9 Essential Leadership Books to Empower and Inspire

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This is a guest post from Katherine Rundell.  It coordinates with Dr. Neil Grunberg’s interview titled Innovative Leadership for the Health Care Industry that aired on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021.


Whether you’re a veteran executive or a budding entrepreneur, harnessing the power of leadership will provide you the tools to inspire and excel in the corporate world. From emotional intelligence to innovation to business strategy and execution, these essential books on leadership cover every angle of a complex topic. If you want to get ahead in business, there’s no better place to start.

  • Humble Leadership: The Power of Relationships, Openness, and Trust by Edgar H. Schein and Peter A. Schein

 In this excellent and sensitive book on leadership, a father and son duo combine to explore leadership through the prism of corporate culture. Edgar Schein has been an expert on company culture for years and has expanded into questions of leadership based on an understanding that culture and leadership are two sides of the same coin. Viewed this way, good leadership is reframed as an act that reshapes culture.

 In Innovative Leadership, Metcalf and Palmer combine high-caliber academic business theory with real-world case studies to provide a compelling yet fresh account of good leadership. Executives, managers, and anyone else seeking insights into leadership qualities will benefit from this account that links leadership with innovation and forcefully argues that one cannot exist without the other.

  • Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis & Annie McKee

 Emotional intelligence was often neglected in the ruthless world of business – until it was popularized by this intelligent account of how emotional intelligence can be harnessed with real-world results in corporate environments. The leadership language of strategy and direction is just one element – Goleman et al demonstrate that the power of a true leader comes from their ability to inspire staff on an emotional level.

  • The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations by James Kouzes & Barry Posner

 “The Leadership Challenge explores the real-world outcomes that result from great leadership in business,” says Vanessa Ortiz, leadership blogger at Paper Fellows and Essay Help, “and it places leadership squarely at the top of a goal-oriented hierarchy.” This is a highly accessible text as the authors break leadership down into the “Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership”. These practices make the ultimate difference in the business of getting by or achieving extraordinary results.

  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz

Horowitz is one of the most respected entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and has demonstrated great acumen in running start-ups. So, he’s certainly someone who is worth listening to, and The Hard Thing About Hard Things is packed full of practical advice and sage-like wisdom so every reader will take a strong lesson away from his account. Anyone with entrepreneurial impulses will appreciate this book and with his trademark humor, it is an exceptionally readable account of what it takes to run a business.

  • If I Could Tell You Just One Thing by Richard Reed

By compiling the stories of 50 of the business world’s most diverse and remarkable voices in leadership, Reed creates an inspirational account of how to lead a business in any industry. As a charming addition, each profile is accompanied by an ink portrait of the character, ultimately creating an illuminating and enlightening account of each individual voice. Once combined, this book has something to offer every reader.

  • Disrupt-It-Yourself: Eight Ways to Hack a Better Business–Before the Competition Does by Simone Bhan Ahuja

Fear of disruption is one of the greatest enemies of innovation, and one of the major reasons why businesses are ultimately outstripped by their competitors in marketplaces. As an innovation expert, Bhan Ahuja is leading the fight against this fear of disruption and offers a combination of inspiring wisdom and practical advice to help you innovate and stay ahead of your competition.

  • Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

You may remember Simon Sinek from his bestseller Leaders Eat Last and his newest offering is an equally fruitful read. In Start With Why, Sinek argues that true understanding is the foundation for a movement and people won’t back an idea without knowing “the why”. Sinek uses case studies to illuminate how you can articulate your reasoning and get everybody on board in corporate environments.

  • Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan

“Ultimately, a good leader gets results,” says David Scruggs, a business writer at Boomessays and State Of Writing, “and Bossidy and Charan are here to emphasize that there is no greater measure of leadership than execution.” The authors offer a road map to getting results in this unmissable business best-seller.

Few people are born with leadership skills -acknowledging what we must learn is the best way to grow as a leader. These must-read books will expand your knowledge of leadership and let you get ahead in business.


To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.


About the Author

Katherine Rundell is a writer at Academized and Write My Essay services. She honed her leadership skills by balancing her career with raising two children. Her further writing can be found at Type My Essay.


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