Barack Obama used to dedicate one hour every day in his office for reading. Bill Gates reads 50 books a year and shares a list of recommendations with his social media followers. Warren Buffet reads 500 pages a day, and Elon Musk taught himself to build rockets by reading books. That’s about the reading habits of some of the most successful leaders in the world.
Here’s a list of 11 best leadership books that every entrepreneur & aspiring leader must read:
1. Lean In
Author: Sheryl Sandberg
Year published: 2013
Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, written by Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer, Facebook, is one of the best leadership books out there. It engages in a discourse on how women are held back, how they hold themselves back, and how can they move forward in their careers even in workplaces that are fraught with sexist bias.
Her book is a combination of her personal stories and research that shine a light on gender bias at work, in the society, patriarchy and how it affects women’s careers and how women themselves let it affect them.
Parts of the book share research that questions why highly efficient women choose to forego their careers for family. The author brings about a discussion about the nature of parenting where working women are concerned and how it should be a joint effort with their partners.
For those women entrepreneurs who often find themselves stretched between office and home, this book is a must-read – one written by a woman, for women.
2. Extreme Ownership – How US Navy Seals Lead & Win
Authors: Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
Written by two former US Navy Seals, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, Extreme Ownership – How US Navy Seals Lead and Win offers leadership lessons from a military perspective. Throughout the book, a number of anecdotes from the authors’ time in Iraq throw light on different aspects of leadership responsibilities and the essential characteristics that leaders must have in order to lead.
Each of the chapters in the book is divided into three sections: an anecdote, the underlying leadership principle and how it can be applied to business.
Of course, there are similarities between the way a navy ship might function and the way a team in an organization operates – both have a leader, a team that needs to perform together, and problems that need to be tackled to reach a definite goal. There’s a lot that entrepreneurs can borrow from this book and the anecdotes shared, keep it engaging and gripping.
3. The 48 Laws of Power
Author: Robert Greene
Sharing the most important lessons from history to help people get ahead and lead, The 48 Laws of Power written by Robert Greene is one of the best leadership books.
The author shares 48 laws; some of them are: Learn to keep people dependent on you, pose as a friend, work as a spy, concentrate your forces, re-create yourself, enter action with boldness and plan all the way to the end, among other laws.
Each of the 48 laws is accompanied by stories from history that can be applied to success and leadership traits in life.
The author was inspired to write the book as a result of the dirty tricks of executives that he personally encountered as a screenwriter during his stint in Hollywood.
The book explores the dynamics of power and control through the use of the stories – how to understand power, defend against it, and use it to ones advantage.
Author: Seth Godin
The book, published in 2008, authored by Seth Godin, has one underlying idea: the need for a tribe – a group of people connected to a leader and connected to an idea. The author explains how tribes can be a powerful force of change.
He shares three steps to building a tribe: a desire to change things, an ability to connect a tribe and the willingness to lead.
The book makes readers think about the opportunities to organize an audience and how professionals can apply the same to work. It combines lessons for leadership with the power of the Internet and encourages the need for change and leadership to grow as a company, a group or a society.
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5. Start With Why
Author: Simon Sinek
Author Simon Sinek stresses on ‘why’ in his book Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. In other words, he emphasizes the need to look for purpose as a strategy to drive long-term results.
Sinek explains this with the help of The Golden Circle – a framework for individuals and organizations. The circle places ‘why’ at the centre, followed by ‘how’ and ‘what’.
The author, explains with examples, how some of the greatest leaders started by answering the question of why. He elaborates on the characteristic that those leaders who have had the greatest influence in the world, think and act in the same manner, which is different from what everyone else does. The book is considered one of the best leadership books and is most read by entrepreneurs and business executives.
6. Leaders Eat Last
Author: Simon Sinek
Another one by Simon Sinek – Leaders Eat Last – Why Some Teams Pull Together And Other Don’t. The book talks about lessons on leadership from history, discusses the results of bad leadership and ways of being a good leader in the modern world. The author stresses on three important factors:
a) Safety: leaders must provide safety to their followers
b) Responsibility: leaders must truly care for those who follow them
c) Technology: don’t be slaves to technology, instead, do things that really matter
The author shares the example of how junior marines eat first while their senior officers wait in line and eat last, which explains that great leaders sacrifice their own comfort for their teams. The underlying message – trust.
Leaders who build a ‘circle of safety’ for their teams foster trust and cooperation, two aspects of building great teams and organizations.
7. Turn The Ship Around
Author: David Marquet
Author David Marquet, commander of a nuclear submarine, Santa Fe, realized that having just one point of command was dangerous. This is what he elucidates in his book, Turn The Ship Around.
Managers have used the book to learn how to delegate, train and drive teams. The main takeaway from the book is to think like leader-leader and not leader-follower.
The book tells how leaders could build more leaders in their teams, not just followers. The book emphasizes the importance of leadership while sharing insights on how to lead.
Imagine a workplace where every worker took ownership and responsibility for their actions. Where every worker could grow to become a leader. One of the most read and best leadership books, it tells readers how to turn their ship around!
8. Mastering Leadership
Author: Robert Anderson and William Adams
Authors Robert Anderson and William Adams ask if leaders know if they are developing their leadership effectiveness at the pace of change. The authors stress on the fact that even though organizations have been led by good leaders for years, the complexities of the modern world are outpacing the leaders’ efficiency.
Integrating theory and research, the book shares insights and ways for leaders to develop their leadership qualities further. Case studies, practice tips, and cues and more, the book gives a comprehensive outline for modern leaders to lead better.
Stressing on the need for long-term strategic changes and developments in the organization, the book shares how a systematic approach could help individual leaders achieve a leadership legacy.
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9. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World
Author: Adam Grant
Fun, lively, fresh, insightful, entertaining and fascinating, are some of the terms that reviewers have used to describe the book Originals: How Non-Conformists Move The World, written by Adam Grant, professor at Wharton School of Business.
The author stresses on originality and the need to dig into the minds of employees and entrepreneurs to explore how originality affects one’s performance and happiness.
He discusses factors such as the importance of risk-taking and moving forward as traits of original people and ways to bring originality by viewing the familiar world in an unfamiliar way. The author shares ways: go against the grain, fight conformity, and champion new ideas. Do you have it in you to move the world?
10. The Wit And Wisdom Of Ratan Tata
Author: Ratan Tata
Ratan Tata, an industrialist, businessman, and philanthropist, wrote his autobiography in 2018. The book reveals the author’s simplicity, determination, generosity, and intellectual curiosity.
His life and career, the accolades he received as awards and achievements of his business are testimonies of what the book can reveal about leadership.
In the book, the author shares everything about his early life, his career, to his efforts in maker great things even better. He shares, in simple words, his experiences, learnings and how he redefined success as a business leader. The book doesn’t fail to inspire.
11. The Next Generation of Women Leaders
Author: Selena Rezvani
A collection of 30 interviews with successful women leaders, The Next Generation of Women Leaders: What You Need to Lead but Won’t Learn in Business School is one of the best leadership books that share insights for the women who aspire to be the leaders of tomorrow.
Author Selena Rezvani shares it all: advice, career techniques, strategies, stories and lessons, the book has it packed all of it.
The book tackles the issue of gender bias in the workplace through real-life stories of women in business, most of them who have had remarkable and interesting careers, struggles of climbing up the ladder. In the interviews, they share cues and do’s and don’ts that women aspiring to be leaders must follow.
These are just 11 of the many best leadership books that aspiring readers and entrepreneurs must read. This selection is by no means a comprehensive list. Rather, it is a mixed bag of styles of writing, genres, and authors from different walks of life.
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