The Best Leadership Books for New and Experienced Leaders

A good leader is an eternal student with a growth mindset who curiously and humbly seeks opportunities to take their leadership skills a step further. Books are endless fountains of wisdom, so we asked our team, clients, and well-known professionals for their recommendations. And you certainly wouldn't expect the last one in the selection.
Lenka Šilhánová
Oct 2, 2023
5 minutes

Radical Candor – Kim Scott

Do you want to be a good leader and build a strong team? Learn to give and receive feedback using the Radical Candor method, which relies on a strong personal interest in your people. Radical openness creates working relationships built on trust, which helps the team pull together and get better results. Author Kim Scott draws on years of experience, successes and failures of leading teams in Silicon Valley. This book is so popular that it has come down as a recommendation twice.

Petra Kubita Nulíčková: "The speed of feedback resonates with me a lot, I'd rather have unpleasant feedback than no feedback, and that it's great to know where you are and aren't at all the time."

Lenka Šilhánová (Behavera team): "Did you know that you do more harm than good with too much empathy? One of the most surprising passages in the book was the explanation of the four quadrants and their impact on people. It made me realize that even kindness and empathy have their limits, because protecting the feelings of others denies them the opportunity for growth, as they will never know where the gaps, or opportunities, are. Whether in work or personal relationships, radical openness makes feedback a gift, not a painful wound."

Start With Why – Simon Sinek

A book not to be missed in the list of leadership pieces. For his famous TED Talk, Simon Sinek set out to explore what successful leaders in and out of business have in common. He looked at Martin Luther King Jr, Steve Jobs, and the Wright brothers, to name a few. He found that all of the figures who positively impacted the world with their leadership started with a strong WHY. The format of the book then allowed him to go more in-depth with the golden circle concept, which he introduced in his TED Talk.

Igor Kubíček (Behavera team): "If every company and organization started with WHY, we would have many more leaders who dare to make the right decisions with a positive impact on society. Not to mention, we would stop doing work for work's sake and focus on the essential tasks that help move the company's mission forward. The side effect could be happier and stronger teams that see deeper meaning in their work."

Leaders Eat Last – Simon Sinek

Probably every leader wants their team to enjoy work and be productive. But what can be done to ensure that cynicism and selfishness don't take over the team and work hours don't become riddled with procrastination? Simon Sinek has gathered answers to these questions from leaders in industries as diverse as manufacturing, the military, government, and even investment banking. In the book, you will learn practical tips and principles to follow as a leader and what has worked in leading a group ever since the days of hunters and gatherers.

No Rules Rules – Reed Hastings & Erin Meyer

How to run a business in the 21st century? This modern-day management handbook takes you behind the scenes of Netflix's successful corporate culture, which is so radical it's hard to believe it can work in the real world. But the opposite is true. In this book, you'll find practical guidance on how to run a company in a rapidly changing world and not end up like the likes of Nokia or Kodak. You will learn how to maintain high productivity while fostering innovation.

Karol Veleba (Effectix): "It's a book about Netflix's company culture that is known for its freedom. A book where I experienced an 'AHA moment'. It influenced me the most in how I want to build Effectix, as a free company. Full of inspiring ideas."

Carrots and Sticks Don't Work – Paul L. Marciano

Still using old management tricks to motivate employees? Times have changed and the author presents the RESPECT method that really works. But don't expect any shallow motivational pep-talk, the book serves up specific and inexpensive customized solutions along with action plans based on the seven principles of engagement. Backed by decades of research, experience, and proven results. After reading, you'll know how to assess the situation, diagnose problems, and address engagement in the workplace.

Hana Jadavan ( "The book Carrots and Sticks is one of those lesser-known books in Czechia that should be an absolute must-read for all people responsible for rewarding and motivation of employees in a company. HR and management are constantly copying old dysfunctional processes in this area, because they simply do not know any other approach than 'this is the way it has always been done'. It only leads to your people being just as (and often more) demotivated, only it costs your company many times more money. This book will provide you with a sufficient theoretical, scientific, and practical framework for a setup that will lead to far more engaged and truly higher performing employees."

(We recommend reading Hanka's in-depth review of the book on her website, ed. note)

Culture Code – Daniel Coyle

What do Pixar, Google, or the San Antonio Spurs basketball team have in common? Their success is built on skills that build a strong team. The author uses stories to unforcedly convey what effective corporate and sports team leaders do differently than others and the impact it has on their team. In the book, you'll find insights backed by science combined with real-world examples and practical ideas for implementation on your team. As a balance, the author has included several examples of toxic environments and the reader will understand the impact poor leadership has on a team and its productivity.

Dare to Lead – Brené Brown

Leadership is not about position, status, or power over others. It is about recognizing and developing the potential of your people. And that requires a good deal of courage to ask the tough questions and not pretend you know all the answers. But how do you build courageous leaders in an environment where people care more about power? As a researcher, author Brené Brown spent seven years studying leaders in small family businesses, nonprofits, multinational corporations, and the public sector to come up with the easy-to-grasp strategies and concrete, real-world examples that fill this book.

The power of vulnerability – Brené Brown

While you're putting Dare to lead in your basket, throw in The Power of Vulnerability as well. It's a book that everyone should read, regardless of position, because changing your mindset about vulnerability can rapidly help you with your personal and professional relationships, as well as your relationships with yourself. In fact, the perception of vulnerability as weakness is deeply ingrained in our society. Which leads to our relationships being superficial and without trust. And that is the fuel that drives effective teams and it is the leaders who need to start with themselves and lead by example. How do you work on vulnerability and make it your strength? You'll find the answers to these questions in the book.

Lenka Šilhánová (Behavera team). "I recommend listening to the book because inherent to Brené Brown is her sense of humor and engaging storytelling skills, which make such a difficult topic as vulnerability easily digestible."

The Courage to Take Command – Jill Morgenthaler

Unfortunately, stories of women in leadership are still few and far between, even though they are great for the role. The proof is in the author of this book, who didn't shy away from any tough challenge, even facing Saddam Hussein. In the book, she shares with candor and wit her hard-won experience of leading people on the front lines, which is also universal enough to be used by any leader. You will learn, for example, how to overcome obstacles, how to face fear, how to have healthy self-confidence and maintain humility, how to lead in crisis situations, and how to deal with irrational people.

Katerina Tygl (Ženy v byznysu): "I don't normally like military topics, but when I read that this was a book about how a woman made it in the military, I was immediately intrigued. And it's a book you can read in one breath. The author, and one of the first female colonels in the US Army, tells her story without any sugar coating. In fifteen structured lessons, she focuses on situations that can happen to any leader and uses concrete examples from her experience to explain pragmatically how to handle the situation."

When – Daniel H. Pink

Proper timing is the key to success. If you want to understand your own productivity, you don't have to spend forever puzzling through scientific studies. Pink has done this for you, summarizing the recommendations in an easily digestible form in his book full of case studies and real-life experiences, whether from business or everyday life. In the book, you'll learn about the ideal agenda for your day, when officials and business partners will be most accommodating to you, when to go play sports, or how to start over on a project when you haven't had a perfectly successful start.

Lenka Mrázová ( "The book is useful for me when I discuss time management with people during trainings or in consultations with clients. People then realize where they have the two most effective hours during the day and when they have to work on the most difficult things themselves. When they have an optimistic view of what they're dealing with, and when they're pessimistic in their assessment of an issue. It's good to observe for a while, and then really have your 2 hours to yourself. To know when it's appropriate to talk yourself out of a negotiation and when, on the other hand, it's good to go for the tough communication situations. When is your most productive day of the week, how does your performance naturally change during the week. And finally, you'll understand why you were able to turn everything in by Friday when you weren't even halfway through on Wednesday."

Ender's Game – Orson Scott Card

What does a war science fiction novel have to do with leadership? More than you think. Leaving aside the fact that the main plot involves humanity's struggle against a threat from outer space, this compelling story serves up a practical demonstration of how an exceptional leader is born and built. A book so engaging you won't want to put it down, it may subliminally teach you more about leadership than all the nonfiction books combined.

Dušan Švancara (Behavera team): "This book has a typical 'hero's journey' theme, which I consider a masterclass in leadership. Ender makes tough decisions, demonstrates courage, resilience, empathy, the ability to delegate tasks, and think strategically. All the while carrying the weight of humanity's survival on his shoulders. So if you want a break from nonfiction but still want to learn about leadership, this fiction would be a great choice. By the way, definitely reach for the book and not the movie, I wasn't that impressed with it."

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