There are dozens and dozens of books cited by CEOs, corporate managers, and employees on what gets them motivated to lead the day. It can come in a novel, a self-help book, or a non-fiction story that may not even be business related, yet be adaptable to the businesses. Here is a short list of books about leadership that should be read by all.

Books On Leadership

  1. The Art Of War by Sun Tzu – This book, written in China, is 2000 years old. Why do we still read it? It may be about the military and approach war in Asia, but it can be easily applied to business strategy, strategies, and achievements. It will help you find solutions to disruptions in different areas of your life.
  2. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell – The business veteran gives real stories and practical application around the 21 laws of success and failures as a business leader. Mixing in scenes of politics, sports, religion, and war, Maxwell gives his own constitution to leadership. It is a must-read for all leaders.
  3. Start With Why by Simon Sinek – Business is not just about the products and services. They are about the purpose and connections those products create. Great brands understand this concept and lead from the heart rather than the head. Start with why and you will touch the hearts of employees and clients alike and create a strong community that supports and promotes the business.
  4. Drive by Daniel H. Pink – What you thought you knew about motivation will be challenged in this book. Daniel Pink brings us into the world of psychology where autonomy, mastery, and purpose are the real drivers to drive managers and employees to reach beyond their goals. If you want to be a better leader, you need to know what motivates others and what your role as a leader is in getting people motivated.
  5. First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham &Curt Coffman – This book is a major influence on management philosophy. The two authors, both of them Gallup analysts, write that the leading factors to a successful organization involve zeroing in on strengths and giving each employee the right feel to fit in perfectly. Stories and examples come from a study of over 80,000 managers and what they do differently.
  6. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey – This is a classic has been inspiring people for over 25 years. Shift your thinking around leadership, time management, and productivity. It is to be practiced in everyday life. Read this book one a year and condition these habits. Attaining success is about building character and the habits you practice will define you.
  7. Built To Last by James C. Collins & Jerry I. Porras – The authors did 6 years of research asking the question “What makes the truly exceptional companies different from other companies?” The result was a list of companies they defined as visionaries (Disney, Ford, Sony). They write those companies’ characteristics that led to massive success, sustainability, and leadership in each business sector.
  8. Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink& Leif Babin – Using the lives of two Navy SEALs and their challenges through a mission gone wrong. The book details how they dug out of a hole and lead the way to survive and advance. It is all about leading in times of trouble at any given minute – which is what business leadership is about: taking a hold of a major problem and guiding them out of trouble.
  9. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin – This might not be a common choice on your leadership reading list but a great way to learn about great leadership is to study great leaders. Lincoln was a strong leader and this book dives into the start of President Lincoln’s presidency and how he brought in his critics within the Republican Party into his cabinet. Lincoln is widely considered the greatest President in American history and this book provides insight how he became a full-fledged leader in the darkest years of the country at all costs.
  10. The New One Minute Manager by Spencer Johnson and Kenneth H. Blanchard – This is an updated version of the classic “One Minute Manager”. The classic book focused on the principle of mentoring and coaching to be a good manager and teach others to manage. This updated parable demonstrates the same principles in today’s business environment. Focusing on the right motivators and providing direct feedback creates strong teams.

These are all books that strike at the source of what it means to be a leader. They come from different perspectives and give readers an unlikely view of what the world – or business – can be. These books are great for business book clubs, management training programs, executive training, leadership training and any venue designed to develop leaders personally and professionally.