The Five Best Leadership Books for New Leaders

This list of the five best leadership books for new leaders does not contain any educational leadership books. Instead, it contains five books that we think all new leaders should read, regardless of what setting they work in. Should we continue to study educational leadership to upgrade our practice as school leaders? Absolutely. However, the fundamentals of leadership are universal, and that is why we think this is a great place to start for any new or aspiring school leaders looking for a great book to read.

Legacy by James Kerr

This is probably my favorite leadership book of all time, and it is definitely the book that I have gifted most often to new leaders. it’s a no-brainer when someone is looking for a leadership book recommendation. In this book, Kerr shares the secrets that make the “All Blacks” the most successful sports franchise of all time. The lessons in this book are transferrable across any organization. If you can develop a “sweep the sheds” mentality, the book will be worth the time it takes for you to read it.

The Dichotomy of Leadership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

This is the sequel to Extreme Ownership, which is an outstanding book in its own right. As school leaders, we are constantly being pulled in different directions, and we have to learn how to navigate these situations and make decisions effectively. There are times to lead, and there are times to follow. Jocko and Leif dive into the skills that we need to help our schools (or any organization) be successful. If you want an even better treat, I’d suggest listening to this book on Audible. I listened to both of these books, and hearing Jocko and Leif illustrate these leadership lessons through their experiences as Navy Seals was intense. I highly recommend it.

Good to Great by Jim Collins

This one should be on every “best leadership books for new leaders” list that exists. I don’t know if I have met a strong leader that doesn’t have this book on their shelf. It is one of those definitive leadership books that everyone needs to read. As school leaders, it’s not good enough to be just good enough. We want to lead great schools because our students and our teachers deserve it. In this book, Jim Collins shares what he learned while studying companies that were able to make the shift from good to great and sustain their greatness over time. If you don’t own this book, don’t think twice about it. Go ahead and buy it.

Multipliers by Liz Wiseman

The best leaders multiply the talent and intelligence of the people on their teams and in their organizations. Does that sound like instructional leadership to you? These leaders are “multipliers,” and throughout the book, Liz Wiseman shows us how we can be that type of leader.

Think Again by Adam Grant

“If knowledge is power, knowing what we don’t know is wisdom.” This was my favorite read of 2021. Adam Grant helps us take a deep look at our currently held beliefs and opinions. He shows us the power of curiosity. Most importantly, he shows us how to be lifelong learners. We have to make a lot of decisions as school leaders. In order to make great decisions, we have to be curious, and we cannot lean on the way we’ve always thought about something. If we want to be better and do better for our students and teachers, we have to think better. This book helps us do that.

Looking for more book recommendations? Check out my 5 Best Communication Books for Assistant Principals.

“I Don’t Have Time to Read…”

Leaders are readers. There’s no getting around that. However, if you are like me, finding time to read can sometimes be challenging. When I find myself in the middle of some of our busiest seasons, I try to stay sharp by listening to audiobooks on Audible. This allows me to learn during my drive to work and during my workouts. It’s been a great way for me to make time for learning when there is little time to be made. If you haven’t used Audible before, you can try it free for 30 days. I have a “Premium Plus” subscription, which gives me one credit per month to be used on any title Audible offers. I have found that to be just about right for my needs. It has helped me take away the excuse of “I don’t have time to read.”

If you are looking for more resources to help you develop your skills and increase your impact, you might be interested in our free newsletter for new and aspiring school leaders.

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