July 16, 2024

Introduction to the Best Leadership Books: A Guide Curated by Experts

In the ever-evolving field of leadership development, staying updated with the most insightful and effective resources is crucial. That’s why our team at LIW, along with our extensive network of associates and the vibrant LIW community, have curated our list of the best leadership books. This guide includes both groundbreaking new releases and the classics, covering a wide array of topics to cater to diverse needs and perspectives. Whether you’re looking to deepen your knowledge or find fresh inspiration, our selection promises to invigorate your perspective on leadership. Dive into our list of the best leadership books we have read and discover the tools to propel your growth in leadership development. Happy reading!



Mastering Leadership by Robert Anderson & William Adams

Recommended by Geoff Thomas in Sydney

Why it made my list of the best leadership books:

“Mastering Leadership” by Bob Anderson has had a big impact for me and many of the people I coach.  It’s a deep dive into leadership that connects core values, beliefs and behaviours.  It is a book that really explores our human light and dark sides.  Our Jedi and Darth Vader as it shows up in leadership, us at our best and less constructive.  

Explore the book here

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Recommended by Mary Morris in Sydney

Why it made my list of the best leadership books:

I recently revisited and oldy but a good book when my 16 year old daughter asked if I had anything to read.  It’s a great reminder to all leaders, individual contributors and teenagers how to create sustainable life changing habits that can positively impact both work and personal life!

Explore the book here

Teams That Work: The Seven Drivers of Team Effectiveness, by Scott Tannenbaum and Eduardo Salas

Recommended by Kathryn Loadsman in Sydney

Why it made my list of the best leadership books:

This book provided practical evidence-based actions that leaders can take to improve the performance of their teams.

Explore the book here

Head & Heart - The Art of Modern Leadership by Kirstin Ferguson

Recommended by Sharon Lindner in Sydney

Why it made my list of the best leadership books:

If you are looking for an atypical leadership book, this one might be for you!  There are very few buzzwords, and it wasn’t about crunching numbers and making decisions, it was about understanding people, emotions, values and topics which are core for me.

The author refers to it as the “Head” stuff (logic, strategy) with the “Heart stuff (empathy, relationships). She paints a picture of leadership that is as effective as it is human. She tells stories from her own experience and tales of notable leaders from different industries. I found these stories entertaining and relatable.

The read is not just about legacy and inspirational leadership it is about action, providing exercises and practical tips which piqued my curiosity about my leadership.

Explore the book here

Alchemy by Rory Sutherland

Recommended by Dan Meek in Sydney

Why it made my list of the best leadership books:

This book reminds me to constantly go deeper when empathising with our customers and participants. To genuinely “think like our customers” vs just “thinking about them”.

Explore the book here

Help: How to become slightly happier and get a bit more done by Oliver Burkeman

Recommended by Jennie Brown in Sydney

Why it made my list of the best leadership books:

I love its self deprecating style and pragmatism and it challenges some of the typical leadership advice with great humour

Explore the book here

Lost Connections by Johann Hari

Recommended by Jennie Brown in Sydney

This book had a profound effect on me because it firmly illustrates the worst extent of societal issues that can be caused by lack of connection to others and to our sense of purpose.

Explore the book here

Seeing Systems by Barry Oshry

Recommended by Andy Chevis in Sydney
Oshry says that as humans, we like to think we are in control, he calls this “System blindness” a blindness to the fact that our behaviour is in large part environmental. 

Think about it – there’s proof everywhere. How about the top performer who comes to your business to transform your Customer Service division, only to fall flat on their face, unable to recreate past successes achieved in other companies – It can’t only be about the individual, it must be something to do with the new system they find themselves in. 

So understanding the environment, it’s impact on others and the role we each need to play to do our part in nurturing it becomes essential work. 

This is why, whilst it’s been around a while, we still love Oshry’s work and recommend it as a great read for anyone thinking about leveraging leadership for organisational success. Explore the book here

And, for an excerpt, click here

The Magic Question by David Cottrell

Recommended by John Chung in Korea

Why it made my list of the best leadership books:

David tells us about the essence of leadership simply but persuasively with a plenty of episodes from which we can get a lot of insights. Explore the book here

The Analects of Confucius

Recommended by Stephen Yong in Singapore
Stephen says: “Confucian Analects – the basis for many East Asian leadership behaviours. If not not known, then there will be confusion – ‘why did this leader do this?'”.  Explore the book here

The Practice of Adaptive Leadership by Ronald Heifetz, Alexander Grashow and Marty Linsky

Recommended by Max Edwards in Melbourne, Australia

Max says: “This book introduces the concept of adaptive leadership as a framework for tackling issues that don’t have clear solutions or precedents. It gives tools and tactics that enable leaders to navigate ambiguity, foster innovation, and mobilise people for collective action in the face of uncertainty and change. It encourages leaders to adapt and evolve their strategies based on the specific context and challenges in their work, including disrupting habitual routines”.  Explore the book here

The Tao of Coaching by Max Landsberg

Recommended by Karen Goldschmidt in Sydney, Australia

Why it made Karen’s list of the best leadership books:

“Short, on point and fun to read. This book is jam packed full of simple tools and techniques that are easy to apply and make a real difference to how you lead and get the best out of people”.  Explore the book here

Our Iceberg Is Melting by John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber

Recommended by Sally Ferguson in London, UK

Sally says: “It is a very simple, practical and pragmatic story all about leading and managing change. I have given it out to many leaders and teams that are leading/ going through change, who have found it hugely helpful”.  Explore the book here

The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle

Recommended by Onno Koelman in San Francisco, USA
Onno says: “This book is a) entertaining – full of fascinating, behind-the-scenes stories – and combines those with good social science and then b) contains practical ideas that any reader can take away and use to make their teams and workplaces more effective and more fun to be a part of”.  Explore the book here

Build Better Teams by George Karseras

Recommended by Murray Wright in Sydney, Australia
Murray says: “Well researched, contemporary, aimed at teams of all levels rather than the top teams, breaks the team thing down into really simple, practical elements and a few good jokes in there – worth it just for the one about the cannibals!” Explore the book here

Dare To Lead by Brené Brown

Recommended by Bev Hamilton in Dorset, UK

Why it made Bev’s list of the best leadership books:

“The core message is that leadership requires each of us to dare to be ourselves, to create an environment where others can do the same, where people feel safe & encouraged to take off their “armour”, experiment with vulnerability, live by their values, be willing to trust & have the courage to dare to dream, dare to lead and dare to fall down & get up again. Successful organisations require each individual no matter their role or title to have the courage to lead”. Explore the book here

The Art Of Gathering by Priya Parker

Recommended by Taylor Hawkins in Sydney, Australia
Taylor says: “While this is not strictly a leadership book, I think it speaks to the heart of something that is all too often overlooked in any leader’s journey – ensuring that you can effectively bring people together and embed a sense of meaning and connecting in how you do so. It is a great read!” Explore the book here

The Age Of AI by Henry Kissinger, Eric Schmidt and Daniel Huttenlocher

Recommended by Juliet Hammond in Ilkley, UK

Juliet says: “In the face of all the excitement and scare-mongering about AI this book sets out the opportunities and challenges in a balanced and thoughtful way. The authors explore how AI will impact our relationships with knowledge, politics and society”.  Explore the book here

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Recommended by Doreen Teo in Singapore
Doreen says: “When the author wrote that “the word PRIORITY came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular”. That remained for the next 500 years. I am inspired to ask myself “what is the ONE thing that is needful” to guide me in my thoughts and way of being”.  Explore the book here

Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B Rosenberg, PhD

Recommended by Kimi Kurokawa in Tokyo, Japan

Why it made Kimi’s list of the best leadership books:

“It has changed the entire way I see myself and how I handle my interactions with others. It also deeply connects to what I champion in terms of leadership development, which is the importance of genuine self-awareness. Self-awareness and self-compassion leads to all other parts of emotional intelligence including empathy to others. Non-violent communication, encompassing these key elements, helps to build psychological safety in the teams, which then promotes learning culture and innovations in the organization. I apply the NVC concepts in all my OD/LD intervention with my clients”.  Explore the book here

The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters

Recommended by Rob Metcalfe in Sydney, Australia

Rob says: “The naming of my chimp and the conversations I have with him have been life changing. The information in this book is practical, sticky, easy to implement and fun”.  Explore the book here

Multipliers by Liz Wiseman

Recommended by Julie Mitchell in Melbourne, Australia

Julie says: “I love the Multiplier behaviours, but really find the Accidental Diminishers really ring true for people, as they have such great intentions, with unintended side effects”.  Explore the book here

On Becoming A Leader by Warren Bennis

Recommended by Steve Baker in Bristol, UK

Why it made Steve’s list of the best leadership books:

“Such a simple yet profound set of values and examples of leadership in the real world”.  Explore the book here

Attitude Is Everything by Jeff Keller

Recommended by Ashish Das in Bengaluru, India

Ashish says: “I liked the basics and fundamentals on importance of positive attitude and empathy from this book”.  Explore the book here

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