Top 12 Leadership Books To Read For Self-Improvement

Leadership Books

Leadership books are the fundamental piece to achieve the goals of your life. Not only do you get positive results at the level of financial growth, but also you can create better dynamics and work relationships – these are the books that offer ideas and strategies that change the way people think.

In fact, leadership is always one of the most evergreen of business topics. Year after year, an array of authors do their part to keep the subject fresh, bringing their varied perspectives to the task through books. 

Talking about Leadership, it reminds me of John C. Maxwell, once he said:

“Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flow charts. It is about a life that influences another”.

Top 12 Leadership Books To Read For Self-Improvement

As you know, RaizUp’s mission is helping people to develop their career path. We champion the personal and professional development of our community, through e-learning, events, mentorship, etc. That being the case, we decided to put pen to paper and publish our list of the top 12 Leadership Books from our RaizUp Bookstore. Without further ado, here is our list (in no particular order):

  1. The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth
  2. Success Through Diversity: Why the Most Inclusive Companies Will Win
  3. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
  4. The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism
  5. Time to Think: Listening to Ignite the Human Mind
  6. The Culture Solution
  7. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  8. The Leader’s Guide to Unconscious Bias: How To Reframe Bias, Cultivate Connection, and Create High-Performing Teams
  9. WOLFPACK: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game
  10. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
  11. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t
  12. Breaking the Silence Habit: A Practical Guide to Uncomfortable Conversations in the #MeToo Workplace

 

1. The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth by Amy C. Edmondson

The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth offers practical guidance for teams and organizations who are serious about success in the modern economy. This book explores this culture of psychological safety, and provides a blueprint for bringing it to life. The road is sometimes bumpy, but succinct and informative scenario-based explanations provide a clear path forward to constant learning and healthy innovation.

Explore the link between psychological safety and high performance
Create a culture where it’s “safe” to express ideas, ask questions, and admit mistakes
Nurture the level of engagement and candor required in today’s knowledge economy
Follow a step-by-step framework for establishing psychological safety in your team or organization
Shed the “yes-men” approach and step into real performance. Fertilize creativity, clarify goals, achieve accountability, redefine leadership, and much more.

Read The Fearless Organization

2. Success Through Diversity: Why the Most Inclusive Companies Will Win by Carol Fulp

In our fast-changing demographic landscape, companies that proactively embrace diversity in all areas of their operations will be best poised to thrive. Renowned business leader and visionary Carol Fulp explores staffing trends in the US and provides a blueprint for what businesses must do to maintain their competitiveness and customer base, including hiring in new ways, aligning managers around diversity, providing new kinds of leadership development, and engaging employees to embrace differences. Using detailed case histories of corporate cultures such as the NFL, Eastern Bank, John Hancock, Hallmark Health, and PepsiCo, as well as her own experiences in the workplace and in advising companies on diversity practice, Fulp demonstrates how people of different races and ethnicities represent an essential asset to contemporary companies and organizations.

Read Success Through Diversity: Why the Most Inclusive Companies Will Win

3. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace

Creativity, Inc. is a manual for anyone who strives for originality and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation—into the meetings, postmortems, and “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made. It is, at heart, a book about creativity—but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, “an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.”

As a young man, Ed Catmull had a dream: to make the first computer-animated movie. He nurtured that dream as a Ph.D. student at the University of Utah, where many computer science pioneers got their start, and then forged a partnership with George Lucas that led, indirectly, to his co-founding Pixar in 1986. Nine years later, Toy Story was released, changing animation forever. The essential ingredient in that movie’s success—and in the thirteen movies that followed—was the unique environment that Catmull and his colleagues built at Pixar, based on leadership and management philosophies that protect the creative process and defy convention, such as:

• Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. But give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better.
• If you don’t strive to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill prepared to lead.
• It’s not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It’s the manager’s job to make it safe for others to take them.
• The cost of preventing errors is often far greater than the cost of fixing them.
• A company’s communication structure should not mirror its organizational structure. Everybody should be able to talk to anybody.

Read Creativity, Inc.

4. The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism by Hubert Joly & Caroline Lambert

Hubert Joly, former CEO of Best Buy and orchestrator of the retailer’s spectacular turnaround, unveils his personal playbook for achieving extraordinary outcomes by putting people and purpose at the heart of business.

Back in 2012, “Everyone thought we were going to die,” says Joly. Eight years later, Best Buy was transformed as Joly and his team rebuilt the company into one of the nation’s favorite employers, vastly increased customer satisfaction, and dramatically grew Best Buy’s stock price. Joly and his team also succeeded in making Best Buy a leader in sustainability and innovation.

In The Heart of Business, Joly shares the philosophy behind the resurgence of Best Buy: pursue a noble purpose, put people at the center of the business, create an environment where every employee can blossom, and treat profit as an outcome, not the goal.

This approach is easy to understand, but putting it into practice is not so easy. It requires radically rethinking how we view work, how we define companies, how we motivate, and how we lead. In this book Joly shares memorable stories, lessons, and practical advice, all drawn from his own personal transformation from a hard-charging McKinsey consultant to a leader who believes in human magic.

The Heart of Business is a timely guide for leaders ready to abandon old paradigms and lead with purpose and humanity. It shows how we can reinvent capitalism so that it contributes to a sustainable future.

Read The Heart of Business

5. Time to Think: Listening to Ignite the Human Mind by Nancy Kline

Most people think they listen well, but they rarely do – not at this level. Listening this way is a radical act.

The power of effective listening is recognised as the essential tool of good management. In this book, Nancy Kline describes how we can achieve this, and presents a step-by-step guide that can be used in any situation.

Whether you want to have more productive meetings, solve business problems, create bold strategies, or build stronger relationships, this book offers you a new world of possibilities.

From blue chip companies developing high-powered teams to individuals seeking personal growth, a Thinking Environment has come to mean transformation of the highest quality.

Read Time to Think: Listening to Ignite the Human Mind

6. The Culture Solution by Matthew Kelly

Our thinking about culture has been kidnapped and polluted by the spectacular, attention-grabbing fads that 99 percent of organizations cannot implement. It is time to get beyond these “here today, gone tomorrow” illusions that foster entitlement, complacency, and mediocrity, so we can start implementing the timeless principles that are: The Culture Solution.

The six foundational principles of a Dynamic Culture are universal and unchanging. In The Culture Solution, business consultant and New York Times bestselling author of The Dream Manager and Off Balance presents the six enduring principles of a Dynamic Culture in a way that is both intensely practical and inspiring. If you want to . . . grow your business; attract, grow, and retain top talent; learn the key to hiring in the 21st century; teach every person in your organization that they have a role to play in making the culture better today than it was yesterday . . . this book is for you and every person on your team.

The thing is and it’s quite simple, really everybody wants to belong to a Dynamic Culture. That’s why today, more than ever before, organizations are searching for a Culture Solution. Too many books are written just for the leaders of an organization. Finally, we have a definitive and authoritative book about culture that everyone in your organization can and should read.

As an author, speaker, and consultant, Matthew Kelly has become a once-in-a-generation voice. He has an astounding ability to cut through the noise and deliver a message that is both timely and timeless and he does it in a way that will give you goosebumps, stop you dead in your tracks to reflect on ideas so profound that you simply cannot read on, and make you think he wrote this book just for you. This is what makes Kelly one of the most refreshing and authentic voices of our time. Once every twenty-five years or so a book comes along that completely redefines the way we think about work and the life of an organization. This is that book.

Read The Culture Solution

7. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

One of the most inspiring and impactful books ever written, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has captivated readers for nearly three decades. It has transformed the lives of presidents and CEOs, educators and parents—millions of people of all ages and occupations.

With Sean Covey’s added takeaways on how the habits can be used in our modern age, the wisdom of the 7 Habits will be refreshed for a new generation of leaders.

They include:
Habit 1: Be Proactive
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Habit 4: Think Win/Win
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
Habit 6: Synergize
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

This beloved classic presents a principle-centered approach for solving both personal and professional problems. With penetrating insights and practical anecdotes, Stephen R. Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity—principles that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.

Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

8. The Leader’s Guide to Unconscious Bias: How To Reframe Bias, Cultivate Connection, and Create High-Performing Teams by Pamela Fuller, Mark Murphy & Anne Chow

A timely, must-have guide to understanding and overcoming bias in the workplace, from the experts at FranklinCovey.

Unconscious bias affects everyone. It can look like the disappointment of an HR professional when a candidate for a new position asks about maternity leave. It can look like preferring the application of an Ivy League graduate over one from a state school. It can look like assuming a man is more entitled to speak in a meeting than his female junior colleague.

Ideal for every manager who wants to understand and move past their own preconceived ideas, The Leader’s Guide to Unconscious Bias explains that bias is the result of mental shortcuts, our likes and dislikes, and is a natural part of the human condition. And what we assume about each other and how we interact with one another has vast effects on our organizational success—especially in the workplace. Teaching you how to overcome unconscious bias, this book provides more than thirty unique tools, such as a prep worksheet and a list of ways to reframe your unconscious thoughts.

According to the experts at FranklinCovey, your workplace can achieve its highest performance rate once you start to overcome your biases and allow your employees to be whole people. By recognizing bias, emphasizing empathy and curiosity, and making true understanding a priority in the workplace, we can unlock the potential of every person we encounter.

Read The Leader’s Guide to Unconscious Bias

9. WOLFPACK: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game by Abby Wambach

Abby Wambach became a champion because of her incredible talent as a soccer player. She became an icon because of her remarkable wisdom as a leader. As the co-captain of the 2015 Women’s World Cup Champion Team, she created a culture not just of excellence, but of honor, commitment, resilience, and sisterhood. She helped transform a group of individual women into one of the most successful, powerful and united Wolfpacks of all time.

In her retirement, Abby’s ready to do the same for her new team: All Women Everywhere.

In Wolfpack, Abby’s message to women is:

We have never been Little Red Riding Hood. We Are the Wolves.
We must wander off the path and blaze a new one: together.

She insists that women must let go of old rules of leadership that neither include or serve them. She’s created a new set of Wolfpack rules to help women unleash their individual power, unite with their Wolfpack, and change the landscape of their lives and world: from the family room to the board room to the White House.

· Make failure your fuel: Transform failure to wisdom and power.
· Lead from the bench: Lead from wherever you are.
· Champion each other: Claim each woman’s victory as your own.
· Demand the effing ball: Don’t ask permission: take what you’ve earned.

In Abby’s vision, we are not Little Red Riding Hoods, staying on the path because we’re told to. We are the wolves, fighting for a better tomorrow for ourselves, our pack, and all the future wolves who will come after us.

Read WOLFPACK

10. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

‘A landmark manifesto’ New York Times

The ground-breaking, international bestseller – with over two million copies sold – that launched a new movement to empower women everywhere.

Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In has ignited global conversations about gender roles and ambition.

Ask most women whether they have the right to equality at work and the answer will be a resounding yes. But ask the same woman if they’d feel confident asking for a raise, promotion, or equal pay, and reticence can creep in.

In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg – Facebook COO and one of Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women in Business – draws on her own experience of working in some of the world’s most successful businesses to show how women can empower themselves, unlock top leadership roles and achieve their full potential.

Read Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

11. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek 


Imagine a world where almost everyone wakes up inspired to go to work, feels trusted and valued during the day, then returns home feeling fulfilled. This is not a crazy, idealized notion. Today, in many successful organizations, great leaders create environments in which people naturally work together to do remarkable things.

In his work with organizations around the world, Simon Sinek noticed that some teams trust each other so deeply that they would literally put their lives on the line for each other. Other teams, no matter what incentives are offered, are doomed to infighting, fragmentation and failure. Why?

The answer became clear during a conversation with a Marine Corps general. “Officers eat last,” he said. Sinek watched as the most junior Marines ate first while the most senior Marines took their place at the back of the line. What’s symbolic in the chow hall is deadly serious on the battlefield: Great leaders sacrifice their own comfort–even their own survival–for the good of those in their care.

Too many workplaces are driven by cynicism, paranoia, and self-interest. But the best ones foster trust and cooperation because their leaders build what Sinek calls a “Circle of Safety” that separates the security inside the team from the challenges outside.

Sinek illustrates his ideas with fascinating true stories that range from the military to big business, from government to investment banking.

Read Leaders Eat Last

12. Breaking the Silence Habit: A Practical Guide to Uncomfortable Conversations in the #MeToo Workplace by Sarah Beaulieu

Top consultant Sarah Beaulieu offers a five-part framework that enables employees to have difficult but necessary conversations about sexual harassment and violence and develop new, better ways of working together.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, employees and leaders are struggling with how to respond to the pervasiveness of sexual harassment. Most approaches simply emphasize knowing and complying with existing laws. But people need more than lists of dos and don’ts—they need to learn how to navigate this uncertain, emotionally charged terrain. Sarah Beaulieu provides a new skills-based approach to addressing sexual harassment prevention and response in the workplace, including using underdeveloped skills like empathy, situational awareness, boundary setting, and intervention.

Beaulieu outlines a five-part framework for having conversations about sexual harassment: Know the Facts; Feel Uncomfortable; Get Curious, Not Furious; See the Whole Picture; and Embrace Practical Questions. By embracing these conversations, we can break the cycle of avoidance and silence that makes our lives and workplaces feel volatile and unsafe. Grounded in storytelling, humor, and dozens of real-life scenarios, this book introduces the idea of uncomfortable conversation as the core skill required to enable everyone to bring their full talent and contributions to safe and respectful workplaces.

Read Breaking the Silence Habit

To dive even deeper into the world of business and professional development, check out RaizUp Bookstore and get inspired with some great reads.

Join us and we’ll help you get to where you want to be.

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