Let’s take a look at 10 of the best leadership books. Each one covers a unique perspective on how to become a more effective leader. They’re relevant whether you’re leading a business, an organization, or a team.
The list is for founders, CEOs, managers, or anyone else that wants to inspire or lead. The books are not organized in any set order. So I recommend that you familiarize yourself with each of them by reading this article or watching the provided video. That way you can choose the best leadership books for you.
1. Start With Why by Simon Sinek
It’s common to hear leaders talk about ‘what’ their organization does. And some will go a step further and talk about ‘how’ they do what they do. But the most effective leaders focus on communicating ‘why’ their organization exists.
This book is about clarifying the deeper purpose behind your organization. It explains how to communicate that message more effectively to inspire people to take action. It’s a must-read for anyone leading an organization, movement, or cause.
2. Measure What Matters by John Doerr
As an organization grows it becomes difficult for leaders to establish and communicate strategic goals. That’s because increased size leads to increased bureaucracy. And this can bring progress to a crawl as individual teams struggle to identify priorities.
This book explains how to use ‘Objectives and Key Results’, or OKRs, to manage organizational goals. It’s a proven approach that Google, Intel, and others use to be more effective. That’s because it can boost transparency, accountability, and collaboration.
3. Trillion Dollar Coach by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, and Alan Eagle
Who are the most impactful leaders in tech? The list would surely include people like Steve Jobs and Tim Cook from Apple; Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt from Google; Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook; and Jeff Bezos from Amazon.
What all of these people have in common is that they gathered together in Atherton, California to honor Bill Campbell after he passed away. You may not have ever heard of Bill, but he was considered one of the single most influential people in Silicon Valley.
This book is about how Bill was able to influence so many great leaders. It documents his close relationships with industry titans, and breaks down his unique and effective leadership style. It’s a must-read for leaders and those that seek to support them.
4. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
There are two kinds of dangers that people face when working for an organization. There are ‘outside’ dangers like direct competition, alternative solutions, and market conditions. And there are ‘inside’ dangers like personal conflict, intimidation, and humiliation.
This book explains how effective leaders build a strong circle of safety inside their organizations. The goal is to greatly reduce, or eliminate, internal dangers. That way individuals and teams can focus their energy on moving the business forward.
5. Multipliers by Liz Wiseman & Greg McKeown
At a high level, there are two distinct approaches to leading a team. The first is to focus on being the genius that everyone else turns to in a bind. The second is to focus on unlocking the genius that can be found in others.
This book is about how the best leaders take the second approach. They find ways to make everyone around them smarter, more capable, and more effective as a team. And the book provides actionable tips for helping teams achieve extraordinary results.
6. Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, Annie McKee
When people try to describe what makes a leader so effective, they often focus on things like strategy, vision, or brilliant ideas. But great leadership often works through our human emotions. The best leaders find ways to resonate with their people.
This book explains the importance of emotional intelligence in achieving leadership resonance. It also explains how and when to use six unique leadership styles, including: visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting, and commanding.
7. The Dichotomy of Leadership by Jocko Willink & Leif Babin
Leadership often involves striking a balance between two extremes. A few examples include: training hard vs. training smart, discipline vs. creativity, confidence vs. humility, empowering vs. micromanaging, and leading vs. following.
This book is about how to balance the many dichotomies of leadership. It covers 12 principles that are broken down into three categories: balancing your people, balancing the mission, and balancing yourself. And it explores each principle with real-world examples.
8. The 21 Irrefutable Laws Of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
There are many different skills associated with effective leadership. So it’s no surprise that individual leaders are often strong in some areas while being weak in others. And it’s these weaknesses that can sometimes hurt their ability to be effective.
This book covers 21 unique insights into how to lead more effectively. It can help you identify areas that need work. And it can inspire you to take your leadership strengths to the next level.
9. The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle
A recurring theme in leadership is the value of building a strong culture. Simply put, people are more effective when they’re collaborating than when they’re isolated. And while there are many books on this subject, it doesn’t hurt to get another perspective.
This book explores the secrets of highly successful groups. It reveals three fundamental skills of great organizations: building safety, sharing vulnerability, and establishing purpose. And it features real word examples that make it easy to understand and apply the ideas.
10. Who Not How by Dan Sullivan & Dr. Benjamin Hardy
Leaders are often tempted to micro-manage people or to jump in to address a problem. Often the default response to a new opportunity or challenge is to ask: how can I solve this? But it’s important to make the shift from “how?” to “who?”.
This book is about achieving bigger goals by accelerating teamwork. It explains the benefits of collaborating with others. And it goes into detail on how to do so more effectively. This way you can tap into the skills, capabilities, and experience of others. Which is critical if you want to be a strong leader.