Read These Books to Be a Better Leader

Finding a consistent habit of reading can make a big impact on your career success. Lifelong learners are always adding to their skills and abilities, allowing them to bring new perspectives to their work and life. Sometimes it can be tricky to figure out what to read, though. There are so many options out there, how can you be sure that you’re spending your limited time wisely and finding books and articles that will make a difference?

Here’s a list of the books and articles that I have found valuable in my own leadership development journey. The next time you’re looking for something to read, check out one of these and let me know what you think!

Do you have any books, articles, podcasts, or videos that have helped you on your leadership journey? Share them with me on Instagram so I can add them to my list!

Please note: As an Amazon Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases for some of the links provided below.


Change is all around us. As leaders, it’s our responsibility to manage ourselves through various changes and to help our teams understand and adapt to change. We also may be lucky enough to lead transformations within our organization, requiring us to support the entire organization through change. These resources have been helpful to me in developing my mindset towards change.


I Moved Your Cheese: For Those Who Refuse to Live as Mice in Someone Else’s Maze
by Deepak Malhotra
Several years ago, someone recommended I read the book Who Moved My Cheese. I found it uninspiring and unmotivating to simply adapt to changes without wondering why or seeking to influence my surrounding at all. When I stumbled across this book by Deepak Malhotra, though, I found a much better mindset. If you like to wonder why changes are happening and find ways to influence your surroundings, this book is an easy, enjoyable read with a solid moral.
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
by Malcolm Gladwell
For anyone trying to influence behaviour and drive change, the insights in The Tipping Point are incredibly useful. Malcolm Gladwell explores the phenomenom of social epidemics and what causes an idea to ‘tip’.


Driving Organizational Change—Without Abandoning Tradition
by Gianpiero Petriglieri
Transformational organizational changes can be difficult to implement, putting energetic change seekers in direct competition with what Gianpiero calls “social defenses.” This article explores how connecting with tradition rather than discounting it can help make these changes possible.

Decision Making

The fact that so many of the books that have impacted me as a leader are about decision making speaks to how important this is! As leaders, we are still people subject to our psychology, so understanding this is key to recognizing and avoiding our biases and thinking errors. The materials in the list below cover off different aspects of our thinking that affect our decision making ability.


The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: Risk Taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology Boom and Bust
by John Coates
This is a fascinating read, exploring our biological reactions to taking risks, winning, and losing. With a focus on the financial services sector and the behaviours of traders, John Coates helps us better understand what is really driving our behaviour when we decide to take a risk.
Wait: The Art and Science of Delay
by Frank Partnoy
Another book with a focus on traders and financial services, Wait is an exploration of how sometimes it pays to delay. If you feel that all decisions must be made quickly and that any hesitation is a sign of weakness, I would recommend exposing yourself to this alternate perspective.
Everything is Obvious: Once You Know the Answer
by Duncan J. Watts
You’ve probably heard it before: hindsight is 20/20. We all know this when we hear other people claim that they ‘knew that was going to happen,’ but it can be harder to bring the same perspective to our own opinions. This book provides the science behind retrospective prediction and will challenge your belief that you’re a better predictor of the future than you are, helping you make better decisions.
The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives
by Leonard Mlodinow
For anyone who thinks they have control over their life, or that it’s even possible to control the things that happen to us, this a great read. Mlodinow reminds us of the roll that chance and luck have in our lives. We can’t control the things that happen to us, no matter how hard we try, all we can control is what we make of the situations we find ourselves in.
The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Shouldn’t and Put Ourselves in Greater Danger
by Daniel Gardner
We all believe we’re better predictors of risk than we are, which sometimes leads us to make the riskier decision when we’re trying to be safe. Daniel Gardner talks about the science behind how we reflexively assess risk using factors like what stories have we heard of most recently and which events trigger a more emotional response for us. Reading this book can help you challenge your impulsive assessments of risk and challenge yourself to be more pragmatic about which risks are likely to materialize.
Thinking Fast and Slow
by Daniel Kahneman
Another great book about the biases of our reflexive decision making, Thinking Fast and Slow explores the complexities of the two ‘systems’ in our brains. System 1 relies on rules of thumb and makes emotional decisions, while System 2 uses logic to provide more accurate assessments of risk and payoff. Through description of academic studies conducted over the years and the use of practical examples showing your own reflexive decision-making biases, Kahneman helps you increase your awareness of your biases and give you the ability to improve your decision-making.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

It’s probably no surprise that diversity, equity, and inclusion is an important consideration for a leader. In order to connect with and support our teams to do their best work, we need to understand and respect who they are.


Watch Out For These 3 Gender Biases in Performance Reviews
by Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio
This practical exploration of three forms of bias that impact women in the workplace offers insights from a consulting project undertaken by the author. Cecchi-Dimeglio explores experience bias, proximity bias, and in-group/out-group bias and how each impacts our assessment of employees’ performance. Challenge your beliefs about the equity of your own assessments of your team members and find some practical suggestions for how to improve the fairness of your evaluations.

Focus and Productivity

After 2020, I find that focus has been on my mind more than ever. With more of our world shifting into online spaces, there are more distractions competing for our attention than ever before. It can be helpful to understand why we’re distracted so that we can change our environments to help us do the deep work that is so important.


Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention and How to Think Deeply Again
by Johann Hari
Like many of us, I’ve found my attention span decreasing over the years. As my phone buzzes constantly for my attention and media is continually delivered in drips and drabs, it’s become harder to spend hours immersed in a task. Johann Hari does a great job of breaking down what causes our focus to deteriorate, how this affects our creativity and ability for deep thought, and what we can do to start to reverse the trend.
The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload
by Daniel J. Levitin
When life gets busy, a little organization can go a long way to making things feel more manageable. This book was really helpful for me in a period of overwhelm by offering more insight into how our brains work and some practical strategies for bringing more organization into all areas of our lives, including decision making.


As a coach who talks about introversion and how the trait impacts how we show up in our leadership roles, this list wouldn’t be complete without some resources on the topic. Here are the resources I’ve found (so far) that were the most helpful to me in developing my understanding of introversion.


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
by Susan Cain
This book was my first introduction to the benefits of introversion, and I re-read it every 2 or 3 years. Susan Cain does a great job of laying out what an introvert is, how it affects a person’s behaviour and worldview, and why there are benefits to accepting this trait as a valid way of interacting with the world. If you’re not sure if you are an introvert or why you should be accepting of your introversion, this is a great book for you.
Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come: An Introvert’s Year of Living Dangerously
by Jessica Pan
For a more humorous take on introversion, you can check out Jessica Pan’s autobiographical account of her year spent challenging her introverted nature. As someone who likes to stretch my comfort zone, I enjoyed reading her experience doing scary things, like delivering a stand-up comedy set and making new friends on an app. She doesn’t shy away from honestly exploring the anxiety and self-doubt that we experience when pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone.
Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being
by Brian Little
While not actually about introversion, I include this book here because of the author’s upfront discussion of his own introverted nature and how his discussion on the science on personality can help us better understand how our traits intersect to make us unique. This is also where I learned about ‘free traits,’ which supported me to stretch out of my comfort zone and be more outgoing in certain situations without feeling like a fraud or overdoing it and burning myself out.


Shyness: Evolutionary Tactic?
by Susan Cain
In this article in the New York Times, Susan Cain explores the pathologization of introversion and shyness well as the benefits of having either or both of these traits. Especially interesting is the reference to research on sitters and rovers and the evolutionary advantages of having both types in a population.