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Top books to read on leadership

Blog Date
April 20,

Successful leadership is key to personal and professional growth. It helps individuals rise to challenges, motivate people, and perform to the best of their abilities. Strong leadership abilities increase resilience, invention, and jointness, whether in the corporate environment or on personal journeys. Leaders not only organize themselves but also build a professional atmosphere where people can collaborate and provide the best of their work.

Learning from the experiences and insights of experienced leaders can refine leadership skills. The books of these leaders are invaluable sources of knowledge, containing useful tips, practical examples, and wise maxims that apply to all life situations.

Through the pages of must-read books for leadership, readers can learn the path-breaking lessons of decision-making, communication, and resilience, among others. Below are the leadership literature recommendations.

Also read: Why candidates with MBA/Masters degrees are preferred for management & leadership roles?

  1. “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek

“Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek is about the deep notion of creating and maintaining a culture of trust and mutual support throughout organizations. Sinek says that good leadership is about building an environment where employees associate safety, respect, and motivation to work at their full capacity. The book introduces the concept of servant leadership, stressing that leaders should focus on their co-workers rather than on themselves.

Foundational knowledge from the book includes the philosophy that leaders who pay attention to the welfare of their team members and create a sense of belonging can foster trust naturally. This trust serves as the cornerstone on which teams’ collaboration, innovation, and high performance are anchored. Sinek highlights the importance of a leader assuming the benefits and losses of their team members, showing empathy, humility, and honesty.

The book includes guidance on practical strategies, which are demonstrated when a leader leads by example, actively listens to employees’ concerns, provides opportunities for growth and development, and drives the organization with a culture of appreciation and recognition.

  1. “Dare to Lead” by Brené Brown

Dare to Lead, written by Brené Brown, a researcher known for her work on sociology and leadership, explores vulnerability and courage in leadership. According to Brown, the best leader is open to vulnerability, which creates transparent connections, trust, and growth in the team.

Empathy, authenticity, and resilience are the core topics of the book. Brown pointed out that leaders who are good listeners and can build a connection with a person on a human level are more likely to create an environment where the employees feel like their opinions matter. Moving forward, she also addresses authenticity, telling the leaders to be themselves and to build environments filled with honesty and openness.

Another aspect of leadership mentioned here is resilience. Brown posits that leaders who adapt well do not regard their failures and setbacks as something that cannot be conquered; rather, they learn from their mistakes and keep on fighting.

Also read: Can I grow as a domain leader after completing an MBA in Business Analytics?

  1. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey

Covey’s framework revolves around seven habits that, when practiced consistently, empower individuals to achieve greater fulfillment and success.

  • Be Proactive: Covey emphasizes taking responsibility for one’s actions and choices rather than being reactive to external circumstances. 
  • Begin with the End in Mind: This habit centers on clarifying one’s values, vision, and goals and aligning actions with a clear sense of purpose.
  • Put First Things First: Covey introduces the concept of time management based on principles of importance and urgency.
  • Think Win-Win: Covey advocates for a mindset of mutual benefit and collaboration, where individuals seek outcomes that benefit all parties involved. 
  • Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood: Effective communication is key to building rapport and resolving conflicts. 
  • Synergize: This habit encourages individuals to leverage others’ strengths and perspectives to achieve goals that would be unattainable alone.

Covey’s principles are highly applicable to leadership development and team dynamics. Leaders who embody these habits inspire trust, empower their teams, and foster a culture of accountability and collaboration.

  1. “Primal Leadership” by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee

The book argues that a leader’s emotional intelligence profoundly influences their ability to inspire, motivate, and drive organizational success.

Emotional intelligence encompasses self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, and relationship management. Leaders with high EI are adept at understanding and managing their own emotions as well as those of others, enabling them to build strong relationships, navigate conflicts, and create supportive work environments.

The authors identify different leadership styles, each with its emotional resonance:

  • Visionary Leadership: Visionary leaders inspire and motivate by articulating a compelling vision of the future. They evoke excitement and enthusiasm, fostering a sense of purpose and direction within their teams.
  • Coaching Leadership: Coaching leaders focus on developing their team members’ potential and providing guidance, support, and feedback. They cultivate trust and collaboration and nurture individuals’ growth and success.
  • Affiliative Leadership: Affiliative leaders prioritize building strong interpersonal connections and fostering a sense of belonging within their teams. They create inclusive environments where individuals feel valued and supported.

The authors offer practical insights into developing emotional intelligence skills for inspiring and motivating teams. These include practicing self-reflection and mindfulness to enhance self-awareness, cultivating empathy, and active listening to understand team members’ perspectives.

Also read: How to become a global leader in the healthcare sector with an MBA in healthcare management with MAHE!

  1. “Leadership: In Turbulent Times” by Doris Kearns Goodwin

In this book, the author explores leadership through the lens of historical figures.

Abraham Lincoln, known for his steadfast resolve and ability to unite a divided nation during the Civil War, exemplified transformational leadership. His humility, empathy, and moral clarity enabled him to navigate complex challenges with integrity and compassion.

Theodore Roosevelt embodied the spirit of progressive leadership, advocating for social reform and environmental conservation. His boldness, resilience, and willingness to challenge the status quo empowered him to tackle pressing issues of his time and leave a lasting impact.

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s leadership during the Great Depression and World War II showcased his adeptness in crisis management and his skillful use of communication to inspire hope and mobilize collective action. His pragmatism, optimism, and empathy endeared him to the American people and earned him their trust.

Lyndon B. Johnson, though controversial, demonstrated remarkable legislative prowess and a commitment to advancing civil rights and social justice.

  1. “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek

“Start with Why” by Simon Sinek introduces the concept of the “Golden Circle” framework, which emphasizes the importance of defining purpose in leadership. Sinek argues that truly successful leaders and organizations start by understanding and communicating their “why” – their core beliefs and values that drive their actions and decisions. By focusing on the “why” behind what they do, rather than just the “what” or “how,” leaders can inspire others, cultivate loyalty, and differentiate themselves.

Practical guidance offered in the book includes aligning organizational goals with core values and beliefs, articulating a compelling vision that resonates with stakeholders, and consistently communicating the purpose behind actions and decisions.

7. “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni

“The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni explores common pitfalls in team dynamics and offers strategies for overcoming them. Lencioni identifies five dysfunctions that hinder team performance: absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results.

To address these dysfunctions, Lencioni suggests building trust through vulnerability and transparency, fostering healthy conflict by encouraging constructive debate and open communication, clarifying team goals, and ensuring buy-in from all members to promote commitment.

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Through innovative learning methods and opportunities for networking and professional development, MAHE empowers learners to cultivate essential leadership qualities such as strategic thinking, communication, and adaptability. It ensures they are prepared to lead with confidence and make a positive impact in their respective industries.


In conclusion, these books on leadership development offer invaluable insights into effective management, inspiring communication, and strategic decision-making. These works illuminate timeless principles and contemporary practices essential for navigating today’s complex business landscape.

From seminal classics to modern bestsellers, each book offers a unique perspective, enriching readers with actionable strategies and empowering them to cultivate their leadership potential. Therefore, embrace these literary treasures to embark on a transformative journey toward becoming a more effective and influential leader.


Information related to companies and external organizations is based on secondary research or the opinion of individual authors and must not be interpreted as the official information shared by the concerned organization.

Additionally, information like fee, eligibility, scholarships, finance options etc. on offerings and programs listed on Online Manipal may change as per the discretion of respective universities so please refer to the respective program page for latest information. Any information provided in blogs is not binding and cannot be taken as final.

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