In my career and leadership journey, I’ve found that leadership isn’t a title you conquer. It isn’t a flag that’s waived at the finish line of a race. Leadership is a conscious and consistent set of choices and responses made to serve, develop, and influence others to be their best selves. I’ve also learned that there is no finish line to leadership. It’s a life long journey full of various experiences that will require you to be stretched and developed in order to serve others in the best, most impactful and rewarding ways possible. There are a few leadership books that I’ve read this past year and they’ve certainly challenged me to step up my impact as a leader.

With so many leadership books and resources available, it can be overwhelming to figure out which are truly beneficial and which aren’t. Many leadership books aren’t relatable, most are very preachy, and some are just unnecessarily complicated. In this post, I’m sharing with you the top 5 leadership books that will boost your impact this year and why they’re important for your leadership journey.

The following 5 books get to the core of true leadership, it’s challenges, and they discuss the not so pretty parts of leadership that many avoid. I highly recommend these books if you’re new to leadership, struggling with leading a team, or if you’ve been leading for years.


This list isn’t ranked in a particular order. I couldn’t bring myself to choose which I enjoyed the most – each of them were just that good!

Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (Almost) Everything Wrong

The title of this book definitely caught my eye, but the content captured my undivided attention, twice! Kristen Hadeed’s transparency about her leadership mistakes and lessons was like none I’ve (personally) witnessed in a leadership book before. Like most of us, Kristen started learning the ropes of what true leadership and employee engagement means the hard way, through unhappy and fed up employees. However, Kristen shares how she was able to build trust and maintain a great team by doing what many leaders (including myself) often times forget to do; Be Human.

PRO Tip: Take note of what Kristen shares about vulnerability in leadership. I’ve found that this is something most of us struggle with, in general and especially in leadership. Kristen’s lesson on being vulnerable will give you deeper insight and perspective as to why it’s necessary. Kristen’s “clipboard approach” was a favorite of mine and I believe any leader can use it to immediately start being mindful of employee engagement.


The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

Have you thought about your leadership style and what it means? Lolly Daskal not only defines and explains 7 leadership archetypes, but she also brings awareness to what gaps each style has. In short, this book helps you clearly identify the gap between who you are as a leader and who you want to be as a leader.

PRO Tip: When you read this book and realize your leadership archetype, pay close attention to the gaps Lolly explains. It’s easy to focus on the more positive traits you have as a leader, but you can lead more intentionally when you acknowledge the not-so-great tendencies you may have.


The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People

You may be familiar with Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages for Marriages, which has helped countless couples understand how their partner wants to be loved. The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace helps leaders understand how to show appreciation to employees in a way that they want to feel appreciated. How many times have you thanked an employee for their hard work, yet they respond and react as if it meant nothing? Perhaps you weren’t speaking their appreciation language. Your intentions may be good but if you don’t know what’s meaningful to each person on your team, your efforts won’t be impactful.

PRO Tip: Use the free resources Gary provides in this book to better understand the appreciation languages of your team. They will help you keep your team motivated in the workplace.


Ego vs. EQ: How Top Leaders Beat 8 Ego Traps With Emotional Intelligence

In the most tactful, honest, and professional way, Jen Shirkani put every leader in their place with this book. Ego vs. EQ is a pleasant gut-check for leaders who want to lead from a place of effectiveness and not ego. As you may know, leadership has its challenges and we don’t always do everything right. This book helps you understand that leadership is not about getting everything right, but doing things from the right place. That can only be done with emotional intelligence.

PRO Tip:  An ego trip will lead to an ego trap. Make note of the 8 ego traps that Jen shares and reference them daily in the workplace. Make it a habit avoid these traps and instead, respond to decisions and situations more tactfully.


Employee Engagement 2.0: How to Motivate Your Team for High Performance (A Real-World Guide for Busy Managers)

If you ever wondered what employee engagement truly means and how it impacts performance, Kevin Kruse made it easy for you. Employee Engagement 2.0 makes employee engagement easy to understand and less intimidating to apply. This book helps you jumpstart better engagement with your team. More importantly, the book gives you an actionable plan to maintain and increase engagement over time.

PRO Tip: A simple thank you is a great entry way to boosting employee engagement. Kevin generously gives you 25 low-cost ways to say thank you to your team that you can execute right away.

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