The best genre-busting books on global leadership capabilities needed now

Why am I passionate about this?

Currently a Professor of Leadership and Strategy at Hult, I’ve been on the faculties of other top business schools, and an executive officer of a NASDAQ company. I’ve led “new to the world” technology projects and advised CXOs of global companies. These experiences convinced me that poor leadership is the biggest reason organizational initiatives fail. Two decades ago, I switched from being a technology scholar; I began researching leadership and writing for practitioners, not academics. My first book was on a 2009 “best business books” list. This one is in Sloan Management Review’s Management on the Cutting Edge series—books that its editors believe will influence executive behavior.


I wrote...

Leading in the Digital World: How to Foster Creativity, Collaboration, and Inclusivity

By Amit S. Mukherjee,

Book cover of Leading in the Digital World: How to Foster Creativity, Collaboration, and Inclusivity

What is my book about?

My book is about leadership in the 21st century. Consider one (of several) reasons why leadership is neither timeless nor universal. Today’s digital technologies distribute work over time and across geography. So, leaders must bring together diverse peoples, not just those who are like themselves. Leadership norms formulated in the mid-20th century when only some men could be leaders don’t address this reality of broader distribution of power among women and people of other ethnicities and backgrounds.

The book’s insights from global leaders, stories from leading-edge companies, and peer-reviewed research led to a Publishers Weekly review that said, Among the welter of books … Mukherjee's swiftly executed, neatly encapsulated view of digital changes' impact on business is specifically focused enough to deliver value.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Mind's I: Fantasies And Reflections On Self & Soul

Amit S. Mukherjee Why did I love this book?

To the best of my recollection, the word ‘leadership’ doesn’t appear in this book.

Yet, since I first encountered it in a Harvard Business School doctoral seminar on leadership—and ignored numerous assignments because I couldn’t put it down—I have recommended it to countless professionals.

Too often, leadership is presented as a disembodied (cap)ability, unmoored from its organizational context.

Philosopher Hofstadter and computer scientist Dennett’s remarkable collection of articles includes both fairy tales (yes!) and Alan Turing’s essay defining artificial intelligence. Collectively, they explore not just the “self and soul” in the sub-title but also how humans interact with organizations and technology.

This book taught me leadership isn’t about being a puppeteer. Each of the newest developments in artificial intelligence has reminded me that I must re-read this book.

By Douglas Hofstadter, Daniel Dennett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mind's I as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With contributions from Jorge Luis Borges, Richard Dawkins, John Searle, and Robert Nozick, The Mind's I explores the meaning of self and consciousness through the perspectives of literature, artificial intelligence, psychology, and other disciplines. In selections that range from fiction to scientific speculations about thinking machines, artificial intelligence, and the nature of the brain, Hofstadter and Dennett present a variety of conflicting visions of the self and the soul as explored through the writings of some of the twentieth century's most renowned thinkers.


Book cover of Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis

Amit S. Mukherjee Why did I love this book?

Regardless of all else they do, leaders make decisions.

This book analyzes the October 1962 crisis that almost caused a nuclear war. Entwining theory and empirical evidence, it dissects decision-making at three levels. The first is the style books and movies adopt: “This great man saved…” (Isn’t it almost always about men?).

Noting this approach’s flaws, it retells the story discussing why processes in organizations (like the different branches of the government—or companies) “see” “reality” in ways that preclude sharp changes in desired outcomes.

Finally, it addresses how and why negotiation and politics shape outcomes, and why a leader’s ability to persuade is vitally important.

If you’ve ever wondered why even “good” leaders ignore “obvious” facts, or make decisions that have predictably terrible consequences, read this book.

By Graham T. Allison, Philip Zelikow,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Essence of Decision as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most influental political science works written in the post World War II era, the original edition of Essence of Decision is a unique and fascinating examination of the pivotal event of the cold Cold War. Not simply revised, but completely re-written, the Second Edition of this classic text is a fresh reinterpretation of the theories and events surrounding the Cuban Missle Crisis, incorporating all new information from the Kennedy tapes and recently declassified Soviet files. Essence of Decision Second Edition, is a vivid look at decision-making under pressure and is the only single volume work that attempts…


Book cover of The Evolution of Cooperation

Amit S. Mukherjee Why did I love this book?

Read this book if you say, “Let’s find a win-win solution.”

Sadly, most aspiring leaders misuse and abuse the term “win-win.” Instead of considering it a strategic option that should be thoughtfully applied, they treat it as a moral virtue. They then espouse win-win while striving for what I call “win-no-lose”—the hope that “we” win but “they” don’t realize they lost.

This makes building coalitions and collaborating terribly difficult precisely at the time in history when we desperately need to do these well. The book is full of surprising insights (like why turning the other cheek—advocated by most religions—doesn’t work).

It also teaches (aspiring) leaders how a critical mass of people who believe in cooperation can transform their organizations even if their peers don’t agree with them.

By Robert Axelrod,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Evolution of Cooperation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This widely praised and much-discussed book explores how cooperation can emerge in a world of self-seeking egoistswhether superpowers, businesses, or individualswhen there is no central authority to police their actions..


Book cover of Unlocking Creativity: How to Solve Any Problem and Make the Best Decisions by Shifting Creative Mindsets

Amit S. Mukherjee Why did I love this book?

I often pose a simple thought experiment: “How many renowned 20th century CEOs created something new to the world? Now, how may renowned 21st century CEOs haven’t done so?”

The answer, in both cases, is near zero. Our organizations are moving from being productivity-focused (doing more with less) to creativity-focused (giving form to something that doesn’t exist). Most managers and aspiring leaders are clueless about this profound change even though they will probably fail if they don’t make this shift.

Roberto argues that six flawed beliefs—such as in benchmarking and in focused execution—preclude creativity and provides tools to help reinvent moribund organizations.

By Michael A. Roberto,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Unlocking Creativity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tear down the obstacles to creative innovation in your organization

Unlocking Creativity is an exploration of the creative process and how organizations can clear the way for innovation. In many organizations, creative individuals face stubborn resistance to new ideas. Managers and executives oftentimes reject innovation and unconventional approaches due to misplaced allegiance to the status quo. Questioning established practices or challenging prevailing sentiments is frequently met with stiff resistance. In this climate of stifled creativity and inflexible adherence to conventional wisdom, potentially game-changing ideas are dismissed outright. Senior leaders claim to value creativity, yet often lack the knowledge to provide…


Book cover of Thinking, Fast and Slow

Amit S. Mukherjee Why did I love this book?

On spotting an unidentifiable object on the African Savanna, a human ancestor would have been better off assuming it was a cheetah and escaping.

The alternative—staying in place while pondering whether it was merely a rock—could have killed him. Nobel Laurette Kahneman’s easy-to-read bestselling book argues that unsurprisingly, the modern human brain has evolved to “think fast” most of the time (“System 1”).

However, to make sense of the Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA) modern world, humans must engage their thoughtful System 2 brains so they can “think slow.”

Aspiring leaders who don’t master these widely accepted ideas from brain science will almost inevitably rely largely on System 1 thinking and make disastrous decisions.

By Daniel Kahneman,

Why should I read it?

42 authors picked Thinking, Fast and Slow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The phenomenal international bestseller - 2 million copies sold - that will change the way you make decisions

'A lifetime's worth of wisdom' Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics
'There have been many good books on human rationality and irrationality, but only one masterpiece. That masterpiece is Thinking, Fast and Slow' Financial Times

Why is there more chance we'll believe something if it's in a bold type face? Why are judges more likely to deny parole before lunch? Why do we assume a good-looking person will be more competent? The answer lies in the two ways we make choices: fast,…


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Book cover of Act Like an Author, Think Like a Business: Ways to Achieve Financial Literary Success

Joylynn M Ross

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What is my book about?

Act Like an Author, Think Like a Business is for anyone who wants to learn how to make money with their book and make a living as an author. Many authors dive into the literary industry without taking time to learn the business side of being an author, which can hinder book sales and the money that can be made as an author.

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Interested in decision making, cooperation, and creative thinking?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about decision making, cooperation, and creative thinking.

Decision Making Explore 85 books about decision making
Cooperation Explore 18 books about cooperation
Creative Thinking Explore 12 books about creative thinking