5 Leadership Book Recommendations for 2016

If you want to get better as a leader, then you need to commit time daily to reading something that will fill your mind with valuable leadership knowledge and insight. Something that will challenge you to think critically about the way you lead and cause you to examine yourself closer.

Below are five leadership book recommendations for 2016. Having read them this past year, I’m confident that the content will help you become a better, more effective leader. But only if you apply what you learn! So before you read any of these, you must first commit to being open to what you read and willing to let it change your thinking and behavior.

1) Dare to Serve (Cheryl Bachelder) – If you want to learn how to apply the principles of servant leadership to your organization, then this book is for you. I’ve never seen a more convincing and compelling case for servant leadership than the one articulated by Bachelder. Easy, practical read with deep insight and application for any leader in any industry.

2) Leadership & Self-Deception (Arbinger Institute) – Wow, this book will cause you to take a HARD look at yourself! Be ready to rip the blinders off and hold up a mirror when reading this one. The message in this leadership fable is powerful and transformational, getting right to the heart of what causes conflict and discord in organizations and teams. It should be required reading for every leader and team member.

3) The Work of Leaders (Julie Straw, Mark Scullard, Susie Kukkonen, & Barry Davis) – Based on years and years of research and experience, this book articulates the essential elements of effective and results-oriented leadership. It is full of practical tools and action items that can be immediately applied to your organization. Once you start reading it you won’t want to put it down.

4) Creativity, Inc. (Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace) – I initially resisted reading this one because I was not very interested in learning about the history and culture of Pixar. However, I was blown away by the vast number of leadership lessons and ideas presented by Catmull. There is a reason that Pixar has been so successful, and it all starts with the leadership philosophy and culture of the company. By applying the lessons learned at Pixar, this book will help you create a more healthy and transparent culture at your organization.

5) Tough Choices (Carly Fiorina) – This is not a political book–it’s a memoir. But more than that, it’s a book about leadership in the trenches. Fiorina is brutally honest and open in articulating her account of what it takes to be an effective, courageous leader in the corporate world. Any leader in any industry can learn from Fiorina’s success and failure as a leader. This is not a quick read, but it’s very in-depth and transparent, giving you an inside look into the challenges that leaders face in the corporate boardroom.

So there you go … five book recommendations that are certain to help you get better as a leader. But only if you read them and apply them. As Bill Hybels often says, “Everyone wins when a leader gets better.” One way to do that is by reading and learning from other leaders.

If you have any additional recommendations or feedback, please feel free to share!


  1. I think a book that needs to be added to your list is “Leading for Results” by Joan Bragar (http://bostonleadership.com/). It is a short and easy to implement read that goes over five essential leadership practices that the author has found to be key in her 25 years in the leadership development business. The book lays out a clear program to help aspiring leaders find their purpose, pursue it, and learn from that pursuit. I like that the book feels like a mini leadership program in itself and that there are exercises provided at the end of each chapter so you can apply what you’ve learned to your specific job/position. It is so easy to believe that leadership and management are the same thing but this book shows you what it means to be a true leader and not just a manager. Would love to hear your opinion

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Karen – thanks for taking the time to share your recommendation. This sounds like a great book … I will add it to my list. There are so many great books on leadership; my challenge right now is finding the time to read all of them! Thanks again for connecting and commenting. Have a great 2016!


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