The Essential Reading List for New Managers [X Books]

by Sarah Bedrick


Embarking on the journey of leadership can be both thrilling and challenging. 

For new managers, the right guidance is crucial, and what better way to gain insights than through the wisdom shared in books? 

In this curated list, I've handpicked top recommendations that cover the spectrum of leadership, from foundational principles to mastering essential skills. 

Your journey to becoming an exceptional leader begins with these essential reads. Let's dive into the must-reads for every new manager.

[If you prefer to watch a short video on this, click here to see this same content in my TikTok video.]

1. "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership" by John C. Maxwell:

Kickstarting our list is a timeless classic by leadership guru John C. Maxwell.

In "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership," Maxwell distills the essence of effective leadership into 21 principles.

  1. The Law of Influence: The true measure of leadership is influence - nothing more, nothing less.
  2. The Law of Process: Leadership develops daily, not in a day.
  3. The Law of Navigation: Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course.
  4. The Law of Addition: Leaders add value by serving others.
  5. The Law of Solid Ground: Trust is the foundation of leadership.
  6. The Law of Respect: People naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves.
  7. The Law of Intuition: Leaders evaluate everything with a leadership bias.
  8. The Law of Magnetism: Who you are is who you attract.
  9. The Law of Connection: Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.
  10. The Law of the Inner Circle: A leader's potential is determined by those closest to him.
  11. The Law of Empowerment: Only secure leaders give power to others.
  12. The Law of the Picture: People do what people see.
  13. The Law of Buy-In: People buy into the leader, then the vision.
  14. The Law of Victory: Leaders find a way for the team to win.
  15. The Law of the Big Mo: Momentum is a leader's best friend.
  16. The Law of Priorities: Leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment.
  17. The Law of Sacrifice: A leader must give up to go up.
  18. The Law of Timing: When to lead is as important as what to do and where to go.
  19. The Law of Explosive Growth: To add growth, lead followers; to multiply, lead leaders.
  20. The Law of Legacy: A leader's lasting value is measured by succession.

Drawing from his own experiences and those of other influential leaders, Maxwell provides practical examples that resonate with real-world scenarios. 

Embrace the Law of Process - leadership develops daily, not in a day.

2. "The Thin Book of Trust" by Charles Feltman:

Trust forms the bedrock of successful leadership. In this blog post, I talk about how finding Patrick Leoncini’s 5 Dysfunctions of a Team framework was groundbreaking for me. And guess what the foundation of a high-functioning team is? You guessed it: TRUST!

In this concise 60 pages thin yet impactful book, Charles Feltman explores the dynamics of trust and distrust.

With practical insights and a framework for building and repairing trust, this thin book is a powerful resource for any leader looking to foster a trusting and collaborative environment.

If you want to hear more about this book, check out this TikTok I created.

Trust is the foundation of leadership; learn how to build and repair it.

3. "The Coaching Habit" by Michael Bungay Stanier:

The best managers I’ve ever had were masters of coaching. 

The reason being, we humans rarely learn when others “tell” us answers to our questions or problems. We all learn best when we’re asked questions and space to explore our own thinking, because it affords us the space to take a step back and connect our own dots of thinking.

This act of coaching our team members allows us to take knowledge and turn it into powerful, lived-in experiences that they’ll carry with them forever.

I would say that I was a terrible manager before I became a coach. Developing the skill of coaching allowed me to slow down, really listen, and probe without my ego of “needing to be right” always at the forefront. Below is an example of how powerful coaching can be in the workplace.

If you don’t have the time, money, or other resources to invest in a coaching program, the following book will help. 

In the "The Coaching Habit." Michael Bungay Stanier introduces a simple yet profound approach to leadership – say less, ask more, and change the way you lead forever. It’s a good starter pack for developing the skill of coaching in management.

Learn how effective coaching can enhance communication, empower your team, and create a more enjoyable work experience.

Master the art of coaching to truly listen, empower, and improve working relationships.

4. "The Energy Bus" by Jon Gordon:

In this super easy-to-read and inspiring book, Jon Gordon takes you on a journey to understand the importance of energy in leadership. 

"The Energy Bus" encourages leaders to reflect on their own energy and that of their team. 

While it may not provide specific takeaways, it serves as a motivational guide for navigating the energy dynamics of your leadership role.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that this book has received much criticism since its release, which I don’t disagree with. However, I think the overall message of the book is an excellent starting point and required knowledge, for any new manager.

Don’t be an Energy Vampire. 

5. "Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea from Getting Shot Down" - John Kotter:

Influence is a crucial aspect of leadership, and John Kotter's "Buy-In" equips leaders with scripts to navigate challenges when presenting ideas.

As a leader, you'll inevitably encounter skepticism, and this book provides practical responses to garner support for your initiatives. 

A valuable resource for mastering the art of persuasion.

Equip yourself with scripts to navigate and influence diverse perspectives.

Conclusion: Elevate Your Leadership Journey with These Reads

These books, each offering a unique perspective on leadership, collectively form a robust toolkit for new managers. 

Whether you're delving into the foundational laws of leadership, exploring the nuances of trust, mastering the art of coaching, or understanding the impact of energy, these recommendations will guide you on your path to leadership excellence.

Ready to enhance your leadership skills? Book a personalized coaching call with me. I can help you apply the insights from these books to your unique leadership challenges. Click below to schedule your call now.

📅 Book Your Leadership Call Today! 📅

Happy reading and here's to your success as an exceptional leader!

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