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We created this list of the best leadership books for women to help you step into your power. But first, what is a leader? These are some of the definitions that came up: a person who makes things happen, an advocate of a particular idea, and a person who teaches.
Going by these definitions, every woman is a leader. This is true whether you run a business, work for someone or manage your household. You are always leading someone, whether they’re your children, your co-workers, or your employees. So, let's dive in and find you your next read.
Why leadership books for women are important to read
Reading books is one of the best ways to learn. Any of the books in this list of leadership books for women will help you grow personally and professionally. So, pick a title or two and give them a read if you hold a leadership position of any kind.
When you read a book, you receive insights and knowledge acquired through years of experience and research. In addition, you enjoy the other benefits of reading like:
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Helps you fall asleep faster
- Improves brain connectivity
- Increases your vocabulary and comprehension
25 Of the best leadership books for women
Whether you desire personal growth or create more impact through your work, I hope this list of women leadership books inspires you. Start with the one that intrigues you the most and see how the leadership lessons you'll learn can change your life for the better.
1. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.
Brene Brown describes herself as “a researcher, storyteller, and Texan who’s spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy.” She's a bestselling author and she also hosts the podcast, Unlocking Us. However, she may be best known for her TED talk on vulnerability that's one of the most viewed in the world.
Her Dare to Lead book is the result of Brene’s research and study on courage and leadership. She invites readers to start leading with empathy, connection, and courage. And in this book, she shares practical, courageous, and mindful guides to leading. It truly is one of the best leadership books for women.
2. Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change
Stacey Abrams is a bestselling author, businesswoman, nonprofit CEO, and political leader. She is currently one of the most known black woman politicians in the United States. She's a force to be reckoned with. And her list of accomplishments is a mile long, but she’s just getting started.
Lead from the Outside is a guide for outsiders who are ready to make a difference. Stacey shares that finding what you want to fight for is as important as knowing how to turn your thoughts into action. And in this book, she uses her insights to break down how ambition, fear, money, and failure function in leadership while offering personal stories to showcase practical strategies.
3. The Likeability Trap
Alicia Menendez is an award-winning journalist and anchor. She also hosts the podcast, Latina to Latina.
The Likeability Trap describes the pressure put on women to be “nice” at work, at home, and in every circumstance or interaction.
It explores the price women pay for taking on and giving in to the demand for niceness. In this book, Alicia empowers readers to let go of old rules and reimagine leadership. Give this a read because there are no other leadership books for women like it.
4. In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs
Grace Bonney is an author, blogger, and entrepreneur. She’s the founder of Design*Sponge and Good Company magazine. She also hosts the weekly podcast, After the Jump.
In the Company of Women is a book featuring more than 100 stories of exceptional and influential women.
It tells how they embraced their creative spirit, overcame hardship, and started a worldwide movement. This is a valuable book that’s constantly included in lists such as Best Holiday Gift Book, Best Gift for Coworkers, and Best Mother’s Day Gift. And now it’s on our list of the best leadership books for women as well.
5. We Should All Be Feminists
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a bestselling, award-winning author whose work has appeared in numerous publications. She was also named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World and Fortune Magazine’s one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.
We Should All Be Feminists is an essay that offers a fresh definition of feminism. It is adapted from her TED talk with the same title, where she explores what it means to be a woman now and why we should all be feminists. If you’re only going to read one title from this list of leadership books for women, get this one.
6. Power Moves: How Women Can Pivot, Reboot, and Build a Career of Purpose
Lauren McGoodwin is the founder of Career Contessa and host of The Femails podcast. She also speaks and writes on women’s careers, appearing on stages like TED Women and outlets such as Good Morning America, Goop, and more.
Pick up a copy of Power Moves if you’re looking for women leadership books to help you build a successful career on your own terms. In addition, it offers information, guidance, and tools to help women take decisive actions without the nagging feeling of self-doubt.
7. The Fear-Fighter Manual: Lessons from a Professional Troublemaker
Luvvie Ajayi Jones is a bestselling author and a sought-after speaker. She’s known for her humor and honesty as a professional truth-teller.
In The Fear Fighter Manual, Luvvie brought her signature wit guided by the influence of her inspiring grandmother.
She believes that truth-telling is a muscle. So, in this book, Luvvie encourages readers to become professional troublemakers: people who are committed to not letting fear talk them out of the things they need to do or say to live free.
8. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World
Adam Grant is a bestselling author and one of TED's most popular speaker. He also hosts the chart-topping podcast, WorkLife. In his work as an organizational psychologist, Adam is a leading expert on how we can find motivation and meaning to live more generous and creative lives.
In the book, Originals, he examines how to change the world by getting rid of old traditions. He looks at what happens when leaders advocate for ideas and values that go against the grain.
Adam uses stories and studies to show readers how to be a leader that value originality. And that’s why we included it in our list of best leadership books for women.
9. Million Dollar Women: The Essential Guide for Female Entrepreneurs Who Want to Go Big
Julia Pimsleur is a business coach and a mindset expert. She’s also the founder of Million Dollar Women, a company helping women entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
Million Dollar Women is a great example of a women leadership book that is rich in ideas and valuable insight. It offers tons of wisdom on how to build a million-dollar business. It also shows you how to fundraise, hire the right people for your team and find mentors.
10. My Own Words
Besides being US Supreme Court's second female justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a creative writer and public speaker. She died in 2020 at the age of 87 after a long battle with cancer. But she will be remembered as a legal, cultural and feminist icon.
RBG was a strong voice in favor of gender equality and workers’ rights. She discussed the same topics in her book, My Own Words.
And, of course, it came with her trademark engaging but serious wit. This book lets readers in the life of one of the most influential women leaders of our time. Is it a wonder why it’s on our list of the best leadership books for women?
11. More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say)
Elaine Welteroth is a bestselling author, TV personality and award-winning journalist. She became the youngest Editor-in-Chief at a Condé Nast publication when she was appointed the first Black beauty editor of Teen Vogue.
Through her work, Elaine is now a leading expert and advocate for the next generation of change-makers.
So, she has written “More Than Enough” as part memoir-part manifesto to encourage future leaders to claim space for themselves despite naysayers or self-doubt.
12. How Remarkable Women Lead: The Breakthrough Model for Work and Life
Joanna Barsh is a best-selling author and the director emeritus at McKinsey & Company for more than 30 years. Susie Cranston also worked as an organization consultant at McKinsey & Company. And they both helped develop and launch The Centered Leadership Project.
Pick up a copy of How Remarkable Women Lead if you're looking for a hopeful perspective on what it means to be successful. It also offers unique ideas of success based on five years of research. In addition, you're treated to remarkable stories of successful women leaders.
13. Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder
Arianna Huffington is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group. She is also the founder and current CEO of Thrive Global. In addition, she has written fifteen books, and she is celebrated as one of the world’s most influential women.
Thrive came to being when Arianna found herself suffering from exhaustion and lack of sleep. In the book, she discusses how the current definition of success has led to widespread burnout and stress-related illnesses.
So, she proposes that readers include well-being as the third metric for success, beyond money and power. Arianna also reminds us to connect to what truly matters. And this is why it’s one of the best leadership books for women.
Michelle Obama is a lawyer, a speaker, and the first African American to serve as First Lady of the United States of America (in case you didn’t know!). She is easily one of the most recognized, most iconic, and compelling women of our era.
Becoming is Michelle’s memoir. It tells the stories that have shaped her. And we meet a woman of soul and substance who defied expectations. This is a deeply inspiring book.
And it's one of the best leadership books for women because it shows how Michelle she embodies grace, compassion, and humility under an unforgiving spotlight.
15. Girl Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Success, Sanity, and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur
Cara Alwill Leyba is a bestselling author, blogger, and speaker. She also hosts the top-rated podcast, Style Your Mind.
Cara was an early voice in the female-driven movement. Her work is centered on empowering women to create their own opportunities.
16. The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You
Julie Zhuo is one of Silicon Valley's top product design executives. She leads the teams behind some of the most popular web and mobile services that we all use. Julie also writes about technology and leadership for major outlets and on her blog, The Year of the Looking Glass.
The Making of a Manager covers Julie’s examination and insights of her experience as one who became a rookie manager at the age of 25. It is packed with everyday examples and models of how a great manager is made.
17. The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance - What Women Should Know
Claire Shipman is a regular contributor to Good Morning America and other national broadcasts for ABC News. And Katty Kay is a bestselling author and also an anchor of BBC World News America. She is also a contributor to Meet the Press and Morning Joe.
The Confidence Code makes our list for women leadership books because it is written for every woman in every career stage. It offers life-changing advice that women can use to gain confidence. This book is also a practical guide that can help you reach your goals and the careers you deserve.
18. Ask for It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want
Linda Babcock is a professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University. She’s also a specialist in negotiation and dispute resolution. On the other hand, Sara Laschever's work has been published in major publications, including the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, and Vogue.
Ask For It It explains why women should ask for what they need, whether a raise, an overdue promotion, an exciting new assignment, or even extra help around the house. It provides problem-solving strategies, bargaining tips, and advice to help readers ask effectively.
If you’re looking to improve your personal and professional life, give any of these leadership books for women a read.
19. Own It: The Power of Women at Work
Sallie Krawcheck is a former Wall Street powerhouse who became an entrepreneur. She is also the founder and CEO of Ellevest.
In Own It, Sallie draws on her own experience in the men-dominated Wall Street offices to show women how to navigate the world and achieve their own success.
She believes a change is coming. And it’s time for women to embrace our innate strengths and use them to gain power in our professional lives.
20. The Next Generation of Women Leaders: What You Need to Lead but Won't Learn in Business School
Selena Rezvani is an author and speaker on various topics for professional women. She currently serves as a columnist on women and the workplace for Forbes and Philadelphia Magazine.
The Next Generation of Women Leaders is a collection of stories from businesswomen who achieved great successes in their fields. This is one of those women leadership books you’d want to read if you want to feel empowered.
21. Know Your Value: Women, Money, and Getting What You're Worth
Mika Brzezinski is a journalist, talk show host, political commentator, and author. She currently co-hosts the weekday morning broadcast show, Morning Joe.
Know Your Value is a discussion revealing the problems women face and why we're paid less. This book features interviews with successful women like Valerie Jarrett, Susie Essman, Nora Ephron, Sheryl Sandberg, and Joy Behar.
22. Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Simon Sinek is known for his multiple bestselling books on leadership. But you may have seen his viral videos as well.
In Start With Why, Simon studied history's greatest leaders. And he found that they all think, act and communicate the same way. Most importantly, Simon learned that every great leader started by asking, “Why?” So, he urges you to do the same.
23. Successful Women Think Differently: 9 Habits to Make You Happier, Healthier, and More Resilient
Valorie Burton is a bestselling author, speaker, and life coach. She’s also the founder of The Coaching and Positive Psychology (CaPP) Institute.
In Successful Women Think Differently, Valorie shares exactly how you can build new ways of thinking to help you succeed in your relationships, work, health and finances. She's sharing what she learned from her work spans that two decades of helping people.
24. Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers
Dr. Lois P. Frankel is a bestselling author, coach, and world-renowned expert in leadership development for women. She's also the current President of Corporate Coaching International.
Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office is one of the best leadership books for women because it looks at women’s characteristics that keep them from achieving their goals. Give this book a read to learn how to recognize these traits in yourself and gain tips on what to do instead.
25. Choosing to Prosper: Triumphing Over Adversity, Breaking Out of Comfort Zones, Achieving Your Life and Money Dreams by Bola Sokunbi
Choosing to Prosper: Triumphing Over Adversity, Breaking Out of Comfort Zones, and Achieving Dreams, by Clever Girl Finance founder and finance leader Bola Sokunbi is one of the best leadership books for women.
If you struggle with imposter syndrome and lack confidence as a leader then this is a must-read. Bola provides the tools readers need to build confidence, find their voice, and realize personal and business growth.
Add these best leadership books for women to your reading list!
So to continuously grow in this life, we must have a thirst for knowledge. And one of the ways we can improve our personal and professional lives is to take advantage of resources available to us.
And as we know, a good book can inspire and help us change our mindset, grow our finances, and uplevel our careers.
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