As a leadership professional, people often ask me for my recommendations on the best books for leadership. While I already have a blog dedicated to some of my favorite self-development heavy hitters, I think it’s important for real leaders to always be open to growth and learning.
As students of real leadership, we are servants of our teams. When we continue to seek information that helps us better serve them, we demonstrate that we have what it takes to proactively lead with poise and professionalism.
Without further ado, here is a list of 10 great leadership books that will help you lead and live a life of purpose…for them.
The Best Leadership Books for Personal Development
Embarking on the journey of personal development is an inherent trait of authentic leaders; it’s an ongoing commitment to self-improvement without a defined endpoint. It can be intimidating, I know.
In the realm of leadership, the pursuit of growth is perpetual, marked not by finish lines but by continuous progress. In my experience, real leaders never stop working on themselves. These four books will help you get a good grasp of what you need to aid your continual growth and development.
Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
This book is a compelling read for real leaders seeking self-development because it delves into the fundamental principles of effective leadership. Sinek explores the concept of leadership with a focus on building a culture of trust, collaboration, and empathy. He draws on real-world examples to illustrate the impact of effective leadership on organizational success.
Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
This book stands out as a transformative read for real leaders in search of self-development. Brown, with her insights into vulnerability and courage, guides leaders to embrace authenticity, a must for any real leader on the personal development path.
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
Maxwell, a true leadership expert and one of my personal heroes, outlines fundamental laws that are crucial for effective leadership. Each law is accompanied by real-world examples and practical insights, making this book a timeless resource for leadership development.
Real Leadership Vol. 2 by John Addison
I wrote this book for those in search of a narrative centered around an ordinary individual, void of the extraordinary qualities traditionally associated with success. This book is a real-life tale of finding success with the invaluable guidance of mentors and life experience (perhaps the best teacher of all). Real Leadership chronicles my journey toward embracing and living a life defined by servant leadership. With examples based in fact, stories from my past, and actionable steps to help you apply the lessons highlighted in each chapter, this book is my legacy of leadership, one I sincerely hope you will take advantage of.
These recommendations offer a good mix of leadership philosophies and practical advice to help you become the best version of yourself, but you have to remember: personal development is, well, entirely personal. It’s up to you to find poignant inspiration to suit your unique leadership style. (To find out more about your leadership style, take the Leadership Superpower Quiz.)
The Best Leadership Books for People Managers
Effective people management requires not only practical strategies but also a deep understanding of the nuances that drive human behavior.
The books on leadership and management below are my recommendations that aim to equip managers with the knowledge and skills needed to inspire and lead with excellence. Explore the pages of wisdom that await in these essential reads for those shaping the future of their teams.
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink
Pink explores the science of motivation and provides valuable insights for managers seeking to understand what drives individuals. It’s a great resource for creating a motivating work environment.
Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott
Scott offers practical advice on how to be a more effective and compassionate manager. The book emphasizes the importance of clear communication and genuine care for your team members, something that never gets old in the world of real leadership.
First Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman
Based on extensive research, this book identifies key practices that great managers follow. It provides actionable insights for managers looking to enhance their leadership skills and improve team performance.
These servant leadership books cover a range of managerial skills, from motivation and communication to understanding what makes great managers successful. Whether you currently manage people or it’s on your professional horizon, plugging into the wisdom in these books is a great next step.
The Best Books for Organizational Leaders
If you are at the head of the big table, the type of leadership you practice is bound to look a little different than it does for others within your organization.
After all, there may come a time–if there hasn’t already–when everything comes down to you. These great leadership books will help you cut through the weeds when it comes to being a great organizational leader.
Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box by The Arbinger Institute
This book focuses on self-awareness and how leaders can break free from self-deceptive patterns. This read provides valuable insights into improving leadership effectiveness and building positive organizational cultures, an indispensable component in today’s business world.
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins
Collins and his research team identify common characteristics of companies that transitioned from good to great. This book offers timeless principles for organizational leaders aiming to achieve sustained success.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni
Lencioni explores the common pitfalls that teams face and provides a framework for overcoming these challenges. This book is valuable for leaders looking to enhance teamwork and overall organizational effectiveness.
These top leadership books cover essential aspects of leading at the organizational level, from personal growth and self-awareness to building high-performing teams and achieving long-term success.
One of my favorite mantras is, “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.” When it comes to building better organizations and better cultures within them, it’s critical to remember that progress starts within ourselves.
I always like to offer people resources that have helped me. Rather than telling people what to do (because that’s so effective), I prefer to share what I think and feel works. I consider that doing my part on behalf of the leaders of tomorrow.
So, if you are reading this and you are feeling overwhelmed, wondering when you will find the time to pick up ten new titles and read them from start to finish, don’t get your bloomers in a bunch. You can make a choice!
A small step in the right direction is still a step in the right direction, so perhaps you choose to start with one book that stands out to you among all the rest. If you feel one of the organizational titles calling you, but you are not yet an organizational leader, perhaps it will provide you with the info you need to make it to that big milestone in your career.
The point is, there’s no pressure. I’m just here to help. On that note,
I’ll see you at the top!
P.S. If you want a more intensive leadership development experience, my free course, Mission Leadership, is available to you! Check it out by first taking the Leadership Superpower Quiz to find out where you shine!