The best leadership books are timeless, tell truths about how to lead that transcend the here and now. Many of the top leadership books likely have yet to be written, while some of the best were written years ago. A solid leadership library should represent a variety of voices and experiences.
The Best Leadership Books:
|"The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers" by Ben Horowitz||4.23 stars from 32,973 ratings||Horowitz draws on his experiences as a leader to illustrate how to solve hard problems not covered in business school.|
|"Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity" by Kim Scott||4.20 stars from 7,379 ratings||Scott illustrates how her experiences at Google and Apple led her to create the Radical Candor approach to leadership.|
|"Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts." by Brené Brown||4.17 stars from 5,401 ratings||Brown asserts that leadership involves understanding and developing the potential in both people and ideas.|
|"The Five Temptations of a CEO: A Leadership Fable" by Patrick Lencioni||4.14 stars from 3,251 ratings||Told via a fable, Lencioni shows that CEOs mostly have themselves to blame when things go wrong.|
|"The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive: The Four Disciplines at the Heart of Making Any Organization World Class" by Patrick Lencioni||4.14 stars from 3,857 ratings||Lencioni delivers another effective leadership fable, this one about a leader's role in overall organizational health.|
|"Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success" by Adam Grant||4.08 stars from 16,528 ratings||Grant illustrates how givers (rather than takers or matchers) can achieve great success in team building and leadership.|
|"The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done" by Peter R. Drucker||4.07 stars from 23,107 ratings||Drucker asserts that the path to leadership lies in doing the "right things" others have overlooked while avoiding time-wasting and unproductive tasks.|
|"Good Leaders Ask Great Questions: Your Foundation for Successful Leadership" by John C. Maxwell||4.06 stars from 1,552 ratings||Leadership expert Maxwell shows how questions can lead to better leadership, then answers 70 questions from leaders across the globe.|
|"Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley" by Emily Chang||4.04 stars fro 2,163 ratings||Chang illustrates how the male-dominated culture in Silicon Valley has made it difficult for women to succeed, then advises how to break the "Silicon Ceiling" once and for all.|
|"The Art of War" by Sun Tzu||3.97 stars from 255,501 ratings||Sun Tzu wrote this book on military strategy 2,500 years ago, and its timeless leadership techniques have been adopted by both the modern military and business leaders worldwide.|
|"Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead" by Sheryl Sandberg||3.95 stars from 182,073 ratings||Facebook COO Sandberg uses her own experiences to show women how to help themselves become successful business leaders.|
|"Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader" by Herminia Ibarra||3.93 stars from 810 ratings||Ibarra asserts that leaders who learn to focus on "outsights" rather than insights will change for the better the way they work and lead.|
|"Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company-And Revolutionized an Industry" by Marc Benioff||3.81 stars from 2,343 ratings||Beniof, CEO of Salesforce, shares what allowed the massive cloud computing sales platform to excel despite industry setbacks.|
Leadership Books FAQs:
What are the best leadership books for new managers?
While most leadership books provide guidance to leaders in every stage of their careers, there are a number of titles specifically written for new leaders. Here are just a few:
- "HBR's 10 Must Reads for New Managers" by The Harvard Business Review.
- "The First-TIme Manager" by Loren B. Belker & Gary S. Topchik.
- "You're in Charge, Now What?" by Thomas J. Neff & James M. Citrin.
- "The First 90 Days" by Michael D. Watkins.
- "Becoming the Boss" by Lindsey Pollak.
What are some of the best leadership books written by CEOs?
CEOs often like to share their stories of success and how they lead their companies. In many cases the best leadership books written by CEOs show that there's not just one road to running an organization, that you can use what makes you different to excel in business. Here are some titles written by extremely successful CEOs:
- "Let My People Go Surfing" by Yvon Chouinard, CEO of Patagonia.
- " #GIRLBOSS" by Sophia Amoruso, CEO of Nasty Gal.
- "Business @ the Speed of Thought" by Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft.
- "The Power of Many" by Meg Whitman, CEO of eBay.
- "What I Know for Sure" by Oprah Winfrey, CEO of Harpo Productions & The Oprah Winfrey Network.
Top Leadership Books for Women:
- "Brotopia" by Emily Chang.
- "A Higher Standard" by Ann Dunwoody.
- "No Excuses" by Gloria Feldt.
- "Radical Candor" by Kim Scott.
- "Beyond the Double Bind" by Kathleen Hall Jamieson.
- "Thinking in Bets" by Annie Duke.
- "Mindset" by Carol S. Dweck.
- "Secrets of Six-Figure Women" by Barbara Stanny.
How many leadership books should I read in a year?
That depends entirely on your schedule, but it's well known that most of today's top CEOs are voracious readers. Bill Gates reportedly reads at least 50 books per year, which is almost one a week; and Warren Buffet prioritizes reading over all other tasks, setting aside time to read 500 pages per day. While adopting a reading schedule like that could be daunting, there are several steps you can take to read more.
Set aside time during the day specifically for reading - maybe the first half hour of each workday as you gear up. Another tactic is to listen to leadership audiobooks during your commute or while you're at the gym. You could also read before bed every night. Develop habits that support reading, and you'll expand your knowledge of how leaders lead.
Are there any good leadership books for teens?
Absolutely. There is no age limit to becoming successful. While it's difficult being a teenager in general - let alone being a leader at a young age - there are a number of leadership books written especially for teenagers. Here are some examples:
- "The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Teens" by Sean Covey.
- "Kidpreneurs” by Adam and Matthew Toren.
- "Young Entrepreneur World" by Sabirul Islam.
- "Start It Up" by Kenrya Rankin Naasel.
- "kidCEO" by Jennifer J. Hobson Gormer.
Top Military Leadership Books:
- "Extreme Ownership" by Jocko Willink.
- "Team of Teams" by Stanley McChrystal.
- "The Way of the SEAL" by Mark Divine.
- "The Art Of War" by Sun Tzu.
- "Turn the Ship Around!" by L. David Marquet.
- "19 Stars" by Edgar Puryear.