I’ve overhauled a book list of the 36 Best Business Books that Changed Leaders’ Lives.
Some of the most effective leaders I know, regularly draw from books for insights, inspirations, and new ideas to change their game.
Business is an interesting game, by the way:
“Business is a game, played for fantastic stakes, and you’re in competition with experts. If you want to win, you have to learn to be a master of the game.” — Sidney Sheldon
There is no shortage of books to read or new ideas to learn.
Instead, the challenge is finding the best business books that are worth reading – the books that you can use to accelerate and enhance your business effectiveness.
To find the best business books for building business effectiveness, I reached out to the most effective Microsoft leaders I know (past and present0 and asked them a simple question …
““What are the top 3 books that changed your life in terms of business effectiveness?”
Here are the results …
Top 3 Business Books for Improving Business Effectiveness
The top three business books that showed up multiple times were:
Blue Ocean Strategy is a beautiful strategy guide on how to make your competition irrelevant.
Rather than swim with the sharks in the red ocean of competition, find the blue ocean and swim with the dolphins.
Learn how to expand the market to non-consumers by reducing friction points and pivoting around what’s truly valued by customers.
Learn how to differentiate to avoid commoditization.
Collins and his team researched 1,435 companies to find 11 companies that made huge improvements in their performance over time.
What did the 11 companies have in common?
They demonstrated discipline in people, thought, and action.
This is the book that made the Hedgehog concept famous.
The Hedgehog concept is the intersection of three circles:
- What can you be the best in the world at?
- What drives your economic engine?
- What are you deeply passionate about?
Normally I don’t like storybooks for business skills, but the fable format really works for this one.
This book is about how to function as a unit by learning the five dysfunctions:
- Absence of trust
- Fear of conflict
- Lack of commitment
- Avoidance of accountability
- Inattention to results.
I’ve experienced great shifts in culture by leaders who learned the lessons from this corporate fable and applied them to their teams.
The 36 Best Business Books that Changed Leaders’ Lives
Here is the list of the best business books that changed leader’s lives:
- All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
- Authentic Leadership
- Blue Ocean Strategy
- Built to Last
- Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done
- Fierce Conversations
- First, Break All the Rules
- Fortune’s Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street
- Good to Great
- How To Win Friends and Influence People
- Human Competence: Engineering Worthy Performance
- Jack: Straight from the Gut
- Leadership on the Line
- Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box
- Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
- Memoirs of Hadrian
- Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game
- Pasteurs Quadrant: Basic Science and Technological Innovation
- Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too
- The Soul of a New Machine
- Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
- The One Minute Manager
- The Art of Happiness
- The Art of Innovation
- The Art of Leadership
- The Art of the Start 2.0: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything
- The Art of War
- The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Open Society Endangered
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
- The Innovator’s Dilemma
- Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization
- Unleashing the Idea Virus
- Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything
- Winning with People
For mini-descriptions of each, please see 36 Best Business Books that Changed Leaders’ Lives.