Business Leadership Today

The 10 Best Leadership Books To Read In 2024


Muriel Call, Staff Writer

(Note: Business Leadership Today may earn a commission if you end up purchasing books listed on this page.)

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Leaders are readers.”  

Great leaders make time for continuous personal development and leadership development.  One of the easiest ways to continuously improve is to read at least a few good leadership books each year.

Unfortunately, there are tens of thousands of leadership books available. So, searching for one that would be helpful can be a daunting task.

To help save you time in your search, I reached out to our network of business leaders and thought leaders to ask them about the best leadership books they’ve read in the last year or so and the best all-time leadership books they’ve read.

The list below includes some of the best leadership books published in the last few years, as well as a few timeless classics.

I am quite familiar with the first book on the list because the author is a frequent contributor to this site. And, I actually assisted with creating the endnotes and citations for the book. The book is an inspiring yet practical guide on leadership.

1. Inspire Greatness: How to Motivate Employees with a Simple, Repeatable, Scalable Process, by Matt Tenney

Inspire Greatness is a groundbreaking book on how to motivate employees with a simple, repeatable, scalable process. 

In the book, Matt Tenney makes it clear that leadership doesn’t have to be thought of as an art. Instead, he shares a simple, four-step process that any leader can follow to consistently bring out the best in one’s team.

The book is very engaging, with stories that are both inspiring and insightful. It also includes practical action steps, and a simple process for turning information into action and lasting transformation for you and your leadership team.

The four-step process shared in Inspire Greatness can be easily scaled across an entire organization to help quickly and dramatically improve employee engagement, retention, and performance, while also helping both managers and individual contributors to find more meaning and fulfillment in their work.

A Small Sample of the Praise for Inspire Greatness

“It’s not often that a business book completely disrupts the status quo. Inspire Greatness does exactly that. In this engaging book you’ll discover a compelling explanation for why the average levels of employee engagement and motivation haven’t improved in over 20 years, along with an innovative solution that will help you and your organization to improve and sustain employee engagement and performance. If you are a leader of people, the learning moments shared in Inspire Greatness are must-reads!”

  • Garry Ridge, Chairman Emeritus, WD-40 Company

“In Inspire Greatness, Matt Tenney presents an innovative, systematic approach to developing highly engaged and motivated employees. With practical strategies and actionable steps, Tenney offers a path any leader can follow to consistently inspire and empower individuals to reach their full potential. This transformative guide equips leaders and leadership teams with a process and tools for building a sustainable high-performance culture that drives organizational success and helps employees to thrive.”

  • Skip Prichard, CEO, OCLC, Inc., and author of The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future

“In Inspire Greatness, Matt Tenney has done an exceptional job of presenting a clear, concise, and compelling game plan to improve employee engagement, company culture, and organizational success. The author’s narrative style is a standout feature, making this book an engaging read that avoids overwhelming the reader with complex terminology. Instead, it offers straightforward explanations and real-life examples of what drives human behavior and helps managers unleash discretionary effort. I highly recommend this book to any leader who wants to more consistently serve team members and inspire peak performance.”

  • Lou Gizzarelli, President, Quadient Canada

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2. The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, by Daniel Coyle

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The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle reveals the secrets of successful groups and organizations. It highlights three critical elements: building safety, sharing vulnerability, and establishing purpose. 

Coyle emphasizes that successful cultures prioritize safety and trust, creating an environment where everyone feels secure, connected, and valued. 

Leaders who share their vulnerabilities encourage authenticity and openness, leading to stronger bonds and better problem-solving. Cultures thrive when they have a clear purpose, and leaders must provide ultra-clear signals aligned with the organization’s goals, reinforcing the sense of direction and motivation. 

The book offers actionable instructions, examples, and tips for improving individual behavior and team dynamics.

A Small Sample of the Praise for The Culture Code

“If you want to understand how successful groups work—the signals they transmit, the language they speak, the cues that foster creativity—you won’t find a more essential guide than The Culture Code. This is a marvel of insight and practicality.”

  • Charles Duhigg, New York Times bestselling author of The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better

“Daniel Coyle has produced a truly brilliant, mesmerizing read that demystifies the magic of great groups. It blows all other books on culture right out of the water. Read it immediately.”

  • Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Option B, Originals, and Give and Take

“There are profound ideas on every single page, stories that will change the way you work, the way you lead, and the impact you have on the world. Highly recommended, an urgent read.”

  • Seth Godin, author of Linchpin

3. Good Power: Leading Positive Change in Our Lives, Work, and World, by Ginni Rometty

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Good Power: Leading Positive Change in Our Lives, Work, and World by Ginni Rometty is an inspiring book that explores authentic leadership and meaningful change. Drawing from her life journey, Rometty shares pivotal moments that shaped her belief in the concept of “good power.” 

The book emphasizes that how we lead is as crucial as what we achieve and introduces five principles that guide authentic leadership. Rometty encourages readers to use “good power” to drive positive change in their lives, organizations, and societies. 

The book also highlights her efforts to create a more equitable world through initiatives like the SkillsFirst movement.

A Small Sample of the Praise for Good Power

“Rometty’s practical wisdom is refreshingly honest and inspiring. Her book will change your definition of power, your relationship to it, and the path you take to earn and deploy it.”

  • Mary Barra, Chair and CEO, General Motors

Good Power is a wonderful read, revealing Rometty’s personal journey and outlining a movement to reinvent education and create more inclusive and equitable economies.”

  • Indra Nooyi, former Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo

“In Good Power, one of the world’s most admired leaders reveals pivotal principles that propelled her success. It’s a refreshingly personal, resoundingly practical read on gaining power and using it to empower.”

  • Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Think Again

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4. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

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Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin is a book that offers valuable leadership lessons from their combat experiences in Iraq. 

The authors emphasize that leaders must take full responsibility for their teams’ efforts to drive mission success. The book also highlights the importance of safety and trust, vulnerability, and a clear purpose in achieving success. 

The principles discussed in the book are actionable and applicable to both business and personal lives.

A Small Sample of the Praise for Extreme Ownership

“At the heart of good leadership is extreme ownership. Extreme ownership means taking responsibility for everything in your sphere of influence—absolutely everything. Good leaders don’t blame others—they accept losses, acknowledging what they failed to do well, distilling lessons from the loss, and then creating a new plan that will succeed.”

  • Thinkr

“Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win is a book that shares valuable leadership lessons learned from combat during the Battle of Ramadi in Iraq and relays them in a clear manner for any leader who wants to be more effective.”

  • U.S. Army University Press

“The leader must acknowledge mistakes and admit failures, take ownership of them, and develop a plan to win. The best leaders don’t just take responsibility for their job. They take Extreme Ownership of everything that impacts their mission.”

  • Echelon Front

5. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, by Simon Sinek

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Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek delves into the essence of exceptional leadership. Sinek investigates why certain teams thrive on trust and support, while others drown in conflict and betrayal. 

He emphasizes that it’s not just about strategy or tactics; it’s about the culture set by the leader—a critical factor often overlooked in the pursuit of success. 

Through compelling narratives and real-world examples, Sinek reveals how selfless leaders prioritize their teams’ well-being, creating environments where people feel safe, motivated, and inspired to give their best.

A Small Sample of the Praise for Leaders Eat Last

Leaders Eat Last should be required reading for everyone who calls themselves a manager. To help them actually be leaders.”

  • Medium

“Simon Sinek’s newest book, Leaders Eat Last, is inspiring and thought-provoking, in part because he uses so many relatable, nonbusiness metaphors to illustrate his message—military protocol, parenthood, news stories, and even the evolutionary development of our own minds and bodies.”

  • Robert Half

“Lots of new insights here for me, and many great examples of both good and bad leadership in action. I loved the whole evolutionary standpoint the book took, explaining how leadership even became necessary, and the idea that safety means progress was a real eye-opener as well.”

  • Four Minute Books

6. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts, by Brené Brown

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Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts is a transformative leadership book that draws on new research and insights. Brown, a renowned author, delves into the essence of leadership beyond titles and power. 

She emphasizes recognizing potential in people, asking the right questions, and sharing power. In a culture marked by scarcity and uncertainty, she advocates for empathy, connection, and courage as essential traits for effective leadership. 

Whether you’re a seasoned leader or aspiring to lead, this book provides actionable guidance to step up and make a difference.

A Small Sample of the Praise for Dare to Lead

“With Dare to Lead, Brené brings decades of research to bear in a practical and insightful guide to courageous leadership. This book is a road map for anyone who wants to lead mindfully, live bravely, and dare to lead.”

  • Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook, founder, LeanIn.Org and OptionB.Org

“Brené is Google Empathy Lab’s Obi-Wan Kenobi. She has profoundly inspired our product leaders to design in and embrace vulnerability, rather than engineer it out… Dare to Lead is the skillful and empowering Jedi training we have all been waiting for.”

  • Danielle Krettek, founder, Google Empathy Lab

“Brené truly gives it all away in Dare to Lead. Courage is a set of teachable skills, and she teaches us exactly how to build those muscles with research, stories, examples, and new language. The future belongs to brave leaders, and she’s written the ultimate playbook for daring leadership.”

  • Scott Harrison, founder and CEO, charity: water

7. Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni

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The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni is a book that examines the common causes of team failure. 

Lencioni presents five key dysfunctions that interrelate to create unproductive and discordant teams. These dysfunctions include lack of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. 

Trust is essential for effective communication and collaboration, while healthy conflict can lead to better decisions and innovative solutions. Committed teams align around common goals and work to achieve them while taking ownership of their responsibilities. 

Successful teams prioritize collective outcomes over individual achievements, and, according to Lencioni, addressing these dysfunctions can help leaders build high-performing teams that achieve their goals.

A Small Sample of the Praise for Five Dysfunctions of a Team

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team has been my playbook for developing our staff and locker room culture for the last decade. The book is a classic—it covers all the real stuff that drives productive teams that many of us are usually too uncomfortable to address.”

  • Erik Spoelstra, Head Coach, Miami Heat

“I have watched this book become the foundational source on teamwork within our company and in just about every other organization I know. It’s hard to imagine the world of work without The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.”

  • Elizabeth Bryant, SVP of People, Learning & Development, Southwest Airlines

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team has stood the test of time because practicing leaders—those who must get things done through the power of teams—find its insights timeless, incisive, and useful.”

  • Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and co-author of Built to Last

8. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You, by John Maxwell

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The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell is a timeless guide for leaders. This New York Times bestseller has sold over one million copies and continues to influence business owners, executives, and managers worldwide. 

Maxwell’s “irrefutable laws” are universal truths about leadership that hold regardless of whether we practice them. 

In the book, Maxwell outlines 21 laws that are essential for successful leadership, ranging from the importance of integrity and vision to the significance of influence and teamwork. Through real-world examples and practical insights, Maxwell demonstrates how mastering these laws can empower individuals to become influential leaders.

Leaders at any level (or aspiring leaders) will find this book insightful and invaluable on their leadership journey.

A Small Sample of the Praise for The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

“Our nation and its institutions are crying out for leaders. John Maxwell . . . shows us the true path to leadership through the application of timeless principles supported by the bedrock of personal character.”

  • Edward C. Emma, President & COO, Jockey International, Inc.

“In his book 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell gives a fresh perspective on leadership by instilling a belief that anyone can become a leader as long as one decides to run it like a marathon instead of a sprint.”

  • Medium

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You is a seminal work that transcends the boundaries of leadership literature. It provides readers with a comprehensive and actionable guide to becoming more effective and influential leaders.”

  • 365 CEO

9. Culture Is the Way: How Leaders at Every Level Build an Organization for Speed, Impact, and Excellence, by Matt Mayberry

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Culture Is the Way: How Leaders at Every Level Build an Organization for Speed, Impact, and Excellence by Matt Mayberry offers practical insights for leaders at all levels to create a workplace culture that drives organizational excellence. 

Mayberry emphasizes the importance of employee engagement and provides a playbook for achieving cultural excellence. 

The book will help you learn how to overcome roadblocks hindering cultural transformation and how to implement strategies for unleashing the full potential of teams. With a focus on fostering a culture where individuals thrive, this book is essential reading for managers and executives committed to enhancing workplace performance.

The book also identifies five common roadblocks that prevent leaders from leveraging culture to get the best from their teams.

A Small Sample of the Praise for Culture Is the Way

Culture Is the Way hits the mark. Matt Mayberry has mined his own experiences as an athlete, as well as examples across the business world, to produce a compelling guide for leaders at all levels who want to build a better culture.”

  • Daniel H. Pink, New York Times bestselling author of The Power of Regret and Drive

“Your most important job as a leader is to drive the culture of your team and organization. Culture is not just one thing. It’s everything. This is a masterful book on how to take action and build a world-class culture. I highly recommend it.”

  • Jon Gordon, Bestselling author of The Power of Positive Leadership and The Carpenter

“In Culture Is the Way, Matt clearly articulates why it takes leaders at all levels of an organization to create a workplace culture where employees are deeply engaged and committed to the company’s success. Engaged employees are more productive, more focused, and more collaborative. Matt delivers a compelling playbook for creating cultural excellence. This book should be a must-read for leaders.”

  • Jim Lynch, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Autodesk Construction Solutions

10. The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever, by Michael Bungay Stanier

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The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier is a transformative guide for leaders seeking to enhance their coaching skills. 

Drawing on years of experience training over 10,000 busy managers globally, Bungay Stanier reveals practical coaching methods that produce remarkable results. 

The book introduces seven essential coaching questions, emphasizing the power of saying less and asking more. These questions include: The Kickstart Question, The Awe Question, The Lazy Question, The Strategic Question, The Focus Question, The Foundation Question, and The Learning Question. 

These will help you get straight to the point, save time, address challenges, and get to the heart of issues.

A Small Sample of the Praise for The Coaching Habit

”Michael Bungay Stanier distills the essentials of coaching to seven core questions. And if you master his simple yet profound technique, you’ll get a twofer. You’ll provide more effective support to your employees and co-workers. And you may find that you become the ultimate coach for yourself.”

  • Daniel H. Pink, author of To Sell Is Human and Drive

”It takes courage to ask a question rather than offer up advice, provide an answer or unleash a solution. In this practical and inspiring book, Michael shares seven transformative questions that can make a difference in how we lead and support.”

  • Brené Brown, author of Rising Strong and Dare To Lead

”A sharp, habit-forming leadership manual.”

  • Kirkus Review

Muriel Call

Muriel Call

Staff Writer / Editor

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