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14 Leadership Books For New Leaders To Read In 2023

If you’re anything like me you like to read for both pleasure and for self-development. Throughout my time in leadership roles, I found these books genuinely useful in providing practical advice and inspiration to get the best out of my teams and myself.

The shortlist:

  1. The Five Dysfunctions of A Team - Patrick Lencioni
  2. The Ideal Team Player - Patrick Lencioni
  3. Good To Great - Jim Collins
  4. Leaders Eat Last - Simon Sinek
  5. Dare To Lead - Brene Brown
  6. Primed To Perform - Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor
  7. Business Made Simple - Donald Miller
  8. The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey
  9. The Talent Shift - Berta Aldrich
  10. Radical Candor - Kim Scott
  11. Valuable Change - Brendon Baker
  12. The Leaders Secret Code - Ian Mills et al.
  13. Detox. Managing Insecurity In The Workplace - Melanie Pump
  14. Choosing Courage: The Everyday Guide To Being Brave At Work - Jim Detert
the five dysfunctions of a team book cover

1. The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team

Author: Patrick Lencioni

Fictional literature may not be everybody’s cup of tea when it comes to career development books, but I love this because Lencioni takes you on a journey with the main character who hurdles every possible challenge new leaders are bound to face. It’s a perfectly written parable that sticks in the memory and helps you when dealing with those challenges yourself.

good to great book cover

2. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t

Author: Jim Collins

Good to Great was written for companies that don’t necessarily have a history of magic and inspiration. Collins long wondered if such companies have what it takes to shine the way so many companies do. In this book, you will learn everything Collins learned from years of intensive research into organizations considered to be the best of the best.

leaders eat last book cover

3. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Some Others Don’t

Author: Simon Sinek

World-famous motivational speaker, Simon Sinek, talks about how important it is for leaders to set the tone for the organization by putting their people first. In Leaders Eat Last, you’ll learn about more than just making people feel happy about their jobs, and fulfilled with their role, but the science of our human anatomy and proven ways to successfully achieve lasting change. A good read for leaders at all levels, working in any type of organization.

dare to lead book cover

4. Dare To Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.

Author: Brené Brown

Dare To Lead is a #1 New York Times Bestseller and was named one of the Books of the Year by Bloomberg. It gives readers a look into the minds of leaders celebrated as change makers and culture shifters. This book puts a strong focus on empathy, connection, and courage as the building blocks of a brave and daring leader. Dare To Lead is for leaders who are ready to change the game.

the ideal team player book cover

5. The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues

Author: Patrick Lencioni

Another one from Lencioni. Here, he addresses what readers of The Five Dysfunctions of A Team pointed out as a lack of emphasis on the characteristics an individual must have to be part of a successful team. As such, The Ideal Team Player teaches readers how to help talented team members become team players instead of losing them.

primed to perform book cover

6. Primed to Perform: How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures Through the Science of Total Motivation

Authors: Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor

Primed to Perform is the book to read for those of you who enjoy learning about the wonders of human psychology and how it can be used to the advantage of building and leading teams. Readers will learn how to develop a system to create high-performing teams and sustain them.

business made simple book cover

7. Business Made Simple: 60 Days to Master Leadership, Sales, Marketing, Execution, Management, Personal Productivity and More

Author: Donald Miller

Miller is a favorite of mine. This is the perfect book for leaders at the helm of booming businesses who suddenly realize they need formal systems in place. Business Made Simple teaches readers the foundations of running a business and the skills to fully understand it, realize its potential, and grow and expand it. He does a spectacular job at making what seem to be daunting business topics easy to understand by just about everyone.

the 7 habits of highly effective people book cover

8. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Author: Stephen Covey

More than just being New York Times bestseller, this book was also named The #1 Most Influential Business Book of the Twentieth Century. 40 million people have taken heed to Stephen Covey’s writings and have learned what it takes to transform their lives. You will find this useful if you’re a new leader looking to step up and take charge of your new role and of your new team.

winning the talent shift book cover

9. Winning the Talent Shift: Three Steps to Unleashing the New High-Performance Workplace

Author: Berta Aldrich

This book is for new leaders in organizations with a diverse workforce. Berta, a friend and podcast guest, guides readers through the common challenges and the barriers within the workplace so that everyone can unlock and realize their full potential. It’s based on her own experienced, and research, and presents solutions to the most common problems that diverse organizations fail at.

radical candor book cover

10. Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity

Author: Kim Scott

This award-winning book is available in 20 languages and gives readers a good look into the mind of Kim Scott. She teaches you the value of finding the balance between being one thing and its opposite, and how one or the other can be used depending on what the situation calls for. The author puts an emphasis on the work to be done in creating a compassionate work environment that will help you achieve your goals, whether it be for the team or for the organization.

valuable change book cover

11. Valuable Change: What You Need to Know to Ensure Your Change Pays Off

Author: Brendon Baker

Driving real change is never easy but Brendon Baker says it can be simplified. He outlines the hard skills necessary to lead your organization into a future without stacks of paper containing information no one knows what to do with, and without people talking in a language of a world that’s all their own. It’s a guide to maximizing possibilities and transforming your organization into a well-oiled machine that runs on processes that are simple and easy.

the leaders secret code book cover

12. The Leader’s Secret Code: The Belief Systems That Distinguish Winners

Authors: Ian Mills, Mark Ridley, Ben Laker, Adam Pacifico

This book is based on interviews with various industry leaders, from a multitude of cultures and contexts, where the authors share what rituals and practices they have and what drives and motivates them. The result is what the authors call The Leader’s Secret Code to high-performing teams and unparalleled success in leadership and in management.

detox book cover

13. Detox: Managing Insecurity in the Workplace

Author: Melanie Pump

If you like learning from people who have turned their lives around, here’s one you should not miss! Previous podcast guest, Melanie Pump, talks about how the work environment deeply affects the way people feel about how much they should contribute, how far they would go for the company, and even thinking of ways to improve the environment. She proposes healthy ways to create a work environment that encourages everyone to play bigger roles and do so much more.

choosing courage book cover

14. Choosing Courage: The Everyday Guide to Being Brave at Work

Author: Jim Detert

Being a leader can be tough and so, traditionally, a lot of people choose to act tough or like they know everything to compensate for—well—not knowing everything. But this way of behaving is suboptimal, indeed even dangerous, in modern-day organizations. In Choose Courage, Jim Dertert demonstrates how everyone, including leaders, can learn to be courageous through (appropriately) showing vulnerability and voicing their authentic voice and opinions. In doing so, you’ll achieve a greater impact at work.

That’s enough to be getting on with for now! Got any favorites you’d like to recommend? Leave a note in the comments or in the People Managing People community, a place for leaders to connect and share knowledge.

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By Tim Reitsma

Tim is the co-founder and General Manager of People Managing People, an online publication focused on building a better world of work. He is experienced with people & culture, leadership, business strategy and operations with a focus on building great teams who are excited about their craft and their organization. With over 15 years of leadership experience, Tim has always been guided by his core values: faith, family, curiosity, and fun. He is a coach, mentor, speaker, advisor, and an active volunteer in his community. Tim loves spending time outdoors with his wife and two kids as well as mountain biking in the north shore mountains.

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