The Top 20 Leadership Books: What To Give First To A New Manager

Eighteen months ago, I posted the question “What’s The First Leadership Book You Would Give To a New Manager?” within the discussion forum for the LinkedIn group Linked 2 Leadership.

That question generated 603 comments and 690 recommendations.  Some people suggested more than one book.  Some during the course of the 18 months made the same book recommendations a couple times.  And, the group discussion continues to be one of the most active still today.
In early November 2011, group member Len White graciously culled through the comments using his company’s Symphony Content Analysis Software that assists with the organization, analysis, and reporting of themes contained in text data.
And here are the results:
·    412 different/unique books were recommended

·    The Top 20 recommended books, collectively, received 250 of the total recommendations

·    Two authors – Stephen R. Covey and John C. Maxwell each have two books in the Top 20

·    Group members recommended other things instead of giving a book about leadership to a new manager, such as:

o   Interviewing everyone in the company with whom they will directly work

o   Giving a book about management first

o   Mentoring the person for a period of time before recommending a leadership book 
And, unlike a question about “What is Your Favorite Leadership Book,” the question this time asked what is the first book you would give to a new manager.

The Top 20 Books are:
  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
  2. Leadership and Self-Deception – Arbinger Institute
  3. The One Minute Manager – Kenneth H. Blanchard
  4. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership – John C. Maxwell
  5. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Lencioni
  6. First Break All the Rules – Marcus Buckingham
  7. The Leadership Challenge – Jim Kouzes
  8. The First 90 Days – Michael Watkins
  9. How to Win Friends and Influence People– Dale Carnegie
  10. Good to Great – Jim Collins
  11. It’s Your Ship – Michael Abrashoff
  12. The Speed of Trust – Stephen R. Covey
  13. Developing the Leader Within You – John C. Maxwell
  14. Who Moved My Cheese – Spencer Johnson
  15. Don’t Bring it to Work – Sylvia Lafair
  16. Leaders Without Borders – Doug Dickerson
  17. Leadership and the One Minute Manager – Kenneth H. Blanchard
  18. On Becoming a Leader – Warren Bennis
  19. The Anatomy of Peace – Arbinger Institute
  20. The Art of Possibility – Benjamin Zander and Rosamund  Stone Zander
Within the Top 35 list of the book recommendations, you’ll find four more John C. Maxwell books, including:
·        The 360 Degree Leader

·        Developing the Leaders Around  You

·        Failing Forward

·        Leadership 101
The authors and leadership book publishers most discussed within the group forum have been:
·        Dale Carnegie

·        Jim Collins

·        Jim Kouzes

·        John C. Maxwell

·        Kenneth H. Blanchard

·        Marcus Buckingham

·        Michael Watkins

·        Patrick Lencioni

·        Stephen R. Covey

·        Arbinger Institute
Group discussion participants are clearly inspired by a wide variety of books – biographies, autobiographies, books backed by research and academia, books made famous by the popular press, books by motivation speakers, and books by professionals eager to share their personal and professional leadership success stories, tips and suggestions.
Finally, the book I recommended, The Leadership Test, by Timothy R. Clark made it within the Top 35.
Thanks to all the group members who made recommendations and to Tom Schulte, Executive Director of Linked 2 Leadership, and the owner and moderator for the LinkedIn group, Linked 2 Leadership, which has 19,678 members.
Note:  Symphony Content Analysis Software is designed and published by Active Java.


  1. Eric, this is a great list. I've read most. How to Win Friends and Influence People is at the top of mine. Also, Leadership & Self Deception was one of the most impactful ones I read in 2012. Here is the list I created:

  2. Eric...Thank You for putting these up.

    Now I want to go back and read again a couple of them. Thanks to you...I will grow via a refresher.

    Another truly real winner of a book is "THE POWER OF WHO" written by Bob Beaudine. Subtitled... 'You already know everybody you need to know'

    The book website is:

    Bob's book I given to 5 or 6 people. Four of them got jobs via the books concept and message. Another women signed a $5M contract because she used 'the power' of 'WHO' in her life.

    See and hear Bob's style at:


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