Book recommendations for business leaders: Leadership Reading Lists from Michael McKinney and Bob Sutton

Jan 10, 2019 | Reading Lists

Stephen King says that if you want to be a writer, there are two things you must do: read a lot and write a lot. This is about the “read a lot” part. I include reading lists and book reviews that will help you do business more effectively and write better for business.

In this post, I point you to two lists of essential leadership books by Michael McKinney and Bob Sutton. Both are friends. Both are thoughtful observers of the world and leadership. Both maintain comprehensive lists of essential leadership books. So … without further ado …

From Michael McKinney: Classic Leadership Books

“These are classic leadership books that have stood the test of time and are essential reading for anyone wanting to develop their leadership skills. Not all leadership books are business books nor are all business books leadership books. But leadership is an art that can be applied in all contexts.

Of the books listed below, some are great leadership books in their own right and some have simply caused us to change our perspective and emphasis. Some confuse principles and approaches and can be misleading, but the points they make are valid in many situations. You, as the leader, must become a master at application, determining what works when. While there are no universal applications, you will discover that there are universal principles that when applied consistently, will add to your success as a leader.”

From Bob Sutton: 12 Books That Every Leader Should Read

“I have been maintaining – and occasionally updating — a list of ‘Books That Every Leader Should Read’ on my old Work Matters blog since 2011. These are books that have taught me much about people, teams, and organizations — while at the same time — provide useful guidance (if sometimes indirectly) about what it takes to lead well versus badly. This is the 2018 update. I left out many of my favorites – and probably many of yours as well. After all, some 11,000 business books are published in the United States every year.

Many on the list are research based, others tell detailed stories, and only two are quick reads (Orbiting the Giant Hairball and Parkinson’s Law). That reflects my bias. I lean toward books that have real substance beneath them. This runs counter to the belief in the business book world that people will only buy and read books that are very short and simple – and have just one idea. So, if your kind of business book is The One Minute Manager (which frankly, I like too… but you can read the whole thing in 20 or 30 minutes), then you probably won’t like most of these books.”

Reading recommendations are a regular feature of this blog. Want more recommendations about what to read? Check out my Three Star Leadership blog, Michael McKinney’s LeadingBlog, and Skip Prichard’s Leadership Insights.

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