14 Books on Leadership Every Young Entrepreneur Should Read

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There are a great many business books out there on everything from marketing and brand building to stories of the life and times of some great business person. For better or for worse, these books often shape the past, present and future generations of entrepreneurs.

reading book

We asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invitation-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs, this question:

“What business book do you recommend for improving management leadership?”

From Dan Kennedy’s “No BS Ruthless Management,” to “Switch” by Chip and Dan Heath, to Eric Reis’ “Lean Startup,” here are 14 books on leadership every young entrepeneur should read.

1. Good to Great

Good to Great by Jim Collins is one of the more exciting pieces of literature available on improving management leadership, and how businesses can be good, but how they can be exceptional and rise above the competition.” ~ Danny WongBlank Label Group, Inc.

2. Anything You Want

“In my opinion, Derek Sivers‘s book Anything You Want was the best of the year. He writes about his atypical approach to management and leadership that will open any entrepreneur up to new ideas and possibilities.” ~ Logan Lenz, Endagon

3. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell breaks leadership down into bite-size stages that can take anyone from novice to the highest level of leadership, while also inspiring others and molding them into great leaders. The book makes the difficult path to becoming a great leader seem both clear and attainable. I find myself rereading this book every year as I grow as a leader.” ~ Jason Evanish, Greenhorn Connect

4. Quiet Leadership

“In his book Quiet Leadership, David Rock shows aspiring leaders the most important skill they can possess—how to empower their employees to identify their own thinking processes and take responsibility for finding their own solutions to day-to-day problems.” ~ Alexia Vernon, Catalyst for Action

5. The One Minute Manager

“From Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, The One Minute Manager is an absolute classic that teaches how to inspire employees to manage themselves, which allows you to focus more on leadership. It can also be read in about an hour so you can get back to managing (and it will actually get read)!” ~ Scott Dinsmore, Live Your Legend & Cumbre Capital

6. No BS Ruthless Management

“If you really want to learn how to manage your team and your business and lead your company to the top of your market, No BS Ruthless Management by Dan Kennedy is a must-read. In it, you will find real world examples, tips and scenarios that you can apply instantly into your business.” ~ Greg Rollett, The ProductPros

7. Taking People With You

“If you want to improve your leadership skills, then you should read David Novak’s new book called Taking People With You. The book teaches leaders and managers how to set big goals, get people to work together, and achieve real business results in the process.” ~ Dan Schawbel, Millennial Branding

8. The Lean Startup

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries is the greatest business book. A must-read for any manager or leader. It teaches you how to build a company and focus on the key aspects that will make it successful. It dives deep into case studies and walks you through exactly what to do. It kills startup myths and gives you specific tactics to help you dominate.” ~ Rishi Shah, Flying Cart LLC

9. Truth About Managing Effectively

“The Truth About Managing Effectively, written by Robbins, Fyock and Finney, covers everything—from motivation and engagement to leadership and communication. It provides the knowledge on how to find and keep the right people, regardless of your budget or industry.” ~ Heather Huhman, Come Recommended

10. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath outlines how behavior change is made—by making people want to change themselves instead of enforcing top-down decisions. Getting your team on board and excited is one of the most important skills of a great leader.” ~ Laura Roeder, LKR

11. Heavy Hitter Selling

“Ostensibly a book about sales, Steve W. Martin includes a great amount of nuggets for leaders in Heavy Hitter Selling. He’s taught at Cal and USC, and has sold to many Fortune 500 companies. He dives deep into leadership communication, managing up, and more.” ~ Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

12. Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us

“If you want to create a mission-driven movement, in Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us, Seth Godin shares how to create something that people truly want to get behind. The book gives amazing case studies of people who have created empires by leading their employees to lead thousands of raving fans.” ~ Matt Wilson, Under30CEO.com

13. Strategic Leadership: The General’s Art

“Edited by Mark Grandstaff and Georgia Sorenson, Strategic Leadership: The General’s Art is a must-read for entrepreneurs looking to improve their management leadership. It provides the keys to leadership success shared by America’s senior military leaders and experts in strategic leadership, critical thinking, and corporate culture. It also provides practical exercises to help put the strategic theories into action.” ~ Anthony Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings

14. The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else

“Being a great leader means filling your team with the best people. I just read The Rare Find by George Anders about how to spot exceptional hires. It uses techniques and case studies—from army recruiting and NBA scouting to top level executive hires. I have used a lot of the ideas to refine my hiring strategy which will hopefully fill my team with judicious choices as we grow!” ~ Vanessa Nornberg, Metal Mafia

Reading Photo via Shutterstock


The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

27 Reactions
  1. Great article and recommendations. I would also recommend “Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh (for explaining how culture and passion are important elements of success) and “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne (for explaining the importance of innovation and differentiation to business success).

  2. I highly recommend Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki it is phenomenal. Every business owner NEEDS to read this book.

  3. Great list! I will check out, Taking People With You!

  4. Simon Sinek’s Start With Why really resonated with me. His TED Talk was pretty awesome too! http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html

  5. And now I have a reading list! Thanks for that.

  6. Great list! A few new one’s on my wishlist now. A favourite of mine is ‘Do the Work’ by Steven Pressfield, it really hits the spot quickly. I have heard that his book ‘The War of Art’ is also really good.

  7. 18 Minutes Peter Bregman is aldo a must.

  8. Great list of books. I would add:
    1-Peak:how great companies got their mojo from Maslow
    2-Delivering Happiness
    3- Toward a psychology of beinging
    These books will help you become an entrepreneur while you build happiness in your life and those around you

  9. Great list, I’ve read two on the list. Loved good to great. Need to check out some of the others.

  10. Great list. I’d add Linchpin–Seth Godin–and The Business of Happiness–Ted Leonsis.

  11. This a great list. I would also add:

    Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High
    by Kerry Patterson, Ron McMillan, Joseph Grenny, Al Switzler

    Death by Meeting and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

    The Carrot Principle: How the Best Managers Use Recognition to Engage Their Employees, Retain Talent, and Drive Performance by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

  12. Think and Grow Rich
    Master Key to Riches
    The Slight Edge
    The Magic of Thinking Big
    How To Win Friends and Influence People

  13. “The Millionaire Fastlane” by M.J. DeMarco is a must read for anyone who is feeling a bit depressed regarding his/her entrepreneur journey.

  14. One book I always recommend to my executive coaching clients is to read “The Purple cow” by Seth Godin. To succeed, you must be unique in how you do what you do.

  15. I just recently came across the book “The Leadership Workbook: A Practical Guide to Self-Development for Emerging Young Leaders” on Amazon. It is currently in e-book format but will also be released in hard copy soon. There is a good balance between text and written work and it is designed specifically for young leaders. I felt that the sections were extremely relevant to business and appreciated the fact that there was a lot of information regarding leadership in organizations and in the business world. Highly recommended.

  16. This is a great list – I included several of yours in my list [edited by Editor]

  17. I would add The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership

    Read more: http://www.istumbledupon.com/the-prime-ministers-an-intimate-narrative-of-israeli-leadership/

  18. Great list! I would love to add Peter Church’s book The Added Value – the life stories of Indian Business Leaders. Definitely a must read for everybody in the corporate world.

  19. I would recommend No 3:The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. It’s brilliant.

  20. Amir @ LizBusinessOdyssey

    Fantastic list! I may add few biographies for Young Entrepreneur:

    1. Damn Right – The story of Charles Munger and the Munger family, Charles Munger is the decades long partner of Warren Buffett. He is a business man, lawyer, real estate developer, and some will say a philosopher. Charles Munger story is of a person that kept on going for decades and achieved the success he deserved

    2. Cable cowboys – Fascinating story about the birth of an industry and how few determined people can create a change (an industry) against the odds and mighty opponents.

    3. Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination – no need introduction, however I recommend reading it after Walter Isaacson Steve Jobs book. The similarities are amazing.

    4. Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way – Richard Branson, the ultimate young entrepreneur.

  21. #12: Tribes! Seth continues to inspire. Thank you.