The best leadership books of all time

Generations of people have used blank pages to record their experiences, struggles, emotions, and confessions, transforming them into valuable resources. Given this reality, the news that worldwide literacy rates are declining is depressing. Readers of all ages are becoming less and less immersed in what they are reading.

According to author John Coleman, this lack of reading extends into business and up the corporate ladder. He mentioned, “Business people seem to be reading less.” Which is bad news because “broad reading habits are often a defining characteristic of our greatest leaders.”

The best leadership book of all time

Maybe it’s because reading has been proven to enhance emotional intelligence, organizational effectiveness, communication, and stress reduction. These are all essential conditions for good leadership. You will be motivated to become a great leader by reading these top leadership books.

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The All-Time Greatest Leadership Books

The following are the top leadership books of all time:

  • The first 90 days
  • The five dysfunctions of a team
  • Start with why
  • The leadership challenges
  • The 7 habits of highly effective people
  • How to win friends & influence people
  • Execution
  • Good to Great
  • Primal Leadership
  • Drive
  • The Lean Startup
  • True North
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow
  • Wooden on Leadership
  • Extreme Ownership
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • First, Break All the Rules
  • Tribes
  • The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
  • Leading Change
  • The Innovator’s Dilemma
  • On Becoming a Leader
  • The Effective Executive
  • The One Minute Manager
  • The Art of War


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The first 90 days By Michael Watkins.

Proven strategies for getting up to speed faster and smarter. One of the most difficult and stressful challenges at work can be stepping into a new role, especially as a manager. In the First 90 Days, Michael Watkins offers tips on how to stay clear of the mistakes that new leaders most frequently make to make these transitions as easy as possible. This leadership book is the ideal resource for leaders of any level who want to make the most of their first 90 days in a new role. It includes self-assessments and checklists to complete as you go.


The five dysfunctions of a team By Patrick Lencioni.

The master of the business parable, Lencioni, examines why teams frequently have performance issues in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. His thorough examination of the five dysfunctions (lack of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results) aids leaders in avoiding the difficulties that teams run into when attempting to develop harmoniously and achieve success. Get yours and delight in it!


Start with why By Simon Sinek:

The book explains how great leaders inspire everyone to take action. Start with why, from the bestselling author of Leaders Eat Last, posits that people won’t truly buy into a product, service, movement, or idea until they understand the why behind it. Drawing on a wide range of real-life stories, Sinek weaves together a clear vision of what it truly takes to lead and inspire.


The Leadership Challenge By James Kouzes and Barry Posner.

The book discussed how to make extraordinary things happen in organizations. It deeply explains how leaders mobilize others to get extraordinary things done inside companies and organizations. The authors present their Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership, which when executed efficiently, allow leaders to bridge the chasm between just getting things done and making great things happen. Read it to stay current, relevant, and effective in the modern workplace.


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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey

A timeless guide to achievement and leadership is The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It might be among the top leadership books. You are led through the self-mastery process by Covey. By persuading you to change your mindset and take a different stance, a paradigm shift. Independence, dependency, and continual improvement are the three pillars of this process, which result in constant and significant advancement.


How to win friends & influence people by Dale Carnegie

Everyone wants to feel important. In this book, Carnegie provides examples of how to use this to persuade others to like you. It is a guide to effective engagement and communication amongst people.

The secret to success is demonstrating interest in the people you engage with and the work they do. If you can make that connection, you’ll have a new friend. As a result, How to Make Friends and Influence People is among the best books for learning about leadership from scratch.


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Execution by Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan

This book demonstrates the discipline of getting things done. Larry Bossidy, the legendary CEO of Honeywell International, Inc., joins forces with the consultant and prolific author Ram Charan to explain how getting things done—not a strategy, innovation, or anything else—is the most important function of a business leader. In this business bestseller, the authors examine in detail the three key processes of execution—people, strategy, and operations—and show how all three are linked. The book “Execution” is the smart business leader’s guide to getting things done.


Good to Great By Jim Collins.

This book explains why some companies make the leap and others don’t. Collins, the bestselling author of Built to Last, and his team of researchers identified 11 elite companies that leaped from simply “good” to “great” performance. By introducing us to the time-tested business ideas of level 5 leaders, the Hedgehog Concept, and a Culture of Discipline, Good to Great offers leaders a complete framework for success. If there exists a must-read business book, this is it.


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Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, & Annie McKee

This book unleashes the power of emotional intelligence. The book established emotional intelligence in the business lexicon. A great leader moves us. They ignite our passion and inspire the best in us. When we try to explain why they’re so effective, we often speak of strategy, vision, or powerful ideas. But the reality is much more primal – great leadership works through emotions. Primal Leadership describes what managers and executives must do to become emotionally intelligent leaders. It’s a must-read for anyone that leads or aspires to lead.


Drive by Daniel H. Pink

This book reveals the surprising truth about what motivates us. Most people believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards like money—the carrot-and-stick approach. That’s a mistake, says author Daniel Pink. The new world of work that Pink describes in Drive is built on leaders finding innovative and creative ways to tap into deep-seated desires: the need to be autonomous in their work, to get better at what they like to do and to find greater purpose in life.


The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

The book discussed how today’s entrepreneurs use continuous innovation to create radically successful businesses. This entrepreneurial masterpiece is a must-read for anyone thinking about going into business for themselves. The Lean Startup introduces a methodology that focuses you on finding out what customers want as quickly as possible and then using scientific experimentation to prove that you’re making progress. Ries recommends launching as early and cheaply as possible, so you don’t waste time and money getting into the marketplace.


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True North by Bill George

This book reveals your authentic leadership. The former Medtronic CEO, Bill George, presents a comprehensive program for leadership success and illustrates how to create your leadership development plan. Based on personal interviews with 125 top leaders, including Charles Schwab, Howard Schultz (Starbucks), and Anne Mulcahy (Xerox), True North shows how anyone who follows their internal compass can become an authentic leader.


Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Nobel Prize winner Kahnemann takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind – examining the two systems that affect the way we think. He describes system 1(fast, intuitive, emotional) and system 2 (slow, deliberative, logical) and how the interplay between them shapes our judgments and decisions. At approximately 500 pages in length, Thinking, Fast and Slow isn’t meant to be a fast read, it’s meant to be savored.


Wooden on Leadership by John Wooden & Jamison

Focusing on the former UCLA basketball coach’s legendary 12 lessons in leadership and his acclaimed Pyramid of Success, Wooden on Leadership outlines the mental, emotional, and physical qualities essential to building a winning organization. It also shows you how to develop the skills, confidence, and competitive fire to be at your best when your best is needed—and how to teach your organization to do the same.


Extreme Ownership By Jocko Wlillink & Leif Babin.

Willink and Babin, two U.S. Navy SEAL officers that led a highly decorated special operations unit in Iraq, demonstrate how to apply tested leadership principles from the battlefield to business and life. The authors have taught the lessons from extreme ownership to countless leaders and hundreds of companies around the world to pass along their institutional knowledge about developing high-performance teams and, ultimately, teaching individuals to lead and win.


Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

A groundbreaking book that redefined what it means to be smart. Everyone knows that a high IQ is no guarantee of success, happiness, or virtue, but until Emotional Intelligence, we could only guess why. Goleman’s research from the frontiers of psychology and neuroscience offers startling new insight into our “two minds”—the rational and the emotional—and how together they shape our success in relationships, at work, and even our physical well-being.


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First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham

In this longtime management bestseller, the author presents the remarkable findings of Gallup’s in-depth study of more than 80,000 managers. The data reveals that despite varying backgrounds and styles, great managers share one common trait – they don’t hesitate to break sacred business rules. In First, Break All the Rules, you’ll discover vital performance and career lessons for managers at all levels and how to apply them to your specific situation.


Tribes by Seth Godin

While best-selling author Seth Godin has authored more than 15 books (Free Prize Inside, Linchpin, Purple Cow), we consistently refer back to Tribes as our favorite. If you’re a leader looking to mobilize an audience (think employees, customers, investors, readers) around a central idea or want them to take a particular course of action, then this Godin book provides the blueprint for you.


The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell

Maxwell, the world-renowned leadership expert, has authored dozens of books (Leadershift, The 360 Degree Leader, and Leadership Gold) dealing with this topic that have sold millions of copies. In The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, each of the laws has its chapter that, when read, understood, and put into action, helps to guide readers toward setting direction, aligning people, motivating, and inspiring—all with the ultimate goal of creating a leader that people want to follow.


Leading Change by John Kotter

Widespread and difficult change in business is no longer the exception – it’s the rule. Leading change features Kotter’s legendary 8-step process for managing change has become instrumental to leaders and organizations around the world. A practical resource for leaders and managers charged with making change initiatives work.


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The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen

The Innovator’s Dilemma demonstrates how even the world’s most outstanding companies can do everything right—yet still lose market leadership. Through his compelling multi-industry study, Christensen introduces his seminal theory of disruptive innovation that has changed the way managers and CEOs around the world think about innovation.


On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis

Warren Bennis, deemed “The Dean of Leadership Gurus” by Forbes magazine, has persuasively argued that leaders are not born – they are made. Heavily delving into the qualities that define leadership, the people who exemplify it, and the strategies that anyone can apply to achieve it, his classic work On Becoming a Leader has served as a source of essential insight for countless readers.

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker.

Drucker, the “Father of Modern Management,” originally penned this well-known, frequently-cited classic in 1967. The measure of a truly effective executive is the ability to get the right thing done. The Effective Executive outlines the five practices that are essential to business management.


The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson:

For decades, The One Minute Manager has helped millions achieve more successful professional and personal lives. As compelling today as it was when it was originally released more than thirty years ago, this classic parable of a young man looking for an effective manager is as relevant and useful as ever.


The Art of War by Sun Tzu

The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise dating back more than 2,000 years ago. The work, which is attributed to the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu, is composed of 13 chapters — each one devoted to an aspect of warfare and how it applies to military strategy and tactics. The Art of War is one of the most influential strategy texts in East Asian warfare and has influenced military thinking, business tactics, legal strategy, and beyond.


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Other best leadership book of all time

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Aurelius wrote it for himself, but what has been preserved is a manual for living a better life. By reducing the surplus, Aurelius shows us all how to rise above distractions and defend our principles. To manage your thoughts, emotions, and behavior and lessen stress in your life, meditation can be a valuable tool.


Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

In this book, Viktor Frankl recounts his stay in Auschwitz, a Nazi concentration camp, during the Holocaust. Despite all of the pain and suffering, Frankl was able to maintain perspective and come to the conclusion that there “must be signed in suffering.” He serves as a reminder that we must choose the purpose of our lives based on our actions.


The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

It’s an adventure to live. All of us should strive to live up to our legends (that is, what you have always wanted to accomplish). The story of Santiago, a shepherd child, illustrates what happens when we pursue our legends: “the cosmos conspires in helping you to reach it.”

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Truth About Leadership by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

You will learn about effective leadership from this leadership book, which includes a variety of constants. Ethics, trust, and credibility are a few of these.


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Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zeppo, built a very successful business by prioritizing the demands of the customer and choosing the best staff. Customer service and corporate culture were the top goals. As a result, both consumers and employees were happy. Hsieh was able to sabotage traditional company leadership while generating pleasure and significant financial gain. One of the books that impart leadership principles is Delivering Happiness.


Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

In your company, you can probably resolve conflicting personalities. Amid a war, Abe Lincoln was able to unite his cabinet and the country to abolish slavery. It requires a great leader to assemble people with disparate opinions to form a team or organization. Despite their differences, Kearns Goodwin explains how Lincoln surrounded himself with the best individuals. He possessed the modesty and courage that are essential to leadership. Consequently, Team of Rivals offers priceless leadership skills.


Endurance by Alfred Lansing

Explorer Edward Shackleton oversaw a trip to the South Pole in 1914. Even if the trip was unsuccessful, the story of survival in the icy seas of Antarctica that followed could be a guide for bosses in tough situations. Thus, Endurance is one of those books that impart valuable leadership skills.


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Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Being weak isn’t usually a sign of fragility. We shouldn’t let fear or shame prevent us from trying new things. In Daring Greatly, Brown makes the case that the most important things are showing up, trying, and failing. Because trying and failing is better than giving up completely.



What is your favorite book on leadership?

Leading yourself, The Gifts of Imperfection, The Art of Possibility, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Leading people, True North, The Truth About Employee Engagement, Crucial Conversations, Leading organizations, Conscious Business, Good to Great.

What is the best book to be a good manager?

The Best Leadership Books for New Managers

  • Welcome to Management. How to Grow from Top Performer to Excellent Leader by Ryan Hawk.
  • The Truth About Leadership by James Kouzes & Barry Posner.
  • The First 90 Days
  • From Bud to Boss by Kevin Eikenberry & Guy Harris.
  • Leading with Gratitude.
  • Crucial Conversations
  • Lead Your Boss
  • True North
  • Unstoppable Team

What kind of books do leaders read?

All Leaders Are Readers: Six Must-Read Books to Inspire Success

  • The Success Principles by Jack Canfield.
  • Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.
  • The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz.
  • The Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard.


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How can I become a better manager and leader book?

Read the following books to become a better manager:

  • Managing Oneself, by Peter Drucker.
  • Mindset: Changing the Way You Think to Fulfill Your Potential, by Carol Dweck.
  • High Output Management, by Andrew Grove.
  • Drive, by Daniel H. …
  • Radical Candor, by Kim Scott.
  • Peopleware, by Tom DeMarco.
  • The Manager’s Path, by Camille Fournier.

Are leaders born or made?

Recent scientific research indicates that leadership is 70% learned and 30% hereditary. According to these findings, leaders are created, not born. In the end, the truth is that both are true: a person might be born with inherent leadership skills, and a person can pick up these skills via experience.

How can I improve my leadership skills?

Ways to Develop Your Leadership Skills

  • Practice discipline. A good leader needs discipline.
  • Take on more projects. A great way to develop your leadership skills is to take on more responsibility.
  • Learn to follow.
  • Develop situational awareness.
  • Inspire others.
  • Keep learning.
  • Resolve conflicts.
  • Be a discerning listener.

Who is the father of leadership?

Warren G. Bennis.

What skill should a leader have?

What Qualifies a Leader as Effective? Effective leaders can motivate their team, handle and delegate tasks, listen to feedback, and have the flexibility to solve issues in a workplace that is constantly evolving. These are the qualities that hiring managers look for in candidates for leadership positions.

How do I know if I am a leader?

One further thing that can suggest you are a natural leader is if you have a positive influence on others and care about the people around you. People confide in you because they know you listen well, and you quickly earn their respect and trust.

What are the 4 types of leadership?

Types of Leadership Style:

  • Laissez-faire.

What are the 7 leadership styles?

Each of the following seven typical management leadership philosophies has a place in a leader’s toolbox:

  • Autocratic Leadership.
  • Pacesetting Leadership.
  • Transformational Leadership.
  • Coaching Leadership.
  • Democratic Leadership.
  • Affiliative Leadership.
  • Delegative Leadership.


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Who invented leadership?

Warren Bennis was the person who established leadership as a business concept and Peter Drucker (as a book about him stated) was the one who invented management. An important contrast between managers and leaders was at the heart of his philosophy. He asserted that managers are those who value accuracy in their work.

What are the 5 essential leadership skills?

5 Essential Leadership Skills and Practices

  • Self-development.
  • Team development.
  • Strategic thinking and acting.
  • Ethical practice and civic-mindedness.