If you are looking to hone your leadership skills, there’s no better way to do that than by reading. Whether you want to lead properly in an organization or a team, getting just the right leadership skills is no child’s play. This is why it helps to learn from the personal experiences and knowledge of others. Familiar with the ‘readers are leaders’ line? Of course, you are. However, that line has fast become a cliché.

It is more of a “Not all readers are leaders but all leaders are readers” situation as rightly quoted by President Harry Truman. Wondering why? It’s because reading on its own comes with many benefits. From helping to improve emotional intelligence and communication skills to even boosting organizational effectiveness, the list goes on and on. And that is just for reading generally. Reading leadership books comes with even more benefits.That is why you should keep on reading this post to discover the 20 books on leadership that are a must-read for the potential great leader in you.

20 Must-read Leadership Books

  1. The Five Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential – John C. Maxwell

In this book, John Maxwell dishes out both the information and inspiration that every leader/budding leader needs. You would not only be equipped with the knowledge on how to climb higher on the leadership ladder. You would get all the motivation you need to keep going and stay at the top. If you also want to understand how influence works, then this is the book for you. You would also learn how you can lose and gain influence as a leader. In addition to this, you would gain insights as to why you find it easy to work with certain people. And difficult to work with others as a leader and also how to cope in both situations.

  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey

This has to be one of the most popularly read books on this list. Best believe that it is not just hype. The author walks you through the process of developing an entirely different perspective needed to get a paradigm shift. The habits focus on integrity, honesty, and fairness. By the time you turn the last page of the book. You would be well on your way to growing meaningfully and consistently as a leader.

  1. The Truth About Leadership – James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

Want to know what traits and characteristics you need to have for effective leadership? Then this book is the one you should get. You would discover all there is to leadership from credibility to trust to ethics amongst other core principles. What’s more, the details in the book are all backed up by research. It contains ten different truths about leadership that was gotten from the thousands of leaders both authors have interviewed over some years. These 10 truths would teach you how to lead in the most straightforward way.

  1. Applied Empathy: The New Language of Leadership – Michael Ventura

Reading this book would help you to connect to and understand the people you work for and with. This way, practicing effective leadership would come easily to you. The author says that contrary to popular opinion, empathy is not about being nice. It is more about being understanding to yourself, your teammates, colleagues, followers and everyone else. The book would teach you how to develop connections that last. Reading this book would help you get out of your head and see the world from a different perspective. This would then make you a better problem solver and, of course, a better leader.

  1. The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail – Clayton M. Christensen

If you are looking for a leadership book with the most practical examples, then this one is for you. Authored by an innovation expert, the book is highly recommended by Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder. That goes a long way to show how powerful a read it is. What’s more, it was listed as one of the 100 Leadership and Success Books that everyone ought to read in their lifetime. Reading it would give you first-hand access to the successes and failures of innovative leaders in top companies.

  1. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead – Sheryl Sandberg

If you are a woman entrepreneur, you would love this one. It’s no news that women have to work twice as hard to make it to the top of their careers and the leadership ladder. It just might be because of that that Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook wrote this book. Here, she wrote about how you don’t necessarily have to be good at leading others but if you do put in work and persevere, you would become great at it. She stressed the fact that you have to focus only on being successful and not being liked by everyone. With how relatable her writing is, how she infused humor into the writing, you would certainly have a good read with this one and become a better leader and overall person.

  1. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable – Patrick Lencioni

Patrick Lencioni, in this book, focused on the various problems that leaders can run into and he also wrote about how such problems can be avoided. He proposes that it’s not just the action of leaders that brings about results but that of the team as a whole. The message of the book was passed across with captivating storytelling that is sure to make you keep turning the pages. It focuses on the fact that leadership is not just about having large visions but that it is also about the ability to properly address whatever challenges the team may face. The book is filled with various situations in which a leader encountered problems and also how each one was dealt with.

  1. The 48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene

A New York Times bestseller, this book contains 48 laws of power that go as far back as 3,000 years of history. The laws would help leaders to achieve the perfect dynamic between themselves and their team. It, however, isn’t just about getting to achieve results and holding to power. It also contains practical advice that would help you to guard yourself against the power tactics of others. The laws teach different things. Some teach confidence while others teach prudence, self-preservation amongst many others. The book would teach you how to gain power for yourself through various mechanisms. It is one that is definitely worth the buy!

  1. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t – Simon Sinek

The title of this book is pretty interesting and its content is even more so. There, the author provided insights on how leaders can make trust the basis of their workplace and also deal with various happenings that might want to hamper the growth and development of a team or an organization. By saying “Leaders eat last”, he proposes that a great leader is one who sacrifices his/her comfort for the benefit of their followers. The latest edition which was released in 2017 has a chapter that specifically focuses on how to lead millennials. This expanded chapter would go a long way in helping you if you have to lead a group of people who are years younger than you.

  1. Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman

This book has been making waves right from when it was first published in 1995 and it is still making waves. This is only rightly so seeing as it is filled with lots of relevant information on how to develop the emotional intelligence every leader should have. The author is of the school of thought that a person’s emotional intelligence goes a long way in setting them up for success in leadership and life as a whole.

  1. Learning to Lead: The Journey to Leading Yourself, Leading Others, and Leading an Organization – Ron Williams with Karl Weber

The author of this exceptional book claims that it wasn’t written for executives already at the top of the ladder who are looking for how to go higher. He says he particularly wrote it for those who are just about to kick start their leadership ‘career’ and those who are finding it difficult to get on the right path to leadership. The practical advice in this book would help you to develop the leadership qualities needed for all-round success. Whatever goal it is you want to achieve be it launching a new career, building a top-notch team, overcoming challenges, the practical steps in this book would walk you through the process.

  1. Developing the Leader Within You 2.0 – John C. Maxwell

This is yet another good book from John Maxwell. Here, he discusses the 10 basic lessons for becoming a great leader. The book was initially published in 1993 and was released with two new chapters in 2018 hence the 2.0. It motivates you to take the necessary steps that would take you further in your leadership journey. It is equipped with nuggets that would help develop your vision and, of course, the leader in you.

  1. Humble Leadership: The Power of Relationships, Openness, and Trust – Edgar H. Schein and Peter A. Schein

As its name rightly depicts, this book reports that the traditional forms of leadership where there is always a wide bridge between leaders and their followers are no longer effective as they used to be. The authors proposed that leadership has to become more personal for more innovation as well as good results to be possible. They encourage the need for empathy and vulnerability which they consider as strengths when it comes to leadership. All in all, this book written by father and son calls for humility-based leadership as it is the key to the growth and survival of any team or workforce.

  1. Leadership is an Art – Max DePree

By citing examples and anecdotes from his own experiences in the business world, Max DePree in this book talked about all the leadership acts and decisions that made his business the success it is. He teaches that what leadership requires is the ability to not only build relationships but also nurture them. He also talks about how creating a sustainable value system in every organization and being able to initiate ideas are integral aspects of what leadership is all about.

  1. Leadership and Self-Deception – The Arbinger Institute

This book discusses how we as humans tend to deceive ourselves and how this bad habit tends to limit what we dream about and what we go on to achieve. It talks about how instead of treating others as real people who have their aims and goals, we often treat them as objects who can either help or not help us in the realization of certain goals. It goes on to say that this places us in a box that limits our growth as individuals and this is the self-deception we have to break away from to be able to lead effectively.

  1. Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results – Judith E. Glaser

Conversations are what we use to get almost everything done and it becomes even more important when one is in a leadership position. This book is based on the fact that leaders can use the right kind of conversations to effect the kind of change and results that they want to see. It would teach you about the three levels of conversations being transactional, positional and transformational. It suggests that based on which level of conversation leaders engage in, different kinds of results can be gotten.

  1. Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman, Richard E. Boyatziz and Annie McKee

It is often said that it is this book that established emotional intelligence as a skill necessary for leaders to possess. Its relevance has gone beyond the business world as it is now commonly used by professional coaches, business schools, and other institutions. It emphasizes on the importance of empathic and self-aware leadership. One in which the leader not only focuses on getting good results but he also leaves a good feeling in those he leads. The authors further stressed that the first job that an employee or a leader should focus on is making their employees/followers feel good that is, empowered and inspired. This one is surely a must-read.

  1. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You – John C. Maxwell

This is the third book on this list authored by John Maxwell and it is with good reason. He sure does know his onions. In this book, he proposes that there are 21 “laws” that are universally true irrespective of what culture or society one leads in. There is the law of the lid, the law of influence, the law of process, the law of navigation and so many more. You would have to get a copy to know all about these laws and how you can make use of them to lead effectively.

  1. Servant Leadership: A Journey Into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness – Robert K. Greenleaf

This book is old but gold and it teaches leaders that they have to be servant leaders. Being a servant leader means that you are to be a servant first before being a leader. The author states that you should focus on the needs of others before you focus on yours and you should generally let there be a sense of community between yourself and your followers. This would cause there to be a stronger relationship and subsequently, increased innovation and greatness.

  1. The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership – Bill Walsh with Steve Jamison and Craig Walsh

If you are a lover of football, then you would love learning about leadership from the perspective of a football coach. The author, Bill Walsh took a football team from being one of the worst teams to the getting to the Super Bowl under three years! Sounds unbelievable but he did it and he bares it all out in this book. He talks about how upholding a Standard of Performance- doing the right thing at the right time, putting in the adequate amount of effort- is sure to set you on the path to being a good leader

At some point in everyone’s lives, there comes a time when we have to take on a leadership role. It could be at work, school, a religious organization, or even at home. There are lots of leadership-related books that can walk you through the process of being a successful and outstanding leader. This post has listed 20 of such books that you just have to read. They all contain practical stories and experiences that would help you to lead effectively. They are all just a click away so you should go get yours now!


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