Leaders Are Readers

Leadership books have long been a valuable resource for anyone looking to develop their leadership skills and improve their ability to lead effectively. However, with so many books on the subject, it can be difficult to know which ones to choose. In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of selecting leadership books used in actual leadership education programs in legitimate education settings, ensuring that the research is cutting-edge and accurate to the discipline of leadership rather than relying on pep rally leadership or guru misinterpretations.

First, it’s crucial to understand the difference between a credible leadership education program and one that may not be as reliable. For a leadership program to be considered legitimate, it must be based on the science of leadership, leadership research, and leadership principles that have been rigorously tested and proven effective. This includes research from both academic and practical perspectives. When a book is used in a legitimate education program, it’s a strong indication that it is based on credible research and is considered a valuable resource for those seeking to develop their leadership skills.

One of the biggest advantages of using books that are used in legitimate leadership education programs is that they are based on the latest and most cutting-edge research or solid principles that stood the test of time. This means that the principles and strategies outlined in these books are up-to-date and relevant to the current leadership landscape and standard. This is particularly important as the leadership landscape is constantly evolving.

Another advantage of using books in legitimate education programs is that they are often written by authors considered to be experts in the science of leadership. These experts have years of experience and have dedicated their careers to studying and researching the subject. They are highly qualified and have the knowledge and experience to provide valuable insights and strategies to help you become a better leader. In contrast, books not used in legitimate education programs may be written by those with little or no experience in the field and may not have the same level of expertise or credibility.

In addition to using books that are used in legitimate education programs, it’s also important to avoid books that are considered pep rally leadership or written by gurus that have not studied leadership specifically. Pep rally leadership books often focus on motivational speeches and positive thinking but do not provide practical and actionable strategies for becoming a better leader. Leadership guru books are written by those who claim to have all the answers and the secret formula for success but often lack credibility and are not based on solid research. These types of books can be misleading and do more harm than good by giving you false information or distracting you from what is truly important in leadership.

Of the numerous great leadership books available, some stick out as exceptional. However, it depends on the purpose of your reading. While there are plenty to consider, these seem to be essential for anyone serious about exploring the science of leadership. Here are two lists of 15 fantastic leadership books to include in your library for individuals and organizations.

Leadership Books for the Individual

“Leading Change” by John Kotter
“The Leadership Challenge” by Kouzes/Posner
“Leadership is an Art” by Max DePree
“Ethics, the Heart of Leadership” by Joanne B. Ciulla
“Decision Making (Harvest Business Essentials)”
“Leadership and the Art of Change” by Lee Roy Beach
“Critical Thinking: A Student’s Introduction” by Bassham
“Changing Minds” by Gardner
“Negotiation: Readings, Exercises, and Cases” by Barry/Saunders/Lewicki
“Practicing Leadership: Principles & Application” by Shriberg/Shriberg
“Voices 8: Foresight as the Central Ethic of Leadership” by Kim
“Leadership and the Leadership Process” by Pierce/Newstrom
“Leadership – Enhancing the Lessons of Experience” by Hughes/Ginnett/Curphy
“Bad Leadership” by Barbara Kellerman
“Leadership” by Northouse

Leadership Books Regarding Organizations

“The Conflict Survival Kit” by Griffith/Goodwin
“A Systems Approach to Small Group Interaction” by Tubbs
“The Team Handbook” by Scholtes/Joiner/Streibel
“Interpersonal Skills in Organizations” by De Janasz/Dowd
“Organization Development: The Process of Leading Organizational Change” by Anderson
“Organizational Theory Design and Change” by Jones
“Managing Cultural Differences: Global Leadership for the 21st Century” by Abramson/Moran
“The Center for Creative Leadership Handbook of Leadership Development”
“Social Intelligence: The New Science of Success” by Albrecht
“Evaluations in Organizations” by Russ-Eft/Preskill
“The Strategic Planning Workbook” by Lake
“Simplified Strategic Planning” by Bradford/Tarcy
“Business Communication: Building Critical Skills” by Locker/Kaczmarek
“Organizational Behavior: Emerging Knowledge Global Reality” by McShane/Von Glinow
“Business Communication” by Harvest Business Essentials

Note: There is no ranking order of the books listed.

Bonus: If you really want to step away from pep rally leadership and dig into the science of leadership, I would recommend the following (in no ranking order):

  • The Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies (Sage) LINK
  • International Journal of Leadership Studies LINK
  • Leadership & Organization Development Journal LINK
  • The Journal of Leadership Studies (Wiley) LINK
  • Leadership (Sage) LINK
  • Creighton Journal of Interdisciplinary Leadership (CJIL) LINK
  • The Journal of Leadership Education LINK
  • Journal of Leadership Studies LINK