20 Best Books On Leadership
Leadership is a topic covered in a wide variety of literature. Harvard Business Review mentions that many business leaders consider reading to be among their most valued traits as leaders. What better way to find out how to be a reader by reading about leaders? Here are twenty of the best books penned on leadership.
1. Steve Jobs – Author: Walter Isaacson
This book was written to be the definitive exploration of the life of Jobs, one of the founders of Apple. It’s also the only authorized telling of Steve Jobs’ life, written with the consent of the man himself.
2. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action- Author: Simon Sinek
Written to help others do work which they are inspired by, Start with Why uses practical examples of leaders from the past and present. By showing how they communicate and fulfill their goals, the aim is to help the reader do the same in the fields which captivate their own interest.
3. The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political Leadership in the Modern Age -Author: Archie Brown
On reviewing this book, Bill Gates mentioned that it was different from what one expects from the exploration of a political leader’s life. Instead of a chronology of the rise and fall of Adolfo Suarez, it explores what traits he demonstrated that are common to great leaders.
4. Limitless: Leadership That Endures – Author: Ajaz Ahmed
The title is descriptive of the topic the book explores. Certain traits transcend boundaries and exist in all leaders across the annals of history, one of which is the ability to derive new and unconventional ideas. Limitless celebrates thinking outside the box that continues to inspire even after the originator has long passed on.
5. High Output Management – Author: Andrew S. Grove
Even though this book was published in its original form in 1983, the lessons that Grove offers to managers are evergreen and can even be applied today to leaders in all walks of business. This book focuses on managers, specifically middle-managers, that are typically overlooked in other leadership books.
6. If I Could Tell You Just One Thing – Author: Richard Reed
Forbes mentions Reed stating in his introduction that a single good piece of advice can change a person’s entire life. Reed’s success was built on picking up advice from others, and this book explores that principle, covering bits of advice he got from people he met and admired.
7. Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box – Author: The Arbinger Institute
Most of a leader’s problems can be traced back to acting in a way that goes against what he or she understands as true. The authors explore how breaking out of the pattern of self-deception can be useful and profitable for leaders.
8. Reinventing Organizations – Author: Frederic Laloux
Using an innovative color scheme to describe organization styles, Laloux explores how all types of business organizations function. The author aims to show that society has gotten to the point where “Teal” organizations (i.e., organizations that are evolutionary and adaptive) are the ideal method of organizing a business, and how companies can restructure along those lines.
9. Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization – Authors: Dave Logan, John King, Halee Fischer-Wright
Human society evolved from tribes, but as the authors of this book demonstrate, we haven’t moved too far past tribal grouping in our workplaces. Logan, King, and Fischer-Wright explore the formation of these tribes and the most effective way to lead them.
10. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers – Author: Ben Horowitz
Entrepreneurs are well aware that no easy answers exist for much of the questions that their business asks of them. The book is a humorous examination of Horowitz’s exploits, using anecdotes from his own life to demonstrate how leaders should deal with some of the more difficult questions that may arise in business.
11. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win – Authors: Jocko Willink, Leif Babin
More akin to a thriller from Fredrick Forsyth than a book on leaders, this title looks at the struggles of the authors and their own Navy SEAL team trying to recapture the city of Ramadi. Drawing on their experience in the field, the authors show how it can be applied to business and demonstrate how leadership is the most important asset to success.
12. Principles: Life and Work – Author: Ray Dalio
Wouldn’t it be nice if someone wrote a handbook for the unspoken rules of success? Here, Dalio tries to do just that, outlining the rules he applies to both his work and life. At its heart, it asks the reader to question every decision they make but do so in a way that they understand why they’re doing what they do.
13. The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership – Authors: Bill Walsh, Steve Jamison, Craig Walsh
Before Bill Walsh died, he granted a series of interviews to Steve Jamison which appear in all their glory here, outlining the NFL coach’s tips on leadership. Walsh’s insights are supplemented by notable figures such as quarterback Joe Montana, and the coach’s own son, Craig.
14. Dune – Author: Frank Herbert
Dune is a literary landmark, a single title that many have read and drawn inspiration from. Nestled amongst its explorations of the fantastical world of Arrakis with its towering sand-worms and cunning politicians, Dune’s message shows how leadership is more than just about wielding power. Instead, it’s about HOW one uses that power.
15. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap, and Others Don’t – Author: Jim Collins
Collins seeks to explore the “secret sauce” that causes the companies that leap into greatness to do so. By exploring a data set spanning five years and eleven companies, Collins and his team pinpoint several factors that are similar across all of those great companies.
16. Rising to Power: The Journey of Exceptional Executives – Authors: Ron A. Carucci, Eric C. Hansen
Built as a guide to executives on the path to prominence, the book is an instructional manual to those who are promoted and don’t want to screw it up. It offers insights that seem obvious to the reader until they realize how critical some of the information presented is to the long-term success of the ambitious professional.
17. Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization – Author: John Wooden
This title explores John Wooden’s 41 years of leadership as a coach and focuses on something he terms his Pyramid of Success. It fleshes out twelve lessons that he encourages readers to take note of and build into their everyday lives to achieve their goals, both short and long term.
18. Monday Morning Leadership: 8 Mentoring Sessions You Can’t Afford to Miss – Author: David Cottrell
Most people hate Monday mornings, but not David Cottrell. The book is based on the premise of a manager and his mentor having heart-to-heart discussions on Monday mornings, imparting useful information that is actionable and applicable to everyone’s life. The story is rich, and the advice is useful, making it a wonderful read on the topic of leadership.
19. The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential – Author: John C. Maxwell
Maxwell is no newcomer to the field of leadership advice, and this book follows his good form in the industry. Offering in-depth examples mixed in with a bit of humor, the book establishes the levels of leadership and delves into how they differ and how an individual can seek to master each successive state.
20. The Ordinary Leader: 10 Key Insights for Building and Leading a Thriving Organization – Author: Randy Grieser
According to author Randy Greiser, the ordinary leader is the perpetual every man, leading a small organization but making big things happen. Greiser explores ten insights that these ordinary leaders should understand to create extraordinary results.
These books are simply a broad cross-section of the myriad available on the topic of leadership. While these provide some of the best information in an easily consumable form, other books on the subject delve more deeply into what makes great leaders or great enterprises. These books are a fantastic start for leaders wanting to start expanding their ideas on leadership and learning new tactics to put into practice in their everyday lives.