Last updated: 10 August 2018
Warren Buffett gave us the ultimate life hack when he said:
“The best investment you can make is an investment in yourself. The more you learn, the more you’ll earn.”
Mr. Buffett’s simple words can teach you a lot about success. In fact, it’s enough to set you on the path of remarkable achievement in your desired profession.
If you desire to become a person of influence one day, know that highly effective, remarkable leaders are in fact continuous, lifelong learners.
The good news is you don’t need an expensive college education to tap into all the knowledge the world has to offer.
You don’t have to join a seminar or hire a leadership coach. It can all start by picking up a good book and start reading.
Business wiz and motivational speaker Tai Lopez made this a point when he told his followers to read a book a day.
Although this might sound overwhelming, it’s merely a reminder that you need to feed your mind valuable information on a regular basis.
To help you do this, we’ve assembled a top-notch list of leadership books, and have broken them down into the following 5 categories:
- How To Lead Teams
- Leadership Qualities So You Can Inspire Others
- Entrepreneurship & Startup Skills
- Professional & Personal Development
- Women In Leadership
So let’s get cracking…
How To Lead Teams
1. One Mission: How Leaders Build a Team of Teams, by Chris Fussell
Everyone’s a specialist these days. Specialization is society’s greatest strength, but it can also be a major weakness for organizations looking to build teamwork. We live in an age of silos and isolation. We often text instead of talk and rarely sit down with colleagues unless we share a direct working relationship.
As it turns out, silos don’t just affect large companies, but small ones too.
Former Navy SEAL Officer Chris Fussell addresses the challenges of teamwork by laying out an effective roadmap for breaking down silos.
Instilling a sense of teamwork is all about getting everyone to buy into the “mission,” which depends on agility, adaptability and a shared purpose. These lifelong lessons will resonate with you as you emerge from the crowd to lead a team of your own one day.
2. The Power of Positive Leadership: How and Why Positive Leaders Transform Teams and Organizations and Change the World, by Jon Gordon
Staying positive in the way of life’s obstacles isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be the greatest challenge of all. That’s why people who do it tend to be special.
As it turns out, leaders with this special characteristic know that a positive attitude is essential for success. If you’ve faced major obstacles on your journey (hint: we all have), Jon Gordon will show you how to deal with them.
Based on a series of interviews with some of the world’s greatest leaders, Gordon provides the lowdown on what he’s learned.
This includes a comprehensive framework on how to develop a positive attitude – and more importantly, how to get others to buy into it.
Although Gordon is providing a “framework” he certainly doesn’t lecture at you. In fact, this book will inspire you to cultivate your leadership qualities from within.
3. The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams, by Sam Walker
Sports fans will get a kick out of Capital Class – and a good dose of leadership qualities to boot. The Wall Street Journal’s former global sports editor Sam Walker draws an effective parallel between sports and leadership in this fresh take on self-help.
In doing so, he brilliantly defines the greatest sports teams ever based on 7 core qualities that include emotional control, nonverbal communication and courage.
The Captain Class isn’t your ordinary leadership book. By studying the greatest teams in history, Walker outlines the secret to winning.
As it turns out, freakishly good teams have more than just a star player or awesome coach in common.
The “Captain Class” is made up of people like you and me. This fascinating read will show you how to get the most out of your team even if you haven’t identified your star player.
Leadership Qualities So You Can Inspire Others
4. Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less – and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined, by Scott Sonenshein
Leadership is usually thought of as what more you can do to achieve success. Scott Sonenshein flips that idea on its head by teaching you that less is more.
Backed by solid research in psychology and management, Stretch looks at why some companies succeed with so little while others fail with so much.
As it turns out, good leaders don’t “chase” their goals, but “stretch” out the resources they already have.
Whether you’re managing a team of hundreds or just a couple, stretching helps you find creative and productive ways to solve your most pressing problems.
Sonenshein just so happens to be a professor at Rice University, who draws on numerous examples in business, sports and history to show you why resourcefulness is the key to success. Leaders looking to get more out of what they have will find this book very enriching.
5. The Art of Self-Coaching, Ed Batista
Executive coaching is all the rave these days. Once used to help underperforming leaders correct their behavior, coaching is now used to catapult effective workers towards their full potential.
If you’re an aspiring leader, Batista will give you a clear framework for managing your professional growth – without the need to hire an expensive coach.
Batista serves as an instructor and coach at the Stanford Graduate School, so he knows a thing or two about coaching people to the top.
In this book, Batista will take you through the various elements of professional and personal development, helping you identify your strengths while addressing areas for improvement.
Think of this 224-page book as the life coach you’ve always wanted, but probably couldn’t afford!
6. Radical Candor, by Kim Scott
In Radical Candor, Kim Scott shows you how to be a kick-ass boss. Literally, that’s what the book is all about.
Scott illustrates the art of leadership using personal examples throughout her career. From Apple to Google and on to various start-ups, Scott’s advice can help you become a better boss and a better colleague.
Her advice focuses on the fundamentals of leading others, including how to give and receive feedback, how to make smart decisions and how to keep moving forward. You know, normal work things that so many of us seem to struggle with.
Despite being on the bookshelves for only a few months, Radical Candor is universally acclaimed. If you’re a middle manager or managing multiple bosses, Scott will show you how to get things done while retaining your humanity.
Entrepreneurship & Startup Skills
7. All In: 101 Real Life Business Lessons for Emerging Entrepreneurs, by Bill Green
If you’re an entrepreneur with a Big Idea, Bill Green’s All In is an essential read. In it, the author – himself a serial entrepreneur – uses his impressive business achievements to explain the tools you need to launch a successful company or expand your existing one.
Whether you’re running a flea market table (as the author once did) or running a Silicon Valley tech company, success in entrepreneurship has a few essential truths.
Unique, passionate and downright funny, All In provides the inside scoop on entrepreneurship by sharing 101 key insights the author learned during his 40-year business career.
You’ll learn from Green’s successes and failures and along the way find out what great business people share in common.
8. Mapping Innovation: A Playbook for Navigating a Disruptive Age, by Greg Satell
Entrepreneurship has changed a lot over the past 30 years, especially in terms of technology. In Mapping Innovation, Greg Satell draws parallels between entrepreneurship and technology to show you that starting your own business is all about innovation.
Not all of us will create the next microchip or develop new software that will save businesses billions of dollars. But all of us in the small business world need to be innovative. This is true regardless of your chosen industry or business model.
Mapping Innovation provides a simple framework that can help you identify the best strategy for your business.
This easy-to-use framework is based on insights taken from some of the world’s top innovators. Rich with examples, Mapping Innovation can help you think more critically and develop an innovation-based approach to problem-solving.
9. Unshakable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook, by Tony Robbins
It’s hard to imagine Tony Robbins being left off the list of best leadership books of 2017. Unshakable wastes little time getting at the heart of what drives most entrepreneurs: the dream of financial freedom.
In his unmistakable style, Robbins develops a step-by-step playbook of how to accelerate your path to financial freedom.
Pulling knowledge from the world’s brightest financial minds, this 256-page read shows you how to manage the financial aspect of your life on both personal and professional levels.
There’s not a lot of fluff here. Regardless of where you are in your career, you can probably brush up on your financial management skills (in fact, we all can).
In Unshakeable, you are literally learning for the best. After a few reads and some notes, you’ll have a clear path to saving more money, earning more money and investing more of it in your future.
Professional & Personal Development
10. The Push: A Climber’s Journey of Endurance, Risk, and Going Beyond Limits, by Tommy Caldwell
Tommy Caldwell’s The Push is a different kind of personal development book. Instead of providing instructions, it reads as a 300-plus page memoir of Calwell’s legendary rock-climbing career.
In fact, the leadership qualities you learn are taken directly from Caldwell’s experience as a rock climber.
Climbing a mountain is analogous to becoming a leader in the professional world. Caldwell uses his adventures to teach about courage, tenacity and perseverance.
The book is listed on Amazon under Rock Climbing, which means you’d probably miss it if you decided to search for a great leadership read. Pick this one up – you’ll thank us later!
11. The Bravest You: Five Steps to Fight Your Biggest Fears, Find Your Passion, and Unlock Your Extraordinary Life, by Adam Kirk Smith
Whether we like it or not, fear is one of the biggest obstacles we face each and every day. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of trying something new.
But what if there was a way to actually overcome our biggest fears?
Unlocking your biggest fears is essential for finding your purpose. Deep down, Adam Kirk Smith probably knew that when he wrote The Bravest You.
In a strongly motivational style, Smith outlines a 5-step “Bravery Process” to help leaders overcome life’s rut. This blueprint addresses complacency, inspiration, fear, passion and bravery.
Although the The Bravest You won’t solve all of your problems, it will help you develop the emotional and mental aptitudes to overcoming fear. As it turns out, overcoming fear is a skill like anything else. It can be developed and perfected using the 5-step Bravery Process.
12. The Inspiration Code: How the Best Leaders Energize People Every Day, by Kristi Hedges
Ever noticed how great leaders give the best speeches? Or how their words of wisdom inspire you to action?
It’s no coincidence that great leaders say the right things at the right time. Their aptitude for doing so is the central theme behind Kristi Hedges’ latest book, The Inspiration Code.
If you’ve always dreamed of being the type of person who motivates others but just don’t know where to start, give this book a read.
Hedges teaches that inspiring others is a skill you can actually learn. In The Inspiration Code, you’ll learn the qualities you need to develop to be the kind of motivational person people want to follow. It’s not a matter of born talent, but an understanding of human emotion and how to use it in every situation.
Women In Leadership
13. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
It didn’t take long for Option B to become one of the year’s most talked about hits. After the sudden death of her husband, Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg entered a deep “void,” as she describes it, filled with “vast emptiness.”
By teaming up with Wharton psychologist Adam Grant, she put together this fine resource for everyone looking to rebound from a life-shattering experience.
Although Option B isn’t geared solely to women, it can help aspiring female leaders cope with life’s adversities. As women continue to face unique challenges in the workplace, dealing with adversity is something all highly successful women do. The book doesn’t just end with Sandberg’s story – it includes stories of people who recovered from divorce, imprisonment and even sexual assault.
14. Own It: The Power of Women at Work, by Sallie Krawcheck
Sallie Krawcheck’s Own It by Sallie offers a unique spin on women and leadership, drawing from her highly successful career at the top of some of America’s biggest banks, professional networks and news publications.
Krawcheck offers women a new set of rules for achieving success in the workplace. In particular, she focuses on how women can better engage the business world as it undergoes a profound shift driven by technology. Own It will show you how to embrace your innate strengths and reach for the top.
15. Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, by Helene Cooper
Very few books in the leadership genre are as harrowing as Madame President – the story of Nobel Lauriat Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, leader of the Liberian women’s movement.
In this book, Pulitzer Price-winning journalist Helene Cooper takes you through the triumphant story of the first democratically elected female president in Africa’s history.
Madame President doesn’t read like a self-help book, but is filled with amazing examples of perseverance.
Cooper masterfully transforms Sirleaf’s personal story into a bigger narrative of Liberian women. In doing so, the author examines Sirleaf’s personal leadership of the Liberian women’s rights movement and how she eventually moved into elected office.
There you have it – 15 of the best leadership books 2017 has to offer (so far). You might be thinking: how the heck am I going to read this entire list? The answer is simple: by starting slowly.
Even if you devote 30 minutes a day to nurturing your leadership skills, you can probably finish one book in the span of a month. That’s 12 leadership books a year!
Now imagine if you upped your reading to 45 minutes per day or even an hour a day. As world renowned life coach Brian Tracy says, that’s one book a week!
If becoming a leader is important to you, pick up a good book and start reading. This small investment of time, energy and money can lead to bountiful rewards in life and in work.
And to check out the best leadership books that made our list in 2015 and 2016, cast your eyes over these articles:
– Part 1: 2015 – The Top 20 Must-Read Leadership Books That’ll Help You Gain A Die Hard Following That Respects You – Part 1
– Part 2: 2016 – The Best Leadership Books – Part 2: Discover 24 Sources Of Inspiration That’ll Make You An Exceptional Leader