From Hands Down, Dare to Lead to Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box, here are 12 answers to the question, “What are some must-read leadership books that you recommend and why?”
- Hands Down, Dare to Lead by Brene Brown
- Trust and Inspire: How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others by Stephen M.R. Covey
- Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink
- Leadership Is Language by David Marquet
- Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office by Lois P. Frankel
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
- The Originals by Adam Grant
- How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job by Sally Helgeson
- Small Mistakes, Big Consequences by Anne Corley Baum
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- The Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsberg
- Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box by The Arbinger Institute
Hands Down, Dare to Lead by Brene Brown
We have been conditioned to believe that vulnerability is a weakness, and as leaders, we are taught to have all the answers and to show strength at all times, the “Never let them see you sweat” mentality.
In reality, this is one of the most damaging beliefs a leader can hold. Showing your team that you don’t have all the answers and that you too are often uncertain and yet you move forward anyway, is showing courage.
As Dr. Brown shares in her book, Dare to Lead, you simply cannot have courage without vulnerability, and it is in understanding and showing these traits that we become our powerful and influential selves. When I train leadership teams, I often use the tools Dr. Brown provides and definitely the concepts to show how these ideals show up in real-life work situations.
Trust and Inspire: How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others by Stephen M.R. Covey
The new world of work requires a new style of leadership! As people continue to search for purpose and meaning at work, there is a parallel need for people leaders to shift away from “command and control” to a “trust and inspire” style of leadership.
While some may hold onto the belief that a more compassionate and human-focused style of leadership is somehow weak, this book highlights the true strength and confidence it takes to lead in a new way.
In this book, Trust and Inspire, Covey clearly articulates the fundamental beliefs and actionable framework for enabling leaders who model, leaders who trust, and leaders who inspire. As a people leader myself, I learned how to strengthen my leadership skills through openness, authenticity, and trust.
Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink
I’m not a tough guy, I’ve never been in the military, and I’m not a fan of Hollywood’s version of military culture (however realistic or unrealistic that may be). Yet, I love Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink, a former Navy SEAL and someone who looks and sounds like an exaggerated version of who Hollywood would cast as a SEAL.
It’s truly one of the best leadership books of our time. Just a single great lesson—Willink describes how one of the key factors to SEAL success is the culture of “I’ve got your back.” When you know your leader has your back, you worry less and focus more. You do what needs to be done, rather than worrying about what everyone else is doing.
Leadership Is Language by David Marquet
One book that challenged my thinking about leadership is Leadership is Language by David Marquet. Instead of a top-down approach, he champions “Intentional Leadership.” Marquet argues that in traditional leadership, the leader tells followers what to do, while in intentional leadership, the leader empowers employees to think and make decisions for themselves. I’ve personally found this approach leads to more engaged and motivated employees, reduces my stress, and ultimately, a more successful organization.
Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office by Lois P. Frankel
As a woman, becoming a professional of high standing can be a challenge in any industry. Climbing the corporate ladder, so to speak, can be a challenge, especially in a man’s professional world. That is why I recommend the book, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers by Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D.
This actionable novel addresses the challenges that women face from girlhood, shedding light on the fact that, starting at a young age, girls are told to remain kind, gentle, and passive. The novel addresses how we retain those messages subconsciously and how that impacts our ability to be as confident and assertive as our male colleagues.
Frankel effectively teaches you different strategies to become more confident and assertive in your work, in addition to addressing how to cope with disrespect and challenges in the workplace. I highly recommend this book.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey is on every leader’s “re-read it later” list. It explores the habits, both external and internal, that make a highly effective leader. It’s a classic leadership book of self-renewal and winning over your own self by building effective personal and professional habits in order to make sound choices that shift the path toward success. You can learn how to evaluate yourself and your decisions.
The Originals by Adam Grant
Adam Grant’s The Originals is a must-read for anyone, from solopreneurs to team members across any hierarchy of an organization. The nuances of habits, the idea of creating change, and making radical ideas normal are just a few areas that this book touches on. Accompanied by entertaining case studies, from Picasso to Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the author’s insights as a psychologist, this is a thoroughly enjoyable and valuable read.
How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job by Sally Helgeson
Whether you are an aspiring or a seasoned female leader, How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job is a must-read.
While gender equality has made significant progress, women in leadership roles are still facing barriers that arise from cultural assumptions and organizational structures. As an advocate for change and authentic leadership, I was delighted to find a book that provides females with practical advice on advancing their careers and reaching their full potential in a biased world.
This book is an empowering guide that examines the 12 destructive habits that hinder women from rising in leadership roles and achieving the levels of success they are capable of. After reading this book, it will equip you with practical tools to overcome perfectionism and imposter syndrome. You will learn how to overcome self-doubt, craft your authentic leadership style, and lead yourself and others in inspiring and impactful ways.
Small Mistakes, Big Consequences by Anne Corley Baum
Anne Corley Baum’s book, A Personal and Professional Development Guide: Small Mistakes, Big Consequences, is a must-read for anyone, especially new college graduates. She uses her expertise and many years of experience to identify mistakes we make in the workplace and how they can impact others.
Most importantly, she gives clear guidance on how someone can adjust their behavior so that they are seen in a positive light by others in the workplace. This book will help anyone be their best in the workplace.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a self-help book that was first published in 1936. The book provides practical advice on how to improve one’s interpersonal relationships and influence others.
The book emphasizes the importance of treating others with kindness and respect and offers techniques for developing excellent communication skills and building trust. Carnegie’s book is considered a classic in self-help and personal development and has sold millions of copies worldwide.
The Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsberg
If you want to be a millionaire, then you need to think like one. The Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsberg covers the areas you need to evaluate for yourself and level up in these areas. It isn’t as hard as you might think, but you must roll up your sleeves and put in the work.
Thinking like a millionaire starts with educating yourself. Being a lifelong learner is one who reads and pursues answers continually. This book is the first way to expand your learning, and I highly recommend it.
Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box by The Arbinger Institute
When anyone asks me about my favorite book, for the past decade my answer has been Leadership and Self-Deception. I was introduced to this book ten years ago, and it has drastically transformed my personal and professional relationships.
As leaders, we have many challenges in front of us, and when we peel back the layers, most of the challenges we experience are the same and they all involve people. This book illustrates a way of navigating challenges and opportunities and the immense value of leading and working from an “outward mindset.”
From economic uncertainty to retention, and everything in between, seeing people as the unique individuals they are and not as numbers on a spreadsheet can give our organizations tremendous advantages and help us weather nearly any storm.