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Challenge the Status Quo: Recommended Leadership Books for Managers Who Want to Drive Change

Challenge the Status Quo: Recommended Leadership Books for Managers Who Want to Drive Change

I have had more than a few present and past employees ask me for recommendations of books (I’m a voracious reader) to make them better at their jobs — and at life — so here is my ever-evolving list of must-reads, by category.

ALSO — I use Blinkist instead of scrolling social media. Collect books on topics you like and if you find them intriguing you, you can always buy them or check them out at the library for a deep dive.

Version 1: 4/25/2023

I also have a little blog where I make notes for myself when a book particularly speaks to me so people can get a deep dive: check out KMac Book Notes

Image of a thin woman, wearing a brown pleated skirt and white shirt but it’s a planter where here waist would be and a green plant is coming out of it. An I don’t think she likes it. Pink background. AI art through Bing is nooooot the best.
This woman’s losing her head over personal growth — don’t let it happen to you.

You: We should always start with you. Until YOU fix YOU, you can’t be a good leader. It’s a process, so while you are always working on it, understanding that you need to work on it, and communicating this is step one. Here’s some books to get you going.

  • A New Earth: Fuses all of the world’s wisdom traditions into something anyone can use to improve themselves and feel more joy and comfort in their skin.
  • Burnout: you’re going to need to be pretty liberal (and probably a woman) to get everything out of this because it’s written with a heavy bias. But here’s the thing — the title isn’t right. This is about how patriarchy drives us (all of us)to max ourselves out, and tools to do something about it.
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People: I think all this started with this book for me. I read it in high school and I never stopped with the self work and mastery of these topics.
  • The Dip: This book’s concepts got me through some tough times. Godin has always proven to be right — if I just hang on a little more and get just a little better while I do it . . . success will come. And if I don’t want to, it’s time to quit.
  • Daring Greatly: Brown’s “Clear is kind” is such a mantra within my company, people think I made it up. I didn’t.
  • People’s History of the United States: Okay, this is on here because when I came across it and read it, I was forced to realize how much I’d been indoctrinated and how much I needed to question why I believed what I was always told against my better instincts. Indigenous People’s History is also amazing if you like this one. Also, Strong Towns.
  • $100 Startup: Full disclosure, I’m in this book briefly, for crowdfunding before it was a thing. BUT, if you need to see nontraditional ways to do things you believe in, this is the way. Then, check out 4-Hour Work Week, which is not really all that useful in practice but again can blow your mind open about what is possible.


  • Nonviolent Communication: Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness: As a leader, it’s important to create a culture of psychological safety where team members can be their authentic selves and express their vulnerabilities without fear of judgment or punishment. This can lead to increased trust, creativity, and innovation in the workplace.
  • Never Split the Difference: Caveat, don’t get too into this author if you like me, I was disappointed to find, that while I loved this book and found it instructive, I found he was part of the bro-culture I really didn’t want to be a part of.
  • Enchantment: influence and persuade others through building trust, rapport, and credibility.

Management / Politics:

  • Better to Win: Bill Wong shows you how things get done when you’re the underdog.
  • Fix This Next: identify the most critical issues in your company and provide a framework for prioritizing and addressing them to achieve long-term success. Use it for your basic life, too.
  • 48 Laws of Power: Even if you don’t want to seize power, you need to know what you’re dealing with. History is no better teacher. While we’re at it, Laws of Human Nature, too.

Business Skills

  • Personal MBA: So, I didn’t come to business honestly, but accidentally, and I’ve always felt like I was missing out on that MBA but as time has gone on, I think maybe not. Then I find this book and that affirms it and fills everything in I might be missing.
  • The Strategy and Tactics of Pricing: It’s not all feel. Know why you’re doing things when you do them.
  • How to Read a Financial Report: Don’t be fooled, financial literacy is for everyone.
  • Guerilla Marketing: Every time I give this book a read, I come up with something so brilliant, I win some kind of industry recognition for it.
  • Masters of Scale: I read this book and I wish I’d read it 5 years ago, or make that ten. Everything in it I’ve now learned the hard way. Wish someone had told me.







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