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The 18 Books Every Future CEO Should Read

As recommended by industry leaders…

Photo by Razvan Chisu on Unsplash

If you want to become the CEO of a large company, let me tell you one thing, you won’t make it. If you can take hearing that and laugh in the face of rejection and people trying to drag you down, then maybe, just maybe, you’ve got what it takes to top the socio-economic ladder.

Although the road ahead is paved with 80-hour working weeks, sleepless nights and insanely competitive environments, not everyone is against you. We reached out to industry leaders and their advisors and personal assistants (they are pretty busy) to get some insider knowledge on which books they recommend reading.

#1 Quiet the Rage

Conflict resolution ranks highest among concerns for CEOs and business owners and is many times caused by emotional states that quickly become toxic... Stanford's Executive Coaching Survey confirmed this, and nearly 43% of CEOs rank conflict resolution at the top of their management skill assets.

Quiet the Rage helps readers understand how conflict works, how they themselves may actually be the source of the conflict they're experiencing in their lives, and most important, how to stop being that source.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Tabitha Bailey

Company: quiettherage.com | coachingconflict.com

275 points
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#2 The Rule of Benedict

The Rule of Benedict (by St. Benedict) has been governing monasteries for 1500 years, but the insights into how humans live and interact with each other remains as relevant today as it was when it was written. With clear examples of how the leader of the monastery should act, it translates directly to those in leadership positions today. From daily routines to dealing with troublesome community members, this is not your average management book.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Jack Dwyer

Company: 4trackcontent.com

81 points
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  1. I literally read this on the plane from SFO to LAX. I’m not sure why. But it feels like the right thing to have done.

#3 Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

The Elon Musk book gives readers a glimpse into one of America's best working minds we have in regards to technology and innovation. This book provides inspiration and shows readers how to be smart with ideas and how to work to get them to become realities.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Scott Syme Jr | Facebook | Instagram

Company: plgestates.com

24 points
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#4 How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

The authors [of this book] discuss how CEOs and leaders must take ownership of everything around them and their environment in order to achieve their objectives.

That goes for your subordinates and your coworkers and even your superiors no matter in the business world or in military life.

So often CEOs are quick to make excuses as to why we didn't achieve certain objectives at our roles however when we exercise extreme ownership as leaders we are responsible for everything that goes on in our world.

When a group of Navy SEALs embarks on a mission there are no excuses if they cannot execute on their objective and the same goes in the business world.

As developing leaders in small business and large business we must take total ownership of everything around us and by doing so that will further our leadership development and further our careers.

The book taught me that Excuses are for weak minded people who really do not want success in their small business or their career.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Zach Hendrix

Company: yourgreenpal.com

23 points
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#5 Creativity Inc.

Creativity Inc. is a fantastic book because not only is it written by the president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation, but this is book gives a great lesson in being open to finding problems in your company. Finding problems gives business owners a chance to correct them and to learn and grow from them. Catmull gives a great look at how these mega media companies work and how they function. Very interesting insight.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Scott Syme Jr | Facebook | Instagram

Company: plgestates.com

23 points
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#6 Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Walter Isaacson takes his readers back to a time when laptops and desktops were metaphors and window’s was a dream. His book talks about how each of the Apple innovations first occurred to Steve Jobs and his creative team.

“Steve Jobs” is an authoritative book about those achievements, and it also follows Jobs into the wilderness (and to NeXT and Pixar) after his first stint at Apple. I loved this book.

It’s a must-read for anybody thinking about starting a business. It encouraged me to never give up and to keep reaching for the stars because dreams really do come true.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Zondra Wilson

Company: bluskincare.info | Facebook | Instagram

22 points
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#7 Good to Great

I enjoy reading business books built upon research and data, which is why I enjoy 'Good to Great' by Jim Collins.

He and his team do an excellent job of identifying the similarities and strengths amongst 11 companies that grew their stock at least three times in 15 years. His insights about great leadership and their interest in leaving a legacy is much the way I see top leaders - they care about what comes next - not about themselves.

Most of the leaders he studied were intrigued with others - and improving the business community and social communities around them. What he learned about great leaders is quite intuitive in the role that I see leaders needing to play in their organizations.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Kimberly Rath | LinkedIn

Company: talentplus.com | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter

21 points
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#8 The Virgin Way

I like this book because of its educational content. Every chapter you read is an eye-opener because Mr. Branson made it in a guide-like style. You can be struggling in any aspect of business and this book will have an answer for you. it also teaches you great leadership.

A lot of people have the misconception that having long meetings and checking if employees are in the office on time is equal to being professional. The Virgin way breaks those paradigms.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Christian Moreno | LinkedIn

20 points
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#9 Onward by Howard Schultz

It's a powerful read because you're not only gaining access and knowledge behind the scenes of one of the worlds most powerful companies but also from the person steering the massive ship, riding the huge waves of entrepreneurship and coming out alive. Below is one of my favorite quotes from the book. It gives you a real look at what true entrepreneurship is like.

"But the entrepreneurial journey is not for everyone. Yes, the highs are high and the rewards can be thrilling. But the lows can break your heart. Entrepreneurs must love what they do to such a degree that doing it is worth sacrifice and, at times, pain. But doing anything else, we think, would be unimaginable”

― Howard Schultz

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Katie Seller

Company: metalmarvels.com | Instagram

16 points
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#10 The Consummate Leader

The Consummate Leader: a Holistic Guide to Inspiring Growth in Others…and in Yourself is for future CEOs who understand that a positive culture is key for creating the sort of work environment in which people can thrive.

They also recognize that effective leadership starts from the insight out - it requires self-reflection, insight, and a willingness to develop. In her accessible and often humorous style – utilizing notable lessons from Nelson Mandela to SpongeBob SquarePants – Thompson reveals why truly outstanding leaders not only focus on strategy, metrics, and execution, they also tend to their minds, bodies, and spirits.

Chock-full of real-life examples, thought-provoking and practical exercises, psychological research, and personal stories, The Consummate Leader is an indispensable book that will reshape the way you approach leadership – and life.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Patricia Thompson, PhD | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

Company: silverliningpsychology.com

8 points
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#11 Managing to Make a Difference

Currently, my number one business book is 'Managing to Make a Difference' written by two of my colleagues, Larry Sternberg and Kim Turnage. This book, too, is based on solid research as well as decades of management experience.

It is intended to be a handbook for managers and offers a roadmap to engagement, talent development and excellence in management. While a CEO, I gain a great deal of insight from Larry and Kim and the real-life stories they share.

The techniques they offer in their book will help managers (potentially future CEOs) achieve organizational goals and will empower their employees to achieve their own. I'm particularly excited that I've been hearing from people with whom I've shared the book, and they've remarked at how they are putting the techniques to work in their approach with their team members.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Kimberly Rath | LinkedIn

Company: talentplus.com | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter

7 points
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#12 Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster

This book is important to read because many today, many CEOs want to be data-driven, but they're not sure what metric to use to clearly measure their success. Lean Analytics helps determine what metrics are important during the various stages of your company. Even if you run a large company, the case studies of how to run a startup in here are important if you want to move fast and make progress fast.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Nihar Suthar | Instagram | Twitter

Company: niharsuthar.com | Facebook

4 points
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#13 Win No Matter What: A Guide to Hyping Up Your Life

I wrote this book, but I think it's incredibly important to read for CEOs outside the business context. It takes real stories and teaches readers how to improve your mood, attitude, and perception of others, which is very important for CEOs to work on as they aim to lead and positively influence their entire organizations.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Nihar Suthar | Instagram | Twitter

Company: niharsuthar.com | Facebook

4 points
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#14 Leadership in Their Own Words by Teri Citterman

Teri asked 20 successful CEOs what they are doing to develop leaders and shares their inspiration, insights, and advice in her book. It will help any future CEO think about their own leadership traits and identify actions they need to take to be successful.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Sue Canfield | Twitter | Facebook

Company: Ausoma.com

3 points
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#15 Built to Sell

This book takes you on a journey of one man's goal to sell his business, cash in, and enjoy all of the finer things in life. At first, it sounds like he (the main character) has it all going for him. After discussing his options with a trusted mentor, he quickly discovers that he needs to change just about everything about his business in order to turn it into a well-oiled machine.

This is mainly because the founder/owner was trying to generalize, and not specialize. It becomes obvious that by generalizing, you don't do anything particularly well but everything you do ends up just being mediocre. This book suggests a system that includes steps on how to take a customer from prospect to a repeat customer.

I truly enjoyed this book. Now I notice that it has been affecting my decision making for the better since I read it.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Thomas Wasinski

Company: aerialagents.com Facebook | TwitterInstagram

3 points
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#16 The 5 Second Rule

The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins is a must-read for any future CEO. This book is about how to avoid unintentionally holding yourself back in life and business. Reading it has helped me to focus on taking action and getting beyond hang-ups in order to focus on moving forward with a very specific strategy.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Deborah Sweeney

Company: mycorporation.com | Twitter

2 points
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#17 Purposeful: Are You a Manager or a Movement Starter

Written by Jennifer Dulski, head of Groups and Community at Facebook, mother of two and the former President and COO of Change.org, the world’s largest platform for social change, Purposeful shares how each of us can learn the leadership skills necessary to rally people around a common purpose.

Dulksi shares actionable steps for creating a clear vision, inspiring supporters, persuading decision makers, navigating criticism, and more through her own experience as a startup founder, tech executive, and social change leader and through other powerful stories of movement leaders from all walks of life. Purposeful is about movement starters and how the most effective leaders are those who rally others around common purpose.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Kayce McGehee

Company: purposefulbook.com

2 points
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#18 The Blueprint A Proven Plan For Successful Living

Jim has coach hundreds of executives from top corporations in 50 different industries (Allstate, Morgan Stanley, Apple, Toyota, etc.) for over 40 years. He's also guided the careers of the best professional athletes in baseball, football, golf, tennis, etc., as well as individuals, families, relationships, and students on how to simplify and balance their lives.

The book features expert insight, tools, tips and techniques from Jim's career and experiences, on how executives can build a so-called Blueprint for their lives, to plan and work their way to success, and manifest their dreams into reality. Jim Fannin's motto is that no one builds a house without a blueprint, so why would you build your life without one? In his book, Jim coaches [people] on how to achieve their goals, no matter how big or small.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributor: Kaitlin Spillane

Company: jimfannin.comTwitter | Facebook

2 points
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