17 Best Leadership Books to Advance Your Career

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Need help advancing your career? Want help being a better leader? Want to gain knowledge to help you advance to a leadership role?

Taking a leaf out of a successful person’s book is one way to get there. And today, we’re offering you a chance to do just that!

Reading the best leadership books listed in this post can reveal the habits, skills, and characteristics possessed by highly successful individuals.

When you pick from among the titles listed here, you’re actually improving your own communication skills, broadening your awareness, and enhancing your effectiveness as a member of your organization. By doing this simple act of reading, you are taking a vital step toward success.

Each of the books you’ll find in this post was written to instruct, guide, and inspire readers to become great leaders in their communities, workplaces, and within their families.

Let’s check out the titles.

1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

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We begin with a classic book on interpersonal relations. Dale Carnegie’s debut work was first published in 1936. Today, How to Win Friends and Influence People is still a must-read for people who are in leadership positions.

The techniques contained in this book about forming friendships and winning people to your side are as effective today as ever. This book teaches you how to handle people, cultivate a sincere interest in others, and become a well-liked leader.

2. Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath

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Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow was written based on the results of a Gallup survey on strengths. It reveals the three essential qualities of an effective leader. The book is ideal for learning how to maximize the strengths of each member of a team rather than dwelling on the weaknesses that are inherent in every person.

Pro tip: You must purchase this book new and not the Ebook version in order to have the access code for the Gallup StrengthsFinder Program.

3. Start With Why by Simon Sinek

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The most successful leaders share the reason why a product is created, a campaign is being launched, or a service is being offered.

You see, when leaders share this information, the people around them tend to accept the ideas better. They become the strongest supporters of the product, campaign, or service.

When they know why people will have an intrinsic motivation for helping you. Their trust is the best gift you can receive as a leader.

If you want to understand how the greatest leaders influence people to follow their ideas, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action is the one for you.

4. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

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A true leader looks out for the welfare of those under his or her care.

However, many companies, organizations, and groups today are sinking because those who are in positions of power only look out for their own interests. The people whom they are supposed to lead are often beset with paranoia, in-fighting, and apathy.

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't shows leaders how to create an ideal working environment, where every member of an organization shows up excited, inspired, and fulfilled.

Sinek uses anecdotes from the military and top organizations to communicate this book’s message to the readers.

[Want more motivation to succeed? See these top 20 motivational books to help you get inspired and achieve the success you deserve]

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In Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, you’ll discover the key mindsets and principles behind the success of SEALs in their combat missions. The authors were former SEAL team leaders deployed in Iraq and assigned to help secure the city of Ramadi for the U.S. forces.

This book contains their wisdom about leadership, which was earned the hard way through their deployment and combat experience. It will revolutionize the way you handle your leadership role, and see to it that you’re not only leading, but winning as well.

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

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change is considered a classic for people in business management. Whether you’re a novice or a long-term leader in your organization, or simply want to learn the most essential habits of successful people, this book has something for you.

The book serves as a guide for harnessing your own effectiveness. It will change how you view problems, react to situations, and use your talents to bring about positive change.

[Discover the top 20 books on success that will give you the tools you need to achieve your dreams in life.]

7. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell

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If you want to develop your leadership abilities, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You can help. Each chapter discusses a particular leadership law.

Maxwell’s laws are universal truths when it comes to leadership roles in any area of society. So whether you’re running a Fortune 500 company or a leader in your community, church, school, or family, the laws will apply.

A couple of leadership laws you’ll encounter in this book are:

  • The Law of the Lid – This law states that one’s leadership abilities will be the determinant of how effective that person is as a leader. So, if the person does not have a great capacity for leadership, then the lid on his or her potential will be low.
  • The Law of Solid Ground – The solid ground being referred to in this law is the relationship established when trust is present. These days, a lot of organizations flounder because their leaders are often only looking after their personal interests. Without trust, a leader is bound to fail.

8. The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier

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Coaching is an essential skill that leaders should develop in order to bring out the best in their teams. These days, members of the workforce often respond better to a coaching style of leadership compared to authoritarian leadership.

The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever teaches you how to apply coaching to your own leadership style. Michael Bungay Stanier helps you upgrade your leadership skills by presenting seven coaching questions that can unlock a person’s potential, creating an asset for the team.

9. Entreleadership by Dave Ramsay

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Leaders must have a vision about the future. Once shared and communicated, this vision will be the motivating factor for team members to become productive and effective.

In Entreleadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches, Dave Ramsay gives you a step-by-step guide to:

  • Have a shared vision with your team about the direction of your business.
  • Get rid of gossip and replace it with a supportive work culture.
  • Correctly handle your company’s finances.
  • Reach your targets

[Want to get more done? Increase productivity? Stop procrastinating? See the 27 best books on productivity and time management.]

10. Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

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Many women still undervalue themselves, often defining who they are through the roles they have in society (e.g., mother, wife, etc.). Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals empowers women to get out there and fulfill their highest potential.

Rachel Hollis helps you discover your true power and finally achieve those goals many have only longed for—building a business, getting a degree, or asking for a promotion. Hollis will be your guide on how to live, and how not to apologize for doing so.

11. The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling

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Does your organization need help to achieve its goals? This book offers a tried and tested strategy for reaching your most important leadership goals, regardless of the other urgent matters at the workplace. You’ll be guided in doing four main things to help execute your top priorities:

  • Focus on the wildly important.
  • Act on lead measures.
  • Keep a compelling scoreboard.
  • Create a cadence of accountability.

The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals is recommended for business leaders and those who want to achieve a competitive edge in today’s business environment.

12. The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

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The premise of this book is that small actions done consistently have far-reaching effects over time, whether for good or ill. When done right, these small actions can yield huge rewards.

The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success reminds readers that lasting results are not achieved overnight. It will show you how discipline, concentrated effort, habit tracking, and other small but significant actions can propel you toward the success you may have only dreamed of until now.

13. A Higher Loyalty by James Comey

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A leader adheres to a set of ethics. However, there are leaders who violate these standards. In this book, former FBI Director James Comey shares some of his experiences during his career in the American government.

A Higher Loyalty is superbly written. It allows readers a glimpse into the country’s seat of power, as well as an exploration of what a good leader truly looks like.

14. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

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Leaders often have habits that help them maximize their strengths in order to become more effective in what they do. You can check out some sample habits of successful people in this post.

In The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg explains how habits work, giving us a better understanding so we can harness our actions to our advantage.

Duhigg shares science-backed information about habit formation and how we can alter them to achieve our full potential. See a detailed review of Power of Habit

15. Becoming by Michelle Obama

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Michelle Obama’s Becoming is a great, inspirational piece of literature for women leaders. Her memoir invites readers to step into her world and witness how her upbringing and experiences shaped one of the most influential women in recent times.

The takeaway from this book is that we all can defy conventions and expectations, becoming successful on our own terms.

16. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin

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Abraham Lincoln achieved an almost impossible undertaking: uniting his cabinet and the entire country in abolishing slavery.

Being able to influence people who possess extremely different personalities in order to get them to work together is one of the most important traits of good leaders.

In Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, Doris Kearns Goodwin retells the story of how Lincoln led America to greatness.

The key to his success was surrounding himself with individuals who were exemplary in their fields, and yet very different from each other. He had the gift of inspiring these different people to work together to achieve a common goal.

17. As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

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We started with a classic, and we’re ending this list with another classic. As a Man Thinketh was first published in 1903. But rather than the information becoming dated or obsolete, it has become even more applicable today.

As a leader, you will be required to possess great self-discipline. In this book, James Allen defends his claim that humans create their destinies.

People succeed or fail depending on how well they can master their thoughts. This is truly a must-read, with every point ringing with significance.

[Looking for more to get ahead in your business or side hustle? Get encouragement and some great entreprenurial tools by checking out this great collection of the 33 “must read” books for entrepreneurs]

Final Thoughts on Leadership Books

This collection of the best leadership books is your gateway to personal success.

Choose the title that resonates best with you and commit to reading at least 10 pages per day. Become a leader that inspires and transforms. Not just an empty title.

If you are looking for tips and strategies for more success in your career, then check out this blog posts:

I wish you the best in your endeavors!

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