Best Leadership Books: Top 5 Titles Most Recommended By Experts

If you’re looking to build better social and executive skills, you’re not alone. Plenty of people are looking to become stronger leaders and learn how to work better with others. But with over 60,000 leadership books currently listed on Amazon, it can be overwhelming to get started. To help you out, StudyFinds set out to find the best leadership books according to reviews by so-called experts on the topic.

Leadership is an admirable quality, but one that takes hard work, compassion and humility. One recent study suggests that humility could actually be the biggest key to becoming a great leader. According to the research team, people are more comfortable expressing themselves around humble leaders because it feels psychologically safer to take risks. “A little humility on the part of leaders goes a long way in helping groups be more productive and collaborative,” explains study co-author Roger Goddard, an Ohio State professor of educational studies. “When people feel their leader admits mistakes and is open to learning from others, everyone contributes more and makes these groups more effective.”

The below books incorporate many different aspects of leadership, but if there’s one consistent theme among the listed titles, it’s emotional intelligence. Having emotional intelligence and being able to work better with those around you, according to an Italian study, actually leads to more engaged employees. What exactly does an “engaged employee” mean? Researchers explain engaged workers think positively about their job and display vigor, dedication, and absorption in their work. Earlier studies indicate engaged workers usually display both greater well-being and better job performance. When it comes to “engaging leadership,” this management style is all about fulfilling employees’ need for autonomy and ensuring workers feel competent, cared for, and appreciated.

Another common trend of the top leadership books we found was the idea of being purposeful, or intentionally trying to grow as an individual. Unsurprisingly, purposeful leadership also leads to more productivity within employees, another study concludes. In surveying more than 1,000 employees and their bosses at five firms, the researchers found that when managers displayed “purposeful” behaviors— such as displaying high character, a clear vision, and a commitment to all stakeholders— both employee and the company as a whole enjoyed a host of benefits. Subordinates who felt like their boss demonstrated these qualities were less likely to quit, more satisfied and willing to go the extra mile — not to mention performed better overall — while displaying less cynicism.

So, if you’re looking to dive into a great book that will help you grow as an individual and a leader, look no further. We visited 10 of the leading expert websites to find the top five best leadership books most frequently recommended by reviewers. If you have your own suggestions, we welcome them in the comments section below the post!

open book on stack of books
Books (Photo by Pixabay on Pexels)

The List: Best Leadership Books, According to Experts


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

The top recommended leadership novel and a longtime best-selling book for those interested in leadership, Covey’s book focuses on personal effectiveness and goal achievement. Covey’s book will help people looking to “become more productive, build stronger relationships, and focus on priorities,” writes BetterUp.

"7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey
“7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey

The first three habits within the book focus on self-awareness of an individual, specifically moving from dependence to independence, which allows people to excel at self-mastery. This is a critical skill for leaders to have. Lifehack notes that, “Covey guides you through the self-mastery Paradigm Shift by getting you to shift your mentality and adopt an alternative viewpoint.”

Having sold over 40 million copies, “7 Habits” is consistently rated as one of the best leadership books to read for its ability to help people grow by “asking readers to examine themselves by challenging their beliefs, perception, and world view,” notes Leaders.

2. “Dare to Lead” by Brené Brown

This New York Times #1 Bestseller is written by research professor Brené Brown. The iconic author is praised for “walking readers through what happens when they dare to lead, especially in a culture that thrives off of uncertainty,” says Book Riot.

"Dare to Lead" by Brené Brown
“Dare to Lead” by Brené Brown

What is perhaps most intriguing about this novel is that it works to break down the idea that vulnerability means leaders are weak. says Brown “makes the case that leadership is not about status or control, but rather recognizing potential in individuals and ideas.”

Leaders raves about the book, writing that “Dare to Lead is perfect for anyone interested in creating a constructive, supportive workplace.”

3. “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek

This book gains its name from an experience Sinek had while visiting the Marine Corps in which “officers eat last.” This idea led to the title, a premise in which Sinek challenges leaders to enhance their environment so that their employees feel cared for. Sinek is widely known for his Ted Talk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.”

The book details how “great leaders should sacrifice their comforts for the sake of those who follow them,” says Nulab.  This philosophy of sacrificing for others permeates throughout the book, with BookRiot observing that “Sinek argues that successful leaders are those who have their employees’ best interests at heart and promote a supportive environment.”

4. “Primal Leadership” by Daniel Goleman

Remember the idea of emotional intelligence? There may be no better book on the concept than Goleman’s. “Primal Leadership is all about the importance of emotionally intelligent leadership,” says BetterUp.

"Primal Leadership" by Daniel Goleman
“Primal Leadership” by Daniel Goleman

This primer for future leaders is touted as the book that established “emotional intelligence a part of the business vocabulary and practice,” writes Intelligent. Specifically, this book introduces the importance of self-awareness and empathy among leaders.

Widely renowned for the aforementioned lessons within emotional intelligence, the book is “must-read for anyone that leads or aspires to lead,” boasts Summary.

Meanwhile, Intelligent notes that “Primal Leadership” is a widely used required reading for universities, business and medical schools, and professional training programs.

5. “Good to Great” by Jim Collins

Originally released in 2001, “Good to Great” analyzes what specific qualities allowed certain companies to go from “good to great.”  The bestselling book, having now sold over four million copies, analyzes 11 examples of “great” companies and their comparators…who were not as successful.

"Good to Great" by Jim Collins
“Good to Great” by Jim Collins

Harvard Business Review praises this as a must-read: “Jim Collins introduced new rigor to the evaluation of business leadership in his instant classic Good to Great.”

The five-year study that Collins undertook to write this book provides detailed findings to allow leaders to achieve greatness. Lifehack notes that Collins “examined tens of thousands of publicans and interview transcripts” to create this book.

The book is a winner for leaders of any age. For entrepreneurs and leaders who feel frustrated, tired, and out of steam, this book helps reinvigorate drive and passion,” adds Leaders.

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.


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