Here are the 25 best books for leadership that will leave you inspired, educated and entertained. Most are good, some are great, and others go on to be business classics – the books that every aspiring manager or leader needs to read. These are the books that offer ideas and strategies that change the way people think and disrupt the way business is conducted.
That being the case, we decided to put pen to paper and publish our list of the top 25 leadership books of all-time. Without further ado, here is our list (in no particular order):
1. On Becoming a Leader
On Becoming a Leader
by Warren Bennis
Deemed “the Dean of Leadership Gurus” by Forbes magazine, Warren Bennis has persuasively argued that leaders are not born—they are made. Delving into the qualities that define leadership, the people who exemplify it, and the strategies that anyone can apply to achieve it, his classic work On Becoming a Leader has served as a source of essential insight for countless readers.
2. The Art of War
The Art of War
by Sun Tzu
The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise dating back more than 2,000 years ago. The work, which is attributed to the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu, is composed of 13 chapters – each one is devoted to an aspect of warfare and how it applies to military strategy and tactics. The Art of War is one of the most influential strategy texts in East Asian warfare and has influenced military thinking, business tactics, legal strategy and beyond.
3. Wooden on Leadership
Wooden on Leadership
by John Wooden & Steve Jamison
Focusing on the former UCLA Basketball coach’s legendary 12 Lessons in Leadership and his acclaimed Pyramid of Success, Wooden on Leadership outlines the mental, emotional, and physical qualities essential to building a winning organization. It also shows you how to develop the skill, confidence, and competitive fire to “be at your best when your best is needed” – and teach your organization to do the same.
4. Good to Great
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t
by Jim Collins
Collins, the bestselling author of Built to Last, and his team of researchers identified 11 elite companies that made the leap from simply “good” to “great” performance. By introducing us to the time-tested business ideas of Level 5 Leaders, The Hedgehog Concept, and A Culture of Discipline, Good to Great offers leaders a complete framework for success. If there exists a must-read business book, this is it.
5. Primal Leadership
Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence
by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis & Annie McKee
The book that established “emotional intelligence” in the business lexicon. Great leaders move us. They ignite our passion and inspire the best in us. When we try to explain why they’re so effective, we often speak of strategy, vision, or powerful ideas. But the reality is much more primal – great leadership works through the emotions. Primal Leadership describes what managers and executives must do to become emotionally intelligent leaders. A must-read for anyone that leads or aspires to lead.
6. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations
by James Kouzes & Barry Posner
The Leadership Challenge is about how leaders mobilize others in an effort to get extraordinary things done inside companies and organizations. The authors present their Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®, which when executed efficiently, allow leaders to bridge the chasm between just getting things done and actually making great things happen. Read it to stay current, relevant, and effective in the modern workplace.
7. Start with Why
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
by Simon Sinek
From the bestselling author of Leaders Eat Last, Start With Why posits that people won’t truly buy into a product, service, movement, or idea until they understand the WHY behind it. Drawing on a wide range of real-life stories, Sinek weaves together a clear vision of what it truly takes to lead and inspire.
9. First, Break All the Rules
First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently
by Marcus Buckingham
In this longtime management bestseller, the author presents the remarkable findings of Gallup’s in-depth study of more than 80,000 managers. The data reveals that despite varying backgrounds and styles, great managers share one common trait – they don’t hesitate to break sacred business rules. In First, Break All the Rules, you’ll discover vital performance and career lessons for managers at all levels and discover how to apply them to your specific situation.
Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done
by Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan
Larry Bossidy, the legendary CEO of Honeywell International, Inc., joins forces with consultant and prolific author Ram Charan to explain how getting things done — not strategy, innovation or anything else — is the most important function of a business leader. In this business bestseller, the authors examine in detail the three key processes of execution — people, strategy and operations — and show how all three are linked. Execution is the smart business leaders guide to getting things done.
The Lean Startup
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
by Eric Ries
This entrepreneurial masterpiece is a must-read for anyone thinking about going into business for themselves. The Lean Startup introduces a methodology that focuses you on finding out what customers want as quickly as possible and then using scientific experimentation to prove that you’re making progress. Ries recommends launching as early and cheaply as possible, so you don’t waste time and money getting into the marketplace.