10 Great Books Every Leader Should Read (plus 3 More!)

Today is World Book Day!

We know that not every reader is a leader, but certainly EVERY LEADER IS A READER!

So here are Ten Greg Books Every Leader Should Read. And, as a bonus, I’ve added three more from my favorite author, John C. Maxwell! (Links are to Amazon if you’d like to purchase them)

  1. Good to Great by Jim Collins – This book explores what sets successful companies apart from their less successful counterparts, drawing on years of research to identify key characteristics of great leaders and organizations. Collins emphasizes the importance of disciplined thinking, focusing on a company’s core strengths, and cultivating a culture of accountability.

  2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey – This classic self-help book outlines seven key habits that can help people become more effective leaders and achieve their goals. Covey emphasizes the importance of personal responsibility, developing a clear sense of purpose, and focusing on “win-win” solutions that benefit everyone involved.

  3. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek – Sinek argues that great leaders prioritize the well-being of their employees above their own personal success, creating a culture of trust and cooperation that fosters innovation and growth. Drawing on insights from biology and anthropology, Sinek explores the importance of building strong social bonds in the workplace.

    • The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander – This book offers a unique perspective on leadership, arguing that great leaders should focus on fostering creativity and possibility in their organizations. The authors offer practical tools and strategies for cultivating a mindset of abundance and possibility, and share inspiring stories of leaders who have transformed their organizations by embracing this approach.

    • Drive by Daniel Pink – Pink argues that traditional approaches to motivation, such as rewards and punishments, are not as effective as we once thought. Instead, he suggests that great leaders should focus on creating environments that foster intrinsic motivation, autonomy, and mastery. Drawing on research from psychology and neuroscience, Pink offers practical tips for creating a more motivating workplace.

    • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni – This book explores the common pitfalls that can undermine team effectiveness, and offers practical strategies for overcoming these challenges. Lencioni emphasizes the importance of building trust, engaging in healthy conflict, and fostering a sense of accountability within the team.

    • Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee – This book explores the emotional intelligence skills that are critical for effective leadership, including self-awareness, empathy, and the ability to inspire and motivate others. Drawing on decades of research, the authors offer practical tips for developing these skills and building a more emotionally intelligent organization.

    • Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute – This book explores how our own self-deception can undermine our ability to lead effectively, and offers practical strategies for overcoming these challenges. The authors argue that great leaders must be willing to confront their own biases and assumptions, and create a culture of openness and honesty within their organizations.

    • Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin – This book draws on the authors’ experiences as Navy SEALs to offer practical lessons in leadership and team management. Willink and Babin emphasize the importance of taking responsibility for your actions, building strong relationships with your team, and focusing on the mission above all else.

    • First Things First by Stephen Covey – This book offers practical tips and strategies for managing your time more effectively, prioritizing your goals, and achieving a sense of balance in your life. Covey argues that effective leadership begins with a strong sense of personal responsibility, and that by prioritizing what matters most, we can achieve our goals and make a positive impact in the world.

    And three of my favorites from my mentor and friend, John C. Maxwell:

    1. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership – In this book, John C. Maxwell identifies 21 essential laws of leadership that are timeless and universally applicable. Each law is accompanied by examples and insights from notable leaders to illustrate the principles in action, making this a practical and engaging read for anyone interested in developing their leadership skills.

    2. Developing the Leader Within You – In this book, Maxwell focuses on personal leadership development and provides practical advice on how to identify and develop the qualities that are essential for effective leadership. He emphasizes the importance of character, vision, and self-discipline, and provides tools and strategies for cultivating these traits.

    3. The 5 Levels of Leadership – This book presents a model of leadership that consists of five distinct levels, each building on the previous one. Maxwell explains how leaders can progress through each level, from positional leadership based on title or rank, to relational leadership based on trust and respect, and ultimately to the highest level of leadership based on personal development and a commitment to serving others. The book is filled with examples and practical advice for leaders at every stage of their journey.

    What are your favorite leadership books? Please share in the comments below…

    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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