6 Books Leaders Should Read By The End Of The Year

I find myself reading quite a bit these days. I’m trying to find a balance between fiction and non-fiction titles but have found myself still leaning heavily towards non-fiction books. This probably has to do with my desire to continue to grow as a leader. I hope you have the same desire.

If you have the desire to continue learning, I’ve put together a great list of 6 books every leader should read by the end of the year. Each of these books have a special place in my leadership journey. I hope they’ll find a place in yours as well.

Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain – In Quiet (Book review), Susan teaches us why introverts are important. You’ll discover the secret power of introverts and the ways introverts can improve your organization.

Decisive: How To Make Better Choices In Life And Work by Chip and Dan Heath – The Heath brothers share with us the ways they’ve learned how to make better decisions. Some of their conclusions may surprise you but that’s what’s great about the book. You’ll come away with a new outlook on the decision making process and your leadership skill will improve.

Love Works: Seven Timeless Principles For Effective Leaders by Joel Manby – Joel has worked for GM, Saab, and Saturn. He was also featured on season 1 of Undercover Boss for his leadership at Herschend Family Entertainment. Through his experiences at those companies and his newest position at Herschend Family Entertainment, Joel has uncovered 7 principles for effective leaders that every leader should know. His methods are a bit different than the leaders you will see at most corporations. Instead of leading with fear and anger, Joel leads will love and respect. You’ll enjoy the stories he shares about the way leading with love changes a corporation.

Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive: Outsell, Outmanage, Outmotivate, and Outnegotiate Your Competition by Harvey Mackay – My wife purchased this book as a Christmas gift for me. While the main focus of Harvey Mackay is selling, you’ll also pick up leadership nuggets along the way. I found a great leadership takeaway in Swim With The Sharks. Harvey says – “You can teach it only by instilling a sense of pride, not shame in a pupil.” How true this is!

Great Leaders Grow: Becoming A Leader For Life by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller -Ken and Mark crafted a beautiful fable that revolves around Blake and his leadership journey. Blake’s mentor Debbie gives him the acronym GROW as he enters a new job and shows him the importance of growth as a leader.

Wild At Heart: Discovering The Secret Of A Man’s Soul by John Eldredge or Captivating: Unveiling The Mysteries Of A Woman’s Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge – This is a two-fer. Wild At Heart is geared towards men and how they were created. Captivating is Wild At Heart for women. It’s a great read that helps us understand why men and women act the way they do and the ways we can express ourselves.

Question: What book would you say every leader should read by the end of the year? Please share your suggestion in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Thanks for sharing these – I keep hearing about Love Works, I’ll have to add that to the list, thanks again!

    • Love Works is a great read Jonathan. Probably why you keep hearing about it. Pick it up and you won’t be disappointed.

      Do you have any book suggestions for the rest of the year?

      • I will do that!
        Here are a few I like: Crucial Conversations, Ready for Anything by David Allen, Go Put Your Strengths to Work by Marcus Buckingham, 15 Laws of Growth by John Maxwell, QHQ: The Question Behind the Question, Start by Jon Acuff, Switch: How to Making CHange Happen When Change is Hard by the Heath Brothers, and Mindset by Carol Sweck…..to name a few of the more memerable and recent reads.
        I’m pretty sure you have read a few, hence the long list. : )

        • I’ve read QBQ. Excellent book. In fact, I was able to conduct an interview with John G. Miller.

          Start is on my To-Read List. I’ll have to take a look at the others and see what I think will be good for me. Thanks for the suggestions.

    • Same with me, I’m putting it on my list.

  • Good list! Decisive has been on my list, and I just started Captivating. Will check out the others as well.

    • Awesome Tammy. What do you think of Captivating so far?

  • Thanks for this list, Joe. I’m headed to Savannah this weekend for some down time and was looking for a couple books to take.

    I would add “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius. While it is more philosophically leaning, it’s principles are timeless. I’ve found myself going back to it a few times over the years.

    • Have fun on your trip to Savannah. It’s beautiful from what I’ve been told.

      I’ll check out Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Sounds like a good read.

  • Hey Joe, two books I would recommend reading as Christian leaders are Mike Bonem’s “In Pursuit of Great AND Godly Leaders.” And Albert Mohler’s The Conviction Lead. I just wrote some of my thoughts and perspective on the first book on my blog recently. Two books you mentioned I’ve read Love Works ad Great Leaders Grow. Both are fantastic read.

  • There you go with another book list, Joe! I’ll have something like this coming out in a couple weeks. Have “Decisive” on my list. Really enjoyed “Great Leaders GROW.”

    • Hope you’re not getting tired with the book lists. With the amount of books I’ve been reading, it’s a great resource to share with up and coming leaders.

      I look forward to seeing your list Nathan.

    • That’s a great one Nathan. Remember when we saw Ken Blanchard at the conference last year? Good times.

      • Ya, that was awesome. You almost got to have dinner with him! You going to the conference in TX this year? I won’t be able to make it.

        • Ha, ya:) Meeting you and Chris at the conference was a huge plus!!! Unfortunately I can’t make it but really want to go. I know Chris is attending so we will have to talk with him to find out how it was.

          • Ya, hopefully he will #livetweet. I’d recommend the conference though, maybe next year. Biggest thing I got out of it was that I needed to invest more in my platform, but with your experience I’m sure you’d get even more.

            • The main point I learned is to have people read and add to the content of the book. Ken’s story about how we wrote the The One Minute Manager was great! He kept adding and reviving the content until it was a great book. Ya, we should try attending next year.

  • I’m reading Love Works now. It’s really good.

    At the moment I can’t pick just a few books people or leaders need to read…there are so many!

    • Haha, I know what you mean TC. There are tons of great books that have been published.

      Glad to hear you’re enjoying Love Works. The book blew me away and I quickly devoured it. What’s been your biggest takeaway from the Love Works?

      • I’m only on chapter 4. Each chapter I think it’s awesome and it just keeps getting better and better. I love that he gives real examples.

        • That’s how I felt as well. Joel wrote a great book that all leaders need to read.

    • Such a great book. I’ve done several blog posts based on Love Works. I’d highly recommend this book to any leader.

  • Start by Jon Acuff!

    • I’m hoping to dig into that soon. Looks like a great book by Jon. If it’s anything like Quitter, it’s a winner. What was your biggest takeaway from Start!?

  • Those are some great book recommendations. I would include:

    The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes, Barry Z. Posner
    Great by Choice by Jim Collins
    Presentations in Action by Jerry Weissman
    The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John Maxwell
    EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey

    • Those are quite the additions Dan. I’ve read EntreLeadership and found it to be a surprisingly great ready by Dave Ramsey. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it, as Dave is/was a financial guru and not well known for leadership.

      • Ya, Dave’s books was good. Glad to add to the list.

  • Great list. I have some of those my list two. I’d suggest The Magic Of Thinking Big and Desiring God.

    • Tom, thanks for your additions. Desiring God is by Piper, correct? And who’s The Magic Of Thinking Big written by?

  • DS

    It’s great to see the different books listed by you as well as the others. The book I’ve been the most impressed with so far is 20,000 Days and Counting by Robert D Smith. I have yet to finish the book, but so far it is easily the most powerful book I’ve worked through this year. It’s simple, yet challenges you. It’s written with great purpose, and has a sense of urgency. I’m looking forward to completing it.

    • David, that’s a book that’s been on my to-read list for awhile as well. Robert seems to have a firm grasp on living life. What’s been your biggest takeaway so far?

      • DS

        One is in the opening “I wrote this book so you could read it quickly. You have…more lives to touch.” “I know I will die, but I do not know how long I will live.” And there’s a prayer in it also that’s great for perspective. I’m only in chapter 5, but so far I’ve been blown away.

        After listening to some interviews and reading his blog, I knew I wanted to move this up my reading list – and I’m glad I did.

  • Jonathan Milligan

    Great list Joe. A book I am really enjoying right now is the Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick

    • Glad you enjoyed it Jonathan. I’ve heard great things about Catalyst Leader as I was part of the launch team. That book is going to be very valuable to up and coming leaders.

    • I’m just starting to read this as well. So far, so good!

  • Phillip Anderson

    The Servant as Leader by Robert Greenleaf. A lot of leadership writings are based on this work.

    • Never heard of that book before Phillip but I’ve heard and read a lot about servant leadership. This will be going on the reading list.

      And thanks for the conference recommendation. Not sure if I’ll be able to attend but it’s something I’m interested in.

      • DS

        The essay was written several decades ago and most of modern servant leadership is based entirely on the thought process he established. The Greenleaf Center is an awesome resource – good job Phillip!

  • Phillip Anderson

    I read in the thread about people connecting at a conference. If people want to attend a great event, come to the Greenleaf Center International Conference on Servant Leadership, June 12-14 in Indianapolis. Visit http://www.greenleaf.org to learn more

  • Love Does by Bob Goff is one I would add to your list. This book is written for everyone, but I think the world would change tremendously if leaders followed the principles that Bob Goff shares in this book.

    • Love Does is an amazing book Jon. Bob has a way of breaking down barriers and bringing out the best in people.

  • Noel

    “LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead” by Orrin Woodward & Oliver DeMille

    • Sounds like a great book Noel. What did you learn from reading it?

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  • Joe,

    This may be outside your comfort zone but I would recommend “It worked for me in life and leadership” by Colin Powell and “It doesn’t take a hero” by Gen H “Stormin” Norman Schwarzkopf.

    Also the Edmund Morris trilogy on Teddy Roosevelt is great.

    • I like the titles of both of those books TJ. Another couple added to the wish list!

  • If you haven’t already, How to Win Friends and Influence People has timeless principles and should be foundational for all leaders

    • Alex, that’s a classic book. I did a book review of How To Win Friends And Influence People here.

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