21st century leadership reading list

Leaders need to make time to read, reflect and absorb ideas in order to be resourceful when faced with new opportunities and challenging situations.  There are thousands of books on the topic of leadership, and many more on self-help and personal development.  You’re never going to read them all, especially as many contain one or two useful central ideas that have been padded out to create a book that will take you a number of hours to get through.

Here are my suggestions for works that will give you value for the time spent reading.  There are glaring omissions I am sure, and you might find some of my choices unusual.  The list is entirely subjective and liable to change.  I have tried to remember that you are the leader in an organisation and I am a coach, so please don’t imagine that my bookshelves aren’t groaning with many other fascinating books that I have not listed below.  Over time, I will enhance this list to make it more useful.  Your suggestions for additions to the list would be highly appreciated. 

And, as I have forgotten who I’ve lent certain favourite books to, could anyone who has borrowed a book from me kindly remember to return it?


I’ve tried to corrall the books I like into three sensible groupings:

A=  practical tools and tips you can use immediately

B= bringing out the best in others

C= developing yourself for leadership


A   For practical tools and tips you can use immediately

The Mind Gym, published by Time Warner Books

7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey

Stop Talking, Start Doing, by Shaa Wasmund with Richard Newton

100 Greatest Ideas for Leadership, by John Adair

Getting to Yes, by Fischer, Ury & Patton

Getting Past No, by William Ury

Voice of Influence, by Judy Apps

A Joosr Guide to Smarter, Faster, Better (original book is by Charles Duhigg)

10 Brilliant Chapters from 10 Brilliant Books

Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook

Resolving Conflict Pocketbook


B   For bringing out the best in others

Manager as Coach, by Jenny Rogers

Time to Think, by Nancy Kline

Quiet Leadership, by David Rock

Your Brain at Work, by David Rock (also category C)

People Styles at Work , by Bolton and Bolton  (or Robert Bolton’s ‘People Skills’)

HBR Guide to Leading Teams

The Coaching at Work Toolkit, by Zeus & Skiffington

Improving Employee Performance, by Nigel Harrison

HBR on Developing High-Potential Leaders


C   For developing yourself for leadership

Why Should Anyone Be Led By You?  By Goffee and Jones

Effective Strategic Leadership, by John Adair

Leader Be Your Best… and Beyond, by Doherty & Thompson

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, by Marshall Goldsmith

Wherever You Go, There You Are, by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Brilliant Positive Psychology, by Charlotte Style

The Happiness Trap, by Russ Harris

Teach Yourself NLP, by Bavister & Vickers

The Tao of Leadership, by John Heider

Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg

Nice Girls Don’t Get The Corner Office, by Lois P Frankel

The Organized Mind, by Daniel Levitin

How To Have A Good Day, by Caroline Webb

The Divided Brain and the Search for Meaning, by Iain Gilchrist