The Best Books for Leaders and Managers

Here are eight outstanding books for leaders and managers. I have read them all, some of them several times. You can learn a lot about leadership, communication, business, productivity, and emotional intelligence from these books; I know I did. If you want to continue to develop yourself as a person, manager, and leader, I suggest you should read them all. Yes, you really should. Let me know if you have any suggestions for me to read. I’d be happy to find another golden nugget to add to this list in the future. For apps and gear I use to increase productivity, check this article out: Productivity tools for Managers and Leaders.

Leadership books

Here they are, in no particular order, they are all great books on their specific topics.

1. Turn the Ship Around, by David Marquet

David Marquet has written this book about his time as the commander of a US Navy Submarine. The book describes how he and his colleagues transformed one of the worst-performing submarines and submarine crews into one of the best of their kind. The transformation was so great that there was a disproportionate amount of senior submarine officers who had their origins on this actual submarine for years to come. The submarine and its crew continued to perform very well even after Marquet departed – proof of a lasting change. This book is excellent for anyone that is interested in the democratic leadership style and the transformational leadership styles in particular. It touches on coaching leadership and visionary leadership as well, by the way. To me, this book is the ultimate proof that directive leadership doesn’t work in the long run. Get the book now on Amazon: Turn the Ship Around! (I read this one on my Galaxy Tab S6, one of the productivity tools I use and recommend.)

2. Good to Great, by Jim Collins

This book describes a study on what makes companies successful for the long term and not just temporarily. Jim Collins and his colleagues identify several long time high performing companies and study what they have in common to enable the rest of us to replicate that. The end result shows some specific types of leaders, how to create vision and simplicity to instill discipline and follow through for continuous development and outstanding results. After I read this book, I tried some of the concepts successfully in my leadership role at the time. This book underline critical concepts on how to become successful as a leader and is a must-read for all leaders as I see it. You can find the book on Amazon right here: Good to great.

3. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patric Lencioni

Lencioni using storytelling to educate us all on the essential elements of a team and how you reach trust and high productivity. The book tells a story about a new business leader who sets out to improve a start-up company. She needs to address some challenges with the existing team and improve collaboration significantly. To achieve that, she and the team need to address the five dysfunctions of a team: “Absence of Trust”, “Fear of Conflict”, “Lack of Commitment”, Avoidance of Accountability”, and “Inattention to Results”. The book is easy to read, and the story is entertaining. One of the best books on team development I have ever read. Check out the current price on Amazon here: The Five Dysfunctions of a team.

4. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert B. Cialdini

This amazing book on persuasion and human nature is a must-read. Cialdini explains different behaviors through storytelling and teaches you how doing someone a favor prompts a sense of debts, how the law of scarcity can increase the price of a second-hand car, and in general, how to convince and persuade people. An excellent book for a salesperson as well as a leader. You will be astonished to learn some of these persuasion tricks, and you will remember situations when you have felt victim to them, knowingly or unknowingly.
Go to Amazon to see if it’s available: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

5. The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker

This one I read as an e-book, and it’s a fantastic effectivity manual for any manager or leader. The book elaborates on the importance of continuous improvement and development for leaders, keeping the focus on the outcome of what you do, decision making, time management, how to play to the strengths of people, and many other exciting aspects of being a manager or a leader. This book altered my thinking both in how I work with others, as well as my own time management. The return on investment of the time spent reading this book is high, for sure! Check it out here at Amazon. The Effective Executive. (I read this one on my Galaxy Tab S6, one of the productivity tools I use and recommend.)

6. The Five Temptations of A CEO, Patrick Lencioni

Another storytelling approach by Lencioni. This one I got in an audio format just to try out a different medium. The story outlines five common temptations of a CEO, and it makes you think to what extent you are guilty of committing these “sins”. The temptations are about seeking status and popularity in your role as a leader, holding off decisions when you shouldn’t, avoiding conflicts, and trust issues. It made me stop and think in my tracks as I was out on a walk with this audiobook in my headphones. I, for sure, fall for some of these temptations every now and then, and knowing about them makes it easier to avoid them. Here’s a link to Amazon for you if you’re interested: The Five Temptations of A CEO.

7. Primal Leadership, Daniel Goleman

This book explains the ins and outs of emotional intelligence and just how imperative it is for managers and leaders. It’s also a great resource for learning about Goleman’s leadership styles, although you can read about them on this web site as well, of course. I think all managers and leaders should read this book, and I am likely to buy these books as giveaways to any management team I will head in the future. (The current team has already read it..) Give this book a try. Here’s a link to it on Amazon: Primal Leadership.

8. Verbal Judo, George J. Thompson and Jerry B. Jenkins

With a focus on communication and human behavior, this book teaches you how to fight with your words more than anything else. The book has its origins in how to improve how law enforcement officers can use verbal communication to deescalate and resolve threatening situations. Still, it has endless overlap with many situations that you encounter as a manager or a leader. You will learn neat tricks on communicating effectively, also in stressful situations. You’ll learn how to get better results by avoiding ordering and commanding people around. The book is also about empathy, emotional intelligence, and active listening. I found it easy to buy into the advice since I already use large chunks of it successfully. I know that the approaches in this book work for real since I have tried a lot of these things in real life. Develop your charisma and communication skills substantially by learning the concepts of this book. You can find it here at Amazon: Verbal Judo. (I read this one on my Galaxy Tab S6, one of the productivity tools I use and recommend.)

For apps and gear I use to increase productivity, check this article out: Productivity tools for Managers and Leaders.