Best Leadership Books: The 7 Most Impactful Reads for Project Managers

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Best Leadership Books: The 7 Most Impactful Reads for Project Managers
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Best Leadership Books: The 7 Most Impactful Reads for Project Managers

As a project manager, you know that the key to success is leadership. Yes, planning and organization are important, but if you can’t lead your team to success, then your project will likely fail.

That’s why you need to start developing your leadership skills.

After all, leadership is all about achieving results through influence. And if you want to be a successful manager, you need to be able to motivate and inspire your team members to achieve results.

By developing your leadership skills, you’ll be able to create a more cohesive and effective team, and you’ll be better equipped to handle any challenges that come your way. So if you’re serious about being a successful project manager, make sure you invest in your leadership skills. They’ll take you far.

If you’re looking to step up your leadership game you’ll find no shortage of great books on the topic. Here are 7 stand-outs that are sure to help you lead your projects to success.

1. Start With Why

Author: Simon Sinek
Publication Year: 2009

In Start With Why, Simon Sinek explores the power of motivation, and how it can be harnessed to help achieve success. He argues that people are inspired by purpose, not profit and that those who start from their “why” are more likely to be successful than those who start from their “how” or “what.”

Essentially “why” connects you to your audience emotionally and gets them on board with your team and leadership goals. It’s a powerful read that will leave you feeling motivated to lead your team to success.

Sinek illustrates his points with a variety of real-world examples, and offers readers a framework for discovering their own “why.” He also discusses the challenges leaders face in implementing a “why”-based approach and provides advice for overcoming them.

Start With Why Book by Simon Sinek

2. First Break All the Rules: What the world’s Greatest Managers Do Differently

Author: Jim Harter
Publication Year: 1999

This book is a must-read for any manager, especially if you enjoy research-based books that question conventional management ideas. This book is based on a survey of over 80,000 managers and workers by the Gallup organization.

The shocking premise of the book is that the best managers in the world don’t think, act, or look like the stereotype. They do just about everything differently. But despite their differences, great managers share one common trait: They don’t hesitate to violate conventional wisdom when it doesn’t work for them–or their employees.

This book includes:

  • Access to an exclusive online assessment to help you discover your strengths
  • Updated research along with its findings and conclusions
  • A look at what managers need to do to create a Climate of Opportunity in their organizations

This in-depth study offers practical solutions that any leader or manager may use to improve their leadership abilities.

First Break All the Rules Book on Leadership

3. Five Dysfunctions of a Team: An Illustrated Leadership Fable

Author: Patrick Lencioni
Publication Year: 2002

Patrick Lencioni is a prolific author and speaker who has helped organizations around the world improve their teamwork and performance. In “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” he uses a fictional story to illustrate the importance of trust, conflict, commitment, accountability, and results in achieving success.

Lencioni’s tale centers around a young CEO who takes over a struggling company and must turn it around quickly. She does this by assembling a team of experts to help her, but soon discovers that the team is plagued by the same five dysfunctions that afflict most teams:

  1. Absence of trust
  2. Fear of conflict
  3. Lack of commitment
  4. Avoidance of accountability
  5. Inattention to results.

These dysfunctions can lead to several problems, such as:

  • Poor communication
  • Low morale
  • Ineffective decision-making

Lencioni provides a framework for understanding and addressing these dysfunctions.

Through the course of the story, the CEO and her team learn how to overcome these dysfunctions and turn the company around. It’s an easy read and provides valuable insights into the challenges leaders face in building a successful team.

Five Dysfunctions of a Team Book on Leadership

4. The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You

Author: Julie Zhuo
Publication Year: 2019

In “The Making of a Manager,” Zhuo draws on her experience as Facebook’s vice president of product design to offer a practical guide for new and aspiring managers. The book covers topics such as:

  • Distinguishing between managers and leaders.
  • How to identify great managers from average ones
  • How to manage yourself
  • How to build trust
  • How to do great one on ones
  • How to give feedback

Julie has managed teams of tens to hundreds of people. She understands that the key to being a great manager is to grow and develop into one. If you’re looking for a promotion, want to be a better leader, or are new to a job, this handbook can help you. It has tips and advice from someone whose been in your position before.

The book is packed with actionable advice and real-world examples. It is an essential read for anyone who wants to improve their leadership skills. Especially if you’re aiming at becoming a stand-out project manager.

The Making of a Manager Leadership Book

5. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.

Author: Brené Brown
Publication Year: 2018

Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston and the author of five New York Times bestsellers. She is known for her work on courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy.

In 2010, Brené gave a TED talk on the power of vulnerability that has been viewed over 40 million times. In her talk, Brené discusses how vulnerability can be a strength, rather than a weakness. Brené has spent more than a decade studying courage and vulnerability, and her work has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, NPR, and CNN.

She is also the founder of the Dare to Lead Institute, which provides training and certification in courage-based leadership.

Dare to Lead is Brené’s latest book and offers a roadmap for courageous leadership. Why is courage needed? Because leadership requires us to show up, be seen, and live our values. It asks us to dare greatly and to lead with our whole hearts.

The book is based on seven years of research and 20 years of experience. It’s packed with stories and examples that illustrate how courage can be cultivated in the face of challenges.

dare to lead book on leadership

6. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by

Author: Daniel H. Pink
Publication Year: 2011

In Drive, Daniel Pink draws four decades of scientific research to challenge the conventional wisdom about what motivates us. He argues that the secret to high performance and satisfaction in today’s world is not rewards and punishments but rather autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

  • Autonomy = the desire to be self-directed in your own life.
  • Mastery = the impulse to constantly improve at something that matters to you.
  • Purpose = the thirst to serve a greater cause.

According to Pink, these three elements are more important than financial incentives in motivating us to do our best work.

This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand what really motivates people. And it’s especially relevant for project managers who need to motivate team members to achieve results.

Drive shows that the conventional wisdom about motivation is wrong and outdated. No longer can you rely on carrots and sticks to get people to do what you want. Instead, you need to give them the autonomy they crave, the mastery they yearn for, and the purpose that satisfies their deepest desires.

Drive Book by Daniel H Pink

7. The Truth About Leadership

Author: James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner
Publication Year: 2016

The Truth About Leadership is a comprehensive and practical guide to leadership. It is based on the authors’ decades of experience working with leaders around the world.

It expresses 10 timeless truths about leadership that hold constant regardless of context or circumstance. These truths are:

  1. Leaders make a difference.
  2. Credibility is the foundation of leadership.
  3. Values drive leadership behavior.
  4. Future focus and positive intent are distinguishing characteristics of outstanding leaders.
  5. You can’t do it alone-the best leaders are team builders.
  6. Trust is the glue that holds organizations together.
  7. Challenge is what makes leaders great.
  8. Lead by example.
  9. Learners are the best leaders.
  10. Leading from the heart is what leadership is all about.

The Truth About Leadership is a must-read for anyone who wants to engage timeless leadership wisdom. For project managers, it is especially relevant because it helps you understand the principles that drive successful leadership.

The Truth About Leadership Book

Article Summary

If you want to grow as a project manager, you have to continuously work on your leadership skills. Books have always been one of the best ways to develop yourself. After all, some of the most successful people in the world are avid readers.

So many roadblocks and challenges come up during projects, which is why not only do you need a good strategy but also good leadership skills to navigate them. The abovementioned books are some of the best ones out there when it comes to developing your leadership skills. You can use them to become a better project manager and leader for your team.

The 7 books reviewed in this article are:

  1. Start With Why by Simon Sinek
  2. First Break All the Rules by Jim Harter
  3. Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
  4. The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhuo
  5. Dare to Lead by Brene Brown
  6. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink
  7. The Truth About Leadership by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

Each book offers a different perspective on leadership, but all of them are essential reads if you want to become a better leader. You’ll find practical advice and tips that you can apply in your work as a project manager.


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