Is there any truth behind the whole “being a natural leader” thing? Because being the boss, or a manger, is rarely easy. The following books on leadership and management will make being the boss—or aspiring to be the boss—so much easier. Whether you are a seasoned supervisor, or simply looking for some solid career advice.
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown
We often think of bosses as being the big, bad wolf at work. (And—yes—there are some awful AF bosses out there.) But generally managers are well-intentioned and they expect as much from themselves as they do from their employees. While Brené Brown’s book isn’t your typical “career advice” book, her research on shame and vulnerability is a valuable insight to any leaders who want to manage with more empathy and understanding.
Dare to Serve: How to Drive Superior Results by Serving Others by Cheryl Bachelder
Cheryl Bachelder, the former CEO of Popeyes, helped turn around the once-dim prospects of the fast food company. In this book, Bachelder recounts how she embraced the concept of being a “Dare-to-Serve,” leader, a style often easily dismissed as being “soft,” or irrelevant. Her book has gained praise for illustrating the long-term benefits of leading with humility, grace, and service.
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness by Lolly Daskal
Lolly Daskal writes that the most successful leaders posses a duality of personality characteristics that help them succeed. But, she warns, these same qualities can also put a damper on their progress. In this book, Daskal outlines different leadership archetypes and how to avoid common pitfalls.
Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord
Patty McCord famously helped craft the renowned blunt company culture of Netflix and her 124-page culture documents for the company have been widely shared and heralded for building super effective company teams. In Powerful, McCord distills her best advice for creating teams that work well together, based on mutual trust and accountability. Consider it a fresh take on what works and what’s simply a waste of time.
The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker
In today’s workforce, company meetings are par for the course. Perhaps even too much. (Who among us has’t complained about having yet another meeting?). In The Art of Gathering, Priya Parker explores a variety of events and meetings—from boardrooms to summer camps—to explain why they work (or don’t).
How to be a Chief Operating Officer: 16 Disciplines for Success by Jennifer Geary
While many management books focus on executive roles few explore what it takes to be a COO. To demystify the position, Jennifer Geary’s book outlines 16 different “core elements,” including three “fundamental pillars” and 13 technical areas. The book has gained praise from COOs for its practical solutions based on real-life examples that can be applied to multiple positions.
Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People by Vanessa Van Edwards
When you’re in a supervisor role you’re sometimes also the face of the company at public and industry events. It’s not unusual for managers to have to network, impress, and “sell” the business to others. But how do you do it? Vanessa Van Edwards’ Captivate shares science and research-backed strategies for quickly reading and impressing others. (A life skill we all want.)
Leading Gracefully: A Woman’s Guide to Confident, Authentic & Effective Leadership by Monique Svazlian Tallon
Monique Svazlian Tallon’s Leading Gracefully focuses on female leadership and the idea of “The Feminine Leadership Model.” She urges readers to focus on typical female strengths rather than trying to advance professionally by playing the boy’s club rules. The book includes exercises in each chapter for readers to examine their qualities and determine how to make themselves shine.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
If you’ve ever worried that you’re not cut-out to be a leader at work because you’re an introvert, take heart. This book caters to one-third of the population that is introverted. Susan Cain explores the notion of the “Extrovert Ideal” in popular culture and argues that introverts are severely undervalued. Even better, introverts have their own set of strengths they can lean into.
Reinforcements: How to Get People to Help You by Heidi Grant
Being a great leader and manager comes down to inspiring the people you work with to achieve success. In short—you need a team of people to achieve something. So, how do you get the help and support you need? Heidi Grant uses her background in social psychology to explore how we can effectively seek assistance. She writes about why people ask for help, and how we can do it better.
Dear Founder: Letters of Advice for Anyone Who Leads, Manages, or Wants to Start a Business by Maynard Webb, Carlye Adler, $19
Consider this a primo gift for anyone looking for a little bit of inspiration and solid career advice. Maynard Webb and Carlye Adler have compiled a list of carefully curated letters for current and aspiring business owners. It’s filled with ideas, lessons, and guidance for starting your own venture.
Own It: The Power of Women at Work by Sally Krawcheck
As the CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, Sally Krawcheck has made it her mission to teach women how to smartly invest their money. In Own It, she asks ambitious women everywhere to rethink the structure and limitations of the old-school boy’s club. In today’s changing workforce, she argues there’s room for women to rewrite the rules of success—on their own terms.
Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success by Sylvia Ann Hewlett
What about if you’re not yet the manager you know you very well could be? Sometimes you have all the experience and skills needed to excel in the job, but something else is amiss: Whether others perceive you as a leader. In this book, Sylvia Ann Hewlett explores the idea of ‘Executive Presence,’ (that sense of gravitas you feel when you’re in front of a big boss.) She then offers advice on how we can all cultivate the appearance, communication, and gravitas to be seen as leadership material.
How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job by Sally Helgesen, Marshall Goldsmith
This book considers the different challenges women face in the workplace as compared to their male counterparts. The authors ask questions like: Are you great with the details? Are you a team player? Are you a star networker? Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith zero in on 12 habits that typically hold women back in their careers—with some key advice on how to remedy it all.
Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy
Amy Cuddy asks us to reconsider what ‘presence’ means. Rather than focusing on the impression one makes on others, we should focus on the impression we want to make on ourselves. Focusing on our body language, mindset, and behavior are just some of the ways we ensure we have the kind of ‘presence’ that people remember.
That’s What She Said: What Men Need to Know (and Women Need to Tell Them) About Working Together Hardcover by Joanne Lipman
Joanne Lipman focuses on bridging the disconnect between men and women in the workplace, considering the gender wage gap and more. This book suggests empowering and educating both genders to help themselves and each other.
Whether you’ve made it to the C-suite or are about to step into your fist management role, leadership skills are something we can always brush up on and improve upon. Join us in Leadership Hall at the Girlboss Rally for actionable workshops and IRL advice that will help you step into your next leadership role. Register now at.