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8 must-read books for leaders

A great starting point for any leader who wants to become more effective in their role, is to learn what others have discovered in their own journey as leaders or through their research. Like the zen proverb says, "it takes a wise person to learn from their mistakes, but an even wiser person to learn from others".

Although it’s obvious you can’t become a leader simply by reading about it, these books can help you tremendously on that journey. Regardless of your background, personal history, career path, and leadership ambitions you can gain valuable insight by diving deep into these bestsellers.

Make sure to write down all of the valuable lessons, jolt down concrete actions steps and use quotes as inspirations in your daily activities.

1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

If you aren’t sure where to begin, start with this book! In order for one to become a leader, they must, firstly, work on themselves. And this 1989 release offers a very practical, easy-to-understand, and principle-centered approach to your growth and development. The powerful lessons offered in this book will deeply impact your daily practices, and help you become a leader to be admired.

2. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

A deep understanding of the golden circle presented in this book, with a special focus on answering the question why will tremendously widen your perspective. A variety of real-life examples will help you understand why some thrive whereas others fail and what you do to set your team, your leadership, and your role apart. Use this book to learn from the best and to implement a proven and useful principle in your decision-making processes.

3. Code of the extraordinary mind by Vishen Lakhiani

To manage is fairly easy, but to lead, to motivate, and inspire, it takes a much deeper understanding not only of human nature but of ourselves as well. It also requires a lot of soul searching, doing the hard work on building your character, and, ultimately, dealing with your own shortcomings. The code that the founder of Mindvalley is presenting offers a holistic, multi-dimensional approach to personal development and showcases many successful stories. His findings have been co-created by many inspiring leaders, and their wisdom can now guide you on your path.

4. On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis

The author of this timeless piece hasn’t been called the dean of leadership gurus for nothing. If you’ve ever heard the phrase that the leaders are made and not born, you should also know that he said it! In his capital work, you can read all about leadership qualities, those who exemplify them, and, ultimately, the strategies you can apply. The vast experience of the author in leading and couching countless leaders in the public eye makes this book a necessary one in any leader’s library.

5. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Would you believe us if we told you that this book has first been written in 1936? And even after more than 15 million copies sold, it is still as relevant, if not more. This book will show you how everyone’s deep-seated need to feel important can work in your favor. Although everyone could benefit from it, it is especially important for leaders. If your goal is to be respected, well-liked and authoritative, this is a book you shouldn’t skip. We should also mention that Carnegie’s vision of the world and our surroundings in a particularly positive, hopeful light can be just what you need to deal with the cynicism and grimness of today’s realities.

6. The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail by Clayton Christensen

This book doesn’t deal with leadership directly, so to say, but it is an essential part of every leader’s library. It explains the way giants have fallen, despite doing everything right. He offers many examples across industries of this phenomenon and explains why he believes it has occurred. His theory about disruptive innovation has shaped many influential minds, and if you want to be a leader you shouldn’t skip it.

7. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t by Jim Collins

Haven’t you always wondered why some succeed while others fail? Well, so did Collins, so he wrote a book about it. His thorough research, done with this team, has compiled a list of 11 companies that went from good to great. They proceed to figure out how. The biggest value of this book lies in timeless business ideas like the Hedgehog concept, a Culture of Discipline, and most importantly, Level 5 leaders. This is one of the most fundamental leadership and business books that have been written to this date.

8. Dare to Lead by Brené Brown

This book is all about the power of vulnerability in inspiring teams to be true to themselves. When we are authentic, we allow ourselves to work in a company and role which is aligned with our natural tendencies, feel greater commitment and appreciation. In a world where we're taught to be strong and have all the answers, Brené shows us that vulnerability is strength, not weakness, how to leverage the power of vulnerability to achieve great results as leaders, and to be more fulfilled in the process.

To be frank, this list could go on and on, since, thankfully, many excellent and valuable books have been written on this topic. Keep in mind that the best way to improve your leadership effectiveness is to start implementing the principles, habits, and methodologies you’ve learned.

The learnings in these books will be of great benefit, as long as you move to action! this will ensure you are on the right path to becoming a great leader.

The 1 minute takeaway

The path to becoming a great leader can be challenging, so make sure you are doing all that you can to make it easier. Start by reading these amazing bestsellers, that will provide you with valuable insights, actionable steps, and a solid foundation.

Our list of 8 must-read books for leaders includes The 7 habits of highly effective people, Start with why, Code of the extraordinary mind, On becoming a leader, How to win friends and influence people, The innovator's dilemma, Good to great and Dare to lead.


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