My Top 10 Leadership Books of All Time (3-5)

by | Apr 5, 2021 | Reading


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 numbers 3-5.


5. The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

At some point, all leaders have to manage.  This book is one of the best at teaching the basic skills and systems a manager needs. In typical Ken Blanchard fashion, the lessons of the book are presented in parable form, which makes it an easy read.

If you are just starting out as a manager or your managerial skills need some refinement, then this book is perfect for you. As an added bonus, this book is only about 100 pages, so you can likely finish it in two hours or less.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

  • “The best managers manage themselves and the people they work with so both the organization and their employees win.”
  • “Catch people doing something right.”
  • “A praise that is earned builds confidence.”
  • “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”


4. What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam

This book is part of a series called, “What the Most Successful People Do”. Laura Vanderkam also wrote books entitled, “What the Most Successful People Do at Work” and “What the Most Successful People Don the Weekend”.

Vanderkam’s premise is that the most important or highest priority tasks should be done in the morning. I’m not a morning person by nature, but I decided to try out her premise and was amazed at the results. Four years later, I still wake up early and workout. I haven’t been this consistent with working out since my college days playing basketball! My whole morning routine (and by extension, the rest of my daily routine) have been changed due to the principles in this book.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

  • “These are your highest-value activities: nurturing your career, nurturing your family beyond basic personal care, and nurturing yourself. By that last category, I mean activities such as exercise, a hobby, meditation, prayer, and the like.”
  • “Learning to use mornings well is, in our distracted world, what separates achievement from madness.”
  • “New research into that old-fashioned concept of willpower is showing that tasks that require self-discipline are simply easier to do while the day is young.”


3. Getting Things Done by David Allen

In order for any leader to be effective, they have to be productive. And reading this book is like viewing the answer key for an exam on efficiency and productivity. It’s not flashy, but David Allen gets into the nitty-gritty principles of effective work and, as the title says, “getting things done”. I use his principles every single day, from my task management system to the way I check email.

If you need to bring some order and organization to the busy chaos surrounding you, then this book will help.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

  • “Anything that causes you to overreact or underreact can control you, and often does.”
  • “It’s a waste of time and energy to keep thinking about something that you make no progress on. And it only adds to your anxieties about what you should be doing and aren’t.”
  • “Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its shortness.”
  • “Your best thoughts about work won’t happen while you’re at work.”


Game Plan 

  1. What leadership books are in your top five? Take some time to think through your bookshelf and narrow it down.
  2. I’d encourage you to begin re-reading those five books over the next two years. I’ve started to do this and it’s been so valuable to my personal leadership development. Re-reading reminds of key lessons and principles, but I can always find something new to take away from the book since I’m in a different season of life than when I first read it.


Below are more posts from my top leadership books series:


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