Books to develop leadership in yourself and your team

"Leadership development" is a broad topic that covers the span of an entire career, and maybe even a lifetime. What we learn at work may also be applicable outside of work and vice versa. Perhaps sometimes we all need a little inspiration to continue our ongoing quest for lifelong learning and growing in life and in work. I hope you find something inspiring here. Read on for nine books from the Lake Forest Library that discuss surveys of leaders across industries and get advice from the higher ups that became household names, such as Bill Gates and Arianna Huffington.

Good to Great by Jim Collins – An older title with a fading cover, Good to Great still offers excellent insight into what makes a leader over 20 years after it was originally published. Blurbs on the back come from the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, USA Today, Harvard Business Review, and Inc. Collins carefully researched and authored this book that encourages “competence to become excellence”. Here, learn why some companies that perhaps did not start with excellent DNA make the jump from good performance to great and why others falter instead.

The Visual MBA by Jason Barron – Don’t have an MBA? Barron’s got you. Read this easy-to-follow book of engaging infographics that distill down the concepts covered during two years of graduate school into as the book refers to it, “one priceless book of pure awesomeness”. In 20 chapters and less than 200 pages, gain basic knowledge of corporate financial reporting, business finance, operations management, the general manager’s role, strategic thinking, and more. Barron sketched notes all throughout his MBA and wants to reach the 60 percent of us that are visual learners. This title was originally self-published and then picked up by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Thrive by Arianna Huffington – In a 2013 commencement address, Huffington compared success to a three-legged stool – the weight of pursuing money and power above all else will propel us to topple over unless we have a third measure of success to balance our lives out. In examining eulogies, Huffington illustrates what matters in life and compares it to what our work lives appear to strive for in a plea for the values of giving, compassion, and wisdom in our culture.

Dare to Lead by Brené Brown – Tap into your humanity as a leader with Brown to harness vulnerability, share power infinitely, and to ask the right questions. How do you create a braver team? Can you embed courage into a workforce’s culture? Explore Brown’s research and examples in this straightforward writing that harnesses teachable moments. Learn more about Brown with her Ted Talk, “the power of vulnerability”- which has over 58 million views and is one of the most viewed talks in the world.

How to Lead by David M. Rubenstein – Take a page from the playbooks of leaders such as Oprah Winfrey, Jack Nicklaus, and Melinda Gates through interviews with Rubenstein. Leaders are organized into “types,” which include visionaries, builders, transformers, commanders, decision -makers, and masters. Rubenstein asks each leader questions about their upbringing, life choices, and their professional decisions, creating an intimate “fly on the wall” experience for the reader.

The CEO Next Door by Elena L. Botelho and Kim R. Powell – The CEO next door started in 2017Z X as a story in Harvard Business Review. examine the myths behind who makes it to the C-suite and why with Botelho and Powell. Then, learn how to avoid career mistakes that impair progress toward your next promotion. This book is not just for future CEOs, its for everyone who wants to get ahead at work.

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek – What is it that makes a team? This eight-year-old classic work tests the theory of a team’s relationship to management and employee retention during tough times. What really does it take for a employees to work together naturally and make wonderful accomplishments? For a quick summary of Sinek’s optimistic worldview, check out his Ted Talk “start with why.”

Invent & Wander by Jeff Bezos – In this compilation from Harvard Business Review Press find shareholder letters, speeches, and interviews divided in two parts. Learn what set Bezos apart and how his mindset and leadership made Amazon the company it is today. Source material comes from actual shareholder letters, speeches made at conferences, and interviews from Economic Club and RNDF. Finishes with his remarks to the US House of Representatives in 2020. Introduction by Walter Isaacson, author of the Innovators and Leonardo da Vinci.

The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo – Congrats on your promotion! Now, learn how to hire, fire, lead meetings, pitch, coach, plan, and more. Zhuo illustrates great management from ok leadership, when to look past awkwardness, building trust, and what to do when answers evade you. Zhuo is a silicon valley top product design executive. Her writing can be found in the New York Times and Fast Company. Proceeds of this book go to and OneGoal.