The Best Leadership Books I Read Last Year

6 Recent Reads That Have Impacted My Approach and Thinking as a CEO 

I’ve been a reader my whole life. I practically read a book a day when I was a kid (all fiction, of course!). As I got older, life got busy, and I had less time for fiction. I was starting a career in software development and learning as I went. After a few years in the field, I decided to focus less on reading tech-focused books, which I was fortunate that my job gave me the time and opportunity to do, and start reading business books. Before long, I formed a habit. I was always looking for the best business and leadership books that would help me, and later my teams and my company, grow. 

Today, the books I consume continue to shape how I approach solving problems, making decisions, and building relationships. However, I realized last year that I now read almost entirely leadership and business advice (see my 2022 reading list, for example). As a result, I vowed to expand into more genres. While I still haven’t spent much time back in the world of fiction (though over the holidays I started reading Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary at my teammate’s recommendation!), I did add biographies into the rotation. At least I’m getting more of a story! 

The 6 Best Leadership Books I Read in 2023

If you’re looking for your next read or a gift for a business leader in your life, here are a few of my recent favorites.

Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy

By Isadore Sharp

This is an inspiring story of a seemingly ordinary person–a child of immigrants and a son of a builder–doing extraordinary things. Isadore Sharp, the founder and chairman of Four Seasons, shares how he developed a brand now known worldwide by following his gut, taking big risks, persevering, and committing to his vision. You’ll learn where he drew inspiration and ideas from and see the power of asking for what you want. Sharp’s memoir also reinforces the importance of building relationships, earning trust, and being true to your word.

Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential

By Tiago Forte

This book isn’t just one of the best leadership books I read this year–it’s one of the best all-around books on this list. Everyone can benefit from this, and I certainly took a ton of notes! Building a Second Brain is full of practical tips for those of us juggling to-dos and information for our teammates, clients, loved ones, and more. The techniques will help you remember, capture, organize, distill, and express your ideas, notes, and work to maximize the value and impact on your life. The book can also guide you in deciding what information to keep and what to let go of. Reading this has helped me be more systematic and strategic in both my personal and professional life. Shout out to my friend and fellow CEO, Patrick Patterson, for this sanity-saving recommendation.

The Power of One More: The Ultimate Guide to Happiness and Success

By Ed Mylett

In this motivational book, Ed Mylett urges us to keep pushing when we would otherwise stop. He emphasizes how much we stand out and achieve when we are willing to go above and beyond expectations. Take the additional meeting. Do one more round of practice. Over time, this philosophy will pay off in surprising ways! (Haven’t heard about Ed Mylett? Look up some of his talks on YouTube for a preview of what to expect with this book!) 

Boundless: A New Mindset for Unlimited Business Success

by Henry King and Vala Afshar 

King and Asfhar draw on years of experience leading digital teams and transformation initiatives to outline a path to business success. The pair focus on how to overcome silos inside your organization to enable the free flow of information and resources. The book focuses on seven areas: connection, integration, decentralization, mobility, continuity, autonomy, and shared success. I’m fortunate to know the co-authors in real life and know that they also practice what they preach!

Soundtracks: The Surprising Solution to Overthinking

By Jon Acuff

Are you an overthinker? Don’t worry – you’re in good company! We’ve all occasionally fallen into the pattern of overthinking. This book is an easy read that prompts you to examine the soundtracks (the thoughts) that repeat in your head. It then provides a guide to help you change what your brain tells you. Once you take control, you get back time to accomplish what you want while also unlocking your creativity in productive ways.

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller

By Ron Chernow

Titan is a fascinating look at a person with an incredible impact on industry in the United States. It’s a very long read (or listen, in my case), but I kept coming back to it throughout the fall and winter. This biography examines the rise of an ordinary man to immense power and, along the way, reveals how so many things we take for granted first came to be. If you’re interested in American history and business (and it all really wasn’t that long ago!), I’m certain you’ll enjoy this book.

Want to share the best leadership books you’ve read?

Send me a note on LinkedIn – I’m always open to recommendations, and your book might just make my next list. Happy reading!