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Best Books for New Leaders

The 11 Best Leadership Books for New Managers

Recently promoted to your first leadership position?

Most first-time leaders are promoted based on their outstanding performance as a subordinate employee. Because of this, stepping into a new leadership role can present new challenges that you’ve never had to deal with in the past. Co-workers who were once peers are now reporting to you. You now have to sit in on higher-level leadership meetings with managers and executives you may have only met once or twice previously. Plus, you’re now a mentor and a coach whose responsibility has shifted from ‘self’ to ‘team.’ Everything seems new and the responsibilities seem endless.

Fortunately, Soundview has summarized a long list of business books that deal with this exact scenario. Listed below are our top selections for new managers. These are the books that provide a well-rounded foundation for building a successful career and continuously progressing as a leader.

Welcome to Management:
How to Grow from Top Performer to Excellent Leader

by Ryan Hawk

Popular leadership podcast host Ryan Hawk distills best practices for newly promoted managers from his in-depth interviews with over 300 forward-thinking leaders and his own experience of moving from exceptional individual producer to new leader. Welcome to Management provides a three-part framework outlining how to lead yourself, build your team, and lead your team. New leaders, and existing leaders who’d like to improve, will benefit from Hawk’s valuable research and practical management strategies.


The Truth About Leadership:
The No-Fads, Heart-of-the-Matter Facts You Need to Know

by James Kouzes & Barry Posner

Leadership experts James Kouzes and Barry Posner share 10 time-tested fundamental truths about leadership and becoming an effective leader. Based on 30+ years of research, the fundamental truths outlined in this book will endure regardless of context or circumstance. The principles presented in The Truth About Leadership can be especially valuable to both new leaders and experienced leaders in transition.


The First 90 Days:
Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter

by Michael Watkins

In The First 90 Days, Harvard Business School professor Michael Watkins presents a road map for taking charge in the first 90 days of a new leadership position. The first days in a new position are critical because small differences in actions can have a huge impact on long-term results. The First 90 Days will equip executives with strategies and tools to get up to speed faster and achieve more sooner. Watkins reviews with readers how to diagnose a situation and understand its challenges and opportunities.


From Bud to Boss:
Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership

by Kevin Eikenberry & Guy Harris

Perhaps the most challenging leadership experience anyone will face is their first promotion to leadership. They must deal with the change and uncertainty that comes with a new job, requiring new skills, and they’ve been promoted from peer to leader. While this book addresses the needs of any manager, supervisor, or leader, it pulls from the best leadership and management thinking, and puts the focus on the difficulties that new leaders experience. From Bud to Boss can help new leaders get beyond the stress and fear to focus on becoming the most effective leader they can be — starting right now.


Leading with Gratitude:
Eight Leadership Practices for Extraordinary Business Results

by Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton

Research shows that gratitude boosts employee engagement, reduces turnover, and leads team members to express more gratitude to one another thereby strengthening team bonds – but few executives effectively use this simple tool. In Leading with Gratitude, best-selling authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton identify the myths that cause leaders to withhold thanks and introduce eight simple ways managers can show employees they are valued. It’s a skill that everyone can easily learn.


Crucial Conversations:
Tools for Talking When Stakes are High

by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan & Al Switzler

If you feel stuck — in a relationship, in your career, at home — chances are a crucial conversation is keeping you there. Crucial Conversations, a New York Times bestseller, will help you handle crucial conversations — conversations that occur when the stakes are high, emotions run strong, and opinions vary. With crucial conversations skills, you’ll be able to: prepare for high-stakes situations with a proven technique; transform anger and hurt feelings into powerful dialogue; make it safe to talk about almost anything; be persuasive, not abrasive; improve nearly every professional and personal relationship; and yield major professional improvements in areas like productivity, quality, safety, diversity, and leadership initiatives.


Lead Your Boss:
The Subtle Art of Managing Up

by John Baldoni

Every manager on the move wants to have influence at the top in order to get his or her ideas heard and ultimately acted upon. In Lead Your Boss, recognized leadership guru John Baldoni gives managers new as well as tried and true methods for influencing both their bosses and their peers, and giving senior leaders reasons to follow their lead. Learn how to leverage initiative, empathy, and courage to manage up and also discover how to develop spheres of influence and establish trust on your way to the C-Suite.


True North:
Discover Your Authentic Leadership

by Bill George

Just as a compass points toward a magnetic field, your True North pulls you toward the purpose of your leadership. When you follow your internal compass, your leadership will be authentic, and people will naturally want to associate with you. Based on exhaustive research and interviews with 125 top business leaders, True North presents a concrete and comprehensive program for leadership success and shows how to create your own Personal Leadership Development Plan.


Unstoppable Teams:
The Four Essential Actions of High-Performance Leadership

by Alden Mills

Navy SEALs and civilians operate in extremely different environments, but what makes both kinds of teams excel comes down to the same thing: service to others, trust, empathy, and a caring environment. Unstoppable Teams shows managers at every level, at both large and small organizations, how to inspire, motivate, and lead the people around them. It’s the handbook for how to build care-based teams that will push people to achieve more than they ever thought possible.


Radical Candor:
Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity

by Kim Scott

Great bosses have strong relationships with their employees. In Radical Candor, author Kim Scott identifies three simple principles for building better relationships with employees: make it personal, get (sh)it done, and understand why it matters. The Radical Candor method is about providing guidance with a mix of praise and criticism to produce better results and help employees achieve. Discover why it’s required reading for most of the world’s most successful organizations.


Start with Why:
How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

by Simon Sinek

Some people and organizations are more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others … but why? In studying the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world, Simon Sinek discovered that they all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way-and it’s the complete opposite of what everyone else does. Drawing on a wide range of real-life stories, Start with Why weaves together a clear vision of what it truly takes to lead and inspire.

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