Bill Gates once revealed that he reads about 50 books a year. And he’s not the only business magnate who happens to be a voracious reader. In fact, most effective leaders tend to be readers. You don’t become a leader by picking up a book, of course, but reading can be a powerful way to improve your leadership skills – provided you put the things you learn into practice.
From reads that focus on effective time management to people and culture bibles, we’ve compiled a list of the best leadership books to read over and over again below. Add them to your collection to improve your ability to lead yourself and others.
Our Top Picks For Leadership Books
1. Dare to Lead
Author and researcher Brené Brown is famous for her work on vulnerability, courage and shame – and her book “Dare to Lead” brings those topics to the forefront of the conversation on leadership. “Leadership is not about titles or the corner office. It’s about the willingness to step up, put yourself out there, and lean into courage. The world is desperate for braver leaders,” writes Brown. Courage requires vulnerability, and, according to Brown, brave leaders don’t shy away from tough but necessary conversations. They also have empathy and lean into their hearts. Add this book to your list to cultivate those qualities and improve your ability to lead people.
2. The Effective Executive
Peter F. Drucker was a pioneer of modern management. His book, “The Effective Executive,” is relevant as ever for leaders looking to maximize the use of their most precious resources: their time and energy. The golden principle of the book is to cultivate the ability to get the right things done, a skill that sets effective executives apart. From choosing how to contribute to the organization to strengthen your decision-making process, you’ll learn how to do just that through habits and tactics.
HBR’s Must Reads on Managing Yourself
In order to lead others, you need to lead yourself first. This collection of Harvard Business Review articles is a must-read for any leader looking to become a better self-leader. “Overloaded Circuits: Why Smart People Underperform” and “Reclaim Your Job” are just a couple of examples of the type of content you’ll dive into in this book. Each article includes anecdotes, experts insights and prompts to make you reflect on the leadership concepts discussed and how they pertain to your own reality.
1. The Culture Code
“The Culture Code” examines the secrets of highly successful groups, from basketball teams to people having to land a plane during a life-or-death emergency. It’s an especially genius read on workplace culture because its case studies extend beyond the business world and break down the common denominators that breed team synergy across a wide array of situations. It’s one thing to say that trust and communication lead to improved teamwork and engagement, but it’s another to analyze how exactly trust and communication takes place in teams who embody those principles. You may just want to grab a couple of extra copies of this book for your team.
2. Leaders Eat Last
Author and speaker Simon Sinek is known for making the concept of finding your “why” popular. But he has other tools in his arsenal of leadership wisdom. His “Leaders Eat Last” book focuses on the importance of servant leadership. “I met people in the military who trusted each other with their lives—I wanted to have that feeling in the place I worked too. ‘Leaders Eat Last’ was my journey to understand what trust is at a biological and anthropological level, and what I learned completely surprised me,” shares Sinek on his website.
3. How To Win Friends And Influence People
This Dale Carnegie classic was published in 1936 yet still rings true as far as one of the most important tenets of impactful leadership is concerned: influence. Let’s face it, you can’t be a leader without relationship-building skills and the ability to have influence. The book is filled with time-tested advice on topics such as making people like you or swaying a situation towards your ideal outcome without fostering resentment.