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Best Books on Business Leadership

Oct 23, 2020

Leaders set direction, create an inspiring vision, help other people reach their goals, and take pride in the accomplishments of those they help along the way.

To inspire and help you strengthen your leadership skills, we've pulled together the best books on business leadership for your review. Here is a list of 18 books that have made a positive impact on how leaders not only engage with their team, but more broadly, their leadership in life.

1. A Sense of Urgency by John P. Kotter

Most organizational change initiatives fail spectacularly (at worst) or deliver lukewarm results (at best). In his international bestseller Leading Change, John Kotter revealed why change is so hard, and provided an actionable, eight-step process for implementing successful transformations. The book became the change bible for managers worldwide.

Now, in A Sense of Urgency, Kotter shines the spotlight on the crucial first step in his framework: creating a sense of urgency by getting people to actually see and feel the need for change.

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2. Integrity by Dr. Henry Cloud

Integrity is more than simple honesty, it's the key to success. A person with integrity has the ability to pull everything together, to make it all happen no matter how challenging the circumstances. Drawing on experiences from his work, Dr. Henry Cloud, a clinical psychologist, leadership coach, corporate consultant and nationally syndicated radio host, shows how our character can keep us from achieving all we want to (or could) be.

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3. StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath

To help people uncover their talents, Gallup introduced the first version of its online assessment, StrengthsFinder, in the 2001 management book Now, Discover Your Strengths. The book spent more than five years on the bestseller lists and ignited a global conversation, while StrengthsFinder helped millions discover their top five talents.

In StrengthsFinder 2.0, Gallup unveils the new and improved version of its popular assessment, language of 34 themes, and much more. Loaded with hundreds of strategies for applying your strengths, this new book and accompanying website will change the way you look at yourself—and the world around you—forever.

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4. The Way We're Working Isn't Working by Tony Schwartz

By integrating multidisciplinary findings from the science of high performance, Tony Schwartz, coauthor of the #1 bestselling The Power of Full Engagement, makes a persuasive case that we’re neglecting the four core needs that energize great performance: sustainability (physical); security (emotional); self-expression (mental); and significance (spiritual). The Way We're Working Isn't Working offers individuals, leaders, and organizations a highly practical, proven set of strategies to better manage the relentlessly rising demands we all face in an increasingly complex world.

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5. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

One of the most inspiring and impactful books ever written, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has captivated readers for 25 years. It has transformed the lives of presidents and CEOs, educators and parents—in short, millions of people of all ages and occupations across the world. This twenty-fifth anniversary edition of Stephen Covey’s cherished classic commemorates his timeless wisdom, and encourages us to live a life of great and enduring purpose.

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6. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership byJohn C. Maxwell

In The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John C. Maxwell has combined insights learned from his 30-plus years of leadership successes and mistakes with observations from the worlds of business, politics, sports, religion, and military conflict. The result is a revealing study of leadership with accompanying charts, evaluations, and a growth guide available in the audiobook companion PDF download.

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7. Self-Esteem at Work by Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.

In his latest work, renowned psychologist, author, and consultant Nathaniel Branden—father of the self-esteem movement—shows you how high self-esteem is becoming a prime determinant of both organizational and personal success in the Information Age. In Self-Esteem at Work, Branden gives the basics on stirring creativity through self-esteem, establishing a work culture that builds self-esteem, boosting communication skills, and much more! He also includes a 21-week, self-directed development program at the end of the book for employees at every level of an organization.

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8. Essentialism by Gregory McKeown

The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done. It is not a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.

In Essentialism, Greg McKeown makes a compelling case for achieving more by doing less. He reminds us that clarity of focus and the ability to say 'no' are both critical and undervalued in business today.

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9. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

Since it was first published more than 15 years ago, David Allen's Getting Things Done has become one of the most influential business books of its era and the ultimate book on personal organization. "GTD" is now shorthand for an entire way of approaching professional and personal tasks and has spawned an entire culture of websites, organizational tools, seminars, and offshoots.

In this new edition, Allen has rewritten the book from start to finish, tweaking his classic text with important perspectives on the new workplace and adding material that will make the book fresh and relevant for years to come.

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10. Taking Responsibility by Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.

In Taking Responsibility, Branden delineates four goals: to illuminate the meaning and implications of self-responsibility as a way of living and of being in the world; to show that this practice is not an onerous burden but a source of joy and personal power; to establish that we create ourselves—shape our identity— through what we are willing to take responsibility for; and to demonstrate that self-responsibility, self-reliance, and individualism are essential to the well-being of our society. Branden demonstrates not only the personal and social importance of self-reliance but the specific steps by which it may be achieved.

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11. There's No Plan B for Your A-Game by Bo Eason

In There’s No Plan B for Your A-Game, former pro athlete, playwright, and acclaimed leadership coach Bo Eason shows you exactly what it takes to be the best. Eason explains how to develop the character, integrity, and commitment it takes to become the best by focusing on a winning four-step process that helps you attain the skill, maintain the effort, and persist through challenges. His proven tools and training have worked for Olympic medalists, military leaders, best-selling authors, professional athletes, and business executives and their teams.

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12. Not Everyone Gets a Trophy by Bruce Tulgan

Not Everyone Gets a Trophy: How to Manage the Millennials provides employers with a workable game plan for turning millennials into the stellar workforce they have the potential to be. The culmination of over two decades of research, this book provides employers with a practical framework for engaging, developing, and retaining the new generation of employees. T new revised and updated edition expands the discussion to include the new 'second-wave' millennials, those Tulgan refers to as "Generation Z", and explores the ways in which these methods and tactics are becoming increasingly critical in the face of the profoundly changing global workforce.

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13. The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey

From Stephen R. Covey's eldest son comes a revolutionary new path towards productivity and satisfaction. Trust, says Stephen M.R. Covey, is the very basis of the new global economy, and he shows how trust—and the speed at which it is established with clients, employees and constituents—is the essential ingredient for any high–performance, successful organization.

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14. You Win in the Locker Room First by Jon Gordon and Mike Smith

You Win in the Locker Room First draws on the extraordinary experiences of Coach Mike Smith and Jon Gordon—consultant to numerous college and professional teams—to explore the seven powerful principles that any business, school, organization, or sports team can adopt to revitalize their organization.

Step by step, the authors outline a strategy for building a thriving organization and provide a practical framework that give leaders the tools they need to create a great culture, lead with the right mind-set, create strong relationships, improve teamwork, execute at a higher level, and avoid the pitfalls that sabotage far too many leaders and organizations.

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15. No Ego: How Leaders Can Cut the Cost of Workplace Drama, End Entitlement, and Drive Big Results by Cy Wakeman

This New York Times best-selling author and leadership trainer says getting your employees to do their work shouldn't have to be so much, well, work! No Ego is about increasing awareness of just how often individuals are operating out of ego at work, breeding drama and discord rather than innovation and constructive collaboration. Cy Wakeman teaches straightforward strategies in which this time and energy can be re-commissioned and put toward the value that hired talent is intended to provide. No Ego disposes with unproven HR maxims, and instead offers a complete plan to turn your office from a den of discontent into a highly productive place where happy employees are accountable employees.

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16. The One-Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard, Ph.D. and Spencer Johnson, M.D.

The One Minute Manager is a short book by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. The brief volume tells a story, recounting three techniques of an effective manager: one-minute goals, one-minute praisings, and one-minute reprimands. Each of these takes only a minute but is of lasting benefit. The book was followed by a sequel, Leadership and the One Minute Manager, by Ken Blanchard, Patricia Zigarmi and Drea Zigarmi, which laid out Blanchard's Situational Leadership II concept

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17. The Manager's Pocket Guide to Effective Meetings by Steve Kaye

Learn easy, proven techniques that keep you in control of your meetings in The Manager's Pocket Guide to Effective Meetings. This complete guide to effective meetings will show you how to prepare for success and end with results. It includes structured activities that keep everyone focused on your issues, practical techniques for dealing with unproductive participants, and essential considerations for high tech meetings. If you hold meetings, this book is a must!

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18. The E-Myth by Michael Gerber

In this audio edition of the totally revised underground best seller, The E-Myth, Michael Gerber dispels the myths surrounding starting your own business and shows how commonplace assumptions can get in the way of running a business. He walks you through the steps in the life of a business, from entrepreneurial infancy, through adolescent growing pains, to the mature entrepreneurial perspective, the guiding light of all businesses that succeed, and shows how to apply the lessons of franchising to any business, whether or not it is a franchise. Finally, Gerber draws the vital, often overlooked distinction between working on your business and working in your business. After you have listened to The E-Myth Revisited, you will truly be able to grow your business in a predictable and productive way.

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Be a better leader

The books listed above will help you identify ways to improve your leadership skills and inspire your employees even more. For more leadership ideas, download our leadership checklist below. Ready to connect? Reach out to me today to get started!

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