Curling up with an engaging book is a great way to spend time, feed your mind, and improve yourself as a team player. Here are our picks for the top leadership books you and your team should read.
Reading a book takes time, and that’s a precious commodity for business leaders. But reading the top leadership books is an investment in yourself and your business. Plus, letting your staff see that you are reading to improve your own leadership skills sets a good example.
Everyone has something to learn about building relationships, disruptive innovation, reaching maximum potential, and other types of practical advice for today’s business leaders. Reading one or more leadership books yourself and encouraging your team to follow your lead is a perfect example of how successful leaders act.
Leadership books have come a long way since Dale Carnegie published How to Win Friends and Influence People in 1936. Although much of Carnegie’s advice remains timeless, the business world is a different place than it was nearly nine decades ago, and people need new tools to win friends, influence people and generally succeed in life. Now that the calendar reads 2022, a list of new leadership books is in order.
1. Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss without Losing Your Humanity
Kim Malone Scott is an author and respected HR thought leader who began her career as a faculty member and CEO coach at Apple University. In this book, Malone Scott walks readers through scenarios that show how to develop into a good leader. For example, she discusses how to practice emotional intelligence by being honest with employees while avoiding brutal honesty that can permanently destroy working relationships.
She also gives practical advice on how to portray an open and transparent approach while maintaining professional boundaries to keep others from taking advantage of you. Malone Scott believes healthy and open communication forms the basis of every productive workplace. That’s why she centered her book around the topic of relationships.
2. She Thinks Like a Boss: Leadership: 9 Essential Skills for New Female Leaders in Business and the Workplace
Author Jemma Roedel writes that confidence is the key ingredient behind every executive who displays primal leadership skills. Unfortunately, too many women have received the message that strong leadership skills are only a masculine quality. They have been encouraged to avoid developing them. She teaches female readers how to think like a boss first. From there, Roedel examines the skills needed to deal with difficult situations, to lead teams effectively, and to perform other tasks that do not always come as naturally to women as they do to men.
3. Invisible Solutions: 25 Lenses that Reframe and Help Solve Difficult Business Problems
Stephen Shapiro has published a compact guide that packs a powerful punch. Invisible Solutions helps leaders understand new ways to frame problems to gain different perspectives on solving them. By shifting from idea-based to question-based solutions, you and your team will achieve higher return on investment and have an improved ability to influence people toward the solutions you offer.
4. Mindfully Wise Leadership: The Secrets of Today’s Leaders
Released in December 2021, Mindfully Wise Leadership by Keren Tsuk discusses the importance of experienced and new leaders listening intently to their teams and feeling OK with tension in uncertain times. The author explains how practicing mindfulness techniques in business can make better leaders and a more successful team. She also says mindfulness will help leaders allow each person to meet his or her own needs in respectful ways. Employees who feel listened to are more motivated and creative, both of which are key concepts of great leadership.
5. The Good Fight
Liane Davey brings 20 years of advising C-suite executives to the table with The Good Fight. She focuses on how to use conflict productively to overcome challenges. People sometimes take extreme ownership of their ideas and seem unwilling to negotiate. Davey offers leaders real-world tools to help them channel the most contentious debates among colleagues. The Good Fight is especially appropriate for remote teams, in which resentments can fester to a boiling point due to fewer opportunities to address conflict as it arises.
6. Reimagining Collaboration: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and the Post-COVID World of Work
Author Phil Simon shows business leaders and teams the true value of creating collaboration hubs and spokes. The book provides concrete and provocative tips that anyone who cares about empowering employees will want to use. Reimagining Collaboration starts by discussing how the pandemic forced people to collaborate using methods they had never considered before. He develops his thesis by discussing specific ways that effective leaders can leverage the possibilities found in post-2020 collaboration styles.
7. Own Your Culture: How to Define, Embed, and Manage Your Company Culture
Bretton Putter is CEO of CultureGene, a company culture consulting firm, who published this book 6 months into the coronavirus pandemic. Own Your Culture starts by explaining that the culture of a company is mostly invisible, making it challenging for leaders to define and respond to it.
Unfortunately, a company culture can become toxic when leaders decide that every other task is more important than working according to an agreed-upon set of core values. Putter lays out the consequences of decisions that impact culture, whether good, bad, or in between. The book then launches into a section on the importance of building and monitoring company culture in the ever-growing remote and hybrid working environment.
8. Charting the Course: CEO Tools to Align Strategy and Operations
Tara Rethore published Charting the Course to respond to the problem of strategic execution in business. As a long-time business consultant, she often saw businesses failing to implement strategies that leaders had spent months developing.
She wrote Charting the Course to teach business leaders how to have a strategic mindset and use it for good when making operational changes. The concepts presented in this book will also help business leaders gain better alignment with their teams because they will share an improved understanding of putting strategy into practice.
9. Suddenly Virtual: Making Remote Meetings Work
Suddenly Virtual by Karin M. Reed and Joe Allen acknowledges that the need for frequent meetings between leaders and their teams did not just go away once more people began working at home due to the pandemic. However, keeping meetings productive proved to be more of a challenge as people dealt with distractions at home. Suddenly Virtual discusses virtual meeting etiquette, ideas to improve meeting efficiency, ways for people to make their best presentation on camera, and other timely topics.
10. Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World
According to author Marcus Buckingham, HR professionals believe at least nine lies about people and businesses. Here are just two examples:
- People care who their employer is
- The best people are well-rounded
In this top leadership book, Buckingham and co-author Ashley Goodall explore these and other HR myths that can keep a company from performing its best. This includes hiring the most talented people. Nine Lies About Work challenges HR professionals to focus on building a strong workplace by placing greater emphasis on the people who do the work and less on the company itself.
11. People Operations: Automate HR, Design a Great Employee Experience, and Unleash Your Workforce
Jay Fulcher, CEO of Zenefits, wrote this Wall Street Journal bestseller with Kevin Marasco, the company’s CMO, and Tracy Cote, an HR expert and Zenefits adviser. Zenefits offers a software-based “people operations platform” to handle HR and payroll services for companies, and the book covers the future of work in light of the rise in hybrid and remote workforces.
People Operations serves as a guide for business owners and HR managers who want to shift their thinking, and their operations, from paperwork to “peoplework.” The authors show how technology can be used to keep employees connected, engaged, and productive.
Ready to curl up with a top leadership book?
This list of the best leadership books published recently might take awhile to get through. Consider picking out the titles that speak to your most pressing issues and seeing what those writers have to say. You may just feel pleasantly surprised at what a difference a fresh perspective can make.