My “Mount Rushmore” of leadership books

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Earlier this week, James Beaulieu, sent me an email that included the following.

“I am now looking for leadership and management opportunities, which leads me to my question. Do you have a Mount Rushmore of leadership books you can recommend?”

Here’s my Mount Rushmore of leadership books. I put it together for James and I thought it would also make a good blog post.

All of them are well written with lots of examples. They’ll help you no matter what kind of leadership and management opportunities you seize. All of the authors have written other books and articles that I think you will find helpful.

I’ve listed the books in chronological order because I don’t prefer one over any of the others.

Managing for Results
The Effective Executive
Both by Peter Drucker

Many of the concepts and principles we take for granted today started with Peter Drucker. I consider these two short books as two parts of the same book. Management for Results is about managing the organization. The Effective Executive is about managing yourself. When Drucker wrote these, “management” was the term used for many things we would now include under “leadership.”

For as long as he was alive, Peter Drucker was my top-rated management/leadership author. I bought and consumed all of his books as they came out.

The Leadership Challenge
By James Kouzes and Barry Posner

There have been many comprehensive books about leadership in organizations. This is the best. It’s now in the fifth edition, which has been updated in many ways since the book was published for the first time in 1987. The basic principles are still the same, but reference points, research details, and examples have been updated.

Good Boss, Bad Boss
By Bob Sutton

There are a lot of people who object to the term “boss” or who use it in a negative way. Sutton uses it as a description of a position, someone who presides over others in a local hierarchy. This book will tell you why bosses are important and define the difference between bad bosses and good ones.

Bob Sutton is now my top-rated management/leadership author. I love his research-based and story-rich way of teaching.

The Progress Principle
By Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer

This is a book about inner work life. It’s about how people feel about things that happen at work and how you can affect that. The subtitle says it all: “using small wins to ignite joy, engagement and creativity at work.”

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