Top 50 leadership books and quotes according to Kindle and Goodreads data

A strong leader can motivate and inspire people to work towards a shared goal. All other elements of business essentially hinge on whether you are able to build a cooperative and collaborative work culture, and this can affect the success of an organization.

If you are hoping to develop your business leadership skills, you’re already off to a good start. Great leadership isn’t a one-size-fits-all quality that can be picked up without effort and consideration. It requires a growth-mentality that is willing to question your own strengths and vulnerabilities, striving to understand what motivates other people to work effectively, and learning how to encourage and nurture people in your workforce to achieve their potential.

There are various different types of leadership style. Some managers are more effective than others, but that doesn’t mean there is a definitive ‘correct’ way to lead a team. For example, there is a misconception that extroverts are better at sticking their necks out and getting results, but Susan Cain argues in Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, that introverted people can be great listeners, and this is a perceptive quality that can help in negotiating and collaborating with others.

You might want your business to run like a finely-oiled machine, but it’s really important to consider what will motivate your employees to make their best contribution to your organization. This requires a human approach, that shows appreciation for people’s needs, values, and sense of purpose. In Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek explains that “There are only two ways to influence human behaviour: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.” An inspired and well-motivated staff are naturally going to be more dedicated to meeting targets and deadlines.

Another great quality that many successful business leaders display is the ability to organize and delegate clearly defined goals that recognize and utilize the talents, interests, and experience of individuals within an organization. This requires a strong understanding not only of your goals, but also of the resources that are available to you - including human resources. As Daniel H. Pink explains in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, successful people “have autonomy over the four T’s: their task, their time, their technique, and their team.” Making sure you have a clear idea of what you’re doing, and who you’re working with, will help things run more smoothly.

Learning to be an effective business leader involves taking some responsibility for your own success. It’s about thinking about what you want to achieve, and working with your employees to tap into each other’s potential. If you approach it with a positive and constructive attitude, you will find leadership truly rewarding.

Fortunately, there is a wealth of resources available to offer guidance to prospective leaders, company owners, and business managers. From philosophers and academics in the fields of economics, social sciences, and psychology, to pioneers in tech, media, and other industries, whatever your business focus, have collected top-rated expert leadership advice that can help you achieve your goals.

Using Goodreads data, they found the top 50 rated leadership books of all time, and then used Amazon Kindle data to determine the most-highlighted quote by users for each book.

The result gives us fifty inspirational quotes to turn to whenever we need some inspiration:

1. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
“Pretend to be completely in control and people will assume that you are.”

2. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
“There are three basic flavors of incentive: economic, social, and moral.”
3. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
“Practise isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good.”

4. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
“These three characteristics — one, contagiousness; two, the fact that little causes can have big effects; and three, that change happens not gradually but at one dramatic moment.”
5. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Caregie
“When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.”
6. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen…”
7. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
"It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us."

8. Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson
“The fear you let build up in your mind is worse than the situation that actually exists.”
9. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
“Learn to use your emotions to think, not think with your emotions.”
10. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
“First find a simple and obvious cue. Secondly clearly define the rules.”
11. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
“Plan for what is difficult while it is easy, do what is great while it is small. The difficult things in this world must be done while they are easy, the greatest things in the world must be done while they are still small.”
12. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
“The most common way people give up power is by thinking they don't have any.”

13. The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
“Upon this, one has to remark that men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge.”
14. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance

“One thing that Musk holds in highest regard is resolve, and he respects people who continue on after being told no.”
15. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.”
16. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill by Napoleon Hill
“That is one of the tricks of opportunity. It has a sly habit of slipping in by the back door, and often it comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat.”
17. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
“Parkinson's Law dictates that a task will swell in (perceived) importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion.”
18. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown
“Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them.”
19. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't by Jim Collins
“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice.”

20. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
“Getting things done requires two basic components: defining (1) what 'done' means (outcome) and (2) what 'doing' looks like (action).”
21. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely
“Most people don't know what they want unless they see it in context.”
22. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
“There are only two ways to influence human behaviour: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.”
23. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck
“The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.”
24. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink
“Type I behavior emerges when people have autonomy over the four T’s: their task, their time, their technique, and their team”.
25. Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund
“Our most important challenge in developing a fact-based worldview, according to Rosling, is to realize that most of our firsthand experiences are from Level 4; and that our secondhand experiences are filtered through the mass media, which loves nonrepresentative extraordinary events and shuns normality.”
26. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
“A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.”
27. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni
“Politics is when people choose their words and actions based on how they want others to react rather than based on what they really think.”
28. Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
“Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be.”

29. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman
“In a very real way we have two minds, one that thinks one that feels.”
30. The One Minute Manager by Kenneth H. Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
“If you can't tell me what you'd like to be happening' he said 'You don't have a problem yet. You’re just complaining. A problem only exists if there is a difference between what is actually happening and what you would like to be happening”
31. #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso
“Abandon anything about your life and habits that might be holding you back. Learn to create your own opportunities. Know that there is no finish line. Fortune favours action.”
32. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
“What we mean by “simple” is finding the core of the idea.”
33. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Amy Wallace and Edwin Catmull
“Getting the team right is the necessary precursor to getting the ideas right.”
34. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
“I chose to,””Only a few things really matter,” and “I can do anything but not everything.”
35. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Jean Greaves and Travis Bradberry
“Self-management is your ability to use your awareness of your emotions to stay flexible and direct your behavior positively.”
36. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande
“The volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our individual ability to deliver its benefits correctly, safely, or reliably. Knowledge has both saved us and burdened us”.
37. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Al Switzler, Joseph Grenny, and Ron McMillan
“When it comes to risky, controversial or emotional conversations, skillful people find a way to get all relevant information (from themselves and others ) out into the open.”
38. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by William Ury, Roger Fisher, and Bruce Patton
“Any method of negotiation may be fairly judged by three criteria: It should produce a wise agreement if agreement is possible. It should be efficient. And it should improve or at least not damage the relationship between the parties.”
39. The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu M. Goldratt
“Increase throughput whilst simultaneously reducing both inventory and operating expense.”
40. Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath
“You cannot be anything you want to be—but you can be a lot more of who you already are.”
41. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
“It turns out that is exactly what product strategy is all about—figuring out the right product is the innovator’s job, not the customer’s job.”
42. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
“Change is hard because people wear themselves out. And that's the second surprise about change: what often looks like laziness is exhaustion.”
43. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Christopher Voss and Tahl Raz
“Research shows that the best way to deal with negativity is to observe it, without reaction and without judgement. Then consciously label each negative feeling and replace it with positive, compassionate, and solution – based thoughts”

44. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras
“It means less of your time spent thinking about specific product lines and marketing strategies, and spend more of your time thinking about organisation design.”
45. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You by John C. Maxwell
“The main difference between the two is that leadership is about influencing people to follow, while management focuses on maintaining systems and purposes.”

46. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
“On any team, in any organization, all responsibility for success and failure rests with the leader. The leader must own everything in his or her world. There is no one else to blame. The leader must acknowledge mistakes and admit failures, take ownership of them, and develop a plan to win.”
47. Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin
“Leadership on the other hand is about creating change that you believe in.”
48. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham
“Broadly put, philosophers think. Politicians maneuver. Jefferson's genius was that he was both and could do both, often simultaneously. Such is the art of power.”
49. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brené Brown
“I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.”
50. Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box by The Arbinger Institute
“No matter what we’re doing on the outside, people respond primarily to how we’re feeling about them on the inside.”
Which quote resonates with you most?

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