Whether you’re just starting out on your leadership journey or you’ve been at the top of your field for decades, there’s always something to learn from leadership books. Leadership is a complex, yet, fun job, and these buzzworthy, bestselling books offer critical insight into how you can build confidence in your management skills and evolve your leadership style to be more efficient, effective, and equitable.
Maybe you want to be a Fortune 500 CEO, or maybe you want to be a talented chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Regardless of your aspiration, put on your reading glasses and soak up the knowledge from these 14 leadership books.
Best leadership books written by (or featuring) famous leaders
Leadership book #1: Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. — Brené Brown
Four-time #1 New York Times bestselling author Brené Brown writes about the value of empowering anyone to lead in the workplace, regardless of job title. She argues that it’s more important for leaders to be curious, empathetic, and vulnerable than to always have all the right answers and hoard their power. If you want to be more daring and courageous as a leader, add this book to your queue.
Leadership book #2: Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change — Stacy Abrams
Convincing yourself and your peers that you possess the skills needed for leadership requires confidence and bravado, writes politician, lawyer, and voting rights activist Stacy Abrams. In Lead from the Outside, Abrams argues that knowing your passion and what you want to fight for is the key to success. It’s the perfect leadership book for anyone who considers themself an “outsider” and wants to make a difference in the world.
Leadership book #3: Becoming — Michelle Obama
Becoming is an intimate and inspiring memoir by former First Lady Michelle Obama. Obama details the experiences—good and bad—that have shaped her life and career as a leader. Read about her childhood in Chicago, her time spent in the White House, and the lessons she’s learned while defying expectations and advocating for women and young girls all over the world.
Read more: The Best Podcasts for Women
Leadership book #4: What Will It Take To Make A Woman President? — Marianne Schnall
All you need to know is that Beyoncé endorsed this book: "I would love for my younger fans to read What Will It Take to Make a Woman President? by Marianne Schnall. It's a collection of interviews and essays by great women, including Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, and Melissa Etheridge. They will inspire you to become a better leader." Schnall seeks to uncover what needs to change in order for a woman to be elected into the White House, and hits a home run with her broader goal of inspiring women to be leaders in their current lives.
Best leadership books written by women, for women
Leadership book #5: Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons — Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Women leaders hold just 8.1 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions, a very real gender representation issue in leadership. In this leadership book, authors Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala interview some of the world's most powerful women—Jacinda Ardern, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Theresa May—about gender bias and why there aren't more women in leadership roles.
Read more: 12 Female Leadership Books to Pump You Up
Leadership book #6: Run to Win: Lessons in Leadership for Women Changing the World — Stephanie Schriock and Christina Reynolds
With a foreword from Vice President Kamala Harris, this leadership book is geared toward women in politics, but the leadership lessons are universally applicable to all women hoping to be a leader in a male-dominated space. Stacy Abrams calls it “an antidote to anxiety and a welcome call to action.” Goodreads wishlist, here we come.
Leadership book #7: More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say) — Elaine Welteroth
At 29 years old, Elaine Welteroth became the youngest editor-in-chief in Condé Nast’s 107-year-old history and the second Black person to ever hold the title at Teen Vogue. As a young boss—and often the only Black woman in the room—Welteroth discusses her firsthand lessons on race, identity, leadership, and success in this empowering memoir.
Best leadership books for new leaders
Leadership book #8: The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You — Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo became a manager at 25 years old and instantly faced self-doubt and uncertainty. Now, after years of experience managing dozens of teams, she’s sharing the most important lessons she’s learned along the way: how to spot a great manager, how to build trust with your employees and direct reports, and what to do when you lose confidence in your skills. If you're new to the job, this is the leadership handbook you need to read in order to be the best leader you can be.
Leadership book #9: In The Company Of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs — Grace Bonney
Read how over 100 influential women embraced their creative spirit, overcame hardships, and became leaders. Regardless of what industry you’re in, these stories from architects, comedians, ceramicists, tattoo artists and more offer hope to aspiring entrepreneurs and leaders who have a dream to pursue.
Leadership book #10: The Next Generation Of Women Leaders: What You Need to Lead But Won’t Learn in Business School — Selena Rezvani
For this leadership book, author Selena Rezvani interviewed women executives in various industries over the course of a year about how they’ve navigated leadership. While women’s representation in leadership has certainly improved, we still have a long way to go, and these featured leaders seek to provide younger women with the tools and information they need to shape their careers and navigate the workplace.
Leadership book #11: Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity — Kim Scott
Author Kim Scott has studied effective management for years. Her philosophy? In order to be a good boss, create a culture of feedback, and build a cohesive team, you have to balance caring about your employees with challenging them. If you’re new to leadership, read this book for actionable lessons on how to be successful while retaining humanity, finding meaning in your job, and creating a positive, inclusive work environment.
Best leadership books for seasoned leaders
Leadership book #12: The Likeability Trap: How to Break Free and Succeed as You Are — Alicia Menendez
Alicia Menendez explores the pressure for women to be likeable in society and how the paradox affects women in the workplace. Instead of encouraging readers to fall into the trap of being likeable, she empowers them to examine how they perceive themselves and stop internalizing societal expectations. Witty and thoughtful, this leadership book presents tactics to confront cultural patterns holding us back and motivates us to embrace our unique leadership styles.
Leadership book #13: Act Like A Leader, Think Like A Leader — Herminia Ibarra
Need a refresh on your leadership approach? Professional leadership and development expert Herminia Ibarra explains how leaders can evolve their leadership style by making small changes in their jobs, networks, and selves. You’ll figure out what kind of work is important to you, how you should invest your time, and which relationships matter the most to you.
Leadership book #14: This is How We Rise: Reach Your Highest Potential, Empower Women, Lead Change in the World — Claudia Chan
The best companies have leaders at the helm who are visionaries and change-agents. In this read, leadership expert Claudia Chan encourages readers to embrace a new kind of leadership—one based on activism, social change, and gender equality. She shares personal wisdom and lessons to help experienced leaders develop and deepen their purpose as a leader.