12 Leadership Books to Add to Your Reading List

UPDATED: June 1, 2021
PUBLISHED: May 24, 2016

No matter your business, leadership style or level of experience, there is a book that will inspire you, make you think differently and help you stir change where it’s needed.

Related: 25 Books for Success

We asked members of Young Presidents’ Organization for their top book recommendations and received everything from autobiographies to how-to’s, ancient scriptures to rap-lyric management.

Their responses show there is truly no single path to influential leadership.

1. Strategy Rules

David B. Yoffie and Michael A. Cusumano’s new book, Strategy Rules, examines five timeless lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove and Steve Jobs.

—Ian Halfon, managing director of Slick Restaurant Group

2. The Breakthrough Company

As an entrepreneur, The Breakthrough Company really speaks to me. It uncovers what it takes to build your startup to the next level and references the value of YPO’s networking and forum, which I found interesting and relatable.

—Ryan Gregg, managing partner of Underground Printing Group

3. The Power of Habit

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg discusses how we should, as much as possible, build habits into our day so we don’t spend time making small decisions and can instead focus our energy on decisions we need to make.

—Joelle Goudsmit, president of Dimension-All Formworks and Scaffoldings

4. Creativity, Inc.

I thought Creativity, Inc. was very insightful about building a culture of creativity.

—Kelly Mooney, CEO of Resource

5. The E-Myth

Since I’m a small-business guy, I love Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth. It really helped me understand the concept of working on my business, not in it, and showed me how to set up procedures from day one that would last a decade or more.

—Jason Robbins CEO and president of ePromos Promotional Products

6. Traction

Traction by Gino Wickman helped me run our business much more effectively. It helped us have a clearer mission, accountability, efficient meetings, better interaction and much more. We hired a consultant to help us implement the concepts and it made a huge difference.

—Jamin Arvig, founder and CEO of US Water Filters

7. Talent Masters

Talent Masters by Ram Charan and Bill Conaty is about hiring and nurturing the right talent to grow your business. What impressed me was the lucid writing style and case studies collected from around the world. Good human resources make the biggest difference for a successful venture.

—Ramana Prasad, managing director of Hivelm Switchgear

8. Switch

I really enjoyed Switch by Chip and Dan Heath. It’s about the psychology and science of change and emphasizing change within people. If there is something in yourself or your organization you’d like to change, the steps to doing so may be less intuitive than you think.

—Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments

9. The Hard Thing About Hard Things

The introduction to every chapter in The Hard Thing About Hard Things are lyrics from a rap song that relate to management and leadership. I found it both charming and real. The advice throughout the book comes from captains of industry with proven methods on a variety of topics I struggle with. Many of these founders and leaders have used solutions in the book to solve real problems that speak to me.

—Jenene Ronick, founder and CEO of Luxury Attaché

10. Our Iceberg Is Melting

In Our Iceberg Is Melting, John Kotter has thoughtfully and cleverly explained his model for effecting major and sustainable organizational change through a compelling and accessible parable. He tells the story of a young penguin who believes his clan’s iceberg is melting and will collapse with everyone inside it. The young penguin masterfully builds support to move to another iceberg by executing Kotter’s eight-step change management strategy. As I’ve worked on systemic change to the broken U.S. healthcare system, I found this book instructive and engaging.

—Richard (Rick) Kimball, founder of HEXL

11. Shrimad Bhagavad Geeta

Shrimad Bhagavad Geeta is a very spiritual book based on ancient Indian philosophy. The focus is on karma and the significance of one’s actions. It provides spiritual guidance that can be applied to the modern workplace. For example, it encourages focusing on the work and task at hand, not on results. It is something I always tell my team to do; positive output will happen, but they need to focus on input first.

—Shailesh Chaturvedi, managing director and CEO of Tommy Hilfiger India

12. Daring Greatly

I found Daring Greatly to be eye-opening and thought-provoking on the power of vulnerability.

—Kelly Mooney, CEO of Resource

Related: The 5 Best but Unheard-Of Success Books

[fl_builder_insert_layout slug=”amazon-affiliate-disclaimer”]


YPO is the premier chief executive leadership organization in the world, representing a global community of leaders committed to the shared mission of becoming "Better Leaders Through Lifelong Learning and Idea Exchange." YPO today provides more than 24,000 members in more than 130 countries with access to extraordinary educational resources, alliances with leading institutions, and specialized networks designed to support their business, community and personal leadership. Altogether, YPO member-run companies employ more than 15 million people around the world and generate USD6 trillion in annual revenues. For more information, visit www.ypo.org.