Leaders Are Readers: Our Favorite Leadership Books

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” 

Harry S. Truman

Leaders are readers because in order to increase our output, we must increase our input. Reading is such a great way to learn from the leaders who have gone before us, to dive into a subject and implement key concepts into your life, to gain insight into a new way of coaching employees or marketing your business, to provide a fresh perspective that prompts you to ask yourself big questions in order to find big answers, and so much more.

For Adam and me, that means reading (okay, or listening) to at least one book a week. Not every book is a page-turner or transforms our lives, but each book inevitably sparks a new idea, encourages us to try implementing a new system across the organization, or simply gives us another communication or leadership tip in our toolbox to pull out when talking to employees or teaching a class. To us, Harry S. Truman’s idea that “leaders are readers” is something that we live by, and as a result, we make sure that reading is a high priority on our list.

Below are some of our favorite leadership books that we’ve read over the years.

LEADERSHIP

  • The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell
  • The Dichotomy of Leadership: Balancing the Challenges of Extreme Ownership to Lead and Win by Jocko Willink & Leif Babin
  • Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALS Lead and Win by Jocko Willink & Leif Babin
  • Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott
  • Fierce Leadership: A Bold Alternative to the Worst “Best” Business Practices of Today by Susan Scott
  • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… And Others Don’t by Jim Collins
  • The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek
  • Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek
  • Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman
  • Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio
  • Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott
  • Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, & Alan Eagle

PERSONAL GROWTH & SPIRITUALITY

  • 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson
  • A New Earth: Awakening Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
  • The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu
  • Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
  • The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin
  • The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav
  • The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life’s Perfection by Michael A. Singer
  • The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer
  • Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele

CULTURE & TEAM BUILDING

  • The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams by Sam Walker
  • Conscious Business: Transforming Your Workplace (and Yourself) by Changing the Way You Think, Act, and Communicate by Fred Kofman
  • The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle
  • Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant
  • The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues: A Leadership Fable by Patrick M. Lencioni
  • Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord
  • What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture by Ben Horowitz

PRODUCTIVITY

  • The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Sean Covey, Chris McChesney, & Jim Huling
  • The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins
  • The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure by Grant Cardone
  • Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
  • High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way by Brendon Burchard
  • The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life – Before 8am by Hal Elrod
  • The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller & Jay Papasan

MINDSET

  • Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical, and Financial Destiny by Tony Robbins
  • Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual by Jocko Willink
  • Everything is Figureoutable: How One Simple Belief Can Help Us Overcome Any Obstacles and Create Unstoppable Success by Marie Forleo
  • The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts by Shane Parrish
  • The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday
  • Outwitting the Devil: The Secret to Freedom and Success by Napoleon Hill
  • Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable by Tim S. Grover
  • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  • The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battle by Steven Pressfield

FOR FOUNDERS & FORCE MULTIPLIERS

FOR FORCE MULTIPLIERS

  • As I See It: Volume 1 – Business by Phoenix Normand
  • Be the Ultimate Assistant: A Celebrity Assistant’s Secrets to Working with Any High-Powered Employer by Bonnie Low-Kramen
  • The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness by Jan Jones
  • Chief of Staff: The Strategic Partner Who Will Revolutionize Your Organization by Tyler Parris
  • The Elevated EA: Find Your Voice & Own Your Future as an Executive Assistant by Maggie Jacobs
  • The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency by Chris Whipple
  • Fairy Tale Interrupted: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Loss by RoseMarie Terenzio
  • The Leader Assistant: Four Pillars of a Confident, Game-Changing Assistant by Jeremy Burrows
  • Managing Up: How to Forge an Effective Relationship with Those Above You by Rosanne Badowski
  • The Nerve Center: Lessons in Governing from the White House Chiefs of Staff by Terry Sullivan
  • The President Will See You Now: My Stories and Lessons from Ronald Reagan’s Final Years by Peggy Grande
  • Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein
  • Ways and Means for Managing Up: 50 Strategies for Helping You and Your Boss Succeed by William F. Smullen
  • What the CEO Wants You to Know: Using Business Acumen to Understand How Your Company Really Works by Ram Charan
  • Who Took My Pen. Again? Secrets from Dynamic Executive Assistants by Joan Burge, Nancy Fraze, & Jasmine Freeman
  • Winston Churchill by His Personal Secretary: Recollections of the Great Man by a Woman Who Worked for Him by Elizabeth Nel

FOR THE FOUNDERS

  • #AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness by Gary Vaynerchuk
  • Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself by Mike Michalowicz
  • Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh
  • Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
  • The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone
  • The Hard Things About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
  • Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine by Mike Michalowicz
  • Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It… and Why the Rest Don’t by Verne Harnish
  • Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits!: 4 Keys to Unlock Your Business Potential by Greg Crabtree
  • The Third Door: The Wild Quest to Uncover How the World’s Most Successful People Launched Their Careers by Alex Banayan
  • The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World by Brad Stone
  • Your World-Class Assistant: Hiring, Training, and Leveraging an Executive Assistant by Michael Hyatt

INSPIRING STORIES

  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama
  • Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins
  • Fearless: The Heroic Story of One Navy SEAL’s Sacrifice in the Hunt for Osama Bin Laden and the Unwavering Devotion of the Woman Who Loved Him by Eric Blehm
  • Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
  • Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi
  • Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight
  • The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder
  • Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
  • Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

As you can see, leaders are readers because there are so many important facets to leadership, and learning about them helps you constantly grow your leadership capital. What books would you add to this list? We’re always looking for our next favorite read! Do you believe it’s essential that leaders are readers, too? Let us know with a comment below.

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