13 Best Books for Business Leaders: A Baker’s Dozen from Amazon’s Ultimate List
There’s list upon list of books claiming to be the cream of the crop. But really, when it comes to finding the definitive list of books on business, why not go with the one that’s supported by thousands of real people’s money—and reviews?
Here, we’ve assembled a baker’s dozen of the best books for business leaders, pulled from Amazon’s list of the very best! Whether you’re freshly moved into a career or your leadership position, or you’re an experienced leader, one of these is sure to give you new ways to be your best.
1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People — Stephen Covey
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People introduces the habits that set apart those who deal particularly effectively with the world around them.
Covey’s basic hypothesis is that people who lead successful and fulfilling lives eschew individual independence as the ultimate goal, aligning themselves instead with universal principles like honesty and integrity. Given how many great leaders have chosen this book as their go-to, there’s guaranteed to be a habit in here for you.
2. How to Win Friends and Influence People — Dale Carnegie
In 1936, Dale Carnegie wrote what might be the definitive self-help book. If you only ever read one book in this genre, it should probably be this one.
How to Win Friends & Influence People presents some basic rules for how to make a good first impression on people and make them putty in your hands—a skill that applies in every arena. Carnegie couches the advice in memorable anecdote from a star-studded cast of famous people, former US presidents to actors and world leaders.
3. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team — Patrick Lencioni
Nobody’s perfect, and when you crush us together in teams, things can get abrasive, or simply inefficient.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team acknowledges that teams are made of wonderful and flawed humans, thus inherently complex. Embracing this fact and then taking deliberate steps to facilitate great teamwork is the only way to be an effective leader. Lencioni shows how a knowledgeable manager can do a great deal to make his or her team effective and also offers practical tools to do it.
4. Good to Great — Jim Collins
These are the comprehensive findings from a five-year study conducted by Jim Collins—the big pumba of management—and his team of researchers.
Collins and his crew picked out public companies that had achieved meaningful and enduring success after years of mediocre performance and isolated the factors that differentiated them from their lackluster competitors.
The book takes those key concepts regarding leadership, culture, and strategic management and distills them into actionable insights.
5. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 — Travis Bradberry
No matter how sensitive a being, you can always use a little EQ upgrade.
Emotional Intelligence 2.0 offers expert insight into which skills you need to read others and build better relationships, both in the office and out. It breaks down the four aspects of emotional intelligence and gives advice on what you can do to improve your own skills.
6. Start with Why — Simon Sinek
The best leaders inspire great work in others, but here’s a secret: they know how to ignite that spark in themselves, too.
Start With Why gets to the bottom of why certain people and businesses are far more inspired, innovative, and successful than others—even in situations where everyone has access to the same technology, people and resource. Sinek walks you through how to create a business built on happy leaders, employers, and customers, too.
7. Your Brain at Work — David Rock
Your Brain At Work explores the inner workings of the human mind and furnishes a whole slew of novel methods to optimize your thinking.
Drawing upon thousands of neuropsychological studies conducted in the last 25 years, Rock’s book lays down strategies to help overcome distraction, become more focused, meet goals, and more.
8. Lean In — Sheryl Sandberg
You’ve definitely heard of this one, but if you still haven’t read it, it’s time.
In this one, Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and 5th most powerful woman in the world, offers up anecdotes, solid data, and practical advice that applies to both women and men in the workplace.
Lean In examines the prevalence of and reasons for gender inequality both at home and at work. It encourages women to lean into their careers by seizing opportunities and aspiring to leadership positions, as well calling on both men and women to acknowledge and remedy the current gender inequalities.
9. The Compound Effect — Darren Hardy
The Compound Effect shows how to make lasting change by paying attention to the smallest decisions you make—and their cumulative effect on your life.
Author Darren Hardy shows that by accepting responsibility for our own lives, we can change our habits and carve out a life that is more successful, fulfilling, and happy. This is how to make a plan, build up momentum, slowly change bad habits into good ones, and tackle your personal limits.
10. Scrum — Jeff Sutherland
Learn all about Scrum, the project management system that has revolutionized the technology industry. This is a uniquely adaptive, flexible system that allows teams to plan realistically and adjust their goals through constant feedback.
By using Scrum, your team can improve their productivity (and the final result) without creating needless stress or working longer hours. In this kind of scrum, everybody wins.
11. Drive — Daniel Pink
What motivates you? In Drive, Daniel Pink describes the characteristics of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. He reveals that many companies rely on extrinsic motivation, even though this is often counterproductive.
This book explains clearly how to best motivate yourself and others by understanding and tapping into intrinsic motivation.
12. Creativity Inc. — Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace
In Creativity Inc., Ed Catmull describes his personal journey and that of Pixar Animation Studios’ towards the widely successful and creative company they are today.
The book uncovers which principles and steps were essential in producing such results, while acknowledging failure and striving for excellence at the same time. It can be seen as a guide for managers on how to make teams work together in a successful and creative way.
13. Influence — Robert Cialdini
This one’s a classic. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion explains in detail the fundamental principles of persuasion that get us to say yes, including how they are used by professionals like salesmen, advertisers, con artists—and, yes, business leaders like you.
Knowing these principles will allow you both to become a skilled persuader yourself and to batten down the hatches against manipulation attempts.
Too many choices? Intrigued by them all? Come read all of these books’ key insights on Blinkist.