Are you a leader or aspiring to be one? If you are, How confident are you about your leadership skills? Contrary to what many may believe, leading an effective team requires a lot from you. Whatever your profession or responsibility, you can find team leadership models that will make you an outstanding team leader.
Research has been done and books have been written about how to be a good team leader. Reading the best leadership and management books will reveal this valuable information.
These leadership books have valuable insight into leading effective teams, being a good team leader, and what the leaders of effective work teams know. When it comes to leadership books, best sellers are the smartest choice. Let’s check out some of the best books on leadership to read in 2021!
1. The Art Of War, by Sun Tzu
Sun Tzu is a best-selling author who wrote The Art of War some 2,000 years ago. As a team leader (Chinese military strategist) he wrote 13 chapters, each one focusing on how to successfully lead a war.
The book is very relevant in different leadership areas that is why Successful business executives have developed their leadership skills through interpreting Tzu’s scripts. The book applies to everything from business planning to boosting morale and project management. If you want to know how to offer effective leadership at work, The Art of War may be the best leadership book of all time.
2. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make The Leap… And Others Don’t, by Jim Collins
Best-selling author Jim Collins gathers a team of researchers and sets out to define an effective team’s characteristics and the team leadership model that elevates “good” companies to “great” ones. For successful servant leadership, this is one of the best books on leadership styles you should read.
Good to Great coined the Level 5 Leadership concept. It shows that great leaders determined that effective team leadership grew out of passion and commitment. A good leader would stay true to a cause instead of focusing on personal or financial gain. Other team leadership models include The Hedgehog Concept and A Culture of Discipline, all great ideas to use on the path to becoming a great leader. Good to Great is one of the best leadership books if you want to be a servant leader.
3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, by Stephen R. Covey
Published in 1989, the team leadership skills laid out by best-selling author Stephen R. Covey are still relevant today. He lays out simple habits to highly effective leadership that will allow you to adapt to changes and take advantage of opportunities instead of seeing them as a hard thing.
According to this book, good leadership consists of fairness, service, integrity, and human dignity. Effective team leaders should manage themselves rather than managing time. It’s no surprise The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a best seller among leadership books, selling more than 30 million copies worldwide.
4. The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations, by James Kouzes and Barry Posner
The authors have composed this trusted source full of irrefutable laws of leadership for building team leadership skills by interviewing a diverse group of leaders from various businesses and organizations around the world. They found that being good leaders was based on skills that did not deviate over time or circumstance.
The Leadership Challenge says the building blocks to becoming an effective team leader are facts, not fads, such as self-control, commitment, and consistency. This latest edition offers powerful lessons to these traits in an increasingly global environment. Want to know how to be a great leader or a great business leader? Read this business book.
5. Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman
We’ve all heard of IQ (Intelligence quotient), but have you heard of EQ? Daniel Goleman studies human neuroscience and psychology to determine why a high IQ is no guarantee of a happy, successful life nor does it make you a successful leader.
Intelligence is essential, of course, but effective team leaders also need self-awareness, self-control, and empathy. These add up to a team leadership style based on emotional intelligence and a balance between our rational and emotional minds.
This groundbreaking work will guide you on how to solve personal and professional problems. This will in turn make you an effective team leader. This leadership book written by Daniel Goleman should be a must on any list of self-help leadership books.
6. Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee
Primal Leadership is the sequel to Daniel Goleman’s breakthrough book, Emotional Intelligence, but focuses on being a team leader and leading effective teams. It takes Goleman’s self-awareness and self-discipline theories and puts them in the business vein.
A good leader will have good team leadership skills that are more than just vision and strategy. An effective team leader should learn to leverage emotion with radical candor. Primal Leadership lays out how to become a good team leader by using emotional intelligence as a tool.
7. Wooden on Leadership, by John Wooden and Steve Jamison
World-renowned leadership expert John Wooden offers practical advice in this book that he co-wrote with Steve Jamison. John Wooden as a head coach of the UCLA Bruins led his basketball team to an astounding 10 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships in 12 years. The Bruins’ seven consecutive titles are still a record to this day. Wooden has the street-cred to write a great leadership book to make you a better leader.
Wooden on Leadership outlines the mental, physical and emotional qualities of a team leader’s role. Wooden defines the habits of a highly effective team and can help you build confidence and a competitive drive to succeed, a recipe that has made this one of the leadership’s best sellers.
8. The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail (Management of Innovation and Change), by Clayton Christensen
Amazon editors have ranked this book one of the best books on leadership in its top 100 Leadership and Success Books to Read in a Lifetime. Clayton Christensen examines how leaps forward in innovation caused even the most substantial companies to lose market leadership and fail.
Cited by thinkers such as Malcolm Gladwell and business icons such as Steve Jobs, The Innovator’s Dilemma explains why business leaders need to have strong decision-making power guided by knowledge of when to abandon successful traditional practices and change course as technology evolves. This effective team leadership model has made it one of the best-selling leadership books of all time.
9. How to Win Friends & Influence People: The Only Book You’ll Need to Lead You to Success, by Dale Carnegie
How to Win Friends & Influence People is a book that has taught managers how to be effective team leaders for more than 50 years. In 1936, Dale Carnegie’s advice on communication and persuasion was necessary for being a team leader.
Carnegie’s central thesis is that you can build team and leadership skills by listening and interacting with people in a way that shows interest in them and their work. It is no wonder that Time magazine has ranked How to Win Friends & Influence People among The 25 Most Influential Business Management Books. Anyone wanting to know what makes a good and effective team leader at work should give this book a try.
10. On Becoming a Leader, by Warren Bennis
This leadership book by Bennis proves that “Leaders aren’t born but rather they are made.” Bennis looks at good team leadership characteristics and profiles the leaders who exude these same team leadership qualities. He then lays out a strategy that anyone can follow to learn team leadership skills and lead an effective team.
Forbes Magazine calls Bennis, “the dean of leadership gurus.” On Becoming a Leader is just one of his many popular books on teams and leadership-an essential book for anyone looking to improve their team-leading skills.
11. Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, by Seth Godin
Responsibilities of team leaders vary, from influencing customers, investors or employees. Author Seth Godin describes ways to get others engaged in your central idea. Tribes step outside the conventional box to show you team leaders skills that will inspire others to follow you.
After reading Tribes, you should also read other Godin books such as Purple Cow and Free Prize Inside, plus his blog posts. What is a team leader? Read Godin’s books and find out!
12.The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, by Patrick Lencioni
You may know what effective leadership teams look like, but The Five Dysfunctions of a Team takes the team leadership example and flips it on its head. Author Patrick Lencioni outlines the five fatal qualities that a team leader should avoid:
- Fear of conflict.
- Lack of trust.
- Little commitment.
- Inattention to results.
- Accountability avoidance.
When it comes to team and leadership building, Lencioni outlines how companies fail. It is a cautionary tale for those who want to learn about leadership in a team.
13. Endurance, by Alfred Lansing
As a team leader, you can learn from others’ success stories, but you can also learn a lot from others’ failures. Endurance tells the story of Edward Shakleton’s fateful expedition to the South Pole in 1914. Shackleton’s ship became trapped in ice, and he and his crew of 27 men survived for months, walking more than 850 miles over harsh, frozen landscapes to civilization. This was made possible by the skill he manifested in leading his team to safety.
You can read this great book to learn much about team leaders’ skills from Shackleton’s account of the ordeal. Most importantly, the ability to be vulnerable and show fear is much better than being cold and unemotional which is a surprising truth to many. Any leader of a team can improve their skills after reading this harrowing tale.
14. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Goodwin’s historical account of how Lincoln created a team of leaders who had divergent viewpoints and saved the Union is a great leadership lesson on becoming a good team leader for modern executives and managers.
Pulitzer Prize-winner author Doris Kearns Goodwin describes how U.S. president Abraham Lincoln was an effective leader in his leadership role. He surrounded himself with the best people, not the ones who would necessarily agree with him. As an effective leader, he humbly welcomed debate and discourse. President Barack Obama calls it, “A remarkable study in leadership.” Now there’s an endorsement!
15. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel H. Pink
Punishment and rewards may not be the best way to motivate your employees if you are a CEO or in any leadership position. Instead, Daniel H. Pink proposes an alternative to how to be a team leader in the workplace. In Drive, Pink reveals what truly motivates people and what makes a good leadership role at work. The book offers a powerful lesson that leaders should make sure to read and implement. in his leadership role
As a CEO, sometimes it is a surprising truth that It’s not about money. It’s about autonomy, mastery, and meaningful work. These are essential tools to get your workers on track and productive thus creating a great company. Based on 40 years of research, Pink demonstrates that what science knows about human motivation is often different from what business leaders understand. He is a bestselling author with this important book.
16. Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius
Like The Art of War, Mediations remains a relevant leadership text today, even though the author wrote it 2,000 years ago. Marcus Aurelius was a philosopher and a Roman Emperor with a great leadership style (C.E. 161-180), and he had a profound understanding of human behavior.
In a straightforward style, Aurelius describes how to meet leadership demands while sticking to one’s integrity and spiritual beliefs. Heavy stuff, but even today, it remains a must-read for anyone looking to run a successful organization. This book is one of the best leadership books of all time.
17. Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
We have two minds: emotional and quick-thinking, and one that is deliberate and slow-thinking. As a senior leader, understanding how these two minds operate and how they influence how we think and make decisions is a step towards great leadership ability.
In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman explains how our intuitive, fast-thinking minds can cause problems and is not a great leadership style. Leaders often use that side of the mind to make impulsive decisions, which aren’t always the best. Reading this book will give you valuable insight into how we react to and calculate the world around us.
18. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You, by John C. Maxwell
John C. Maxwell is a world-renowned leadership expert who writes books and engages audiences at public speaking events. Maxwell teaches how to set direction, motivate people and align employees with your vision.
He recently updated his book to include new leadership stories and a self-evaluation tool so you can test if you are an effective team leader. There are also exercises after every chapter to help readers take actionable steps. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is one of the best leadership development books out there.
19. Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action by Simon Sinek.
Simon Sinek is most famous for his TED Talk which has millions of listeners and views. To become more influential, more profitable, and more innovative, then you need to ask yourself WHY? Why are others more innovative, influential, and profitable than you are?
Only when you know the answer to the why will you be inspired as a leader will you be able to inspire others as well.
You need to read this book if you want to inspire your team to take action.
20. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek.
This is another best-selling book by Simon Sinek which emphasizes the subject of servant leadership. To be an effective servant leader, then you need to know how to deal with people. Whether it is managing your employees or dealing with clients, you need to put their interests first because, without them, you wouldn’t have people to lead.
This book is a practical book that gives examples with case studies to make it relevant and understandable.
Best Books on Leadership: Final Thoughts
Are you ensuring your team is as effective as possible? You may be scouring team leadership articles and searching team leader sites, but taking the time to fully digest a book that explores the definition of a team leader, leadership role and lays out how to be successful will create more success in your career as an entrepreneur and a leader.
These books are classics and have timeless themes. The best leadership books of 2020 and 2021 are great too, but they all come down to the same tried-and-true principles.
What is your favorite leadership book? Most of these are bestseller leadership books with great ideas that are the best to read. Whichever leadership book you decide is the best will likely be available as ebooks or will be found in your local library or bookstore.