I frequently get asked by aspiring leaders what leadership books I recommend; or what my five most favorite leadership books are.
So I’ve decided to compile a list of my top leadership books of all time. Today, I share my top 2.
2. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
This book is one of those leadership classics. I recently re-read it and was again amazed at the depth and relevancy of its content. Covey adopts an inside-out approach to leadership, meaning leadership begins within the leader first with what he calls “private victories”. We must have private victories before we move to leading others to “public victories”.
This is a book that you can read every year and get something new out of it each time. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
- “Private victories precede public victory.”
- “The power to make and keep commitments to ourselves is the essence of developing the basic habits of effectiveness.”
- “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
- “Time management is really a misnomer—the challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves.”
- “Trust is the highest form of human motivation.”
- “You can’t be successful with other people if you haven’t paid the price of success with yourself.”
1. Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders
If I had to recommend only one book, it would be this one. In my opinion, it is one of the most comprehensive books I have found on leadership. It is specifically directed at faith-based leaders, but can be applied to all contexts of leadership.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
- “We can lead others only as far along the road as we ourselves have travelled. Merely pointing the way is not enough.”
- “Leaders who want to show sensitivity should listen often and long, and talk short and seldom.”
- “The true leader is concerned primarily with the welfare of others, not his own comfort or prestige.”
- “True greatness, true leadership, is found in giving yourself in service to others, not in coaxing or inducing others to serve you. True service is never without cost. Often it comes with a bitter cup of challenges and a painful baptism of suffering.”
- “The final estimate of men shows that history cares not an iota for the rank or title a man has borne, or the office he has held, but only the quality of his deeds and the character of his mind and heart.”
- Choose one book that will help you along your leadership journey (it doesn’t have to be on this list). Any book on leadership will do.
- Make a goal to finish it this next month. It might sound hard now, but it’s very doable. For example, if you select a 200-page book and read only 7 pages per day, you will complete it in less than a month. If you kept that up, you could read 12 books in a year.
Below are more posts from my top leadership books of all time series: