We have sifted through various lists and talked to our friends and colleagues in leadership, to come up with this Leadership Reading List of indisputable classics and fresh voices. Read these and other texts to drive your future and the success of your organization.

CLASSICS

The One Minute Manager

Kenneth H. Blanchard & Spencer Johnson (1982)

This classic not only provides the basics of managing people, but emphasizes that it’s not really all that difficult to get people to do what you need them to do. Read more »

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Stephen R. Covey (1989)

Covey’s book represents the best in self-help. His advice—about prioritization, empathy, self-renewal, and other topics—is both insightful and practical. Seven Habits can be useful to the personal and professional development of anyone charting a career in business. Read more »

The Art of War

Sun Tzu (circa 1080)

Although written many centuries ago, this book provides advice about general political strategy and, more important, defeating your enemies without expending a vast amount of effort. Read more »

The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management

Peter F. Drucker (2001)

Almost everything that’s been written about management since the middle of the 20th century is based in one way or another upon Drucker’s work. Reading these excerpts gives you a solid understanding of this seminal thinker. Read more »

On Becoming a Leader

Warren Bennis (1989)

This classic draws from hundreds of interviews to help answer the question: What is a good leader? Bennis examines the psychological and philosophical attributes of thinkers, scientists, executives, and entertainers who all share an ability to unite people in a common purpose. Anyone looking for a comprehensive and actionable guide to being a better leader could not do better than this. Read more »

Productive Workplaces

Marvin Weisbord (1987)

A classic that traces today’s management practices back more than 100 years, providing the reader with a mini-MBA on the subject. You are encouraged to explore evolving management theories in concert with your own values. Read more »

Man’s Search for Meaning

Viktor Frankl (1946)

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist who survived life in the Nazi concentration camps. This is really two books—one dedicated to recounting his frightening ordeal in the camps (interpreted through his eyes as a psychiatrist) and the other a treatise on his theory, logotherapy—the idea that life is primarily about the search for meaning— has inspired leaders for generations. Read more »

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Dale Carnegie (1936)

The time-tested advice in this book has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives. Learn:

  • Three fundamental techniques in handling people
  • The six ways to make people like you
  • The twelve ways to win people to you way of thinking
  • The nine ways to change people without arousing resentment

Read more »

MODERN CLASSICS

Leadership 101

John C. Maxwell (2009)

Drawing from John Maxwell’s bestsellers, this book focuses on essential and tiMe-tested qualities neccessary for true leadership—influence, integrity, attitude, vision, problem-solving, and self-discipline. He guides readers through practical steps to develop leadership in their lives and others. Read more »

First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently

Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman (1999)

Based on an extensive study of managers in different companies, this book pretends to be iconoclastic (hence become the title), but is actually a clear manifesto of what has now standard management practice. Read more »

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t

Jim Collins (2001)

Collins identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years and generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by the greatest companies. Read more »

Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman (2002)

The psychologist credited with popularizing the concept of “emotional intelligence” looks at its application to leadership. Goleman builds a convincing argument that the most effective and inspiring leaders are in touch with their feelings and have the ability to channel emotions in a positive direction. Read more »

Leadership

Rudolph W. Giuliani (2005)

His management and decision-making skills have proven to be outstanding through his years as U.S. district attorney and his two terms as mayor of New York City. On September 11, 2001, Giuliani was able to take control, show leadership, and make it clear to New Yorkers and the world that they were in safe hands. Read more »

Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan (2002)

Larry Bossidy transformed AlliedSignal into one of the world’s most admired companies and was named CEO of the year in 1998 by Chief Executive magazine. he achieved 31 consecutive quarters of earnings-per-share growth of 13 percent or more through the consistent execution: linking together people, strategy, and operations. Read more »

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

Seth Godin (2008)

Change is best effected by a tribe: a group of people connected to each other, to a leader and to an idea. Tribes can be within or outside a corporation, and almost everyone can be a leader; most are kept from realizing their potential by fear of criticism and fear of being wrong. Change isn’t made by asking permission, change is made by asking forgiveness, later. Read more »

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful

Marshall Goldsmith (2007)

The corporate world is filled with executives who have worked hard for years to reach the upper levels of management. They’re intelligent, skilled, and even charismatic. But only a handful of the will ever reach the pinnacle, because subtle nuances make all the difference. These are small “transactional flaws” that Goldsmith addresses with straightforward, jargon-free advice. Read more »

The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Guide of Peak Performance

Timothy Gallwey (1972)

After watching Tom Brady and the 2016 New England Patriots pull off the most improbable comeback in sports history, we can all agree: Super Bowl LI is the greatest comeback win ever and Tom Brady’s mental aptitude is perhaps better than any other professional athlete. Brady has credited this book with teaching him about mental toughness. Read more »

The Hard Things About Hard Things

Ben Horowitz (2014)

While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. Ben Horowitz analyses the problems that confront leaders every day, sharing the insights he’s gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies. Read more »

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

Patrick Lencioni (2002)

Using fables, Lencioni reveals the five dysfunctions which go to the very heart of why teams, even the best ones, often struggle. He outlines a powerful model and actionable steps that can be used to overcome these common hurdles and build a cohesive, effective team. He delivers a powerful yet deceptively simple message for all those who strive to be exceptional team leaders. Read more »

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP

Standing at the Crossroads: Next Steps for High-Achieving Women

Marian N. Ruderman & Patricia J. Ohlott (2002)

The authors debunk the common myth that women must give up life’s other roles to be successful professionally. Research shows that multiple roles benefit and enhance women’s managerial performance. The book provides individuals and their organizations with invaluable advice to support women’s development as managers and leaders. Read more »

Unwritten Rules: What Women Need To Know About Leading In Today’s Organizations

Lynn Harris (2009)

Lynn Harris provides pragmatic advice for women leaders. She explodes the leadership myths prevalent in the workplace today, and provides women with essential information to make informed choices about their careers and how to lead. Unwritten Rules explores the specific challenges faced by women leaders and what it takes for them to succeed. Read more »

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Sheryl Sandberg (2013)

Thirty years after women became half the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry. This means that women’s voices are still not heard equally. Lean In examines the root causes for why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, and offers compelling solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential. Read more »

Breaking into the Boys’ Club: 8 Ways for Women to Get Ahead in Business

Molly D. Shepard, Jane K. Stimmler & Peter Dean (2009)

No matter what stage in your career or what job position you hold, this book offers practical, relatable ways to evaluate your work style and workplace culture in order to better understand behavior that may be holding you back from advancing in your field. Breaking into the Boys’ Club contains straight talk about the mistakes women make and how to fix them in order to achieve more personal and professional satisfaction and success. Read more »

The Tao Of Womanhood: Ten Lessons for Power and Peace

Diane Dreher (1999)

For every woman who is searching for both external power and internal peace. The Tao of Womanhood is for the woman who wants to be tough but nice, who wants to take care of things and everyone else but needs to be reminded to look after herself, who feels pulled in too many directions and yearns to live a full, balanced life. Read more »

What sage advice have you discovered recently?

We’d love to hear from you. Share your favorite, forward-thinking and/or life-changing books with us below.

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