Elon Musk learned to build a rocket because he was reading. It’s amazing what a reading habit can help achieve. Were you thinking that leaders — the busiest people on the planet — didn’t have time to read! According to an Inc.com, Warren Buffet reads 500 pages a day and Bill Gates reads an average of 50 books per year! You can never stop learning as a leader and what better way to pursue continuous learning than reading. As an aspiring leader, you can start with the best books on leadership. Of course, there are thousands of books on leadership but we have chosen five that focus on different qualities of a leader.
A leader should be:
- Self-aware and prioritizes active personal development
- Invested in team-building
- A strong strategic thinker
- Cross-cultural, non-discriminating, empathetic thinking
- Invested in thinking radically
These five best books on leadership focus on each of these skills. Read on to see how they can help you.
Top 5 Best Books on Leadership
1. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
Goodreads Rating: 4
Best Suited For: All business leaders
Leadership Skill(s) Addressed: Strategic thinking and innovation
Just like the essence of war, business strategies are often about eliminating competition. Written 2500 years ago, The Art of War is one of the best books on leadership that includes military strategy in history, and its learnings apply to all walks of life, including business leaders. The insights drawn from ancient battlefields will resonate with leaders who deal with conflict in modern workspaces. For example, the concepts of mapping a war plan, understanding your enemy, and winning without fighting will translate to your boardroom.
2. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
Goodreads Rating: 4.1
Best Suited For: Women entrepreneurs and leaders
Leadership Skill(s) Addressed: Non-discriminating and unbiased personality
After working in senior roles at Google and Meta (earlier Facebook), Sheryl Sandberg has experienced what leadership demands and looks like for a woman at the workplace. In this book, she encourages women to embrace their leadership aspirations while highlighting the deeply-rooted fears they need to tackle. She also talks to the men, urging them to become partners in ensuring equality at the workplace. In the current environment of inclusivity, her book is important for managers who want to practice transformational leadership and team building.
Goodreads Rating: 4.1
Best Suited For: CEOs, business heads, and project managers
Leadership Skill(s) Addressed: Investment in radical thinking
The Toyota story is about resilience, having thrived in a country which was ravaged by the atom bomb. It is also trail-blazing in the way its lean production system is based on a complete zero-waste policy in a world of mass consumption. The 14 principles discussed in The Toyota Way, which is one of the best books on leadership link business with the realities of life. They also marry two core ideas: respect for people (customers and employees) and the concept of continuous improvement (Kaizen).
Goodreads Rating: 4.4
Best Suited For: CEOs, thought leaders, think tanks, project managers
Leadership Skill(s) Addressed: Active self-development
A great leader is also someone who continually strives to better themselves, and James Clear’s iconic Atomic Habits is a masterclass in self-improvement through sustainable habit-changing behavior. The overarching idea of the book is to make small changes to achieve substantial outcomes, so as not to overwhelm yourself with radical shifts in your own attitude or behavior. As a result, this book is especially ideal for budding leaders who struggle with making changes to their leadership style or even for those who are set in their ways, but recognize the need for change.
5. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni
Goodreads Rating: 4.15
Best Suited For: Team coordinators, CEOs, business, and project developers
Leadership Skill(s) Addressed: Team building from scratch
Even the greatest leaders would fail without a strong team. Which is why all leaders need team-building skills. In the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, the author talks about the five main dysfunctions that disrupt teams. These include a lack of commitment, trust, accountability, willingness to learn from mistakes, and a fear of conflict. Understanding these issues and overcoming them can set you on the path to great team-building.
Leadership is not just about delivering numbers, and these books are helpful tools in your journey to becoming great at managing people. Combine them with Emeritus’ online leadership courses, and see how they shape you as a leader.
By Bishwadeep Mitra
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