My Top 10 Business Leadership Books

Guilty as charged!

I’m a notorious “book name dropper”.  I give away two or three books a week and probably reference another twenty in a given week.  During a recent workshop, someone asked me for my top 10 leadership books.  I said “sure, no problem”, but this exercise turned out to be more difficult than I anticipated.  You see I have about 400 business books in my office library (it’s getting rather crowded) and if they stay in my office, they have at least one redeeming quality!

So I took on the challenge to come up with 10 Leadership Books that influenced me.  Ten books that challenged my leadership thinking and convinced me to do something new or different … to change.  This is the list I would suggest to those interested in furthering their leadership development. Whether you are a CEO or a wet behind the ears project leader, this is still a great place to start.  Of course books can only go so far in developing your leadership skills, but in order to build on your strengths, you are going to have to feed your knowledge base.  Great books are the answer!

The books on my list are ‘general’ leadership books.   I purposely left off terrific personal growth books like Covey’s “7 Habits” and Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends & Influence People” or even books that touch on one or two aspects of leadership like Blanchard’s “One Minute Manager.”  These are terrific books and should be in your library but they don’t cover all the aspects of leadership.

I’ve also not included classics like “Good to Great” by Jim Collins or “In Search of Excellence” by Tom Peters.  Every leader should read these but they are more strategy than leadership.  Again, my list includes books on broad based leadership concepts.

There is no real prioritized order to the list except for number 1.  In my mind, Robert Greenleaf is sort of the granddaddy of all the contemporary leadership scholars and authors.  You don’t have to start with Greenleaf … he can be a little dry … but once you feel like you need a bit more foundation, spend some time with Greenleaf.  He’ll become a good friend.

So here you go!

1. On Becoming a Servant Leader, Greenleaf, Jossey-Bass
2. The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes Posner, Jossey-Bass
3. Leadership is an Art, Depree, Dell Publishing
4. Leading Change, Kotter, HBS Press
5. Reinventing Leadership, Bennis & Townsend, Morrow
6. The Leadership Engine, Tichy, Harper Business
7. The Heart of a Leader, Blanchard, HB
8. Leaders, Bennis & Nanus, Morow
9. Execution, Bossidy & Charan, Crown
10. Lincoln on Leadership, Phillips, Warner Books

So let the debate begin!  What did I miss?  What does your top 10 look like?

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