The best books about leadership that don’t have leadership in the title

Who am I?

I am a lifelong educator who believes that everyone can create a better future by changing behaviors, practicing leadership skills, and improving outcomes across time and place—at home, work, and community. If you believe in lifelong learning, join me in elevating the courage, capacity, and wisdom of people everywhere through Choosing Leadership. This book is an accessible, educational tool that provides a structured approach combining individual written reflection with discussion to create collective wisdom in groups. Together, we can change the global conversation about leadership—from heroic mythic beings called “Leaders” to diverse human beings that I call “Champions.”

I wrote...

Choosing Leadership: How to Create a Better Future by Building Your Courage, Capacity, and Wisdom

By Linda Ginzel,

Book cover of Choosing Leadership: How to Create a Better Future by Building Your Courage, Capacity, and Wisdom

What is my book about?

The bestselling original edition of Choosing Leadership was used by a diverse group of people practicing its lessons across a wide range of personal and professional contexts. This revised and expanded edition now includes Leadership Modules that guide the reader in how to use the book to teach and learn together with a group. The modules include links to online instructional videos and provide step-by-step guidance to create group experiences designed to enable reflection, explore ideas, enhance self-understanding and confidence. These group experiences create collective wisdom and encourage people to make better and more thoughtful choices. Through individual written reflection and peer discussions, readers learn how to coach themselves and others while practicing leadership skills.

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The books I picked & why

Stumbling on Happiness

By Daniel Gilbert,

Book cover of Stumbling on Happiness

Why did I love this book?

The amazing social psychologist, Dan Gilbert, beautifully wrote this positive psychology book in 2007; it remains my favorite to this day.

I remember a friend excitedly telling me that she discovered this book and because of it, she finally understands happiness! Gilbert’s insights help all of us on the road to becoming our future selves. That’s what leadership development is all about.

By Daniel Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Stumbling on Happiness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bringing to life scientific research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, and behavioral economics, this bestselling book reveals what scientists have discovered about the uniquely human ability to imagine the future, and about our capacity to predict how much we will like it when we get there. 

• Why are lovers quicker to forgive their partners for infidelity than for leaving dirty dishes in the sink?

• Why will sighted people pay more to avoid going blind than blind people will pay to regain their sight?

• Why do dining companions insist on ordering different meals instead of getting what they…

Book cover of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Why did I love this book?

My students have often thanked me for assigning this book.

After reading the chapter on “Commitment,” one remarked excitedly: “I finally understand my mother!” Bob Cialdini is a social psychologist whose principles of social influence have helped generations of readers learn how to move people in their direction. 

The task of leadership is to create a better future; it is a social influence process that engages hearts and minds. 

By Robert B. Cialdini,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked Influence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The foundational and wildly popular go-to resource for influence and persuasion-a renowned international bestseller, with over 5 million copies sold-now revised adding: new research, new insights, new examples, and online applications.

In the new edition of this highly acclaimed bestseller, Robert Cialdini-New York Times bestselling author of Pre-Suasion and the seminal expert in the fields of influence and persuasion-explains the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these insights ethically in business and everyday settings. Using memorable stories and relatable examples, Cialdini makes this crucially important subject surprisingly easy. With Cialdini as a guide, you don't have…

Book cover of Power: Why Some People Have It-and Others Don't

Why did I love this book?

I have read most every book written by the wise and prolific scholar Jeff Pfeffer. 

I often return to a chapter from this book titled: "The Costs of Power." Among his many warnings about the trappings of power is this one, attributed to Jim March: “You can have autonomy or status, but not both.” 

This is a profound juxtaposition to consider when making leadership choices.

By Jeffrey Pfeffer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Over decades of consulting with corporations and the people who run them and 30 years teaching MBA students the nuances of organisational power, Jeffrey Pfeffer has watched numerous people suffer career reversals even as others prevail despite the odds. The most common mistake: most of us don't have a realistic understanding of what makes some people more successful than others. We tend to subscribe to the just world phenomenon, believing that life is fair, rendering us unprepared for the challenges and competition of the real world. Now, Pfeffer brings decades of research and incredible insights to a wide audience. Brimming…


By Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein,

Book cover of Nudge

Why did I love this book?

This is the quintessential behavioral economics book by The University of Chicago’s most dynamic duo.

Leadership is all about change and Nudge (not to be confused with the Yiddish word, Noogde) has done more than most any other book to change both the academic world of economics and global practices.

The application of social psychology at the individual, group, and organizational levels is the magic behind the new field of behavioral economics. 

By Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Nudge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*Once again a New York Times bestseller! First the original edition, and now the new Final Edition*

An essential new edition revised and updated from cover to cover of one of the most important books of the last two decades, by Nobel Prize winner Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein

More than 2 million copies sold

Since the original publication of Nudge more than a decade ago, the title has entered the vocabulary of businesspeople, policy makers, engaged citizens, and consumers everywhere. The book has given rise to more than 400 "nudge units" in governments around the world and…

Book cover of How to Win Friends and Influence People

Why did I love this book?

When my cousin was visiting from Korea, he told me that reading this book changed his life.

Years later, my youngest son discovered this book in high school and it quickly became a must-read for our entire family. Dale Carnegie started the first American leadership development movement, and his book continues to serve as the vehicle for success.

Since it was originally published in 1936, it has sold over 30 million copies in more than thirty languages. This is an enduring testament to its value for all readers who believe in lifelong learning. To quote John F. Kennedy, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

By Dale Carnegie,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked How to Win Friends and Influence People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Millions of people around the world have - and continue to - improve their lives based on the teachings of Dale Carnegie. In How to Win Friends and Influence People Carnegie offers practical advice and techniques, in his exuberant and conversational style, for how to get out of a mental rut and make life more rewarding.

His advice has stood the test of time and will teach you how to:
- make friends quickly and easily
- increase your popularity
- win people to your way of thinking
- enable you to win new clients and customers
- become a…

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Interested in success in life, persuasion, and decision making?

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