How can I level up my leadership game over the summer? Read a book!

Here are five top-rated business books from leaders I know and admire – find the perfect one to help you grow as a leader!

You’ve probably heard that famous line from Harry S. Truman:

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

There’s a good reason that quote is so popular: it’s true!

Books are an incredible (and relatively affordable) way for anyone to grow and develop their leadership skills. Without a doubt, the books I’ve read have shaped my career. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

And now that summer is unofficially here, it’s the perfect time to stock up on books that can help you elevate your leadership game.

I’ve gathered up five books from great leaders I know – although to be honest, I could have listed 50! I’ve included links to Amazon and Audible, but you can also check your favorite local bookstore or library.

These books all have game-changing ideas and powerful insights. So choose one or two to slip into your pool bag this summer and elevate your leadership game!

The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team

By Patrick Lencioni

Key Quote: 

“If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.”

The Big Idea:

This isn’t your standard nonfiction business book. It’s actually a leadership fable that tells the story of a struggling executive team. Through the narrative, Lencioni explores the common dysfunctions that teams face and provides practical strategies for addressing them so you can create a positive, effective team dynamic instead.

Patrick has written so many impactful books, and this is one we actually cascaded across the organization at Yum! Brands. It was just that powerful.

Read This Book If:

> You lead a team and want to be exceptional at it

> You work in an environment that sometimes lacks trust, accountability, and respect

> You like the idea of reading a story but still want to gain some insights

On Amazon On Audible

A Minute to Think

By Juliet Funt

Key Quote:

“Urgency is your choice. Your boss and team can write a story that blankets everything with a light dusting of mania, but you don’t have to buy in. In fact, by opting out of this particular form of social conformity you serve yourself and your company better.”

The Big Idea:

Do you ever feel like there’s just no margin in your work life? In this book, Juliet Funt makes a strong argument for what she calls “white space” – intentionally carving out time for reflection and strategic thinking. She also shares lots of practical ways you can use this strategy to reclaim your time, improve productivity, and reduce stress.

When I interviewed Juliet on my podcast, I was so impressed by what an original thinker she is. Not only that, she has a knack for sharing her ideas in a clear and compelling way.

Read This Book If:

> The last few years have left you feeling burned out, overworked, or less effective

> You lead a busy team and want to equip them to handle stress better

> You love books with a little snark and a few pop culture references

On Amazon On Audible


Winning Now, Winning Later

By Dave Cote, former CEO of Honeywell

Key Quote:

“The idea that as a leader you can focus on strategy and delegate its implementation to great people is a fallacy.”

The Big Idea:

What if you didn’t have to make trade-offs between short-term and long-term results? Dave shares the 10 principles leaders can use to achieve both – with a level of tactical detail that most business books just don’t have. It’s a short, powerful read that’s also a playbook for serious growth.

Dave led an incredible turnaround at Honeywell. In the 16 years he was in charge, he grew their market cap from $20 billion to a whopping $120 billion. This book shares the lessons he learned along the way.

Read This Book If:

> You’re a leader in a midsize or large company

> The current economic uncertainties have muddied the way you make decisions

> You love books that are concise and to the point

On Amazon On Audible


My Life in Full: Work, Family, and Our Future

By Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo

Key Quote:

“I was involved in hundreds of projects with tight deadlines that probably could have stretched into a few more days. Would that have made a difference to the project? Most of the time, no. Would that have made a difference to my colleagues’ lives at home, as caregivers or as members of their community? I think the answer is a resounding yes.”

The Big Idea:

In her memoir, Indra Nooyi shares her journey from growing up in India to leading one of the world's largest food and beverage companies. Her book is rich with honesty and insight on leadership, diversity, and work-life balance.

I’ve had the joy of working with Indra and I’ve learned so much from her over the years. This book, like everything Indra does, is so insightful and inspiring.

Read This Book If:

> You want a fresh perspective on work-life balance, especially from a woman’s point of view

> You’ve ever been discriminated against

> You’re in the mood for a more narrative-style book that is still full of inspiration and practical leadership advice

On Amazon On Audible


Fall in Love With the Problem, Not the Solution

By Uri Levine, Cofounder of Waze

Key Quote:

“If you’re afraid to fail, you’ve already failed because you’re not going to try.”

The Big Idea: 

This is a practical guide for entrepreneurs and problem solvers from one of the world’s best innovators. Uri has written a well-structured blueprint you can follow to build a winning idea that truly works in the marketplace, and then grow a successful business around it.

My team and I found lots of takeaways in this book, and they’ve shaped the way we’re thinking about David Novak Leadership as a company. I’m so grateful I get to learn from someone with Uri’s incredible track record.

Read This Book If:

> You’re an entrepreneur or want to become one

> You invest in startups

> Your role involves launching anything new

> You just love watching Shark Tank

On Amazon On Audible

Reading books has been one of the most powerful tools in my leadership toolbox.

As a leader, you’ve got to constantly be learning and growing, and books are a great way to do just that.

Now, I know you might be thinking … “David, I don't have time to read."

But carving out even just a few minutes each day to read can make a world of difference.

Reading books gives you access to the collective wisdom of some of the most successful and influential leaders in the world. You’ll gain more empathy as you see perspectives, industries, and insights you might not have encountered otherwise.

And, if you only read ONE book on this list, I have no doubt you’ll get some BIG takeaways that could truly transform your business.

I hope this inspires you to make reading a priority this summer (and beyond!).

What is your favorite business book? Leave me a comment and tell me what it is and why you love it!

Your Next Step

Did you know? Each of these authors has also joined me on my podcast, How Leaders Lead with David Novak. Every week, I interview the world’s top leaders so you can grow your leadership skills and get big things done.

Oh, and it’s the perfect soundtrack to your summer travels!