushover or a jerk.

As a leader, you must avoid the pitfalls that Scott outlines, such as:

  • Obnoxious Aggression
  • Manipulative Insincerity
  • Ruinous Empathy

Scott insists that you can be a compassionate leader while still being straightforward. You do not need to be harsh to speak openly and honestly. A leader working under Scott’s techniques will fulfill the three roles of a leader:

  1. Creating a culture of “compassionate candor”
  2. Building a cohesive team
  3. Reaching success through collaboration

Woke Leadership

Priscilla H. Douglas uses her experience in working with inspiring leaders over her 30 years of consulting C-suite executives.

She believes that “woke” leaders are the ones that will lead their companies into the future. They understand that both consciousness and compassion are integral to proper leadership. These leaders believe in the “all in” equity economy and are adept at noticing success and shortcomings in their team, appreciating members of the team that go above and beyond, internalizing when someone from their team talks with them, and acting on what they think will be the best for the group as a whole.

Leading with purpose and passion will bring your team to success.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Sheryl Sandberg decided to write Lean In after her 2010 TEDTalk. People who watched her talk started to share their own experiences of trials and successes with her, inspiring her to write the book. She writes about her own experiences and uses research to illuminate the disparity between genders, highlighting the need for equality.

She then gives advice to the women reading her book about how they can reach their own success.

The book is meant to be an inspiration for women, emphasizing that women are capable, accomplished, and when they work together, can create a more equal world.

Leaders Eat Last

Simon Senek believes his mission in life is inspiring others with his optimism. In the past, he’s advised foreign ambassadors and United States politicians, two professions that could certainly benefit from “bright-eyed optimism.”

His book Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t comes after his bestseller Start With Why. In his new book, he outlines how a leader should be willing to sacrifice their comforts if it means the betterment of the whole team. Instead of leading from a place of superiority, they should instead lead by example and be willing to give up what makes them comfortable to do the hard jobs on behalf of the team.

There’s an additional chapter at the end of the book that gives information on how best to lead a team of millennials. If you’re someone who has a generational gap between you and your team members, this might just be the best book for you.

Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader

Herminia Ibarra pushes against the popular techniques of leadership evaluation by inverting the idea of introspection and changing your mindset. Instead of changing your thinking, you need to change your actions.

Ibarra bases this idea on the philosophy of Aristotle; he said that in order to become virtuous, you had to act virtuously. Thinking virtuously does not change you.

Instead of reflecting on who you are currently, start acting the way you aspire to act. By living out the principles you want to incorporate into your leadership, you will change your mindset, instead of the other way around. By choosing to act, you incorporate the changes you make into your authentic self.

Turn That Ship Around

This book takes a completely different approach from the others, because it’s by a very different author. Former Navy captain David Marquet writes about his experience as an officer and how he needed to completely adjust his views on leadership in order to turn his team around.

When he gave his crew an impossible order, they followed it blindly, simply because he told them to. When this happened, Marquet realized that the model of one leader against sheep-like followers was a dangerous situation.

By rejecting his instinct to take control, Marquet taught each of the crew members to be leaders of their own universe, empowering each person to take extreme ownership at every level. This tactic changed the way the crew operated, and because of this adjustment, a significant percentage of his offers were chosen as commanders.

Leadership Books

Now Start Reading Leadership Books!

Continuing your education on how to consistently improve yourself as a business woman will take you from good to great in whatever industry you work for. The businesses we consider great companies are the ones challenging the status quo and choosing to adopt new strategies that are proven as highly effective.

Do you have any inspirational books on leadership that have helped you become a better leader? Share them in the comments!

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Author, Artist, Photographer.

Sarah Margaret is an artist who expresses her love for feminism, equality, and justice through a variety of mediums: photography, filmmaking, poetry, illustration, song, acting, and of course, writing.

She owns Still Poetry Photography, a company that showcases her passion for capturing poetic moments in time. Instead of poetry in motion, she captures visual poetry in fractions of a second, making cherished keepsakes of unforgettable moments.

She is the artist behind the Still Poetry Etsy shop, which houses her illustrations and bespoke, handmade items. She is the author of intricacies are just cracks in the wall, a narrative poetry anthology that follows a young woman discovering herself as she emerges from an abusive relationship.