Are you a leader who aspires to build powerful teams within your organisation? Do you rely on books to seek inspiration and guidance, or simply get a fresh perspective on leadership? If this is you, I put together a list of what I consider the top books to provide insights and strategies for leaders.
Included are different types of books that apply to different personalities and learning styles. So you’ll find books based on inspirational stories, ‘How-to’ guides, manuals full of games or exercises, and even practical workbooks – all these recommendations have a star rating of 4 and above.
And I can guarantee they’ll do a great job in elevating your leadership skills, which is great news for you and your personal development objectives, but also for your teams and your business.
What part of leadership or team-building are you looking to improve?
Leadership is a broad topic. And while all aspects work together to create strong management skills and powerful teams, you may have identified specific areas that need your attention first. This could be because you don’t have as much knowledge or experience in a particular area (yet), or because you recognise you have targeted areas of development.
So depending on the topic you want to focus on, here are some suggestions for areas you might be interested in:
- Team building and collaboration.
- Personal development as a leader.
- Organisational leadership.
- Motivation and employee engagement.
- Communication and listening skills.
- Leadership styles and practical manuals.
Let’s look at some great books under each of these categories.
Books about general leadership skills
If you’re looking to enhance your abilities as a leader, books about leadership skills can provide valuable insights and strategies to help you inspire others towards achieving common goals.
By honing your skills in this area, you can improve your decision-making, communication, problem-solving, and conflict-resolution abilities.
Reading books on leadership not only offers you practical techniques, but also exposes you to different perspectives, experiences, and case studies. In a nutshell, you’ll be learning how to tackle challenges with confidence and adaptability. And this will pay dividends when it comes to improved team performance, enhanced productivity (for you, your team, and your company), and your personal growth as a leader.
If you don’t have a specific area of focus just yet and want to broaden your understanding of leadership principles, these books make for a great start.
- How to Lead for Daring New Leaders: The No-Nonsense Guide to Develop Basic Leadership Skills. Discover Your Power to Be In Charge, by Paul A. Wyatt.
- Start with Why, by Simon Sinek.
Books on forming powerful teams
If you’re looking to improve your team-building skills (crucial for driving success in your company), books on this topic will help you gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics involved in forming cohesive and high-performing teams.
You’ll learn strategies and practical techniques for effective communication, fostering trust, resolving conflicts, and also maximising each team member’s potential. In turn, this will enable you to create an environment that nurtures collaboration, productivity, and innovation. And we know that, ultimately, that leads to better levels of success for your teams and your organisation as a whole.
These are the books I recommend about the topic of forming great teams:
3. The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, by Daniel Coyle.
4. Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family, by Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia.
Books on leadership communication and listening skills
Another area you might want to explore is communication. Effective communication and listening skills are vital for successful leadership.
Investing in this topic will help you to clearly articulate your vision and goals and to enable your team to align and work towards a common objective. But you’ll also improve the way you provide feedback and guidance and therefore enhance the performance and growth of your team.
With great active listening skills, you can develop more empathy and better understand the needs and perspectives of your team members. This, in turn, helps you create an inclusive work environment based on trust. Overall, these skills are essential for you to effectively inspire, motivate, and empower your team members to achieve collective success.
Here are some books I recommend on this topic:
5. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts, by Brené Brown.
6. The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People, by Gary Chapman and Paul White.
7. How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie.
Books on learning how to understand people and their emotions
This is another key area that falls under leadership that a lot of people often underestimate. When working collaboratively with others (and especially when managing teams), it’s important to understand and acknowledge that not everyone learns and communicates in the same way.
Embracing this concept, as a leader, allows you to:
- Learn to respect and accommodate diverse learning and communication styles within your teams so everyone can feel valued and express themselves in ways that are comfortable for them. Ultimately, this helps you foster a more inclusive environment, which leads to great benefits in engagement, productivity, and innovation.
- Enhance collaboration, teamwork, and better team dynamics. By acknowledging and accommodating different learning and communication styles, you can create opportunities for individuals to share their unique insights, bridge gaps in understanding, and work together more effectively towards common goals.
- Maximise individual potential by tailoring your coaching and development strategies accordingly. For example, you can start to provide customised support and resources that meet each person’s needs and drive personal growth and overall team success.
Here are a few books I recommend on this topic:
9. Surrounded by Idiots, by Thomas Erikson.
10. Read People Like a Book, by Patrick King.
11. Collaborative Intelligence: Thinking with People Who Think Differently, by Dawna Markova and Angie McArthur.
And if you’re working with creative people specifically, this is a handy book:
12. Herding Tigers: Be the Leader That Creative People Need, by Todd Henry.
Books for females in leadership roles
Because of inherent societal biases and gender stereotypes that unfortunately still exist, female leaders of today are in a unique position. Under-representation means limited access to role models that female leaders can look up to. Low self-confidence and imposter syndrome often make an appearance too – often due to the fact that women face more scrutiny and gender-based challenges in the workplace.
Breaking through these barriers is possible. But it requires self-reflection, support from mentors and allies, and a continuous commitment to personal growth and development. And this is crucial if we want women of future generations to feel inspired and empowered to pursue leadership positions.
So here are a few books I recommend for female leaders specifically:
13. She Thinks Like a Boss, by Jemma Roedel.
14. Strong Female Lead: Lessons From Women In Power, by Arwa Mahdawi.
Books on personal development
Personal development plays a crucial role in shaping effective leaders and building strong teams. Dedicating time and effort to this shows that you understand and value the significance of continuous learning and growth. And as a result, it makes you better equipped to inspire, guide, and support your staff.
When you invest in your personal development, you’re able to lead by example and even uplevel your interpersonal and communication skills. In turn, that enables you to foster deep connections with your team members and address any challenges that may arise. Remember that change starts with leaders. So always practise what you preach!
Here’s a book I highly recommend on this topic:
15. The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness, by Lolly Daskal.
Leadership ‘manuals’ offering practical advice
And last but not least, you can use practical guides or ‘manuals’, such as workbooks or books with exercises. These types of resources often offer a structured approach to learning and development. They provide step-by-step guidance on various leadership topics, situations, and common challenges.
On top of that, they can help new leaders to solidify their understanding and enhance their leadership skills through more hands-on experience. Because they often include case studies, success stories, and real-life examples from experienced leaders, practical manuals can offer valuable insights and inspiration.
If you’re in the early stages of your leadership role, you may even find guidance and solutions to common leadership problems. And this is great to help you build your confidence and acquire the knowledge, skills, and the right mindset to succeed in your role.
Here are the top books I recommend in this area:
16. The Leadership Challenge, by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner.
17. Leadership Strategy and Tactics: Field Manual, by Jocko Willink.
Build powerful teams with Confidently There leadership coaching
I believe that learning from books is a great way to enhance your leadership skills. However, the trap that busy professionals and leaders can often fall into is gathering insight about some fantastic strategies and techniques, but then failing to apply them in their day-to-day work.
A book is an invaluable resource, but sometimes you need some help to translate what you read into practical applications that work for your unique situation at work. And you may also need some old-fashioned accountability to keep you on track! So if you’re looking for one-to-one support, check out my Leadership Coaching Programme or get in touch for more bespoke services.