If being a leader was easy, then everyone would do it. What exactly sets apart those who reached the pinnacle of business achievement? What is their secret sauce?
As an aspiring leader, your goal should be to create not just a good company, but a great one. That’s why it’s important to study those who have gone before you.
Below I’ve listed a few of my favorite books to help get you started. From management to personal inspiration, they provide a broad palette to help you gain as much leadership insight and knowledge as possible.
- Meetings Suck by Cameron Herold
As an aspiring CEO, one of the first things you’ll learn is that people hate meetings. In fact, they’re despised so much that COO Alliance founder and entrepreneur consultant Cameron Herold decided to write a book on the subject. After speaking with a variety of firms, he analyzed why we have such strong antipathy toward meetings, and how companies can become better at running them, making them more efficient and worthwhile.
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
This book is an classic in the genre of personal development and leadership. As someone who hopes to stand at a company’s helm, it’s imperative that you look at how to be effective and efficient with your time. Covey offers time-management advice that every CEO should take into consideration to improve the lives of everyone at the company.
- Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
When it comes to leadership, no one does it better than the Navy Seals. In this book, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin go into detail about what makes Seals great at what they do. The book deftly translates first-hand combat stories into life and business advice. As any leader can tell you, split-second decisions can make or break your success, so it’s important to mentally prepare yourself.
- Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
The most important thing in your entrepreneurial pursuit will always be those you surround yourself with. If you can tap into their creative spirit, that will be even more beneficial. That’s why Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull and journalist Amy Wallace crafted this beautiful guide to creative management. Creativity, Inc. dives deep into how to tap into creativity as a leader, and will help you make the most out of your organization.
- 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power has been lauded by CEOs and rap stars alike. It’s a pretty simple (and quick) read reflecting on the power dynamics between people that most of us face on a day-to-day basis. This powerful book justifies its cult-like following.
- Start with Why by Simon Sinek
Start with Why takes a look at some of the most crucial questions every leader should ask: Why are we in business? Why are we inspired? Sinek relays how asking why at the outset is the core to understanding your value system and how it translates to your customers and team. This mentality has taken numerous folks far, and could do the same for you.
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Another classic book on leadership and how it relates to yourself, How to Win Friends and Influence People has been a bestseller for almost a century. Written in 1937 by Dale Carnegie, the tips are still relevant to today’s leaders, and this book should be on every businessperson’s shelf.
- Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Outliers tells the tale of what defines exceptionally successful people and outlines the commonalities they share. The book makes an interesting point that every CEO should take note of: success is driven by hard work, but isn’t necessarily defined by it. Whether you succeed or fail, there’s a science to what occurred and why.
- Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
Ferriss is the man who gave us The 4-Hour Work Week. His follow-up, Tools of Titans, relays the tactics, routines and habits of successful people. And as his podcast has featured numerous noteworthy guests, Ferriss considers this something of a personal journal for each one’s contribution.
- Good to Great by Jim Collins
Good to Great looks at what makes a good company and what makes a great one, and offers advice on how to get from the former to the latter. Collins does an excellent job of identifying myths and defining the paths successful firms take on their journey to greatness.
Though there are several insightful business books out there, these are my favorite. I often read them every year, as they provide a new outlook on business strategies that I can continue to implement.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.