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We have sifted through various lists and talked to our friends and colleagues in leadership to come up with this updated Leadership Reading List of indisputable classics and fresh voices. Read these and other texts to drive your future and the success of your organization.


The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Stephen R. Covey (1989)

Covey’s book represents the best in self-help. His advice—about prioritization, empathy, self-renewal, and other topics—is both insightful and practical. Seven Habits can be useful to the personal and professional development of anyone charting a career in business.

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The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management

Peter F. Drucker (2001)

Almost everything that’s been written about management since the middle of the 20th century is based in one way or another upon Drucker’s work. Reading these excerpts gives you a solid understanding of this seminal thinker.

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On Becoming a Leader

Warren Bennis (1989)

This classic draws from hundreds of interviews to help answer the question: What is a good leader? Bennis examines the psychological and philosophical attributes of thinkers, scientists, executives, and entertainers who all share an ability to unite people in a common purpose. Anyone looking for a comprehensive and actionable guide to be a better leader could not do better than this.

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Productive Workplaces

Marvin Weisbord (1987)

A classic that traces today’s management practices back more than 100 years, providing the reader with a mini-MBA on the subject. You are encouraged to explore evolving management theories in concert with your own values.

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Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman (2005)

High IQ is no guarantee of success in business or life, but high EQ (emotional intelligence) is critical for success in every area, particularly leadership. Goleman defines five crucial EQ skills and shows how they drive success.

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First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently

Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman (1999)

Based on an extensive study of managers in different companies, this book pretends to be iconoclastic (hence the title), but is a clear manifesto of what has now become standard management practice.

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Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan (2002)

Larry Bossidy transformed AlliedSignal into one of the world’s most admired companies and was named CEO of the year in 1998 by Chief Executive magazine. He achieved 31 consecutive quarters of earnings-per-share growth of 13 percent or more through the consistent execution: linking together people, strategy, and operations.

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The Wizard and the Warrior

Lee G. Bolman, Terrence E. Deal (2006)

Recommended by our Director of Training & Development, Chris Massaro. This book is squarely focused on the people challenges for leadership. Leaders must be wizards calling on their creativity to craft meaning in their organizations, and they need to be warriors to make it happen,

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The Leadership Challenge

James M Kouzes, Barry Z. Posner (2017)

If you prefer your reading to be grounded in research, this book is for you. Kouzes and Posner offer insight into real and complex interpersonal dynamics of the workplace and how they affect common business issues. A good manager gets things done, a great leader inspires his or her teams to achieve more than they thought possible.

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Adaptive Leadership

Ronald A. Heifetz (2009)

This book is about change and that is a timely topic for our post-pandemic world. It is a hands-on, practical guide containing stories, tools, diagrams, cases, and worksheets to help develop your skills as an adaptive leader, to assess and address the toughest challenges

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Standing at the Crossroads: Next Steps for High-Achieving Women

Marian N. Ruderman & Patricia J. Ohlott (2002)

The authors debunk the common myth that women must give up life’s other roles to be successful professionally. Research show that multiple roles benefit and enhance women’s managerial performance. The book provides individuals and their organizations with invaluable advice to support women’s development as managers and leaders.

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Unwritten Rules: What Women Need To Know About Leading In Today’s Organizations

Lynn Harris (2009)

Lynn Harris provides pragmatic advice for women leaders. She explodes the leadership myths prevalent in the workplace today, and provides women with essential information to make informed choices about their careers and how to lead. Unwritten Rules explores the specific challenges faced by women leaders and what it takes for them to succeed.

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Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Sheryl Sandberg (2013)

Thirty years after women became half the college graduates in the United States, men still hold most leadership positions in government and industry. This means that women’s voices are still not heard equally. Lean In examines the root causes for why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, and offers compelling solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential.

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The Tao Of Womanhood

Diane Dreher (1999)

For every woman who is searching for both external power and internal peace. It’s for the woman who wants to be tough but nice, who wants to take care of things and everyone else but needs to be reminded to look after herself, who feels pulled in too many directions and yearns to live a full, balanced life.

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What sage advice have you discovered recently?

We’d love to hear from you. Share your favorite, forward-thinking and/or life-changing books with us below.

Read. Learn. Apply. Grow. Repeat.

Get on with it.


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