11 Best Leadership Books To Get You Started To Success

As a leader, your success is not only about your personal output. A leader’s success is measured by how successful the people around him become. No matter what leadership role you have, whether in business, in your community or in your home, your role is important.

How can you ensure your road to leadership success is paved in the right direction?

There is a wealth of information in books that can help inspire and guide you on your journey. If you invest your time in reading about different leadership and management principles, this can motivate and challenge you in ways you would have not thought of before. These various leadership and management books have sometimes a concept you may read that may not be new to you, but merely a reminder of the direction you want to go, or a boost in inspiration.

Below is a list of the 11 Best Leadership Books that I hope will inspire you.  Invest your time in reading and open your mind to possibilities.

I’ll be giving away a brand new copy of one of the books if you SHARE this post on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Just comment on the post below and confirm on which social media platform you shared my post. September 1, 2015.

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1.  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, was first published in 1990, but still remains a best seller in Leadership. On the front of this book is the statement, “Powerful Lessons in Personal Change”. This describes the book perfectly. This was one of the first leadership books I read in my late teens. I have reread and referred to it several times. I had several AHA moments while reading the book and still practice and coach several of the principles taught in it.

The lessons taught in this book can be applied to help you achieve success in both your personal and professional circles. Covey takes you through 7 habits of effectiveness starting with what he calls a “paradigm shift” – a change in perception and interpretation of how the world works.

Stephen then teaches you how to achieve Private and Public Victory. Private victory includes: Be Proactive, Begin with the End in Mind, and principles of Personal Management. Once you have worked on your Private Victory, his journey leads you to how to achieve Public Victory. Public Victory includes: Principles of Interpersonal Leadership, emphatic communication and creative cooperation.

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

Ed Catmull is co-founder (with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter) of Pixar Animation Studios. Creativity, INC has also been named a New York Times Bestseller and one of the best books of the year by The Huffington Post.

This book is for leaders who want to push employees to achieve new heights. It is not a book for those who love the status quo. He shows you how to inspire the people who you lead to believe that the best in them is possible.

Ed takes you on a journey into Pixar Animation (meetings, post-mortem and “braintrust” sessions). He reveals the ideals and techniques that have made Pixar so popular and profitable.

Much more than a book for managers, it contains wisdom and stories that you will carry you into the rest of your life.

3.  The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

I have been to several seminars and workshops where this book has been quoted in some form or another. After the second mention of this book, I became curious and bought a copy.

Anyone who has worked in a team, whether at work, at school or in a sports event, knows that there can be some difficult challenges one faces. Patrick Lencioni uses a leadership fable to tell a story about the complex world of teams. Throughout the story, Patrick reveals the five dysfunctions which explain why even the best teams often struggle. He outlines a powerful model and actionable steps that can be used to overcome these struggles resulting in a cohesive and effective team.

This book has a simple but powerful message for those who strive to be exceptional team leaders.

4.  Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t By Jim Collins

This book is about an extensive 5 yr. study done by Jim Collins and his associates that strive to find the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great.
The research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to make the leap from good to great. What was different? Why did one set of companies become truly great performers while the other set remained only good?

After you read this book, you will understand what a Level 5 leader is and why it is required to achieve greatness. Jim also describes strategies these great companies used to succeed and explains them with terms such as: The Hedgehog Concept, a Culture of Discipline and the Flywheel and the Doom Loop.

Jim also explains why, “Good is the Enemy of Great”.

5.  Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek through studying the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world, discovers how they all think and communicate. He also discovers that they all do so in the exact same way, which he teaches is the complete opposite of what everyone else does. He discusses why he feels people like Martin Luther King Jr, Steve Jobs and the Wright Brothers succeeded in inspiring others. They all start with “Why”.

I particularly enjoyed his concept of the Golden Circle. There is a great Ted video, “How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to take Action” that I posted that summarizes key points in his book as well.

6.  Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is not a new concept. By now it has been widely accepted that a strong EQ is critical to your success.

What I like about this book is it strives to do one thing, increase your EQ. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 delivers a step-by-step program that helps you do just that.

Travis Bradberry shares four core EQ skills that enable you to achieve your fullest potential:
1) Self-Awareness
2) Self-Management
3) Social Awareness
4) Relationship Management

7.  Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow Hardcover by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie

Most companies invest time and money in helping employees create a development plan focusing on competencies that they need to improve on. While this can be beneficial, companies do little to focus on how employees can leverage their strengths to increase company value.
Strengths Based Leadership shares findings from a Gallup study of more than 1 million work teams, over 20,000 in-depth interviews with leaders and 10,000 followers around the world.

Key findings from Strengths Based Leadership:
The most effective leaders are always investing in strengths. When leaders focus on and invest in their employees’ strengths, the odds of each person being engaged goes up eightfold.
The most effective leaders surround themselves with the right people and then maximize their team.
The most effective leaders understand their followers’ needs.

8.  Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization by John Wooden

Nicknamed the “Wizard of Westwood,” as head coach at UCLA he won ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period, including an unprecedented seven in a row. John Wooden’s goal in 41 years of coaching never changed; namely, to get maximum effort and peak performance from each of his players in the manner that best served the team.

Wooden shares his acclaimed Pyramid of Success, outlining the mental, emotional, and physical qualities essential to building a winning organization.

This book contains the best of Wooden’s observations, covering everything from teamwork and self-control (“Emotion is the enemy”) to concentration and dealing with defeat.
Each chapter concludes with Wooden’s “Rules to Lead By,” point-by-point action steps covering the chapter’s key concepts.

9.  Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success Paperback by Adam M. Grant

There are so many books that focus on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. Adam M. Grant shares how in today’s world, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. He shares how most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return. The last part is key.

The first and last chapter are very powerful and start and end the book with a lot of value. The first chapter explains why people who give are more successful in business. While the last chapter (“Actions for Impact”) contains practical tools to help the reader apply the book’s principles in life.

I want to live in this world where leaders succeed through principled giving of time, energy, connections and knowledge.

10.  The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

The Compound Effect is based on the principle that decisions shape your destiny. All of the decisions people make however small can have positive results if those decisions are guided by the Compound Effect principle. This book contains an easy-to-use, step-by-step operating system that allows you to multiply your success, chart your progress and achieve any desire.

By taking action today and continuing with this habit, those habits will bring our small steps into huge gains over time. It is a book that applies to anyone in business, marketing, or anyone trying to create new healthy habits.

11.  The New One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard

This book, recently updated to help today’s readers succeed more quickly, is a classic. It is an incredibly easy read that can be done in one sitting. The message is simple but if applied according to the principles, can have powerful effects.

This story tells the tale of a young man searching for an effective manager. He finally meets an effective manager who continues to achieve enormous success. The manager then proceeds to teach three very practical secrets: One Minute Goal Setting, One Minute Praising’s, and One Minute Re-Directs.

I recently gave a copy to one of my employees who managers a team of 14 people. She was struggling to build a cooperative and effective team. This book gave her the guidance of where she should start and helped get her and her team on the right path.

Do you have any books that you would like to add to the list?

FREE GIVEAWAY: I’m giving away a brand new copy of one of the books if you SHARE this post on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Just comment on the post below and let me know which social media platform you shared it. Event ends August 31st 2015 at midnight EDT. Winner will be chosen randomly from the comments. I’ll announce the winner on September 1st, 2015

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”