Whether you are looking to be a successful business owner or an enigmatic leader in your group, leadership skills are necessary. We often hear that some people are just born leaders. This may be true to an extent, but it is not the entire truth.
The truth is that almost anyone can become a great leader if they wish to. Leaders are readers. So if you want to know more about gaining strong leadership qualities, then these are some of the best leadership books that you should read!
Table of Contents
On Becoming A Leader- Warren Bennis
If you ever find yourself a sense of discouraging by the phrase “Leaders are born, not made,” then this is an excellent book for you. In his book On Becoming A Leader, Warren Bennis persuasively argues that one may become a leader if they want to. It is not some exceptional, inherent talent that you need to have, but something that you can build on.
If that isn’t encouraging enough, he goes on to define the ‘How’s’ of Leadership- how someone goes on to become a leader, how to describe it, how they lead other people, and even how organizations actively encourage Leadership, and sometimes stifle it.
On Becoming A Leader falls under consideration to be one of the best leadership books that you can read. It not only emphasizes the How of being a leader but also tells you strategic steps you can take to becoming a strong and overpowering force. It is truly a classic when it comes to leadership books.
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Lean In- Sheryl Sandberg
If you are a woman in need of a good leadership book, then there can be nothing better than Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. Sandberg, who is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, writes this bookkeeping in mind all the women in the world who are looking for the motivation, the push, and of course, the systematic approach to becoming an entrepreneur and a leader.
Lean Intakes quite a different approach to Leadership. This book focuses on the strengths and qualities of women and what they can inherently do. Where other books (or people) often claim that women are intrinsical, not good leaders, Sheryl Sandberg instead focuses on how you can use your skills to become a better leader. Even without inherent powers, it is possible to accrue the skills and, most importantly, to persevere in your goal.
Sandberg uses her humour along with her hard-to-ignore facts, which you will find yourself thinking about, long after you have put the book down.
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The Art of War- Sun Tzu
Although The Art of War isn’t necessarily what would come to mind when you think of the ‘best leadership books,’ this ancient Chinese military treatise has some precious insights you can learn from.
The Art of War came into existence over 2000 years ago, but the ancient text still can teach us so much when it comes to Leadership, strategic thinking, and even legal strategy.
This book, composing of 13 chapters, talks about aspects of warfare and how people can apply them to military strategies. Although the writing devotes itself entirely to the ancient art of war and military strategy, it is not challenging to garner great wisdom through the work.
You will be able to understand strategy and tactics better and can apply the same to your professional (and even personal) life.
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Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence- Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis& Annie McKee
You would hardly think that you need emotional intelligence to be a good leader. However, once you start reading this excellent leadership book, you will understand Leadership from a completely different aspect.
Sure, strategies, tactics, and even ground rules can help turn you into a good leader. But to make that leap from good to great, you also need to have a high amount of emotional intelligence.
Primal Leadership teaches you about emotional intelligence in the business world- and why a good leader needs to have this skill. A good leader is not just one who tells you what to do and how to do it. A good leader is one who can inspire others and kindle a fire within them- push them to become something more significant.
Great Leadership depends upon various factors; one of the most primal elements being human emotion. Once you learn to get a hold over your feelings, you will also understand better how to manage and navigate the opinions of other people, essentially making you a better leader.
Learning to Lead: The Journey to Leading Yourself, Leading Others, and Leading an Organization- Ron Williams with Karl Weber
While there are hundreds of great leadership books to choose from, the choices are overwhelming for someone who is just starting on their journey. Dozens of books on Leadership advise individuals who are already at a high place on how to climb higher.
However, Ron Williams points out that his book isn’t for fellow executives. Instead, he writes this, keeping in mind readers who wish to gain some insight and advice on how to move forward in their career path.
Many young aspiring workers are struggling in their careers for various reasons. These individuals need not only inspirational and motivational quotes but also clear definitions and practical steps they can take.
One of his great advice to people struggling on their career paths is to learn to seek out jobs in the sectors which are currently growing. This little piece of information can be great, especially for young, struggling individuals.
He illustrates his point by giving his example- how he becomes a top healthcare executive and then goes on to become a CEO. He did this in a field that saw a near doubling rate in the share of the economy during his time.
It is always important to keep in mind this cliché- Leaders are Readers. Once you understand the value of reading the right books, you will find it easier to assimilate the knowledge you need to move forward in your career path and become the great leader that you see yourself becoming.
The Coaching Habit: Say, Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier
An important lesson that every leader will eventually learn- sometimes, saying less is saying more. Of course, all of us hear this phrase at some time or the other, but we don’t take some space to absorb what it means.
Most of us often assume that the business world, or rather, just the world, works in favour of those who have the loudest voice and the most amount of things to say.
However, a good leader knows that this is far from the truth. In his book The Coaching Habit: Say, Less, Ask More & Change The Way You Lead Forever, Stanier tells us exactly how to apply this theory to our life and professional world.
Michael Bungay Stanier takes inspiration from his own life and experience to write this book. After coaching over 10,000 managers from around the world, he has a few leadership tricks up his sleeve. He believes that a good leader can tap into their employees’ potentials in just the right ways. This is the kind of genuine advice and inspiration you need in your life to become a better leader.
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make The Leap…, and Other’s Don’t by Jim Collins
If there is any business book which you absolutely must read, then it is Good to Great. In his book, Jim Collins, the author of bestselling book Built to Last, dissects a vital theory and helps you understand why individual companies can leap from ‘good to great,’ while different companies just cannot.
In his book, Collins identifies 11 such companies. Along with his impressive team of researchers, Collins breaks down specific business ideas which we test over some time. He introduces us to business ideas such as The Hedgehog Concept, Level 5 Leaders, and A Culture of Discipline.
By slowly breaking down each of these business ideas and understanding the simple mechanisms behind them, you will be able to grasp the complete framework for success in your business.
To be a good leader, it is essential to understand these business ideas intricately and to be able to apply them to further your team. This is precisely what you will learn in this book.
The Emperor’s Handbook by Marcus Aurelius
It is not news to hear that every once in a while, all we need is a good, inspirational quote or story to give us a push forward. And when those inspirational quotes come from a great world leader, it can be even better!
Marcus Aurelius was one of the most powerful emperors of the Roman civilization. The kind of power and wealth that would cause widespread corruption amongst previous leaders did not seem to touch Marcus Aurelius. We know of him to rule his kingdom with the utmost competence without ever faltering in his path by temptations.
If there is one thing that Marcus Aurelius knows, it is how he (and you can) live a happy life, evading catastrophic thoughts, and finding a sense of peace and contentment even amongst the worst of circumstances.
The Emperor’s Handbook will offer you all these old-fashioned values with a fresh, new perspective. This book will bring alive all of Marcus Aurelius’ teachings in a way that you can use them in the 21st century, 19 centuries after he writes about them!
If you ever feel negative emotions, thoughts, and circumstances seeping into your mind and want to learn how to be free of them, all the while moving forward with vigour, then this is a book you must read.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
Another classic leadership book along the theme of change is Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The central theme of this book is constant change- how you can learn to face them with wisdom, to embrace the changes, the new opportunities it brings, and how to encourage change.
It is not surprising to know that most people fear change. However, you cannot be a good leader if you hold on to this fear. Change is inevitable. We already know this. But dealing with these changes can be overwhelming.
In this book, you will gain knowledge into a holistic approach of dealing with and managing problems- both in your personal and professional life. Covey presents a step-by-step approach to living your life with dignity, fairness, and integrity.
These values, once you learn to apply them to your personal and professional life, will give you the wisdom that you need to adapt to change and learn to take advantage of all the opportunities life presents to you.
The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes & Barry Posner
Do you want to learn the simple tricks you can use to make extraordinary things happen in your organization, under very ordinary circumstances?
The Leadership Challenge will teach you more about this, revealing to you one big secret first- there is no simple trick to it! It’s all a matter of strategy, consistent efforts, and correct execution of these efforts.
To do this, you need to build a strong team. The Leadership Challenge tells you just how you can do that. Building a strong team that works actively to strengthen your organization does not require any magic tricks. There are just some essential things you need to know about how you can be useful and relevant in the modern workplace setting.
And this book gives you just the knowledge that you need. You will learn the fundamental Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership, and exactly how to execute these strategies to get the best results from your team members.
Building up a strong core team and running an organization takes patience, hard work, and perseverance. However, you also need another essential skill- current knowledge and old wisdom. These leadership books will give you a daily dose of this knowledge in the best way possible.