Leadership can be one of the most important skills to have in business, and it’s also one of the hardest to master. But by reading the best books on leadership, it becomes easy.
This makes it vital that you arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible on the subject, which is why we’ve put together this list of the top 10 leadership books according to experts.
Whether you’re looking to start your own business or simply hoping to add leadership skills to your resume, these books can help you better understand the world of leadership and how to build an effective organization.
What are The Best Books on Leadership?
1. Becoming A Servant Leader by Robert K. Greenleaf
If you want to be an inspiring leader in any capacity, look no further than Robert K. Greenleaf’s classic from 1970.
Serving as a core text for business-school leadership classes today, it outlines four aspects of what makes leaders effective: caring about others; creating a vision that inspires others; knowing when and how to follow through; and mastering yourself so you don’t negatively impact your team or organization with your shortcomings.
This book will make you realize that leadership is hard work and no one can do it alone—and a good leader always keeps his or her team members in mind.
Servant leadership is an example of what is best in human nature. It makes possible appealing work relationships based on mutual trust and personal integrity.
Servant leaders are personally humble and radiate infectious respect for others. In their presence, you feel better about yourself and your life.— John Mackey, co-founder, and CEO of Whole Foods Market
2. First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman
This book emphasizes that in order to be an effective leader, one must first understand his or her own style. So before you try to lead others, it’s important for you first to know what your personal leadership strengths and weaknesses are.
This is especially true for leaders who work within a specific industry; one must tailor their leadership style based on those they’re leading.
For example, people working in a highly-regulated industry will want to place more emphasis on certain aspects of their role than other leaders would.
First Break All The Rules highlights these nuances and shows how each of us can effectively lead while taking into account our individual strengths and weaknesses.
Here’s a quote from Marcus Buckingham that nicely summarizes this point: Your job as a leader isn’t to take all those unique personalities and squash them into some sort of bland vanilla box—it’s to get them all together and let them create something wonderful that wouldn’t exist if you just brought out a template.
You want them all playing away happily in different corners, then call everybody over and shout Look at what we made!. If someone tried to tell me I had to do things exactly as they told me without fail every single time I would do everything I could not to do it. That’s not human nature.
3. If You Have To Cry Go Outside by Kelly Cutrone
This book is aptly named. Sometimes you’ve just got to let it all out; crying at work can be cathartic. If you need to do that, make sure you do it somewhere private (or near a bathroom).
As personal development coach Kelly Cutrone says: What are people going to think? I don’t care! Because if they had been in your shoes, they would have done exactly what you did. It’s not your fault and it never was. It might feel like that in that moment, but believe me when I tell you it isn’t true.
Take some time off, go for a walk or sit down with someone close to you. Find your quiet place and release whatever needs releasing. Try also not to dwell too much on why you are feeling so emotional—you will get there eventually, hopefully, sooner than later.
If You Have To Cry Go Outside reminds us that we must accept our emotions as natural and essential parts of being human rather than negative reactions we must eliminate or hide from others.
4. Good to Great by Jim Collins
Everyone knows that great leaders possess certain traits—which is why so many have written books on leadership. But no one has done it better than Collins.
He takes a deep dive into companies like Walgreens and Circuit City, analyzing their methods and synthesizing them into a cogent theory of what it takes to succeed as a business leader today.
With over ten years since its publication in 2001, Good to Great’s insights remain prescient; both timeless and timely, Collins’ book is a must-read for every aspiring leader out there.
5. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
While many women shy away from Lean In because of its pop-culture nature and name, it is one of the most popular books for leaders.
The book offers a well-researched case for changing workplace culture by correcting not just gender biases but also those that favor Caucasians or upper-class workers. It also gives practical advice for how we can change our own workplace behavior, offering strategies that are actionable and effective.
Perhaps Sandberg emphasizes women cannot lean in alone—the environment needs to support them too. Women who want to improve their leadership skills should start here.
6. Servant Leadership in Nursing by Gloria J. Adams
Servant leadership is important in healthcare. It’s all about understanding and valuing people, says Laura B. Dinhofer-Smith. This book offers a fresh perspective of service by equating it with leadership that cultivates relationships in order to serve rather than being self-serving.
Anyone who leads would benefit from reading [this] book; as would anyone who follows someone else’s lead, adds Jennifer Stone McPherson.
7. Join In! The 21st Century Teen’s Guide To leadership (Ny Times) by Christopher Brown
Acknowledging that today’s teens are looking for a sped up learning experience to help them make faster progress towards their career aspirations, Chris Brown focuses his advice on giving teens real responsibility without drowning them in details.
Written for those just beginning their journey into adulthood, Join In! Looks at how teenagers can start taking control over their education and working life much earlier than before – with some simple shifts in mindset and behavior.
8. Ready Aim Lead! An Entrepreneur’s Guide To Being Prepared For Every Challenge by Jason Jennings
A must-read for any business owner or manager. No matter what field you’re in, you can benefit from Jennings’ words of wisdom. He covers strategies for leading your team through crises, bringing out your best employees, and inspiring co-workers.
If you want a well-rounded take on leadership, read Ready Aim Lead! before making a single business decision. In fact, we recommend reading it every year as a refresher course in doing what’s right over getting ahead.
9. Good Boss Bad Boss by Robert I. Sutton
Everyone has a boss in their life. Whether you’re a freelancer, someone working for a company, or even your own business owner.
The one thing that can make or break your career is how well you get along with your boss. Good Boss Bad Boss by Robert I. Sutton explores what makes bosses good and bad and how it affects those who work for them.
An insight into both sides of being a leader, but don’t let that put you off reading this as there are plenty of interesting anecdotes and thought-provoking theories.
A classic book on leadership that everyone should read at least once! Definitely worth checking out. (It’s also full of humor which is great if you’re stressed).
You can buy Good Boss Bad Boss online at Amazon UK or Amazon US. If you like reading eBooks then check out Amazon Kindle UK and Amazon Kindle the US
10. Tribes by Seth Godin
Tribes is one of those books that’s so simple it’s brilliant. Seth Godin explores ways that a company can shift its mentality in order to engage more consumers and encourage brand loyalty.
With examples from companies like Apple and Zappos, Tribes shows readers how marketing can evolve from simply shouting about your product into engaging customers in a way that ultimately makes them feel good about buying from you.
The book encourages new ways of thinking about what makes people loyal not only to businesses but also groups and communities.
11. Mindeset by Carol Dweck
This book describes a simple but powerful idea: Your mindset—your fixed attitudes and beliefs about yourself and your abilities—determines whether you’re thriving or struggling in life. If you adopt new strategies for managing your mindset, Dweck says you can reach any goal.
It’s a vital message for today’s leaders. Leadership expert Marshall Goldsmith recommends that all leaders read Mindset. It lays out in plain language how people can improve their mindset, he explains.
12. The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon
The book tells us a story of four people sitting in a waiting room for their respective appointments. They notice one guy is reading The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon and decide to make fun of him for reading a self-help book.
One day later we find out that each person has had an appointment with some sort of specialist they have been dreading but were probably needed.
We have given each one terrible news, including terminal diagnoses. But only one ends up being happy and calm after receiving his or her diagnosis because he read The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon beforehand. The rest are unhappy or stressed because they didn’t bother reading it before their doctor appointments.