The Leadership Bookshelf #1 – Leadership

This post is part of series focused on my favourite, and most recommended, leadership books.

I have always been an avid reader and a few years ago I made a commitment to regularly read leadership books as a way of continuing my own learning and development. While I have many books on my bookshelf, these are the ones that I most frequently reference in coaching sessions or workshops.

There are always great new leadership books coming out. I love to read and try to read at least one leadership book a month. If you have a recommendation for my reading list, please let me know.


Many leaders find that as they take on new roles they need to re-think their approach to leadership, develop different ways of thinking, and build new capabilities. These are some of my favourite books about leadership:

Dare to Lead:  Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.

by Brené Brown

I recommend any of Brené Brown’s books, along with her TED talks and podcasts. Based on research with leaders, and sprinkled with stories from her own leadership experiences, this is a great book for leaders. She reminds of the value of being a human leader and the importance of brave leadership. If you are interested in what it means for leaders to engage with empathy and how to have more honest and productive conversations with your team, this book if for you. One of my favourite concepts from this book is “paint done”. It’s a great technique for leaders struggling with delegation and frustration with direct reports who are not delivering on expectations.

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

by Marshall Goldsmith

Dr. Marshal Goldsmith is a world-renowned coach who offers many practical and proven methods for building your leadership capabilities. I highly recommend all his books and he also offers great tips on his website and in his newsletters. In this book, he outlines the small flaws that can create negative perceptions and hold us back. He reminds us that behaviours, not technical expertise, most often determines a leader’s success. The behaviours that helped you earn a promotion and find success in the past are not likely the ones that will help you find successes in your new role in the future. He also provides great insights into how to change our behaviours and engage others in the process.

How Women Rise:  Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job 

by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith

This book is a great campaign read to What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. It focuses specifically on the habits that help hinder female leaders as they rise through the leadership ranks. This book outlines 12 habits that hold women back. While women have faced many systemic barriers, there are things we can control to improve our quality of life and our leadership success.

Check out these other Leadership Bookshelf posts for additional recommendations:

Finding Focus and Managing Time
Navigating Change and Uncertainty