The Best Books Every CEO Should Read

Professor Brené Brown has one of the most popular TED talks—on the power of vulnerability. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Teetering on the top rung of the corporate ladder takes skill and guts. A single gust in the form of negative publicity or poor judgment can knock you loose. Unless you actively seek out ways to self-improve amid a changing global economy, you can’t hold on to your position and fulfill your responsibility to the employees and customers who depend on you.

How can you avoid crashing to the ground? Start by engaging in some mind-expanding extracurricular reading. Here are seven excellent books that will help CEOs (and future chief executives) lead with more confidence and skill. Add these titles to your personal library as invaluable resources to inform your professional—and perhaps personal—choices moving forward.

 Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up by Jerry Colonna 

Jerry Colonna opens his book with tough questions regarding your habits, belief systems and weaknesses. He continues this practice of guided self-evaluation after every chapter as he walks with you down the path to achieve inner and outer balance. His Jungian approach mixed with Buddhist touches helps you see why your go-to leadership tenets and behaviors might not match the real you. I relished this opportunity to learn how to bring more of the total “me” to my position.

Unstoppable: A 90-Day Plan to Biohack Your Mind and Body for Success by Ben Angel 

Because I’m new to biohacking, this book has been a revelation. Could nootropics and supplements give me more energy? I’m game to find out. Ben Angel’s own biohacking journey led him to better health, revived mental performance and lowered stress. And I doubt he’s ever going back to his former routine. Even if you don’t plan on following 100% in Angel’s footsteps, you’ll learn to improve your everyday output and mood through straightforward, safe biohacks.

The Messy Marketplace: Selling Your Business in a World of Imperfect Buyers by Brent Beshore 

If you own a business, you may someday wish to sell it—and that’s not exactly a straightforward process. Many leaders forget to manage their expectations when contemplating a future sale. What they need is The Messy Marketplace, which maps out a realistic path for these frequently confusing transitions. I would encourage you to pick up Beshore’s book even if you’re not actively ready to put your business “out there.” I’m not at that point myself, but I’m glad to have been enlightened on this fascinating and often emotionally charged subject.

Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle 

Think a guy who helped build Google, Apple and Intuit (where he was CEO) might have some wisdom to impart to today’s chief executives? Schmidt, Rosenberg and Eagle—and the more than 80 people interviewed in these pages—clearly do. Bill Campbell was revered in Silicon Valley for his ability to promote personal growth even in leaders who were at the top of their career games. After reading Trillion Dollar Coach, you bet I’m embracing Campbell’s principles for producing high-performing teams and changing lives.

Dare to Lead by Brené Brown 

Tenacious and truthful, Brené Brown has risen as a C-suite idol. Her most recent book is an honest look at what it takes to lead with unrepentant authority, bravery and integrity. Yet she doesn’t gloss over the importance of emotions and empathy. Dare to Lead has reignited my desire to become a stronger example for everyone in my sphere of influence. If you’re tired of living with the management status quo, this bestseller will rattle your cage in the best way possible.

Elevate: Push Beyond Your Limits and Unlock Success in Yourself and Others by Robert Glazer 

We all get stuck sometimes: stuck in our careers, stuck in our roles, even stuck in our routines. Elevate will help you break free by exploring and honing your emotional, spiritual, mental and physical capacities. I recommend taking notes after every chapter to remind yourself of what you need to do to become a better version of your current self. Thanks to Robert Glazer, I have a challenging new to-do list that I’m eager to dive into.

It’s the Manager by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter 

Who are the most important employees in your ranks? Gallup’s Jim Clifton and Jim Harter say the honor goes to managers. Unfortunately, we’re not training supervisors in modern ways. This book strives to remedy that problem by delving into the CliftonStrengths assessment as well as providing clever management-training ideas and tons of supporting research. This book is designed as a go-to resource for leaders, so keep it handy as a reference. I know I’ll be coaching my executive clients using Clifton and Harter’s research-backed techniques.

By Rhett Power