Top 5 Must-Read Books for Women Who Want to Lead
Updated: Feb 11
As a Leadership Coach dedicated to helping women be more authentic, confident, and influential in their work and lives, I devour books on leadership. I cannot get enough of them. The second a new bestseller comes out, it’s on my Amazon wish list. Chances are if you can name it, I have read it. Of course, being a Mompreneur means I don’t actually have time to read books. So I’ve learned to listen to them. I listen to audiobooks every chance I get. When I get dressed in the morning, I listen when I take a lunch break, while I’m driving my car, while I make dinner, and when I clean the house. (The last one being the least frequent thing I do.) And did you know that the Kindle Fire will read books to you? This is my new favorite discovery! If a book isn’t published on audible, I listen to it on my Kindle Fire. Now I promise you, this is not a paid post for Amazon. It’s just one of my favorite hacks for balancing it all.
Listening to books helps me get what I need while I’m doing for others. This multitasking satisfies my hyperdrive for productivity. It also nourishes my need for the latest knowledge and insight into leadership, which I crave like its chocolate. So with all that said, of all the leadership books I’ve read, these are the top five women who want to lead must read!
Brené Brown is my leadership guru. She has researched leadership, courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy for twenty years. She has 5 New York Times Best Sellers, and Dare To Lead is her latest book. I love it the most because it includes the essential ideas and lessons from her all of the four previous books and her latest findings and applies them specifically to leadership. We all struggle with shame, doubt, and being vulnerable. Brené Brown provides a new set of tools to help you overcome these feelings and lead with courage. I refer back to it time and time again. I especially love that she narrates her audiobooks, so listening to it is like having Brené Brown personally coach you.
In her introduction, she shares the #1 behavior that leaders worldwide say get in their way: avoiding tough conversations, including giving honest, productive feedback. That’s why the next book is on this list.
Whether it’s a lack of courage, a lack of skills, or the cultural pressure to be “nice” and “likable” that is holding you back from having tough conversations, this book will help. The key to effective leadership is the ability to have productive discussions when the stakes are high and emotions are charged. This requires every tool in the box from self-awareness, group dynamics, vulnerability, courage, active listening, and tactful dialogue. This book will teach you those specific skills and techniques.
Do you know or strongly suspect you make less than your male colleagues? Do you dread being asked your salary requirements in an interview because you know you’re likely to undervalue yourself? I know I have. And I am so grateful to Mika Brzezinski for sharing that even women on-screen struggle with this. She courageously shares her journey from working twice as hard for a whole lot less than her co-host to realizing her worth and demanding it. She openly admits that there is not one specific strategy for women to get paid what they are worth and that we are all navigating this obstacle. So she shares a variety of stories and strategies successful women have used that worked for them. Reading this book will give you confidence and the ability to get paid what you truly deserve.
Who doesn’t love Michelle Obama? Of course, her memoir is inspiring, but not for the reason you might think. My biggest take away from her book, and why I recommend it, is because of one question she asks herself over and over again. “Am I good enough?” That’s right. Even Michelle Obama grapples with self-doubt and worrying if she’s good enough. I found that incredibly liberating! I am so happy to have something in common with Michelle Obama, even if it is imposter syndrome. Now, every time that voice speaks up in my head, I remind myself that even Michelle Obama has that voice, and then it’s full of sh#$%. I acknowledge it, call it what is, a liar, and then tell it to shut up.
Listening to this book is a treat because she narrates it herself. There’s nothing better than hearing someone tell their own story in their own words. I also recommend her companion journal Becoming: A Guide for Discovering Your Voice.
Speaking of telling your own story, this book will show you how to use your life stories to get the results you want. Kindra Hall is an expert storyteller and motivational speaker. I first heard her speak at a conference, then I followed her on social media, and then I read her book. She gives the best examples and formulas for telling compelling stories. More importantly, she teaches how to use them to magically persuade your audience without them even knowing! Learning how to use stories to teach and persuade is a Leadership superpower you definitely want to master. Listening to Kindra Hall is a great way to learn how to write your story and deliver your story. These are two distinct skills that will help you become an engaging public speaker and effective influencer. You can listen to Kindra Hall tell her stories with the audiobook.