7 Best Books For New Leaders to Read

7 Best Books for New Leaders

With an avalanche of media to consume these days, sometimes sifting through the wheat and the chaff can be just as daunting as reading and absorbing the lessons from a good book. There are some, however, which stand out and are universally agreed upon as great. Although there are so many good leadership books which had to be left off this least, keep in mind this is our choice for the best leadership books for new leaders to read.

The seven best books for new leaders are “The One Minute Manager,” “Dare to Lead,” “Leaders Eat Last,” “Drive,” “Good to Great,” “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” and “Radical Candor.” These seven books help break common myths about leadership, address common pitfalls, and provide the inspiration for those moments where new leaders are going to need resilience to persist.

Continue on for a brief explanation for why we chose these as well as some honorable mentions at the end.

The One Minute Manager – Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

This classic management book is a quick and insightful read, perfect for busy new leaders. It introduces the practical philosophy of effective management through three core techniques: goal setting, praising, and redirecting. “The One Minute Manager” provides valuable lessons on how to lead with clarity and empathy, making it an essential foundation for any aspiring leader.

Dare to Lead – BrenĂ© Brown

I love BrenĂ© Brown! Her book “Into the Wilderness” was given to me at the right time in my life and is a big inspiration behind the creation of The Arise Tribe. Maybe we are a bit biased, but there’s a good reason “Dare to Lead” made this list. In this book Brown explores the power of vulnerability and courage in leadership. The book emphasizes the importance of cultivating emotional intelligence, empathy, and authenticity as a leader. Brown’s research-backed insights will inspire new leaders to embrace vulnerability and create a culture of trust and innovation within their teams.

As we have stated before in many, many, many other posts, emotional intelligence is the greatest predictor of career success! So any book which emphasizes this point is bound to be worth reading.

Leaders Eat Last – Simon Sinek

I also love Simon Sinek, and his Ted Talk on “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” will always be among my favorites. In his book “Leaders Eat Last,” Sinek delves into the concept of servant leadership. The book explores the idea that great leaders prioritize the well-being and success of their team members above their own interests. Through real-life examples, (including one of my personal heroes Nelson Mandela) Sinek highlights the impact of selfless leadership on employee engagement and organizational success.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – Daniel H. Pink

Understanding employee motivation is vital for any leader. Way too many leaders approach leadership in a “one size fits all” manner. In “Drive,” Daniel Pink examines the factors that truly drive human behavior. He introduces the concept of autonomy, mastery, and purpose as the key drivers of motivation. New leaders can learn how to foster a work environment that encourages intrinsic motivation, leading to higher levels of engagement and productivity. The most important thing to note is a lot of leaders can only get productivity out of people with a stick, and that unfortunately works for awhile. Pink shows us there is a clearer, better way!

Good to Great – Jim Collins

In “Good to Great,” Jim Collins and his research team explore why some companies achieve greatness while others do not. This book identifies key principles that transform good companies into exceptional ones. People in new leadership roles can gain valuable insights into building enduring greatness through effective leadership, discipline, and strategic decision-making. Whenever you listen to podcasts, Ted Talks, or read books about leadership, keep an ear out for how often this one is mentioned!

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

This book is considered by many one of the great leadership and personal development books ever written. In “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Covey offers a holistic approach to personal and interpersonal effectiveness. Covey’s seven habits provide a framework for leadership development, focusing on principles such as proactivity, prioritization, and synergy. This book equips new leaders with practical tools to enhance their effectiveness in both professional and personal realms. This book is worth the read just for his lesson on paradigm alone! The first time I read it, it really changed my… well… paradigm.

Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity – Kim Scott

In “Radical Candor,” Kim Scott presents a compelling approach to feedback and communication in leadership. The book emphasizes the importance of offering honest, caring, and direct feedback to team members. By promoting a culture of open communication and continuous improvement, new leaders can develop stronger relationships with their teams and drive exceptional results. Similar to “Drive” it challenges the notion that leaders have to be difficult and callous. The old adage, “you attract far more bees with honey” rings true still.

Honorable Mentions

Some of these books are in my all-time favorites list

  • “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
  • “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni
  • “On Becoming a Leader” by Warren Bennis
  • “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” by John C. Maxwell
  • “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek
  • “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” by Malcolm Gladwell
  • “Leading at the Speed of Trust” by Stephen M.R. Covey

Our final bit of advice is not to tear through all these books. If you are going to invest some time in reading and internalizing the lessons from these works, you are far better off reading and completely understanding one book in its entirety before moving on to the next! Happy reading, no go out there and lead!

Erik Murrah

Author, nerd, chess player, artist, business owner, runner, mediocre philosopher, outdoorsman. Creator of the Arise Tribe.

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