There’s a sea of poor advice to wade through looking for those leadership pearls of wisdom, especially with the popularity of blogging and the ease of self-publishing. Even if you manage to find what appears to be solid leadership advice, does it actually help you advance your career and become a better leader?
Absolutely, but there is one caveat…
You need to be absorbing and applying what you read; it won’t help you if it goes in one ear and out the other. Leadership books aren’t a magic cure-all that turns you into a great leader overnight. They do, however, provide a blueprint for becoming a better leader. Don’t just take my word for it, Mike Vardy is a believer in leadership books as well.If you read, absorb, and apply the advice in these best leadership books, they will help you.
43 Top Leadership Books
There was a time when the selection of leadership books was limited. In today’s world of self-publishing and online content there are countless leadership books available, and a lot of them have solid, actionable advice.
To help you get started on your journey through leadership literature, here are the 43 “best of the best” leadership books.
Jim Collins’ book, “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t,” pulls from a study covering 28 companies to offer advice on which leadership strategies and business practices work, and which don’t.
Patty McCord draws from her experience at Netflix as the chief talent officer and shares how leaders at companies are failing to hire properly in her book, “Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility.”
Jack Canfield, the creator of the successful “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series, shares advice on achieving your goals and becoming the person you want to be – all pulled from his 40 years of experience.
James C. Hunter provides a straightforward, three-step plan to achieving personal, organizational, and societal betterment in his servant leadership book, “The World’s Most Powerful Leadership Principle: How to Become a Servant Leader.”
Michael Bungay Stanier’s, “The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever,” asks seven essential questions that will help you say less, ask more, and become a stronger leader.
James A. Autry, former Fortune 500 exec and bestselling author, shares the secrets to being an effective servant leader in, “The Servant Leader: How to Build a Creative Team, Develop Great Morale, and Improve Bottom-Line Performance.”
Considered the “Bible of business productivity,” David Allen’s, “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity,” tackles how to be a stronger leader, businessperson, and more organized in your daily life.
Howard Behar draws from his experience as a senior executive at Starbucks to discuss the people over profits mentality of the company in, “It’s Not About the Coffee: Lessons on Putting People First from a Life at Starbucks.”
Authors Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee use their decades of business and leadership experience to discuss the importance of connecting through emotional intelligence in, “Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence.”
“The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal,” the modern self-betterment book from Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, embraces modern society and tech to help people balance their energy expenditure with renewal.
The classic bestseller from Dale Carnegie, “How to Win Friends & Influence People,” teaches numerous time-tested methods to win over others, sell your line of thinking, and change people without causing resentment.
Authors Kenneth R. Jennings and John Stahl-Wert use a fictional story to drive home the importance of standing behind your team in, “The Serving Leader: Five Powerful Actions to Transform Your Team, Business, and Community.”
Kristen Hadeed, founder of Student Maid, argues that leaders and organizations should stop trying to be perfect and start being agents of action in, “Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (Almost) Everything Wrong.”
In, “Why Leadership Sucks: Volume 1,” I lay out the fundamentals of servant leadership, how to put theory into practice, and how to make leadership fun again. (I had to include my book!)
Becoming a Stellar Leader with Personal Development Books
While all of the leadership and personal development books in the world won’t make you a better leader, they can certainly help spark some ideas. Then it’s up to you to practice these new concepts in order to become a more proficient leader.
Start with the above list and pick a book or two or twelve that interests you or meshes well with your personality. Give it a read (or listen if you are into audiobooks) and glean the ideas you could reasonably put into practice in your daily life. It might be overwhelming to think about reading 43 books. They key is to start somewhere…
All leadership books are not created equally, and it’s entirely possible some books simply aren’t for you. An author’s message and way of leading needs to click with who you are for it to be effective. And most of all, you need to be excited about putting what you learn into practice.
Leadership can be messy, even on a good day. If you or your organization is in need of some leadership coaching, check out my books on servant leadership or contact me for and let’s chat about how get your leadership and/or team on track for skyrocketing success.