Here are 10 good leadership books that I highly recommend. They’re all excellent books that have helped me this year. This list is for leaders who want to lead others well. Whilst this blog is read mainly by leaders who are followers of Jesus, most of these recommended books aren’t written for a Christian audience and even those that are will be helpful and interesting to any leader seeking wisdom, whatever their world-view.
This leadership list is to go alongside my usual annual offering of 10 Good Discipleship Books that I recommend at this time of year (in my Discipleship Blog).
So, in no order of preference, here we go – 10 Good Leadership Books for 2018.
1. Angela Duckworth’s Grit
I first heard about this book whilst travelling last year and since then I’ve heard it mentioned in a number of podcasts, so I bought myself a copy and was not disappointed. This is an excellent, well-researched book all about the power of resilience. The world needs leaders who are robust, disciplined and don’t give up easily. Learn the power of grit.
2. Seth Godin’s Tribes
Whilst I’ve read a number of books by Godin, I read this 2008 book for the first time this year. It was so helpful. He says that now everybody has an opportunity to start a movement and bring together a tribe of like-minded people to do amazing things. Godin thinks that ‘tribes are everywhere, all of them hungry for connection, meaning and change’ and they’re waiting to be led. This short book will inspire you to step up and lead.
3. Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness
This latest offering from Brown carries on her brilliant writing in the field of shame research, encouraging women and men to rise above their fears and live well. Brown’s understand of western culture is so perceptive. Anyone whose job involves looking after people should at least be aware of, if not have read, something by Brown. Insightful and often prophetic.
4. Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant’s Option B
Sandberg, COO of Facebook writes this helpful book with integrity, honesty, courage and passion. I initially thought this book would be about life at Facebook but it was more about Sandberg’s personal journey and lessons learned following the sudden death of her husband. Nevertheless I wasn’t disappointed. What happens when the door to Option A firmly closes? Sandberg and Grant helpfully show that Option B can still be good.
5. Jossy Chacko’s Madness
Chacko began life seeking to be successful in business but through a series of extraordinary circumstances became a church planter. Since doing that nineteen years ago, he and his network have planted thousands of churches. This is a remarkable autobiographical story of a man who with determination, passion and grit prayerfully sought to put into practice the vision he felt he’d received. This is an easy read with excellent leadership lessons and applications at the end of each chapter. A must read for all church leaders.
6. Alex Soojung-Kim Pang’s Rest
Rest is the best book I’ve read on the subject of rest. Pang helpfully shows that deliberate rest is not only important but it helps us learn and create better. It’s not the opposite of work but its partner. Well written and carefully researched (with stories from people such as Winston Churchill and Bill Gates), this is a timely, challenging and important book for anyone who works hard and wants to work and rest well.
7. Carl Newport’s Deep Work
Doing deep work is important but not easy, so says Carl Newport in this really helpful book, because our focus is easily distracted. This book will help you identify what many of these distractions are for you, so that you can focus and work smarter. I read this book immediately after Park’s Rest – and the two complemented each other wonderfully.
8. Ian Cowley’s The Contemplative Minister
This is thoughtful and discerning book written for church leaders who might easily forget what they’re called to do and why. Full of stories, practical ideas and the distilled wisdom of years, this book will encourage you to slow down and not be coerced into living a false self. This would be an excellent book to read whilst on retreat or sabbatical.
9. Sam Chands’ Change Your Culture – Change Everything
Why is it that clearly articulated vision and good strategy often aren’t enough to bring change to an organisation? Sam Chand writes with helpful clarity about the crucial significance of culture and how changing culture is often the key to unlocking transformation. Wise. Helpful. And full of insights.
10. The Bible
Full of helpful leadership lessons, the Bible is the key resource for leaders, providing access to the very words and wisdom of God for all who prayerfully read and listen. That’s why, as I also do with my 10 Discipleship Books blog, I end with the Bible. If you’re a leader and will only read one book in the coming year, read the Bible. Start with one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), then read more of the New Testament and then dip into the Old Testament (perhaps starting with Proverbs). Your leadership will be transformed.
So there we go. These books have been a real help to me as a leader this year, and I commend them to you for 2018. Read, learn and be equipped, so you can equip others in the year ahead.