I’ve heard it said, “Leaders are readers.” I don’t necessarily agree. Great leaders are continual and veracious learners and reading is an excellent way to gather knowledge, but leadership isn’t a knowledge gathering contest. Leadership is an interdisciplinary practice. It is the practice of knowledge that creates understanding, and understanding is the beginning of wisdom. Reading is an important discipline of great leadership, but never forget to apply what you learn—that’s where the magic happens.
Top 25 leadership books of all time.
1. Leading an Inspired Life – Jim Rohn. This book contains timeless principles of personal growth that will help any leader become the best of themselves.
2. Leading with the Heart – Mike Krzyzewski. One of the greatest coaches of all time Coach K shares his wisdom which applies from the basketball court to the boardroom
3. The Compound Effect – Darren Hardy. This book highlights the power of consistency, resilience, and growth in a simple, easy-to-do format.
4. Psychology: A very short introduction – Freda McManus, Gillian Butler. Understanding psychology is vital to great leadership. This book gives a great introductory overview.
5. The End of Leadership – Babara Kellerman. In this book Kellerman dissects leadership as a multidisciplinary practice, while challenging the leadership industry.
6. Organizational Culture and Leadership – Edgar Schein. The most comprehensive book on organizational culture ever written.
7. The Art of War – Sun Tzu. A timeless classic. This book is written as wisdom literature and gives great information on strategy, change, logistics, operations, and leadership.
8. Aesop’s Fables – Aesop. A compilation of 650 stories that will enhance critical thinking skills and decision making.
9. The Seasons of Life – Jim Rohn. A great book for keeping the balances of life in perspective and staying “in the moment.”
10. The Heart of Change – John Kotter. This book shares numerous stories of how people changed their organizations.
11. The Republic – Plato. Another timeless classic which breaks down societal and/or organizational structure for our consideration.
12. Leadership Communication – Deborah Barret. A comprehensive textbook on the communication skills needed to lead an organization effectively.
14. Nichomachean Ethics – Aristotle. A thought-provoking read on morals, justice, peace and happiness.
15. Narcissism: Denial of True Self – Alexander Lowen. This book is a must-read for all leaders. It will help you see the pitfalls of narcissism that all leaders are susceptible to.
16. Character Building – Booker T. Washington. Essential practices for building great character and serving others which are important for great leadership.
17. Reframing Organizations – Lee Bolman, Terrance Deal. A comprehensive book on organizational framework and the inner workings of each.
18. The Prince – Niccolo Machiavelli. I don’t agree with many perspectives in this book, but it is a great book for challenging our motives for decision making.
19. Finance for Non-Financial Managers – Shoffner, Shelly, Cook. Leaders need to have a broad understanding of finance without having to know all the details. This book is great for that.
20. The Serving Leader – Ken Jennings and John Stahl-Wert. This is a great book/novel for teaching leaders this model/style of leadership.
21. Visionary Leadership – Burt Nanus. An excellent read for leaders who want to create and establish vision in their organizations.
22. The Leader Who Had No Title – Robin Sharma. This fable is an excellent example of how leadership is based on influence and the simple way to lead others without a title.
23. How to Win Friends and Influence People– Dale Carnegie. One of the greatest human relations books of all time. This book is a must-read for all leaders.
24. Daring Greatly – Brene Brown. This book is about creating vulnerability and connection in your life and in the lives around you.
25. Failing Forward – John Maxwell. This book is about learning from and moving forward after failures.
If you haven’t read these books, I recommend them. If you get one thought, idea, phrase, or quote from any of these books I implore you to take immediate action on them. Impression without expression is the beginning of depression and the start of delusion. Make sure you practice what you know or it won’t serve those you lead. Practice is the lifeblood of knowledge.
If you have any books you would add to this list, I would love to see them below. Blessings!