5 Books to Help You Be a Better CEO

For those of you in the C-suite, there is a constant need to learn and improve. My favorite way of doing this is through reading.

Harry Truman once said “Not every reader is a leader. But all leaders are readers.”

I believe that reading is as essential as ever.

When I worked for John C Maxwell as a young leader, I found myself struggling to find time to invest in reading. The pile of books on the side of my bed was always intimidating. For some reason I believed I had to take in an entire book quickly, or at least big chunks of it. So more often than not I just didn’t dive in.

Until I received this little piece of advice: commit to reading just one chapter per day.

Just about anyone can do that! And I discovered that, by committing to this simple practice, I would read about 25 books every year – that’s more than twice the average for an American adult.

If you are in a position of leadership, and especially a role such as a CEO, I believe it’s vital to have a personal growth plan, and reading should be a big part of that plan.

5 Books to Help You Be a Better CEO

The CEO Next Door

Based on an in-depth analysis of over 2,600 leaders drawn from a database of more than 17,000 CEOs and C-suite executives, as well 13,000 hours of interviews, and two decades of experience advising CEOs and executive boards, Elena L. Botelho and Kim R. Powell overturn the myths about what it takes to get to the top and succeed.


The Effective CEO

CEO’s are calling “The Effective CEO a game-changer for how they approach their day.

This battle-tested process was developed specifically for CEOs and this book will take you step-by-step through how to quickly and easily get clear on what to focus on and prioritize, properly plan and structure your days, and consistently execute at the highest level.

So instead of spending your days feeling stretched thin, overwhelmed or like there are never enough minutes to get everything done, you’ll feel far more focused, in control of your time and able to prioritize what actually matters.


Aesop & the CEO

This book draws upon the timeless wisdom found in Aesop’s fables to deliver lessons pertinent to today’s business leaders and corporate environments. Through compelling narratives and the retelling of classic tales, Noonan underscores the relevance of age-old morals in addressing modern-day managerial and leadership challenges. By illustrating how these short, simple parables can illuminate complex business scenarios, the book serves as an invaluable guide, helping CEOs and managers enhance their decision-making skills, nurture relationships, and foster more productive and ethical workplace cultures.


How To Become CEO

How to Become a CEO by Jeffrey J. Fox offers a practical guide for ambitious professionals aiming to climb the corporate ladder and reach the pinnacle of executive leadership. Drawing from his vast experience in the business realm, Fox provides a series of pointed, concise, and actionable recommendations. Covering a broad range of topics, from networking to decision-making to personal branding, the book underscores the importance of consistency, integrity, and strategic thinking. Through insightful advice and real-world examples, Fox paints a clear roadmap for those aspiring to navigate the complexities of corporate culture and achieve the coveted CEO position.


The CEO Only Does Three Things

This terrific book emphasizes the core responsibilities of a CEO to be culture, people, and numbers. Arguing that successful CEOs streamline their focus to these three pillars, Taylor sheds light on the importance of fostering a healthy company culture, hiring and nurturing the right talent, and keenly understanding the financial metrics that drive success. By decluttering the often overwhelming world of executive leadership, Taylor provides CEOs and aspiring leaders with a clear, actionable framework to elevate their performance and guide their companies toward sustainable success.


CEO Excellence

From the world’s most influential management consulting company, McKinsey & Company.

Being a CEO at any of the world’s largest companies is among the most challenging roles in business. Billions, and even trillions, are at stake—and the fates of tens of thousands of employees often hang in the balance. Yet, even when “can’t miss” high-achievers win the top job, very few excel. Thirty percent of Fortune 500 CEOs last fewer than three years, and two out of five new CEOs are perceived to be failing within eighteen months.

For those who shoulder the burden of being the one on whom everyone counts, a manual for excellence is sorely needed.

To identify the 21st century’s best CEOs, the authors of CEO Excellence started with a pool of over 2400 public company CEOs. Extensive screening distilled that group into an elite corps, sixty-seven of whom agreed to in-depth, multi-hour interviews. Among those sharing their views: Jamie Dimon (JPMorgan Chase), Satya Nadella (Microsoft), Reed Hastings (Netflix), Kazuo Hirai (Sony), Ken Chenault (American Express), Mary Barra (GM), and Peter Brabeck-Letmathe (Nestlé).

These are just a few of the many books available to help those in the C-Suite. What other books would you include on this list? Please comment below.

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Greg Baird
Greg Baird

Greg J Baird is a strategic leader with 25+ years experience developing, implementing and communicating domestic and international initiatives in the church, non-profit, enterprise non-profit and business sectors. He is a John C Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach, Speaker & Trainer, and a DISC Certified Trainer & Consultant.

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