In this series of articles, I have compiled what I think are the best leadership books. If you are new to leadership or are looking to polish your skills, this is a great place to start.

Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman, Courtesy of US National Archives

Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.

— Harry Truman

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt, Courtesy FDR Presidential Library & Museum

Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.

— Eleanor Roosevelt

 

Reading is Important to Me

I am a voracious reader, but it wasn’t always that way. When I was a child, I struggled with dyslexia. I didn’t really learn to read until I was about 12 years old. I was in the 7th grade in the mid 70s and our school had an influx of students who were Vietnamese refugees, displaced because of the end of the Vietnam War. Most of the new students could speak English well, but couldn’t read or write at all.

My English teacher, Mrs. Boulet, assigned me to spend my English class tutoring the new students in reading. I let my teacher know that this might not be wise because I was struggling with reading myself. Mrs. Boulet pointed out to me that I could read the Dick and Jane books, which was more than the new students could do, so I gave it a try. By the end of the semester, both my mentees and I were reading at grade level, although slowly. Once I could read, I took off. I read everything: history, current events, but mostly science, technology and science fiction. I learned to love my subscriptions to Popular Science, National Geographic, and the works of Isaac Asimov, and Ray Bradbury.

 

Leadership Books and Servant Leadership

When I first started managing people, I managed the way I had been managed and I made a lot of mistakes. I learned a lot in military leadership schools while I was in the service. Eventually I found my first leadership book, First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham. This was a revelation to me that leadership and management are not the same thing. This led me to read almost every management and leadership book I could find. I was developing my own leadership style. Some of the books resonated with me and some did not. Ultimately, I discovered Robert Greenleaf and his works on servant leadership, and I learned that the style I was practicing had a name.

The Best Leadership Books

Here I have included some of the leadership books that have influenced me most. I hope you may find them useful. I’m sure that like me, some will speak to you and you will say to yourself, “This makes so much sense!” Others will not and you will say, “What world does this person live in?” It would also take some time to read them all. I like to follow the advice of Winston Churchill, “If you cannot read all your books…fondle them — peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them, at any rate, be your acquaintances.”

Sir Winston Churchill

Sir Winston Churchill, Courtesy Yousuf Karsh, Library and Archives Canada

To discover the my list of the best leadership books click the links below:

Basic Leadership Qualities

Leading Teams (coming soon)

Communication (coming soon)

Managing Your Product (coming soon)

Managing Your Process (coming soon)

Software Development Skills (coming soon)

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