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10 Leadership Books Smart People Are Reading

What do Bill Gates, Sheryl Sandberg, Nike founder Phil Knight, Dave Ramsey, plus tons of other amazing CEOs and leaders all have in common? Sure, they’re all incredibly successful—but they’re also all huge readers. And there is good reason for it. Leaders are readers.

In fact, study after study shows that reading makes you a whole lot smarter. It’s still the best way to quickly learn. And if you are leading a team, it just makes sense to read as many leadership books as you can. Reading also:

  • Increases your vocabulary, which leads to better communication.
  • Reduces stress—no one wants to work for a freaked-out stress ball.
  • Makes you more empathetic—another great leadership trait.

The problem, though, is how do you know what books to choose when there are so many out there? We’ve got you covered! Here is our pick of the top 10 leadership books you need to have in your library.

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Before we get started, here’s our very own public service announcement: Don’t listen to your book snob friends—you know you have them—who tell you that listening to audiobooks is “not reading.” That’s messed up. To your brain, physical books and audiobooks are pretty much the same.1  So if your schedule is incredibly tight, audiobooks are a great alternative. And while we’re talking about audio, podcasts are another easy way to learn, so we’ve included some podcast episodes that go along with the authors below. Enjoy!

Top 10 Leadership Books

Boundaries for Leaders by Dr. Henry Cloud

Boundaries for Leaders

Clinical psychologist Dr. Henry Cloud explains why the best leaders set boundaries with their teams and with themselves to improve performance and increase satisfaction.

Buy the book


Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller

Building a StoryBrand

So why did a book about marketing make our list? Because the true heart of StoryBrand is about the power of story. It will forever transform the way you talk about who you are, what you do, and the unique value you bring to your customers and your team.

Buy the book


Crucial Conversations by Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler

Crucial Conversations

Although more than a decade old, this book is still relevant today. Since its release, millions have learned how to hold effective conversations and have improved their lives and careers by following these principles.

Buy the book


Deep Work by Cal Newport

Deep Work

Deep Work shows you how to focus without distraction on cognitively demanding tasks. It’s an indispensable guide for anyone seeking focused success in a distracted world.

Buy the book


EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey

EntreLeadership book

Yep, it feels weird listing our own book. But we just have to say it: EntreLeadership rocks.  It features the principles Dave used to grow his business from a card table in his living room into a national brand.

Buy the book


How to Lead When You're Not In Charge by Clay Scroggins

How to Lead When You're Not In Charge book

This book should be required reading for everyone on your team, including you. Clay Scroggins examines how you can have great influence—even when you answer to someone else.

Buy the book


The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni

The Ideal Team Player book

This one is so good, it’s practically become a handbook for our company. And if you’re hiring, it should be the same for you. In it, Lencioni reveals the three indispensable virtues of an ideal team player: hungry, humble and smart.

Buy the book


Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

Leaders Eat Last book

The author of Start With Why hits another home run. Leaders Eat Last is filled with stories of leaders who got it right, creating deeply loyal teams that win.

Buy the book


The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

The One Thing book

Voted one of the Top 100 Business Books of All Time on Goodreads, The One Thing explains a simple, powerful concept: focus on what matters most in your personal and work life, so you can achieve extraordinary results.

Buy the book


Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath

The Power of Moments book

The New York Times bestselling authors of Switch and Made to Stick explore why certain brief experiences can jolt, elevate, and change us—and how we can learn to create such extraordinary moments in our life and work.

Buy the book


For more book recommendations, check out The Ultimate EntreLeadership Reading Guide: 100 books on topics like hiring, business strategy, sales, leadership and more!

Ramsey Solutions

About the author

Ramsey Solutions

Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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