This article showcases our top picks for the Leadership Books For CEOs. We reached out to industry leaders and experts who have contributed the suggestions within this article (they have been credited for their contributions below). We are keen to hear your feedback on all of our content and our comment section is a moderated space to express your thoughts and feelings related (or not) to this article This list is in no particular order.
In turbulent times, King David united a nation—and his hard-earned wisdom can bring us together today. This new 30 Days With book offers a month of readings plus ideas for small-group discussion. David ranks among the world’s greatest heroes for defeating Goliath and best-selling authors for writing Psalms. He is honored by Jews, Christians and Muslims. In this book, pastor, educator and leadership coach Larry Buxton shows us how David embodies 14 crucial values shared by effective leaders to this day. Just as the first volume in this series invites readers to spend 30 Days With Abraham Lincoln, one of the greatest unifying figures in American history, Buxton’s book is a call for all of us to remember values that unite us. Buxton dedicates “this book to everyone who believes that the character of any leader is of critical importance to our nation, our institutions, our congregations and our homes; and to all those who seek to let God shape their character as more virtuous human beings, that their influence may spread to heal our world.” Answering that call in the opening pages are two nationally known political leaders—one a Democrat and one a Republican, who came together in these pages to urge all of us to read these 30 short stories drawn from David’s often tragically learned lessons about life. In his Foreword, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine writes: “From the blockbuster arc of David’s life, Larry Buxton assembles 30 short chapters on key leadership traits—patience, vision, humility, integrity, openness, tenderness, forgiveness, courage, gratitude, self-control, surrender, perseverance, calmness, justice. Buxton helps us see how David either exhibited these values or catastrophically failed to achieve them. The chapters are probing and conversational—with references from the worlds of literature, sports, politics and entertainment to illustrate how to apply these lessons to our everyday challenges.” In his Preface, Andrew H. Card, who served in Washington D.C. during two Bush administrations, writes: “No matter what your faith or tradition of worship—and, no matter your role in business, management, philanthropy, sports, politics, government or family—you will find the adventures in these 30 daily readings extremely relevant and highly motivating. We need to meet David again through Larry Buxton’s wise retelling of these stories—so that we all can lift up the best values in leadership in our institutions, our nation and our world.”
“A CEO Only Does Three Things: Finding Your Focus in the C-Suite,” by Trey Taylor is a must-read for CEOs. Many of us have fallen prey to the idea that we must be involved in every aspect of our business, but that just isn’t true. If we try to do that, we run the risk of burnout. Taylor explains that CEOs should focus solely on culture, people, and numbers. In his book he outlines how to create the right culture for your company, how to hire people with the right mindset, and how to inspire your team to produce results.
This product was recommended by Linda Shaffer from Checkr
This book explores the concept of trust and its role in leadership. It argues that trust is the foundation of effective leadership and offers practical advice on how to build trust in oneself and in one’s organization. It also provides insights on how to create a climate of trust, how to repair broken trust, and how to sustain trust over time. This is very helpful for CEOs because they are often called upon to make decisions that will impact the trustworthiness of their organization. This book by Stephen M.R. Covey is a must-read for CEOs who want to create a culture of trust within their organizations.
Life’s goals are found in the infinites, where you understand that your action is a miniscule spark into the future world. The Infinite Game inspires and builds leaders that look forward with an infinite mindset.
This product was recommended by Johannes Larsson from Financer
Experiences being a perfect teacher over an entire lifetime often leads you to climb the success ladder Wisley and with perseverance. Having an understanding of the same, Alan Eagle tends to reflect on his own experiences while illustrating the aptest lessons for any entrepreneur and budding leader! This book emerges from the ideas linking towards forward-thinking, culture, and team building in the most perfect manner. It’s one of the best sellers in the US, accounting for wisdom and highlighting the very essentials thereon.
While there are many leadership books that can help CEOs, I think It’s the Manager: Moving From Boss to Coach is the best leadership book for CEOs because it addresses the most important part of being a good leader: motivating employees. It explains why motivation matters so much and how to get people to want to do what they need to do in order to be successful. It also provides an in-depth look at what it means to be a leader, how leaders can be more effective, and how leaders can make their organizations more successful.
In my opinion, Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson is the best leadership book for CEOs because it offers guidance that is practical and applicable for startups in order to get things done and develop better every day. It also demonstrates how your business can prosper with ease in a very clear and simple manner. In this book, managers and CEOs will find straightforward yet effective answers. This book emphasizes sustainable solutions that have a greater chance of being implemented rather than those that are extreme and overly competitive ones.
This product was recommended by Kathleen Ahmmed from USCarJunker
In the Bezos Letters, the Andersons analyze and breakdown the famous letters that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wrote to Amazon shareholders over the past 20 years. And in dissecting these letters, the authors managed to identify 14 Growth Principles that he successfully utilized to build an empire, which provides any CEO a good understanding into the thinking of one of the greatest business visionaries of all time. This is an especially fantastic read for anyone looking to succeed in the e-commerce, retail, marketing, technology, or investment industries.
I think Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman is the best leadership book for CEOs because it explains how our minds work and why we make the decisions we do. Daniel Kahneman explains in this book how our brains are hardwired to make quick judgments, but not necessarily the right ones. This leads us to make decisions based on emotion rather than logic, which can be dangerous when making complex decisions that require a lot of thought. I personally like this book, as it gives CEOs a solid framework for understanding their own behavior, and for knowing what to do about that behavior when it’s not as effective as they want it to be.
I absolutely love A CEO Does Only Three Things, by Trey Taylor. Trey has witty insight into what exactly a CEO should and shouldn’t be responsible for which helps you as a business leader be able to stay afloat and not get burnt out. The advice in this book is great for those who are just starting out in their venture as a CEO, but also for veteran CEOs who have been in the game for a while. You are never too old to learn something new, which I feel this book helps you to discover. This guide helps you to know how to hire the right people, how to fund success for your business and how to be a good leader. This book focuses on the culture, people and numbers of business in which every CEO should know. He uses insightful studies and his own experience to help you understand what’s needed for your business to grow, and I feel every new or veteran CEO should read this book.
I’d say that the best book for leadership for CEOs is The Hard Thing About Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz. This book emphasizes the importance of empathy and understanding your employees. It’s a great read for anyone who wants to understand what it means to be a great leader, and the lessons learned in this book can really help you build a strong team at your company.
This product was recommended by Paula Mercer from Venture X
I love leadership books that make me think, and that help me understand the world around me in a new way. Having said that, I’d recommend The Myth of the Rational Market by Bryan Caplan. It’s an easy read, and once you start reading it, it will lead you to the heart of the issues facing many businesses today: how to run a business without losing sight of what makes it a business, and how to get people invested in your company’s mission. This book also provides me with a better understanding of what people are thinking, which can help me communicate better with them and create more effective teams.
One of the best books for new CEOs is The First 90 Days. The transitions into roles with greater responsibility are the book’s main theme. Michael Watkins details ideas including adopting a leadership attitude, accelerating team and individual development, organizational foundations, and effectively managing oneself. The First 90 Days helps new CEOs prepare for the task by drawing on the experiences of thousands of business leaders.
This book is very useful to find solutions to different problems. It gives advice on how to manage a company, how to deal with the hiring process and much more. I would like to recommend this book to those who want to learn valuable lessons.
This product was recommended by Oliver Zak from Mad Rabbit
The Art of War by Sun Tzu is still considered foundational reading about the principles of leadership. While this text speaks to leadership in the context of war campaigns, the lessons are applicable to contemporary leadership in business. For example, success cannot be obtained without empathy for fellow man. Defeating competition requires logically acknowledging the reality of human beings’ limitations, and how the delicate nature of morale can mean the difference between triumph or defeat.
Ray Dalio displays his mastery of entrepreneurial teaching in this book, offering invaluable and unique guidance for all leaders. He uses this book to showcase what he believes to be the fundamental principles governing success in all fields of leadership. This is a book full of practical lessons that CEOs will find both instructive and inspiring, and can genuinely help make us better leaders.
She is an academic who writes and speaks about her research in very practical ways. She shares powerful insights to dare you to think big and has the data to back it up. She excels in describing behaviors and emotions that we’ve all felt. More importantly, she gives us constructive actions we can take to live and work more effectively.
This product was recommended by Rhett Stubbendeck from LeverageRx
The focus of this book is leadership. Being a leader is stressful because we must ensure that the strategies we employ are effective and yield positive results. I have incorporated the Golden Circle approach outlined in this book into my leadership strategies. The book taught me how important it is to figure out a company’s WHY, which gives customers a reason to buy its products. As a result, I created a compelling WHY that persuaded the customers that selecting my service was the best decision for them. Therefore, I believe this book is a must-read for all entrepreneurs who want to improve their leadership skills. It will help them understand that a competent leader knows how to build a strong brand and lead in a way that benefits their company. Leaders face a lot of pressure and must strengthen their leadership strategies in order to succeed, and this book will provide them with a way.
Another one I really like by Sinek is Leaders Eat Last. As the subhead states, he shows why some teams pull together and others don’t. It is a compelling book to show how great leaders from the military, government, business and on Wall Street build trust and inspire cooperation across their people versus using incentives to motivate their teams. He is a terrific writer and there are lots of great lessons and ideas in here!
Finally Think Again by Adam Grant challenges leaders to question what we think we know, so important for life after the pandemic. He shows the importance of having a mindset of curiosity and a search for truth rather than becoming defensive, offensive, or appeasing. It’s not about how smart you are but how curious and actively open-minded instead. It makes you think about your core values vs. your beliefs, very powerful and useful as an entrepreneur. He also addresses the importance of having people in our network who will question us and hold us accountable for rethinking our perspectives.
This product was recommended by Donnel Chambuca from Golfroyce
This book is a compilation of essays from Amazon’s former CEO and founder, Jeff Bezos. The book includes Bezos’ letters, lectures, and interviews, which provide readers with background information. The book is presented in a straightforward manner and contains business methods and unique thoughts that may motivate you. It is a self-help and autobiographical book that provides insight on Bezos’ managerial methods. The easy-to-read language of Invent and Wander focuses on Bezos’s approach while running the firm. The book, written in 2020, also focuses on how the Covid-19 epidemic influenced the company’s management. Customer obsession and creating a business culture are essential aspects in Amazon’s success. While reading Bezos’ remarks, you may learn more about these challenges.
Phil Knight, an American businessman who was the former CEO of Nike describes in a story format what the path to business success really looks like. He tells the story of his own experiences and leadership journey. This book is great for every CEO who aspires to build a great team and company. It is helpful and insightful and the lessons are quite clear as Phil Knight uses plain and simple language.
This product was recommended by Donnel Chambuca from Golfroyce
The 48 Laws of Power was published roughly two decades ago and remains one of the best-selling CEO books today. The writers compress three thousand years of human history into the most important leadership lessons. The book examines what it takes to reach the top by drawing on the ideas of great performers. The book encourages an aggressive and dominant attitude while delving into subjects like persuasion, competitiveness, and image. These pages contain advice such as use absence to enhance respect and honor and win through your acts, never through debate.
When we’re working in business, we end up working with PEOPLE – regardless of whether we have people on our team or we have some kind of product, PEOPLE are buying whatever we’re selling. And so we need to be able to communicate, have conversations, and resolve conflict. This book walks through so many different ways to create shared connection and shared purpose so that we can – even when we’re experiencing conflict – come together to focus on the bigger picture. Being able to do that with potential clients or existing clients or team members is so important, because we all are going to be working with people in some capacity. And in a lot of cases, we’re going to be working with a lot of different types of people in a lot of different capacities. If we don’t actually know how to have these kinds of conversations and move past the initial conflict, we’re going to struggle. As business owners, that might mean our business not growing and unresolved issues, potentially causing our business to close or shut down. So I’ve highly recommended this book to many of my clients, their team members, and my own team (even gifted it during onboarding!). I regularly talk about the lessons from this book with different people I work with, and it has helped guide how I manage and how I work with clients. Definitely a must-read for CEOs!!
Brené Brown authored a book on having the guts to disagree and defend one’s opinions and to remain steadfast despite criticism or disagreement. *This book has the potential to change your life for the better. Braving the Wilderness explores how to discover and defend your values. *It teaches readers how to be empathic, open, yet honest and strong.