Favorite Books on Leadership

August 27, 2012

It’s pretty common that my friends or folks in my network will ask me what book they should read.  I love the question, but it always puzzles me just a bit.  Without any context, it feels kind of like they are asking me what outfit they should wear that day!  But after a couple interchanges, it turns out they are usually referring to some kind of leadership book that will help them get to the next level.

Girl Reading

I started keeping track of each book I read in 2004 and I’d like to share my favorite leadership titles with you.  I tried to arrange this list in order with the absolute best – the ones that gave me the most ideas or inspired me – at the top.

Additionally, my next post will give some strategies on how to choose a good leadership book to read.

  1.  How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  2. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
  3. Good to Great by Jim Collins
  4. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
  5. Full Steam Ahead! by Ken Blanchard & Jesse Stoner
  6. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell
  7. The Secret: What Great Leaders Know – and Do by Ken Blanchard & Mark Miller
  8. The Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley
  9. The One Minute Entrepreneur by Ken Blanchard & Don Hutson
  10. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
  11. Crucibles of Leadership by Robert Thomas
  12. Start With Why by Simon Sinek
  13. EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey
  14. Becoming a Coaching Leader by Daniel Harkavy
  15. The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

Honorable mentions:

What are your favorite leadership titles?

Nathan Magnuson is a leadership consultant, coach, trainer and thought leader.  Receive his ebook Trusted Leadership Advisor by subscribing to his website or   follow him on Twitter.
  • John Maloney

    The 360 Degree Leader – John Maxwell I like it because it pertains to everyone, not just positional leaders.

    • John, I like that one too. I just finished Failing Forward a couple weeks ago.

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  • Jo McDermott


    I agree that these are all good books. I’m not wild about the ‘story’ style that a couple of them use, but I know some people love those.


    • Jo, I thought the same thing! The first one I ever read was Who Moved My Cheese, and initially thought it was… cheesy. But they’ve grown on me since then. I think they are best for people who don’t like to read much or aren’t overly academic.

  • Great list! I’ve read all but Crucibles of Leadership and Start With Why, I’ll add them to my book list.

  • Nathan,
    Have you read Lead by Greatness? If not, check out the Amazon reviews and the book’s website.


    • I haven’t – thanks for mentioning it. About to re-read Becoming a Coaching Leader by Daniel Harkavy.

  • I decided to add more to the list here. Don’t want to keep these to myself!

  • Have you read all these books? I read many of the books you’ve listed. This is a superb list! Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Paul, yep – I’ve read them all over the years. My “to read” list is probably just as long! Do you have any you’d add?

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