10 Books Every CEO Should Read

10 Books Every CEO Should Read
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<p>Open book</p>

Open book


Reading and learning from the experts is necessary in any professional endeavor, especially business. Gaining new perspectives on entrepreneurial and leadership strategies is extremely valuable for developing your own path to success.

However, with more than 250,000 business books in print, it can be difficult to choose the essentials. These books, which cover topics from employee management to avoiding scandal, are a great way to get started on your reading journey.

1. Meetings Suck by Cameron Herold

Cameron Herold is the founder of COO Alliance, a COO network that provides professional development and growth opportunities. He uses his expertise in his book Meetings Suck, which argues that it’s not meetings themselves that are painfully boring and unproductive – it’s the people planning them. Herold provides clear strategies and action steps to create efficient, focused meetings that boost company productivity. It’s required reading for leaders who value time effectiveness and hate tedious gatherings.

2. Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek, the person behind the famous “Start with Why” TED Talk, discusses his influential ideas on inspiration and passion in business in this bestseller. Start with Why focuses on the importance of identifying the motivation, or the “why,” behind products, services, movements, or ideas. Simon explains that influential leaders work in the same way – a way that’s different from how other people operate. With his tips, you can start building your own circles of influence in your company.

3. The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen

Praised by leaders like Michael R. Bloomberg, Clayton’s book introduces radical ideas that changed the landscape of corporate America as we know it. Arguing that great companies can fail because they do everything right, this bestseller explains the pitfalls that any successful CEO can fall into. Although it’s always important to know what to do, this book provides the necessary knowledge of what not to do as an effective CEO.

Rhett Power is part of the State Department’s International Speaker Program and has spoken alongside the CEO of the Gates Foundation, the founder of AOL, and President Obama. His latest book, The Entrepreneur’s Book of Actions, breaks down the actions of successful entrepreneurs and how people can effectively integrate them into their lives. The advice here will help readers grow both personally and professionally to better structure and execute their ambitions.

5. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

A master of using fictional stories to teach business acumen, Patrick Lencioni created this leadership fable to explain the complexities associated with business teams. Through the tale of Kathryn Petersen, the CEO of “Decision Tech,” the author discusses why great teams can struggle, as well as sheds light on common team dysfunctions and how to overcome those issues. The story’s simplicity and useful information make this a great tome for business leaders.

6. High Output Management by Andrew S. Grove

Andrew S. Grove, former chairman and CEO of Intel, provides his valuable knowledge and perspective on the best ways to run a company. Grove discusses how to build efficient teams and motivate them to peak performance, drawing upon his experiences in Silicon Valley as a manager. What’s great about this volume is its applicability to people at all levels of an organization, from accountants to CEOs.

Carnegie’s work has been around for decades; luckily, this revised and updated book makes his lessons applicable to today’s business leaders. How to Win Friends and Influence People goes over techniques on managing employees, how to become likeable, how to convince others of your perspective, and how to change others without causing resentment. These skills and strategies, despite their age, carry on in today’s business world, making this a highly valuable volume for any CEO.

8. The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker

Any business executive knows that one of the most important qualities in a CEO is the ability to just get things done. Peter Drucker, in his work The Effective Executive, explains in clear and understandable ways how to acquire this characteristic. He asserts that in order to be productive and thorough, leaders must learn skills like knowing where to use your resources, setting priorities, and managing time. Providing fresh insights, Peter’s book can keep any CEO on the cutting edge of productivity.

9. The Smartest Guys in the Room by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind

A critically-acclaimed national bestseller, The Smartest Guys in the Room provides a definitive account of the Enron scandal that brought down the once-dominant company. Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind go over why the company fell, providing readers with insider knowledge to help them avoid making similar mistakes. In a new chapter, they explain why the story of Enron still matters and what today’s business leaders can learn from the scandal, allowing readers to apply these concepts to the 21st century.

10. Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares

In their detailed explanation of how not getting traction can cause even the most promising startups to fail, Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares explain that the key to success is growing and acquiring new customers. They argue that once this traction starts, everything else will fall into place – from fundraising to hiring and press. Traction discusses how to build a customer base and tips on how to customize their advice for your company.


As with any endeavor, doing your homework is fundamental to achieving success. By reading up on the latest and greatest in business writing, any CEO can gain valuable knowledge to apply to his or her company.

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