6 books every Leader should read

Photo by Morgan Harper Nichols on Unsplash

Everyone has a list of books that for some reason work better than others. This is mine.

The idea behind this post is to share a short list of books that will cover a broad domain of skills every leader should have.

From being able to listen, to understanding why your team exists, the sum of these books will make you a better leader for your team and a better professional.

Let’s dive right in.

Start with Why — Simon Sinek — book cover

Start With Why

Simon Sinek

The role of a leader is not to come up with all the great ideas. The role of a leader is to create an environment in which great ideas can happen.

“Start with Why” is one of those books that if you haven’t read, you need to stop what you’re doing and go read it.

The idea is quite simple. Great brands and great ideas don’t start with the what or the how. They start with why.

Only by diving deep into the why, to the visceral reasoning behind why you should do something or why that product will be life-changing, do you reach the full potential of the idea.

From a leader’s perspective, sitting down with your team and brainstorming on the why of your team, of your product will create connections that will act as the foundations of your team’s culture.

Personally, I listened to the audiobook and to the TED talk but the content resonated so much with me that the framework now acts as a base for much of what I do.

Show Your Work — Austin Kleon— book cover

Show Your Work

Austin Kleon

Make stuff you love and talk about stuff you love and you’ll attract people who love that kind of stuff. It’s that simple.

This has weirdly become one of the most influential books in my adult life.

In “Show Your Work”, Kleon makes a case for why you should build in public and share your journey.

Nothing is more powerful than a story and being able to share your story as you build is at the end of the line priceless.

We no longer live in a world where you’re confined to your street, your city and your country. We live in a connected world where you will find people that love the same things you do, and that want to talk about the same things you do.

So share your journey, your successes, and your failures. Open yourself to the possibility of a connected tribe and where you’ll grow as part of the community.

Something that really resonated with me was the idea that if you share your journey and build a community, you’ll get to a point where when you apply for a job, your community and your journey speak louder than any CV.

To me as a leader, being able to put myself out there is key and it’s something I always advise. I grew as a writer, I grew as a speaker and as an overall communicator.

It takes discipline but it’s a great way to lead by example.

Atomic Habits — James Clear — Book Cover

Atomic Habits

James Clear

You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.

If there’s a book that has risen the ranks in the Productivity section I would say that it’s Atomic Habits.

I remember listening to the audiobook while driving and was amazed at how the simple, almost common sense advice was blowing my mind. So much that I read the book afterwards to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

Clear helps you lay the groundwork to start new habits, piggybacking on existing ones, and create systems that create a profound change in your life.

As a leader, this book really helped me create better systems that I still use today like daily notes, journaling and templates that help me get my day going much faster.

I feel that every single person in the world should read this book, especially around December 31st, when so many write down wishes that will be forgotten a couple of weeks after.

Atomic Habits will, if you really want to, help you create new habits. It will help you find the time in the busiest of schedules and imprint in your deepest root a new way of approaching a problem.

The Coaching Habit — Michael Stanier — Book Cover

The Coaching Habit

Michael Stanier

If this were a haiku rather than a book, it would read: Tell less and ask more. Your advice is not as good As you think it is.

I read The Coaching Habit earlier this year and it resonated so much with me that it just went up through the ranks into the Top 5.

Stanier writes this book with a thought in mind. Stop answering the questions you ask. Stop giving advice when it’s not asked. Create the space for the person to come up with their answer and guide them through their thought process.

As a leader, this book is a must-read. It will give you the foundations for every coaching and mentoring session, and it will help you redefine how you assemble and conduct your one-on-one sessions.

One thing that I really enjoyed in the book was when Stanier dives a bit into Neuroscience with the TERA model. The idea is that our brain continuously scans its surrounding environment to make sure it’s in a safe condition.

The TERA model allows you to reassess your work relations and in many cases understand why stressful relationships exist. If you want to know more about the TERA model you can check my follow-up on my newsletter here: https://aleadersmindset.substack.com/p/-back-to-basics

Can’t Hurt Me — David Goggins — Book Cover

Can’t Hurt Me

David Goggins

You are in danger of living a life so comfortable and soft, that you will die without ever realizing your true potential.

This is a personal preference. To me, it shows the surreal amount of effort and beating our bodies are capable of withstanding.

David Goggins is a beast of a man, with a terrible childhood and a frame of mind unique to David Goggins.

As a leader, this book motivated me to go a bit further. To understand that most of the time we never leave our comfort zone.

This book is not for everyone. Even for me, the first chapters were quite harsh. But sticking to it led me to discover a superhuman being, a physical specimen that I can’t even begin to comprehend.

I’m sure Goggins has a bunch of faults, but through his journey, I felt shocked and inspired. Perhaps you will feel the same.

Radical Candor — Kim Scott — Book Cover

Radical Candor

Kim Scott

Make sure that you are seeing each person on your team with fresh eyes every day. People evolve, and so your relationships must evolve with them. Care personally; don’t put people in boxes and leave them there.

This was going to be a Top 5 book list every leader should read, but how can I do a list like this and not include Radical Candor?

This is a key book for every single manager and individual contributor out there.

Throughout the book, you’ll understand the importance of feedback, and how to provide good feedback independent of the content.

As a leader, it’s crucial for me that I, as well as my teams, can provide good, actionable feedback to each other. Only by doing this do we build better teams with even better professionals.

I think this book is great for everyone to understand that they’re not perfect. You might be the best at what you do technically, but if you show no empathy and are plain rude in your interactions you will only diminish the impact that you can make.

Did you read any of the books here? What do you think of them?

What are your top 5 books?

Thank you for reaching all the way to the end and I’ll see you next time 😉




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Luís Parada

Luís Parada


I help you become a better Engineering Leader through a culture of empowerment, feedback and accountability.