10 books to make you a stronger leader

Whether you want to improve your soft skills or rally a team around a vision, these books will help you overcome challenges and broaden your leadership skills
827 readers like this.

In this season of predictions, remember that personal reflection can be just as valuable as you shape strategy for next year. What worked, what didn't, and what could be improved upon as you continue to grow personally and professionally?

For our annual December book list for CIOs and other leaders, we focused on books that can help you become a stronger leader. Whether you want to improve your soft skills or rally a team around your vision, there's a book here that can help you overcome your challenges and take your leadership skill set to the next level. 

Now let's dig into the books:

Rebel Talent: Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life

By: Francesca Gino

Book description (via Amazon): The future belongs to the rebel – and there’s a rebel in each of us. We live in turbulent times, when competition is fierce, reputations are easily tarnished on social media, and the world is more divided than ever before. In this cutthroat environment, cultivating rebel talent is what allows businesses to evolve and to prosper. And rebellion has an added benefit beyond the workplace: it leads to a more vital, engaged, and fulfilling life.

Why you should read it: Award-winning Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino has studied rebels at organizations across the world. Despite their bad rap, rebels are masters of innovation, Gino argues. Read this book if you want to cultivate the rebel in yourself and inspire others to action.

Leadership Step by Step: Become the Person Others Follow

By: Joshua Spodek

Book description (via O’Reilly): Leadership Step by Step walks readers through what to do and how to do it in an integrated and comprehensive progression of exercises designed to cultivate key abilities, behaviors, and beliefs through experience. The 22 exercises in this hands-on book help you accomplish the inner work and gain the social skills required for great leadership.

Why you should read it: Reading about lofty leadership principle and concepts in a book is one thing – actually putting those ideas into practice is another. This book promises to help leaders make this crucial leap from page to practice with solo assignments and practical guides.

Purposeful: Are You a Manager or a Movement Starter?

By: Jennifer Dulski

Book description (via Amazon): Our world needs movement starters more than ever. Packed with practical advice and the inspiring true stories of movement starters from all walks of life, Purposeful will empower you to start your own movement and make your mark on the world.

Why you should read it: As head of Groups at Facebook and former president of Change.org, Jennifer Dulski knows a thing or two about turning a mission into a movement. In this book she draws upon her own experiences and examples from others to explain how leaders can inspire others to help them turn their vision into a reality.

Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity, and the Power of Change

By: Beth Comstock and Tahl Raz

Book description (via Amazon): Imagine It Forward is an inspiring, fresh, candid, and deeply personal book about how to grapple with the challenges to change we face every day. It is a different kind of narrative, a big picture book that combines Comstock’s personal story in leading change with vital lessons on overcoming the inevitable roadblocks. As the woman who initiated GE's Ecomagination clean-energy and its (and NBC’s) digital transformations, Comstock challenged a global organization to not wait for perfection, but to seek out emerging trends, embrace smart risks, and test ideas boldly, and often. She shows how each one of us can become a “change maker” by leading with imagination.

Why you should read it: This recently published book is receiving overwhelmingly positive reviews, including this one from Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last:  “If there is one skill that more individuals and companies need to hone it's imagination. And if there is one person who can teach us how to do it, it’s Beth Comstock. Woven together through her own journey, Comstock offers us simple and practical steps on things we can all do to prepare ourselves for the future…or even invent it.”

The Messy Middle: Finding Your Way Through the Hardest and Most Crucial Part of Any Bold Venture

By: Scott Belsky

Book description (via Amazon): Creating something from nothing is an unpredictable journey. The first mile births a new idea into existence, and the final mile is all about letting go. We love talking about starts and finishes, even though the middle stretch is the most important and often the most ignored and misunderstood.

Why you should read it: Being stuck in the middle is a relatable position for many leaders in the midst of their organizations' digital transformations. Pick up this book from Belsky, chief product officer at Adobe and advisor to many of today’s startups, for more than 100 lessons to help you stick it out and finish strong.

Carla Rudder is a community manager and program manager for The Enterprisers Project. She enjoys bringing new authors into the community and helping them craft articles that showcase their voice and deliver novel, actionable insights for readers.