10 Great Books All Leaders Should Read This Fall

These must-read books will help you tap into your inner leader.

It’s said that every good leader is a reader. With that in mind, here are 10 new books that will help you step up how you show up as a leader. This list includes wisdom about well-being, culture, human-centered leadership, being a values-based leader, and even why we work.

1. Everybody Matters (Portfolio/Penguin) by Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia

Bob Chapman, chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller, teams up with the phenomenal author Raj Sisodia to deliver a compelling book about why businesses need to have a people-centric way of doing business to thrive in the 21st century. While businesses need to make a profit, it doesn’t have to be at the expense of its people. Chapman is best positioned to deliver this method; he’s successfully brought to life truly human leadership in his highly successful company.

2. Leadership BS (Harper) by Jeffrey Pfeffer

Jeffrey Pfeffer proclaims in this new book that “much of the oft-repeated conventional wisdom about leadership is based more on hope than reality, on wishes rather than data, on beliefs instead of science.” In this enlightening book, Pfeffer shifts the conversation about leadership away from drivel to insights that can help shift your behaviors to effectively produce results. If you’re tired of hearing sentiments without facts like “We need authentic leaders” or “Leaders need to build trust,” then Pfeffer’s book is a must read.

3. Disrupt Yourself (Bibliomotion) by Whitney Johnson

Whitney Johnson is a rising star in the space of leadership thinking. Her message of disruption helped her career as an equity analyst, making her one of the best in her field. Johnson now shifts disruption to human behavior, and she does so effectively in her new book. If you want to be the best in unexpected ways, then read this, take notes, and apply your insights in heaping amounts.

4. Contagious Culture (McGraw Hill) by Anese Cavanaugh

Leaders who are effective understand how their presence influences others. If you want to create a contagious culture greatly shaped by how you show up as a leader, then you need to read Anese Cavanaugh’s first book. It’s rich with insights to help you do the personal work to become your best.

5. Why We Work (TED Books) by Barry Schwartz

We don’t work merely for a paycheck. There’s a richness in answers to the question “Why do you work?” And Barry Schwartz delivers a powerful message in this short book exploring why we as humans spend so much time working. I found myself taking lots of notes and underlining many passages in this book.

6. Weology (Harper Collins) by Peter Aceto with Justin Kingsley

Peter Aceto is the CEO of Tangerine Bank in Canada. I’ve know Peter for several years and have greatly admired his ability to create one of the top places to work. He brings his passion for leadership and compassion for people together in his first book. The message is deeply human. The insights are business-relevant. This is a book for all who want to unite people and business for mutually beneficial outcomes–for the company’s employees and the bottom line.

7. Beyond Happy: Women, Work, and Well-Being (ATD) by Beth Cabrera

Beth Cabrera delivers a meaningful reading experience in her new book. What makes it meaningful is that the message isn’t pie-in-the-sky drivel about well-being. It’s rooted in social science research that helps make sense of human behavior. While this book is written with women in mind, I found much of the insights and actions relevant to men, too. If you want to develop a richer sense of well-being in your work, then read this. I’d say everyone needs to pick up this book and devour its message.

8. The Silo Effect (Simon & Schuster) by Gillian Tett

There’s little that’s more infuriating in work than the stifling impact of silos on progress and breakout thinking. In Gillian Tett’s latest book, she not only examines the negative impacts of silos but explores how to scale them and render silos useless. This is a must-read in today’s bureaucratic, hierarchy-rich organizations that rely on tradition rather than progress to remain relevant.

9. Life Is Good: How to Live With Purpose and Enjoy the Ride (National Geographic) by Bert and John Jacobs

I’m a sucker for books about purpose. Without purpose, life, which includes work, is aimless. People wonder without intent when purpose is absent. The founders, and brothers, of Life Is Good give us a thoughtful and passionate exploration of purpose and its role in our life. The book is beautifully designed, adding to the reading experience.

10. Becoming the Best (Wiley) by Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr.

In his follow-up to From Values to Action, Harry M. Jansen Kraemer dives deeply into the role values play in organizations. Going beyond the obvious insights, Kraemer really helps leaders understand how to build a values-based organization. We need more of this in light of the corporate scandals that have become ubiquitous in today’s 24-hour news cycle.

Grab a cup of coffee or glass of whiskey and update your reading list for this fall. There is plenty of enrichment for the mind in the books listed above.

 By Shawn Murphy
CEO & founder, Switch & Shift
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