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Table of Contents

Leadership in Literature: Essential Leadership Books You Should Add to Your Library

Though some leadership tactics are evergreen, the best leaders constantly educate themselves on new strategies and tactics to use with their team. To become an exceptional leader, one must be a voracious reader, continuously seeking wisdom and insights from those who have paved the way. 

In this article, we have curated a list of our favorite works on leadership and management. From timeless classics to contemporary guides, these tomes offer insights, strategies, and wisdom that transcend industries and generations. 

While there is a lot to learn from LinkedIn, business blogs, and online business influencers, leadership books should comprise the bedrock of your personal development. Whether you listen through an audiobook or read a glossy hardcover, these recommendations will help you become a more thoughtful and well-rounded leader

Coach Buck’s Leadership Bookshelf


Brandon is dedicated to transforming common sense into common practice, guiding individuals to gain the confidence required for leadership rather than mere management. He specializes in eliminating distractions, fostering productivity over busyness. His paramount focus is on helping people discern what truly matters and then cultivating the discipline needed to lead a purposeful life.

In this collection, you’ll find the influential picks that have played a crucial role in shaping Brandon’s approach to leadership. These are books that have been personally impactful and essential on my journey in the professional world. Whether you’re a seasoned leader or in the beginning stages of your career, these books offer practical insights from someone who’s been there. Dive into these recommended reads, and discover the books that have made a difference in the day-to-day decisions and overall perspective of a leader well-versed in the ins and outs of the leadership game.

“Traveler’s Gift” By Andy Andrews

“Traveler’s Gift” by Andy Andrews is a transformative exploration of leadership and personal growth. The narrative unfolds as David Ponder, facing the depths of despair, is thrust into a time-traveling adventure encountering pivotal historical figures. Each encounter imparts a profound lesson, offering readers a unique perspective on leadership principles. Andrews weaves a compelling tale that not only captivates but also imparts practical insights, making “Traveler’s Gift” a compelling read for those seeking to enhance their leadership skills through the wisdom of history.

“Essentialism” By Greg McKeown

“Essentialism” by Greg McKeown is a compelling guide that challenges conventional notions of productivity and success. McKeown advocates for a disciplined pursuit of less, asserting that true effectiveness lies in carefully selecting and prioritizing what truly matters. Drawing on a wealth of anecdotes and case studies, he offers a roadmap for eliminating the non-essential and focusing on the vital few. This book is a game-changer for leaders seeking a more intentional and impactful approach to their work, emphasizing the importance of saying no to the trivial many to make room for the essential few, ultimately fostering a more purposeful and fulfilling professional life.

“Atomic Habits” By James Clear

“Atomic Habits” by James Clear is a compelling exploration of the transformative power of small habits. Clear delves into the science of habit formation, breaking down the mechanics behind how tiny changes can lead to remarkable results. By emphasizing the role of atomic, or small, habits, Clear provides practical strategies for cultivating positive behaviors and breaking free from destructive patterns. This book serves as a practical guide for leaders, demonstrating how the cumulative impact of consistent, incremental improvements can lead to significant personal and professional growth. With a blend of scientific insight and real-world examples, “Atomic Habits” is a must-read for those looking to harness the potential of habits to drive lasting success.

“The Slight Edge” By Jeff Olson

“The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson is a compelling blueprint for achieving success through the power of simple daily disciplines. Olson argues that success is not the result of monumental actions, but rather the compounded effect of small, positive habits practiced consistently over time. Drawing on personal anecdotes and practical insights, he emphasizes the importance of making seemingly insignificant daily choices that lead to long-term success. By adopting the slight edge philosophy, readers are encouraged to make positive changes in their habits and mindset, ultimately paving the way for significant improvements in various aspects of life. Olson’s approach provides a refreshing perspective on achieving success by focusing on the small, manageable steps that, over time, create a profound impact.

“You Are a Badass” By Jen Sincero

“You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero is a dynamic and unapologetic guide to unleashing your inner potential and living an authentically badass life. Sincero combines humor, blunt honesty, and motivational insights to challenge readers to identify and overcome self-limiting beliefs. With a mix of practical advice and empowering affirmations, she encourages readers to take bold action, pursue their goals with unwavering confidence, and embrace the badass within. This book is a rallying cry for anyone seeking a kick in the pants to break free from mediocrity and pursue a life that reflects their true, powerful self. Sincero’s no-nonsense approach makes “You Are a Badass” a spirited and empowering read for those ready to transform their lives.

“Nine Lies About Work” By Marcus Buckingham

“Nine Lies About Work” by Marcus Buckingham is a thought-provoking exploration of common misconceptions that often pervade the workplace. Drawing on extensive research and real-world examples, Buckingham challenges prevailing myths about leadership, teamwork, and individual performance. He dismantles these ingrained falsehoods, offering readers a fresh perspective on how to thrive in the modern workplace. Buckingham’s insights are not only enlightening but also actionable, providing a roadmap for individuals and leaders to navigate through the noise and focus on what truly matters for personal and organizational success. With a blend of pragmatism and wisdom, “Nine Lies About Work” is a compelling read that encourages a shift in mindset for a more fulfilling and effective professional life.

“Legacy” By James Kerr

“Legacy” by James Kerr delves into the extraordinary success of the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team and uncovers the leadership principles that have made them one of the most successful sports teams in history. Kerr explores the team’s culture of excellence, focusing on values such as humility, accountability, and continuous improvement. Through a series of insightful anecdotes and interviews with key figures, he reveals the mindset and practices that set the All Blacks apart. The book serves as a powerful lesson in leadership, emphasizing the importance of creating a culture of purpose, resilience, and a commitment to sustained excellence. “Legacy” is not just a sports book; it’s a compelling exploration of universal principles that can be applied to any team or organization striving for greatness.

“Good to Great” By Jim Collins

“Good to Great” by Jim Collins is a seminal work in the realm of business and leadership, unraveling the mystery behind why some companies make the leap from good to great while others falter. Collins and his research team scrutinize a select group of exceptional companies to identify key factors that propel them to sustained greatness. The book introduces the concept of Level 5 Leadership, emphasizing the critical role of humble yet determined leaders in achieving long-term success. With a focus on disciplined people, disciplined thought, and disciplined action, “Good to Great” provides a framework for organizations to navigate the path to greatness. By distilling complex insights into accessible principles, Collins offers a roadmap for leaders aspiring to elevate their organizations beyond mediocrity and into the realm of enduring excellence.

“Drive” By Daniel H Pink

“Drive” by Daniel H. Pink ventures into the realm of motivation and workplace dynamics, challenging conventional notions about what drives human behavior, particularly in the professional sphere. Pink introduces the concept of autonomy, mastery, and purpose as the trifecta of elements that truly motivate individuals. Drawing on a wealth of research across various disciplines, he argues that traditional reward-based systems are often insufficient and, at times, counterproductive. Pink’s engaging narrative and compelling examples illustrate how a deeper understanding of intrinsic motivation can revolutionize the way we work and lead. “Drive” is a thought-provoking exploration that encourages leaders to reassess their approaches, fostering environments that cultivate genuine engagement, creativity, and a sense of purpose among team members.

“The Speed of Trust” By Stephen M.R. Covey

“The Speed of Trust” by Stephen M.R. Covey is a transformative exploration of the pivotal role trust plays in personal and professional success. Covey contends that trust is not merely a soft, social virtue but a hard-edged economic driver that can significantly impact organizational effectiveness and efficiency. Drawing on real-world examples and practical insights, Covey outlines the components of trust—character and competence—and elucidates how they contribute to the creation of a high-trust culture. The book provides a compelling case for the economic advantages of trust, asserting that it directly influences speed and cost in every interaction. Offering a roadmap for building and repairing trust, Covey’s work is a valuable resource for leaders seeking to enhance collaboration, innovation, and overall organizational performance by establishing a foundation of trust.

“Getting to Yes” By Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton

“Getting to Yes” by Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton is a seminal work in the realm of negotiation, providing a principled framework for reaching mutually beneficial agreements. The authors introduce the concept of principled negotiation, emphasizing the importance of separating people from the problem and focusing on interests rather than positions. Drawing on their experiences at the Harvard Negotiation Project, the book outlines a step-by-step approach to negotiation that aims to create value and build strong, enduring relationships. With its emphasis on collaboration, clear communication, and a commitment to fair outcomes, “Getting to Yes” remains an invaluable resource for anyone seeking to navigate the complexities of negotiation successfully.

“Raising a Modern-Day Knight” By Robert Lewis

“Raising a Modern-Day Knight” by Robert Lewis is a poignant and practical guide for fathers navigating the challenging journey of raising sons in the modern world. Lewis draws on timeless principles of knighthood to provide a blueprint for instilling character, honor, and responsibility in young men. The book outlines a step-by-step approach to intentional fatherhood, emphasizing the importance of rites of passage, mentoring, and imparting a clear sense of purpose. Through personal anecdotes and thoughtful insights, Lewis inspires fathers to be actively engaged in shaping their sons into men of integrity and strength. “Raising a Modern-Day Knight” is more than a parenting guide; it’s a call to cultivate a generation of noble and virtuous young men prepared to face the complexities of life with courage and honor.

“Season of Life” By Jeffrey Marx

“Season of Life” by Jeffrey Marx is a compelling exploration of the transformative power of mentorship, compassion, and living a life of purpose. The book follows the journey of Joe Ehrmann, a former NFL player turned high school football coach, as he imparts profound life lessons to his players. Ehrmann challenges the conventional definition of masculinity and success, advocating for a more meaningful and values-driven approach to life. Through engaging storytelling, Marx captures the essence of Ehrmann’s coaching philosophy, emphasizing the importance of building authentic relationships, fostering empathy, and contributing positively to the community. “Season of Life” serves as an inspiring narrative that transcends sports, urging readers to reflect on their own values and redefine success in the context of a life well-lived.

Learning From Athletics: Sports Leadership Books You Must Read

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What is one thing that sports leadership and business leadership have in common? Team management. Leadership books from the world of sports have long been a helpful – and entertaining – way for business leaders to learn effective strategies for making a team cohesive and productive. Sports leadership books offer insights into leadership under pressure, team-building strategies, and goal-oriented management skills. Here are some sports leadership books that effectively highlight the importance of team management in a way that readily translates into business.

“The Captain Class” by Sam Walker

“The Captain Class” By Sam Walker is a non-fiction exploration of the crucial role team captains play in the success of sports teams. Walker identifies seven key characteristics that define exceptional captains, using historical examples from various sports to illustrate his findings. The book challenges traditional notions about individual talent and coaching, emphasizing the often-overlooked influence of effective team leadership. Through engaging stories and insights, Walker encourages readers to reconsider their perceptions of leadership and teamwork in sports and life.

“Wooden on Leadership” by John Wooden

“Wooden on Leadership,” authored by John Wooden, is a profound exploration of leadership and management principles inspired by the renowned basketball coach. This book delves into Wooden’s coaching philosophy, underscoring the significance of character, integrity, and adept communication in effective leadership. Offering principles for success that transcend the boundaries of the basketball court, Wooden imparts wisdom applicable to life at large. Through engaging anecdotes and pragmatic guidance, the book serves as a compelling manual for leadership, proving invaluable for those aiming to refine their leadership abilities across diverse settings.

“Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success” by Phil Jackson

“Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success” by Phil Jackson is a captivating exploration into leadership and success within professional basketball. Leveraging his extensive coaching experience that resulted in an unprecedented eleven NBA championships, Jackson unfolds his distinctive coaching philosophy, seamlessly intertwining mindfulness, spirituality, and teamwork.

This book grants readers an exclusive backstage pass to Jackson’s coaching odyssey, unveiling valuable insights into his unorthodox methods and the profound connections he forged with his players. Through a harmonious blend of personal narratives and basketball anecdotes, “Eleven Rings” presents a comprehensive approach to achieving success, both on and off the court. It is a compelling read for those intrigued by the convergence of sports, leadership, and personal development.

Battlefield Lessons: Military Leadership Books

Strategy has long been a hallmark of military leadership. Governing large bodies of troops and instilling inspiration in the face of fear and adversity makes a military leader memorable. While the situations in the workplace may not be as dire, these traits are valuable to effective team management. Here are some books by and about military leaders and their style of man management that can readily apply to management in the office.

“Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

“Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin is a compelling guide to leadership that draws on the authors’ experiences as Navy SEAL commanders. The book’s central theme is the concept of extreme ownership—taking full responsibility for every aspect of one’s life and leadership role. 

Through gripping war stories and practical business applications, Willink and Babin illustrate how this principle can be applied to achieve success and overcome challenges. The book emphasizes the importance of accountability, discipline, and decisiveness in leadership. It is a powerful resource for individuals in any leadership position, providing actionable insights and a mindset shift that can improve performance, professionally and personally.

“Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders” by L. David Marquet

“Turn the Ship Around!” by L. David Marquet is a transformative leadership book that recounts Marquet’s experience as the captain of the USS Santa Fe, a nuclear-powered submarine. The book challenges traditional hierarchical leadership models by advocating for a shift towards empowering individuals at all levels to take ownership and make decisions. Marquet introduces the concept of “leader-leader” rather than “leader-follower,” emphasizing the importance of cultivating a culture where everyone feels responsible for the organization’s success. 

Through engaging anecdotes and practical insights, Marquet shares how he turned his crew into a highly effective, autonomous team by fostering a climate of trust, competence, and initiative. “Turn the Ship Around!” provides a refreshing perspective on leadership applicable in the military and across various industries, making it valuable for those seeking innovative leadership and organizational excellence.

“Leadership in War: Essential Lessons from Those Who Made History” by Andrew Roberts

“Leadership in War: Essential Lessons from Those Who Made History” by Andrew Roberts is a comprehensive exploration of leadership through the lens of military history. Roberts examines the strategies and decisions of key historical figures, ranging from Napoleon Bonaparte to Winston Churchill, to distill essential lessons applicable to leadership in various fields. 

The book delves into the complexities of command, decision-making under pressure, and the qualities that distinguish great leaders during times of crisis. Through gripping narratives and meticulous analysis, Roberts provides valuable insights into effective leadership, drawing parallels between military campaigns and contemporary challenges. “Leadership in War” is a compelling guide for those interested in understanding the timeless principles that define successful leadership in the face of adversity.

Books About Strengths-Based Leadership

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Leading by example can be one of the best management styles available. Demonstrating active involvement and competence in day-to-day operations resonates with employees, fostering a culture of productivity. The insights from these books illuminate strategies for effective leadership, emphasizing the importance of showcasing strengths and a commitment to leading by example. Building a cohesive workplace team involves guiding them through correct job practices and, crucially, steering clear of leading through incompetence.

“Strengths Based Leadership” by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie

“Strengths Based Leadership” by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie explores a positive and empowering approach to leadership by focusing on individuals’ strengths rather than weaknesses. Drawing on extensive research, the authors identify key leadership strengths and categorize them into four domains: executing, influencing, relationship building, and strategic thinking. The book emphasizes the significance of understanding and leveraging one’s unique strengths and recognizing and appreciating team members’ strengths. 

Rath and Conchie argue that effective leadership arises from developing and utilizing strengths, fostering a positive work environment, and aligning individual strengths with organizational goals. By providing practical insights and real-world examples, the book encourages leaders to adopt a strengths-based approach, ultimately leading to improved team performance and tremendous overall success. “Strengths Based Leadership” serves as a valuable resource for individuals seeking to enhance their leadership capabilities and create a positive impact within their teams and organizations.

“Discover Your True North” by Bill George

“Discover Your True North” by Bill George is a transformative guide focusing on authentic leadership and personal development. George, a former CEO and a professor of management, introduces the concept of True North as a guiding principle for leadership grounded in one’s core values and beliefs. The book offers a roadmap for individuals seeking to align their leadership style with their true selves, emphasizing the importance of self-awareness, empathy, and integrity. 

Through compelling stories and practical exercises, George encourages readers to explore their life stories, identify their passions, and discover their unique leadership purpose. “Discover Your True North” is not just a leadership book; it’s a journey of self-discovery that aims to help individuals become more authentic leaders and make a meaningful impact in their professional and personal lives.

“Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter” by Liz Wiseman

“Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter” by Liz Wiseman presents a refreshing perspective on leadership that focuses on amplifying the intelligence and capabilities of those around you. Wiseman identifies two distinct leadership styles: Multipliers, who inspire and extract the full potential of their teams, and Diminishers, who unintentionally stifle creativity and productivity. The book delves into the characteristics of Multipliers, showcasing real-world examples of leaders who can foster a culture of brilliance. 

Through insightful anecdotes and research-backed insights, Wiseman provides practical strategies for becoming a Multiplier, emphasizing the importance of asking questions, providing autonomy, and creating an environment where everyone’s contributions are valued. “Multipliers” challenges conventional notions of leadership, offering a compelling framework for leaders to enhance team performance and unlock the full intelligence of their organizations.

The Path of Change: Books on Transformational Leadership

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Change is vital for businesses, and influential leaders should be the ones who foster growth within a company. Inspiring change within a company and driving the business forward are things that these books emphasize and promote through practical leadership skills. Here are a few books highlighting the importance of growth within a company and the role a quality business leader plays in inspiring that change.

“Leading Change” by John P. Kotter

“Leading Change” by John P. Kotter is a seminal work in organizational leadership, presenting a comprehensive framework to navigate and successfully execute transformative change initiatives adeptly. Kotter delineates eight pivotal steps for effective change leadership, underscoring the significance of instilling a sense of urgency, forming a guiding coalition and securing initial victories to propel momentum.

Grounded in real-world examples and case studies, the book furnishes practical insights into the intricacies of organizational change, providing strategies to surmount resistance. Kotter’s model has evolved into a widely embraced guide for leaders endeavoring to propel organizational change. This renders “Leading Change” indispensable for those seeking a profound understanding of change management dynamics and the ability to guide their teams effectively through periods of transition.

“Transforming Leadership” by James MacGregor Burns

“Transforming Leadership” by James MacGregor Burns is a groundbreaking exploration of leadership that transcends traditional models, delving into the transformative potential inherent in effective leadership. Burns introduces transforming leadership, accentuating the significance of leaders who inspire and uplift followers to achieve overarching goals collectively. Drawing on historical and contemporary examples, Burns underscores the pivotal role of moral leadership in catalyzing positive change and shaping a more just and equitable society.

This book challenges conventional notions of leadership, dismissing them as mere transactional exchanges, and instead advocates for leaders who cultivate a profound, reciprocal relationship with their followers. “Transforming Leadership” emerges as an influential work, encouraging leaders to adopt a higher moral purpose, fostering a shared sense of values and a steadfast commitment to promoting positive social change.

“StandOut 2.0: Assess Your Strengths, Find Your Edge, Win at Work” by Marcus Buckingham

“StandOut 2.0: Assess Your Strengths, Find Your Edge, Win at Work” by Marcus Buckingham offers a personalized approach to professional success by guiding individuals to identify and leverage their unique strengths. Buckingham introduces the StandOut assessment tool to reveal an individual’s top two strength roles out of nine possible archetypes. The book goes beyond traditional talent assessments by providing practical insights on applying these strengths to stand out and excel in one’s career. With a focus on strengths-based leadership, Buckingham empowers readers to align their roles and responsibilities with their innate abilities, fostering increased engagement and effectiveness. “StandOut 2.0” is a valuable resource for those seeking to understand and optimize their strengths, ultimately gaining a competitive edge in the workplace.

Combatting Adversity: Managing Through Challenges

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Influential leaders must adeptly navigate adversity and guide their teams through challenging periods. The journey of business leadership and employee management can be challenging, making it imperative for leaders to possess the skills required for such situations. These books delve into the complexities of leadership during tough times, narrating stories of triumph over workplace challenges. By offering valuable insights, they equip leaders with the necessary skills to effectively manage teams through adversity and emerge stronger on the other side.

“Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading” by Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky

“Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading” by Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky is a thought-provoking guide addressing the challenges and risks of leadership roles. The book emphasizes the distinction between technical challenges with known solutions and adaptive challenges requiring deeper, more transformative solutions. Heifetz and Linsky argue that influential leaders must confront and navigate adaptive challenges, risking personal and professional discomfort to drive meaningful change. 

Through compelling case studies and practical insights, the authors provide a framework for leaders to diagnose their situations, mobilize others, and make tough decisions. “Leadership on the Line” offers a valuable resource for leaders seeking to navigate the complexities of their roles, encouraging them to confront the adaptive challenges that often define transformative leadership experiences.

“The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace for the 21st Century” by Stephen Denning

“The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace for the 21st Century” by Stephen Denning is a groundbreaking exploration of innovative management practices designed to thrive in the fast-paced and dynamic landscape of the 21st century. Denning challenges traditional hierarchical management models and advocates a radical shift towards a more agile and customer-focused approach. 

The book introduces principles such as continuous innovation, client delight, and a shift from a focus on efficiency to effectiveness. Through insightful case studies and practical guidance, Denning offers a comprehensive framework for leaders seeking to adapt their organizations to the demands of the modern business environment. “The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management” serves as a roadmap for transforming organizational culture and practices, fostering adaptability and responsiveness in the face of evolving challenges.

“Change the Culture, Change the Game: The Breakthrough Strategy for Energizing Your Organization and Creating Accountability for Results” by Roger Connors and Tom Smith

“Change the Culture, Change the Game: The Breakthrough Strategy for Energizing Your Organization and Creating Accountability for Results” by Roger Connors and Tom Smith provides a comprehensive guide to transforming organizational culture and driving accountability for results. The authors argue that sustainable change begins with a cultural shift and introduce the Oz Principle concept, which emphasizes individual and collective accountability. 

The book offers practical insights and strategies for leaders to create a culture of ownership, where employees are empowered to take responsibility for their actions and contribute to the organization’s success. Through real-world examples and actionable principles, Connors and Smith provide a roadmap for leaders looking to instill a high-performance and accountability culture, making it a valuable resource for those seeking to drive positive change within their organizations.

Books that Highlight and Celebrate Women in Leadership

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Exploring literature on women in leadership provides business leaders with rich insights and perspectives essential for fostering diversity and inclusion. These books offer narratives of women who have navigated the complexities of leadership, providing valuable lessons on resilience, overcoming gender biases, and breaking through glass ceilings. 

By delving into the experiences of successful women leaders, business leaders gain a nuanced understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities they may encounter in the professional landscape. Such literature serves not only as a catalyst for promoting gender equality but also as a guide for cultivating inclusive leadership practices that harness the diverse strengths of an organization.

“Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg

“Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg stands as a thought-provoking and influential exploration of women’s roles in the workplace, addressing the broader challenges they encounter on the path to leadership positions. Leveraging her experiences as a high-level executive and Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sandberg urges women to embrace their ambitions, actively pursue leadership roles, and confront the barriers that impede their professional growth. The book delves into issues like gender bias, work-life balance, and the crucial role of mentorship, providing practical advice for women and organizations to cultivate increased gender equality in the workplace. Sandberg’s candid insights and passionate call to action have ignited widespread discussions on gender dynamics in corporate environments, establishing “Lean In” as a significant contribution to the ongoing dialogue surrounding diversity and leadership.

“Dare to Lead” by Brené Brown

“Dare to Lead” by Brené Brown presents a compelling exploration of courageous leadership and the indispensable qualities that underpin meaningful connections and success. Leveraging her extensive research on vulnerability, shame, and empathy, Brown introduces the concept of daring leadership, emphasizing the significance of embracing vulnerability, establishing trust, and nurturing a culture of courage within organizations. The book offers actionable strategies and insights, empowering leaders to navigate challenges, engage in difficult conversations, and establish environments conducive to innovation and resilience.

Through a blend of personal anecdotes, research discoveries, and practical advice, Brown challenges conventional notions of leadership, advocating for authenticity, empathy, and a willingness to take risks. “Dare to Lead” guides leaders at all levels, inspiring positive change and fostering a culture of courage and wholeheartedness within their teams and organizations.

“Becoming” by Michelle Obama

“Becoming” by Michelle Obama is a poignant and intimately revealing memoir, granting readers a close-up view into the life of the former First Lady of the United States. Through eloquent prose, Obama traces her journey from the South Side of Chicago in her childhood to her experiences within the White House. The book delves into her triumphs and challenges, offering insights into her multifaceted roles as a mother, wife, and advocate for social issues. With sincerity and authenticity, Obama shares reflective thoughts on identity, purpose, and embracing one’s voice. “Becoming” serves as a chronicle of the historical moments in her life and stands as an inspirational narrative, encouraging readers to discover their paths, surmount obstacles, and remain true to their authentic selves.

A Minority Perspective: Leadership Books by Minorities

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Exploring the experiences and accomplishments of minority leaders provides valuable insights into diverse leadership approaches, challenges, and triumphs. By delving into these narratives, leaders can gain a deeper understanding of the unique struggles faced by individuals from underrepresented backgrounds, fostering empathy and dismantling unconscious biases. 

This knowledge is instrumental in creating inclusive and equitable work environments where all team members feel valued and understood. These books can act as invaluable inspiration tools and path pavers for progress for leaders who don’t see much representation of themselves in the business sphere.

“The Other Wes Moore” by Wes Moore

“The Other Wes Moore” by Wes Moore is a compelling exploration of two lives that intersected due to shared circumstances but diverged dramatically in their outcomes. The book tells the parallel stories of the author, Wes Moore, and another man with the same name, who grew up in similar neighborhoods but took vastly different paths. One Wes Moore became a Rhodes Scholar and successful entrepreneur, while the other ended up serving a life sentence for murder. 

Through meticulous research and personal reflection, Moore examines the impact of family, education, and societal expectations on shaping individuals’ destinies. The narrative prompts readers to consider the role of choices and opportunities in determining life trajectories, offering a poignant reflection on the complex factors that contribute to success or struggle in the face of adversity. “The Other Wes Moore” is a thought-provoking exploration of the power of circumstance and the potential for transformation.

“The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table” by Minda Harts

“The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table” by Minda Harts is a groundbreaking guide that addresses the unique challenges women of color face in the workplace and offers actionable strategies for navigating and succeeding in corporate environments. Drawing on her experiences and those of other professional women of color, Harts explores workplace microaggressions, salary negotiations, and the importance of mentorship. The book serves as a rallying call for diversity and inclusion, providing insights and practical advice to help women of color overcome systemic barriers and secure leadership positions. “The Memo” is an empowering resource encouraging women to embrace their authentic selves and advocating for a more equitable and inclusive professional landscape.

“Trailblazer: A Pioneering Journalist’s Fight to Make the Media Look More Like America” by Dorothy Butler Gilliam

“Trailblazer: A Pioneering Journalist’s Fight to Make the Media Look More Like America” by Dorothy Butler Gilliam is a compelling memoir that chronicles Gilliam’s extraordinary journey as a trailblazing journalist and her tireless efforts to promote diversity within the media industry. As the first African American woman to work as a reporter for The Washington Post, Gilliam faced numerous challenges and discrimination. 

In her memoir, she reflects on her experiences navigating the predominantly white and male world of journalism and advocating for a more inclusive media landscape. Gilliam’s narrative is a personal story of resilience and a powerful call to action for increased representation and diversity in newsrooms. “Trailblazer” is an inspirational account of Gilliam’s lifelong commitment to breaking barriers and creating opportunities for underrepresented voices in journalism.

Serving to Lead: The Servant Leadership Approach

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Leading a team is not a one-and-done job – you have to be there for your employees and help them out along the way. In servant leadership, the leader’s primary goal is to serve and support the needs of their team members. These books act as guides in understanding what servant leadership is, the traits of a good servant leader, and ways to implement this leadership approach for your team.

“Servant Leadership” by Robert K. Greenleaf

“Servant Leadership” by Robert K. Greenleaf is a seminal work that introduces a transformative approach to leadership. Greenleaf proposes a philosophy where leaders prioritize serving the needs of others first, fostering a sense of community and empowerment. He advocates for leaders who listen, empathize, and inspire collaboration rather than asserting traditional top-down authority. Greenleaf’s concept of servant leadership encourages a shift from the traditional hierarchical model to one that emphasizes shared decision-making and the well-being of all stakeholders. 

The book explores the profound impact of leaders who focus on serving others, fostering a culture of trust, and promoting the personal and professional growth of those they lead. “Servant Leadership” remains a timeless and influential guide for leaders seeking to positively impact their teams and organizations by prioritizing service over authority.

“The Servant Leader” by James A. Autry

“The Servant Leader” by James A. Autry is a poignant exploration of leadership principles rooted in service and humility. Autry contends that authentic leadership involves selfless service to others, a philosophy he attributes to being a “servant leader.” Drawing on his experiences as a business executive and poet, Autry emphasizes the importance of empathy, authenticity, and a genuine concern for the well-being of those one leads. The book provides practical insights and anecdotes illustrating how adopting a servant-leader mindset can positively impact organizational culture, employee morale, and overall success. 

Autry’s perspective challenges conventional notions of leadership by highlighting the transformative power of service and compassion in creating effective and ethical leaders. “The Servant Leader” is an inspirational guide for those seeking a more compassionate and meaningful approach to leadership in both professional and personal realms.

“The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership” by James C. Hunter

“The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership” by James C. Hunter is a thought-provoking tale that delves into the fundamental principles of servant leadership. Through the narrative of John Daily, a business executive seeking personal and professional transformation, Hunter explores key aspects of leadership, including empathy, accountability, and the importance of serving others. 

The book draws on timeless wisdom and practical insights to illustrate how effective leaders prioritize the needs of their team members and create a culture of trust and collaboration. Hunter’s storytelling approach makes complex leadership concepts accessible, offering readers a compelling and relatable guide to understanding and embodying the true essence of leadership through service and humility. “The Servant” is a timeless resource that resonates with those aspiring to cultivate a more meaningful and impactful leadership style.

Books About Situational Leadership and Flexibility

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One thing that we’ve learned so far from the vast amount of leadership literature is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to leadership. That’s the philosophy behind situational leadership, an approach pioneered by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard. Situational leadership is the ability to adapt one’s style based on specific circumstances and the readiness of employees. Here are some influential books that help define and improve upon the concept of situational leadership.

“The Situational Leader” by Paul Hersey

“The Situational Leader” by Paul Hersey is a classic in the field of leadership that introduces a flexible and adaptive approach to leading teams. Hersey’s model emphasizes that effective leadership is situational, and leaders must adjust their styles based on the specific needs of their team members and the circumstances at hand. The book outlines four leadership styles—telling, selling, participating, and delegating—and provides a framework for leaders to assess situations and choose the most appropriate style for optimal results. Hersey’s Situational Leadership model has been widely embraced for its practicality and versatility in guiding leaders to tailor their approaches to their team members’ varying competence and commitment levels. “The Situational Leader” is a valuable resource for leaders seeking to enhance their effectiveness by mastering the art of situational leadership.

“Leadership and the One Minute Manager” by Ken Blanchard

“Leadership and the One Minute Manager” by Ken Blanchard is a concise and impactful guide that distills effective leadership principles into practical, actionable steps. Collaborating with co-authors Patricia Zigarmi and Drea Zigarmi, Blanchard introduces the concept of situational leadership, emphasizing the need for leaders to adapt their styles based on their team members’ readiness and development level. The book provides a framework for leaders to match their leadership approach to the specific needs of individuals and tasks. 

Blanchard also integrates the One Minute Manager technique, focusing on quick and effective communication to reinforce positive behaviors and address performance issues. With its accessible and straightforward approach, “Leadership and the One Minute Manager” offers valuable insights for leaders at all levels who seek to enhance their leadership effectiveness and build strong, motivated teams.

“The New One Minute Manager” by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

“The New One Minute Manager” by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson is a modernized and practical guide to effective leadership in a rapidly changing world. Building on the timeless principles of the original One Minute Manager, this updated version incorporates contemporary insights and strategies for leading in today’s dynamic business landscape. The authors introduce three essential management techniques—One Minute Goals, One Minute Praisings, and One Minute Re-Directs—emphasizing clear communication, positive reinforcement, and quick, constructive feedback. 

The book offers a concise and accessible framework for leaders to enhance productivity, boost morale, and foster a culture of accountability. With its straightforward approach, “The New One Minute Manager” remains a valuable resource for leaders looking to navigate the complexities of modern leadership with simplicity and impact.

The Philosophical and Ethical Dimensions of Leadership: What to Read

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These picks emphasize virtues like integrity, justice, and social responsibility as integral to successful leadership. By immersing themselves in these concepts, leaders understand how ethical leadership shapes positive organizational cultures and forms the bedrock of sustainable success. You may find these recommendations particularly helpful if you work in DEI or within an industry that requires many ethical decisions to be made. 

“Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius

“Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius is a timeless collection of personal reflections and philosophical insights from the Roman Emperor, offering a profound glimpse into the mind of one of history’s great Stoic philosophers. Composed as a series of notes to himself, these meditations touch on various aspects of life, duty, and self-discipline. Aurelius explores the nature of virtue, the impermanence of life, and the importance of maintaining inner tranquility in facing external challenges. The book is a practical guide for ethical living, emphasizing the Stoic principles of wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance. Aurelius’ contemplative and introspective approach resonates with readers, providing valuable lessons on navigating the complexities of existence and cultivating a resilient and virtuous life.

“Ethical Leadership: Creating and Sustaining an Ethical Business Culture” by Andrew Leigh

“Ethical Leadership: Creating and Sustaining an Ethical Business Culture” by Andrew Leigh is a comprehensive guide that delves into ethical leadership’s core principles and applications within the business realm. Leigh underscores the significance of nurturing a culture rooted in integrity, accountability, and transparency within organizations.

This book offers practical insights and actionable strategies for leaders to effectively navigate ethical challenges, make morally informed decisions, and embed ethical values throughout the organizational fabric. Leigh contends that ethical leadership is both a moral imperative and a strategic advantage, fostering trust with stakeholders and ensuring long-term success. With a combination of theoretical frameworks and real-world examples, “Ethical Leadership” is a valuable resource for leaders aspiring to establish and perpetuate an ethical business culture that positively influences their organizations and society.


“Leadership Ethics: An Introduction” by Terry L. Price

“Leadership Ethics: An Introduction” by Terry L. Price offers a comprehensive exploration of the ethical facets inherent in leadership. Price delves into the philosophical underpinnings of leadership ethics, scrutinizing various ethical frameworks and theories that guide leaders in making principled decisions.

The book navigates the complexities of ethical leadership within contemporary organizational contexts, underscoring the pivotal role of values, integrity, and social responsibility. Price provides practical insights and case studies to vividly illustrate the ethical challenges faced by leaders, presenting strategies for nurturing an ethical organizational culture. “Leadership Ethics” stands as an indispensable resource for students, scholars, and practitioners eager to comprehend the ethical dimensions of leadership and cultivate ethical decision-making skills within the dynamic and evolving landscape of leadership studies.

Books on Leading in the Digital Age

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These readings delve into cutting-edge strategies, creative problem-solving, and adaptive leadership styles essential for staying ahead in the modern world. By being intimately familiar with the ways the internet has changed our culture, leaders learn to foster innovation within their organizations. This literature is valuable for cultivating a mindset that embraces change, encourages experimentation, and propels businesses toward sustained growth and success.

“The Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton M. Christensen

“The Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton M. Christensen is a groundbreaking work that explores the challenges established companies face in adapting to disruptive innovations. Christensen argues that successful organizations, despite their competence and resources, can become vulnerable when disruptive technologies emerge, as their focus on sustaining innovations hinders their ability to embrace transformative changes. 

Through in-depth analyses of various industries, the book provides a framework for understanding the dynamics of innovation and disruption. Christensen introduces the concept of disruptive innovation, illustrating how smaller, often overlooked competitors can reshape markets and overtake established giants. “The Innovator’s Dilemma” has become a seminal text, influencing business leaders and entrepreneurs by encouraging reevaluating traditional business strategies in the face of rapidly evolving technological landscapes.

“Digital Leadership” by Erik Qualman

“Digital Leadership” by Erik Qualman is a captivating guide that steers through the terrain of leadership in the digital age. Qualman delves into the convergence of leadership and technology, underscoring the transformative influence of digital tools on organizational success. The book provides insights into leveraging the power of social media, data analytics, and emerging technologies for effective leadership. Qualman contends that digital leadership extends beyond technology, emphasizing the cultivation of a culture marked by innovation, adaptability, and continual learning.

Through case studies and pragmatic advice, “Digital Leadership” empowers leaders with the knowledge and strategies necessary to excel in an era of swift technological evolution. It stresses the significance of embracing digital opportunities to lead with relevance and impact in today’s interconnected world.

“The Digital Transformation Playbook: Rethink Your Business for the Digital Age” by David L. Rogers

“The Digital Transformation Playbook: Rethink Your Business for the Digital Age” by David L. Rogers serves as a strategic guide, presenting a comprehensive framework for organizations aspiring to excel in the digital era. Rogers outlines fundamental principles for digital transformation, underscoring the significance of customer-centric strategies, agility, and innovation. Grounded in extensive research and real-world case studies, the book provides pragmatic insights into adapting business models, leveraging data, and engaging with customers within the digital landscape.

Rogers advocates for a holistic approach to digital transformation, guiding leaders to reassess their strategies, structures, and processes to remain competitive and relevant. “The Digital Transformation Playbook” emerges as a valuable resource for executives and business leaders navigating the complexities of the digital age, offering actionable steps to seize the opportunities presented by technological advancements and reshape businesses for sustainable success.

Books About Emotional Intelligence in Leadership

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Getting the most out of your employees means understanding their headspace and providing an environment and team where they feel comfortable working. Emotional intelligence is something that many leaders struggle with, and these books offer useful tips that help establish the path to becoming an emotionally intelligent leader. Here are some of the most influential readings for emotional intelligence as a leader.

“Emotional Intelligence 2.0” by Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves

“Emotional Intelligence 2.0” by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves is a pragmatic guide that delves into the pivotal role of emotional intelligence in achieving personal and professional success. The book presents a comprehensive framework for comprehending and refining emotional intelligence, concentrating on four essential skills: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Employing a blend of captivating anecdotes, self-assessment tools, and actionable strategies, the authors provide readers with practical insights to elevate their emotional intelligence.

The book underscores the significance of acknowledging and regulating emotions, grasping others’ perspectives, and fostering meaningful connections. “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” stands as a valuable resource for individuals seeking to fortify their emotional intelligence and enhance effectiveness in various aspects of life, encompassing leadership, teamwork, and interpersonal relationships.

“Primal Leadership” by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, & Annie McKee

“Primal Leadership” by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee is a transformative exploration of leadership through the lens of emotional intelligence. The authors contend that effective leadership is deeply tied to emotional resonance and the ability to connect with others on an emotional level. The book introduces the concept of primal leadership, emphasizing the impact of leaders’ emotional states on organizational climate and performance. Goleman, Boyatzis, and McKee provide insights into the six emotional leadership styles and their effects on individuals and teams. 

The book highlights the importance of self-awareness and emotional regulation in leadership and offers practical strategies for leaders to cultivate a positive emotional climate and inspire their teams. “Primal Leadership” is a seminal work that underscores the significance of emotional intelligence in creating resonant and impactful leadership.

“Leading with Emotional Courage: How to Have Hard Conversations, Create Accountability, And Inspire Action On Your Most Important Work” by Peter Bregman

“Leading with Emotional Courage: How to Have Hard Conversations, Create Accountability, And Inspire Action On Your Most Important Work” by Peter Bregman is a compelling guide exploring emotional courage’s pivotal role in effective leadership. Bregman contends that leaders must navigate uncomfortable conversations and confront challenging situations with authenticity and empathy to instill meaningful action.

The book offers practical strategies for nurturing emotional courage, emphasizing self-awareness, vulnerability, and resilience. Bregman shares real-world examples and actionable advice to steer leaders in fostering accountability, building trust, and catalyzing positive change within their teams and organizations. “Leading with Emotional Courage” serves as a valuable resource for leaders looking to elevate their emotional intelligence and cultivate the courage to address challenging issues, ultimately fostering a culture of accountability and high performance.

Reading about leadership not only provides a deeper understanding of the intricacies of effective leadership but also serves as a continuous source of inspiration and motivation. In the pages of these books, business leaders can uncover timeless principles, innovative strategies, and valuable lessons that contribute to their growth and development. 

Embracing a habit of regular reading in the realm of leadership literature is an investment in one’s own leadership journey—a journey that evolves and adapts with each turn of the page, ultimately shaping leaders into resilient, insightful, and impactful contributors to their organizations and beyond.