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10 Best Leadership Books to Read in 2023


Leadership is an art, a science, and a practice that influences the course of organisations, communities, and societies. For those who aspire to understand the intricacies of effective leadership, inspire positive change, and make a lasting impact, Oxford Summer Courses welcomes you to explore our Leadership programme. Immerse yourself in the principles and strategies of leadership, engage in insightful discussions, and gain the skills necessary to lead with purpose and vision.


Please note that the following list of books is recommended reading to broaden your knowledge and deepen your understanding of Leadership. While some of these books may be included in the Oxford Summer Courses curriculum, the specific content of the summer school can vary. If you wish to study Leadership with us, you can apply to our Leadership programme.


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1. "The Art of Leadership," by Sun Tzu

  • "Opportunities multiply as they are seized."
  • Published centuries ago, "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu has long been considered a classic in leadership literature. Its strategic wisdom offers invaluable insights into leadership and decision-making.
  • Discussion: How can Sun Tzu's ancient strategies be applied to modern leadership challenges?

2. Leadership and Self-Deception, by The Arbinger Institute

  • "Self-betrayal is the beginning of leadership failure."
  • This modern classic explores the concept of self-deception and its impact on leadership. It provides a fresh perspective on understanding one's own leadership style and its effects on teams and organisations.
  • Discussion: How does self-deception hinder effective leadership, and how can leaders break free from it?

3. Start with Why, by Simon Sinek

  • "People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it."
  • Simon Sinek's "Start with Why" delves into the core of inspirational leadership. By understanding the "why" behind your actions, you can motivate and lead others more effectively.
  • Discussion: Why is it crucial for leaders to articulate their "why" to inspire and guide their teams?

4. Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman

  • "The emotional mind takes seconds to respond, while the thinking mind takes minutes to react."
  • "Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman explores the critical role of emotional intelligence in leadership. It emphasises the importance of self-awareness and empathy in effective leadership.
  • Discussion: How can improving emotional intelligence enhance leadership skills and decision-making?

5. Good to Great, by Jim Collins

  • "Good is the enemy of great."
  • Jim Collins' "Good to Great" is a seminal work in leadership literature. It identifies common characteristics of companies that transition from good to great and the leadership principles behind their success.
  • Discussion: What lessons can leaders learn from "Good to Great" to elevate their organisations?

6. Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg

  • "Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder."
  • Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In" addresses gender and leadership, encouraging women to pursue leadership roles. It explores the unique challenges women face in leadership and provides guidance for overcoming them.
  • Discussion: How can organisations promote gender diversity in leadership positions, as advocated in "Lean In"?

7. The Innovator's Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen

  • "Successful companies can put too much emphasis on customers' current needs and fail to adopt new technology or business models that will meet their customers' unstated or future needs."
  • Clayton Christensen's "The Innovator's Dilemma" explores disruptive innovation and its implications for leadership and business success. It challenges conventional thinking about sustaining innovation.
  • Discussion: How can leaders balance the demands of existing customers with the need for disruptive innovation, as discussed in this book?

8. Drive, by Daniel H. Pink

  • "The use of rewards and punishments to control our employees' production is an antiquated way of managing people."
  • In "Drive," Daniel Pink examines the science of motivation and its application in leadership. It introduces a new paradigm for understanding what truly drives individuals to excel.
  • Discussion: How can leaders foster intrinsic motivation and autonomy among their teams, as suggested in "Drive"?

9. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni

  • "Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare."
  • Patrick Lencioni's leadership fable uncovers common team dysfunctions that hinder organisational success. It offers practical strategies for building cohesive and high-performing teams.
  • Discussion: How can leaders address and overcome the five dysfunctions to create more effective teams?

10. Leadership in War, by Andrew Roberts

  • "The best leaders are those most interested in surrounding themselves with assistants and associates smarter than they are."
  • Andrew Roberts' "Leadership in War" explores the leadership qualities of nine wartime leaders, providing valuable lessons in leadership under extreme circumstances.
  • Discussion: What leadership traits and strategies can be gleaned from historical wartime leaders and applied in today's leadership challenges?


Oxford Summer Courses invites you to immerse yourself in the captivating world of leadership. In this blog post, we present a meticulously curated list of 10 classic books that will ignite your leadership journey and deepen your understanding of effective leadership strategies. From Sun Tzu's timeless wisdom in "The Art of Leadership" to Daniel Goleman's insights into emotional intelligence, these literary works will guide you through the complexities of leadership. Through our Leadership programme, you will have the opportunity to analyse and discuss these influential texts, gaining valuable insights into the art of leadership. Join us on this transformative journey that will shape your leadership vision and create a lasting impact in the realm of leadership.


Apply now to study Leadership at Oxford Summer Courses and elevate your leadership skills to new heights. Join a community of motivated learners from around the world and embark on a transformative experience. Apply here.

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Ignite your passion for leadership at Oxford Summer Courses. Immerse yourself in a carefully selected list of books that delve into leadership theories, strategies, and the qualities that make effective leaders. Gain valuable insights from experts in the field and embark on a transformative journey to enhance your leadership abilities.

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