Top Leadership Books: Redefining the Genre

Effective leadership is more than management. A great leader continually works to gain more knowledge and improve their leadership ability.

Pursuit of education is a valuable trait, and some of the best resources are leadership books. These works teach important skills, foster professional development, and provide impactful anecdotes of leadership in action.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that some of the top leadership books are not traditional industry books at all. They’re memoirs, biographies, and other works by and about great leaders.

By investing in education and reading a wide range of leadership books. you can hone valuable techniques and advance your career.


Getting the Most out of Leadership Books

To promote engaging leadership, a passion for knowledge is essential. Leadership books are valuable resources because they teach new skills and encourage self-improvement.

With new knowledge in hand, you can become a more effective leader and make a greater impact in the workplace.

When you’re reading a leadership book, however, it’s crucial to go beyond the page. We gain knowledge by reading, but we gain skills by putting the principles of those books into our daily lives.

You need not only to retain the information that a leadership book contains but also—more importantly—to put what you learn into action.


How to Retain and Apply Leadership Book Content

It’s easy to read a book. The hard thing is to practice what you read about. In these situations, find a retention strategy that works for you.

Here’s mine: after I read or listen to a leadership book, I always go online to find a summary. Then, I highlight the top points that resonate with me the most. I keep the annotated summary with the book to review every so often.

This strategy helps me retain key leadership lessons that I can practice in my daily life. I’m able to remember the book’s messages better, and I have a handy guide to refresh my memory every few months. I consider that a win-win.

As you read, consider what leadership skill the book can help you improve and how the book’s lessons can improve your approach. If you apply each leadership lesson to real life as you read, you can practice the lesson with your team and analyze the results.

It’s not necessary to read on a schedule or join a book club to get the most out of leadership books. You can go at your own pace—just read consistently!


Best Leadership Books for New Leaders

New leaders need special guidance and support when beginning their journeys. Certain books are more likely to make an impact at this stage of your career than others. In most cases, books on general leadership are best for new leaders whereas experienced team leaders seek books on specific skills. 


Differences between Books for New and Experienced Leaders

Many books can help you become a better leader—just make sure each book caters to what you need. For example, an experienced team leader might want to hone skills like emotional intelligence or work-life balance. New leaders, on the hand, have different needs.

If you’re a new servant leader, think about the skills that you want to develop, and seek out relevant books. You can find books about encouraging passion, nonprofit leadership, remote work, or servant leadership online and in bookstores. 


Finding a Great Leadership Book

Effective leaders influence people. Wherever a strong leader makes an impact, you can find a narrative that speaks to their strategy. 

You can discover a leadership book with valuable insights from famous executives, as well as wonderful examples of strong leadership in historical narratives. You can even discover books from a TED Talk or similar lecture.

For first-person accounts by influential people, look to memoirs or autobiographies. Works by friends, colleagues, and biographers of great leaders also provide valuable insight and critical lessons. 

Here are a few recommendations:

  • It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership, by Colin Powell

  • Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

  • The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, by the fourteenth Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Carlton Abrams

  • Mother Teresa CEO, by Ruma Bose and Louis Faust


How a Great Leadership Book Can Advance Your Career 

Great leadership books teach advanced skills like emotional intelligence, positive psychology, and leading by example. These skills are not easy to develop, but books expose you to new ways of thinking and doing. 

Whether you’re a new business leader or a seasoned one, you can always benefit from learning something new. Practicing new approaches can strengthen your career and open new opportunities for growth and advancement.

To become a successful leader, you should seek books that match your interests and leadership style. Some books focus on the experiences of nonprofit professionals or small team leaders while others examine the political and corporate worlds.


Putting Leadership Lessons to Work 

Leadership books are all around you. So are opportunities to put what you’ve learned to good use! Once you’ve absorbed the lessons, you can implement new knowledge and advance your career. 

Here are a few tips to help start your journey:

  • After you finish each book, write down the most important lessons that you learned, and keep the list in a safe place. 

  • Review the list of lessons. Identify how and where you can implement each one into your daily routine. 

  • Ask yourself if you know a good leader who can provide guidance. Reach out to them for support.

  • Ask family, friends, and colleagues if they know anyone who can provide guidance on implementing these lessons.

  • Research life and professional coaches to help you implement your lessons and provide support.


Enhance Your Leadership Development Today

Highly effective people don’t just read—they put books’ lessons to work. When you implement the skills from leadership books, you advance your competencies and your effectiveness.

Looking to enhance your leadership strategy? DWA Leadership can help. Visit our website to learn more.