Being a leader is sometimes tough work. And what makes good leader even better is a desire to learn and self-improve. Broad reading habits are often a defining characteristic of our greatest leaders. Critical requirements for an effective leader are communication, emotional intelligence and organizational effectiveness and reading improves all of them.
Whether young or old, experienced or inexperienced, the best way to approach personal and professional development is to always stay in the learning zone. So we’ve compiled a list of 12 books everyone should read to improve their leadership skills and to impress everyone around:
Rework: Change the Way You Work Forever by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried
"Although it’s been out a few years, Rework is still one of my favorite business books for employees because it challenges traditional ideas about “corporate America” and helps un-teach bad habits. You can’t be a good leader unless you have good judgment. This is one of the best books I’ve read for illustrating why it’s important to question established norms and work smarter, not harder."
—Brittany Hodak, ZinePak
8 Lessons in Military Leadership for Entrepreneurs by Robert T. Kiyosaki
"As an Army veteran, I often think back to my very basic (but priceless) leadership training I received as well as my transition to civilian life. Kiyosaki, a former Marine and famous author (Rich Dad, Poor Dad), uses his experiences to describe leadership, discipline, respect, and speed with compelling stories and examples about how they can be applied to the business world."
—Tim McHugh, Saddleback Educational
Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman
"I was truly impressed with how thought-provoking this book was for me. Wiseman does such a great job discussing the five key disciplines—my entire team can really benefit from her wisdom."
—Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
"The Power of Habit’s an excellent primer on how habits are formed, reinforced, and changed, whether at home or in the workplace. It made me cognizant of my own habits and gave me a framework for making sense of (and in some cases changing) them. In the workplace, I’m now much more sensitive to organizational habits and I now understand the processes necessary to change them."
—Ben Lyon, Kopo Kopo, Inc.
Ask by Ryan Levesque
"The way Levesque looks at things and explains how to ask better questions to find out what people really want is very useful. His system is for making more sales, but any employee wanting to be a better leader should improve their question-asking ability. Once you know what people don’t want and what they do want, you can better guide them. You’ll become the leader they want to follow."
—Joshua Lee, StandOut Authority
Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman
"This book lays out a specific way to operate a fast-growing, entrepreneurial business that is scalable, yet easy to understand. It has given me a roadmap to create success and have everyone in the organization operate at their highest potential. It helps with focus, growth, and most importantly, enjoyment."
—Jay Johnson, Small Lot MN
Welcome to the Funnel: Proven Tactics to Turn Your Social Media and Content Marketing up to 11 by Jason Miller
"Miller has written a roadmap to modern content marketing. His book informs, educates, and demonstrates the steps necessary to launch a successful content marketing strategy for your business."
—Chris Buehler, SCORCH
Reality-Based Leadership: Ditch the Drama, Restore Sanity to the Workplace, and Turn Excuses Into Results by Cy Wakeman
"Any time I feel like we’re spending too much time and energy on something at work that doesn’t directly benefit our clients, I crack open Cy Wakeman’s book again. It’s quick, tough love that cuts right to the chase."
—Mary Ellen Slayter, Reputation Capital
How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg
"In How Google Works, Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg illustrate how to build a wildly successful company while maintaining a passionate and authentic culture. Employees can learn a lot from the management decisions that went into making Google the great company that it is today."
—Joel Holland, VideoBlocks
The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton
"This book opened my eyes to the value of philosophy and hardship. The author devoted an entire section to Friedrich Nietzsche, who proposed we look at difficulties in life and leadership like gardeners. At their roots, plants can be exceptionally ugly and unwieldy, but someone with faith in their potential and the right knowledge can cultivate them to bear beautiful flowers and fruit."
—Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.
Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
"Start With Why had a profound impact on me. I encourage everyone at CoachUp, from managers to junior team members, to read it! The core philosophy is that people and companies are most successful when initiatives are tied back to core questions that we tend to ignore or forget on a daily basis: Why are we doing this? What is our purpose? Why do I get out of bed to do this?"
—Jordan Fliegel, CoachUp, Inc.
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande
"As our business grows, it’s vital that the processes become repeatable and new people can come in and get straight to work using best practices. Running a service business is hard, but not uncommon. The Checklist Manifesto uses mostly healthcare stories—literally life and death situations—to explain how valuable process improvement and documentation is. It’s a quick read and a quick game changer."
—Robby Hill, HillSouth